Day 702 – Thankful for Becky, an Incredible Mother, Awesome Travel Partner, Successful Scientist, Amazing Wife, and Best Friend

Day 702 – Thankful for Becky, an Incredible Mother, Awesome Travel Partner, Successful Scientist, Amazing Wife, and Best Friend

Happy 39th birthday to Becky today!

There’s a lot of excitement and things to be thankful for, but who am I kidding, I’m most grateful for Becky today. Truth be told, I’m thankful for her every single day… so much so that I could do a separate blog sharing a different reason I am thankful for her each day. There’d be a lot of material and I doubt I’d ever run out of reasons even if it continued for 50+ years.

So why am I thankful for her? Let’s start with a short list:

  • She’s kind and loving, so much that she inspires me to be better at both
  • Becky’s smile can light up my life regardless of my mood
  • Her intellect is mind blowing and across a wide spectrum of topics
  • As a mother she’s totally amazing
  • The passion she has for the outdoors and natural world
  • There is no one I know who is a harder worker than she is
  • The discipline she has is contagious, she’s the grittiest person I know
  • Mmm… her lasagna… mmm…
  • She gets me and loves me for all of (or in spite of) my weirdness and faults

And that’s just the short list! Each day there are so many other reasons she gives me to fall in love with her all over again. Just trying to list the above has my mind going in so many directions.

All that said, one of the things I’m very thankful for is that she’s the best friend and wife I could have ever dreamt of. She completes me and helps me be better than I’d be without her. The joy she brings to my life on a daily basis is nothing short of amazing. The way she raises me up on a daily basis is incredible.

One other reason I’m thankful for her today in particular is that she’s the worlds best travel partner. Looking back to all of the places we’ve been and the even larger list of places we need to go I can’t imagine anyone else I’d rather travel with. Each new adventure is enhanced by her company. As we travel there’s a look she gets in her eyes and a smile that grows across her face that express pure heartfelt joy created by childlike curiosity of the beauties of the natural world. When that smile crosses her face I lose track of the world around me, I focus on that smile, and my heart is about ready to burst with joy. Those are amongst my happiest moments in life. I’m so grateful to be able to experience those with her often.

Happy birthday to an incredible mother, awesome travel partner, successful scientist, amazing wife, and my best friend! Love you tons!!!


Day 701 – Thankful for My Teams and 36 Questions

I am so incredibly blessed to be surrounded by the teams around me.  Over the past few months we’ve had many changes, challenges, and successes, an in every single case my teams have risen to the occasion.  Earlier today we had our monthly Eau Claire territory meeting and it always starts with sharing our biggest successes.  When my turn came I shared that my biggest success over the past month was to be surrounded by amazing teammates who continue to exceed expectations my eyes got a little misty.  I can’t or don’t want to imagine a work life without them, they bring much joy to my life.

One of the other icebreakers we kicked off the meeting with was the following question:

Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?

Take a moment to let that one really sink in.  It really says a lot about us and what we value, doesn’t it?  Hearing the answers from my teammates was enlightening and helped me learn more about each of them.

While Becky was driving tonight I pulled up the website that I got that question from and  started asking Becky, Dominic, and Gavin that question as well as several others.  We turned off the radio and enjoyed thinking about some of the answers and sometimes went into slightly different topics of conversation.  It was an interesting way yo learn more about those that I love so dearly.

There are 36 questions, and odds are you’ve seen them before online.  If you have a coupe of minutes I’d recommend pausing and asking a loved one or friend a question or two.  You may be amazed at where the conversation takes you.  In my case it was so much more rewarding than staring blankly at a screen, it was an awesome way to connect.



Day 700 – Thankful for Starting the Day Thinking of the Future, a Fun Photo Opportunity, and Rocks – Take 2

Day 700 – Thankful for Starting the Day Thinking of the Future, a Fun Photo Opportunity, and Rocks – Take 2

Becky and I met with Steve from our retirement plan today and had a wonderful conversation about what we need to consider as we put together our long term financial plans.  This was the first time Becky and Steve met and everything went wonderfully.  We’ve spent a lot of time talking about our long term goals and dreams, but it always helps to get an outside and expert opinion to help us catch what we may have missed.  Today’s conversation was one that will lead to many future discussions for Becky and I as we work our best on balancing the “AND.”  Living our dreams today AND building for our dreams of tomorrow.  So often this conversation gets set aside for the “urgent” things in life, it felt fantastic to focus on the important for a while.

One of the after work errands I had on my plate was getting Dominic over to his middle school open house.  In between lines and waiting we had a pretty fun photo opp that I totally took advantage of… Enjoy!


The time after the open house was a flurry of activity including packing, shopping, getting more work done (we’ve gotten some pretty amazing news in a couple of offices that has me running at a rapid pace but for a very great cause), cooking for the boys, and fitting in a quick load of laundry.  Full disclosure, I’m pretty sure Becky would label this a “slow day” and would’ve accomplished even more…  The incredible power of moms, right?

With all that going on I was able to sneak in one more relaxing activity, wrapping up another batch of rocks.  It’s brutal to have to wait over four weeks to see the finished product, but it’s well worth the wait.  This batch had a couple of rocks that were happily surprising…  particularly the two with previously unseen veins of copper running through them.  With all the chaos of the day it was peaceful and relaxing to shut everything else out and focus on the beauty of the finished rocks.


Non-stop, crazy busy day, but another great one that I wouldn’t trade for anything.  Life is awesome!


Day 699 – Thankful for Watching The Usual Suspects with Dominic

Gavin was at a friend’s house tonight so I took the opportunity to fire up one of my favorite movies with Dominic, The Usual Suspects. I won’t fire up the details of the movie in this post, I wouldn’t want to give anything away.

It was pretty great sitting on the couch, eating popcorn, and pausing to help Dominic catch all the details of what was going on. He hasn’t watched many crime / suspense movies like that so I wanted to make sure he was picking it all up. By the time the movie reached its conclusion he just said, “Whoa… that was a good ending!”

Yes, yes it was. It was also a fun time hanging out on the couch chilling with you Bud!


Day 698 – Thankful for Another Spin Around the Sun with Dominic

Day 698 – Thankful for Another Spin Around the Sun with Dominic

It’s official, Dominic is now a teenager!  How in the world did that happen?  It seems like only yesterday he was just a little dude with a super deep voice.  Today he’s almost as tall as his mom and is showing no signs of stopping.

This past year with Dominic has been awesome and it blew my mind to go back through all of the pictures of him that we took this year.  I’d forgotten just how many amazing things he had the opportunity to do.  Thinking about each of them as I pulled them up I was often surprised as in some ways hey feel like they just happened yesterday, but in other ways it felt like years ago.  All I could keep thinking was how my dad always said that time kept moving faster and faster each year and how every year I realize just how right he was.

The other thing that I realized this year was very bittersweet.  As he’s continuing to get older Dominic is also starting have more and more experiences on his own and without Becky and I.  I’m so proud of him for having no fear to strike off on his own and am glad to see that he will do a wonderful job of living away from home one day.  At the same time it’s sad to realize just how much he will be doing on his own as opposed to with us as a family.  It’s not like we’re sending him off to boarding school or anything, but there are more and more little moments on his own that I catch myself wishing I was there with him for.  I know it’s a part of the process and it means that we’re doing the right things to raise him to stand on his own, but it doesn’t change the fact that I miss hanging out with him and experiencing new things with him.  When we went through he pictures of his school trip to DC all I could focus on was how badly I would have liked to have been there watching the smile on his face while also knowing that part of the magic to this trip was that he was on his own.  Know what I mean?

So where do I even start with some of the highlights of this past year with Dominic?  I was going to list them all out, but these pictures I feel do a much better job of laying it all out.  From creating things in my workshop to refereeing to scouting to shooting his first deer to traveling across the globe to entering the Order of the Arrow it’s mind blowing to see just how much he’s done this year.  I’m so thankful to have been with you for this past year.

Dominic, I love you tons and am so thankful to have you as a son.  I am so proud of you and the man that you are becoming.  It’s awesome that while at the same time that you continue to grow and become more and more independent you aren’t afraid to give your old man a hug and say “I love you.”  Happy birthday to my teenage son.  Love you Dude!!!


Day 697 – Thankful for Dominic’s Ordeal

Dominic had about 20 minutes at home last night after returning from Camp Grandpa. After quickly unpacking he was back in the car as we headed out to drop him off for his Order of the Arrow Ordeal. This event is his opportunity to earn his place in the Order of the Arrow.

Last night he camped outside without a tent or shelter. He also wasn’t allowed to speak last night and was finally able to speak again after the ceremony this evening. His day was filled with manual labor around Camp Decorah and he was only allowed a couple of very tiny meals. There’s also a lot more to this including time for reflection and introspection. After completing his Ordeal he’s now a full member of the Order of the Arrow.

I’m so proud of him I don’t even know where to start. When we first got here his old Cub Scout leader came up to Becky and I to share what a hard worker he was today and how he wasn’t afraid to throw around some of the biggest logs all day long.

Being elected is a huge accomplishment in of itself, and passing the Ordeal is another. I still remember that night on the woods and day of service so we’ll, even though it was 25+ years ago. For him to get through it and in as good of a mood as he was in is awesome!

This is an event that he’ll likely remember for the rest of his life. I’m so thankful that he’s had this opportunity!

Dominic, I’m am so proud of you!!! Great job for not only completing the Ordeal, but for showing off your incredible work ethic. Hold onto these memories and lessons for all your life, they’ll help you through tough times. Love you so much Bud!!!


Day 696 – Thankful for Calling Down the Thunder By Listening to Thunderstruck and Then Running In a Thunderstorm

When Becky and I went out for our run early this morning we were greeted by a sudden splash of rain. It hadn’t been raining moments before but it decided to start the moment we opened the door. The radar showed we should be clear in a moment so we chilled and then headed out once it was done.

The radar showed a large thunderstorm north of us, but it was heading away and we were good to go. One of the benefits of this was the thunder and lightning going on a long ways north providing some beautiful and natural entertainment.

After one strike of lightning that caused a low rolling echo of thunder through the Mississippi River Valley Becky started to hum…

Ah ah, ah ah ah… Thunder…

Ah ah, ah ah ah… Thunder…

The sound of AC/DC was rolling through my head and taking her lead I fired up Thunderstruck on my iPhone. While running in the dark and watching the sky far away light up with lightning it just felt right. We were both getting into it while we kept on running for the first sixty seconds…

FLASH!!! A huge shot of lightning lit up the sky much brighter than before. Without much conversational both turned on a dime and started heading back. At that moment the skies opened up and let loose a heavy rain.

I was caught in the middle of a railroad track

I looked around and there was no turning back…

As we hauled our soggy butts past the only open treeless area I couldn’t help but smile as Thunderstruck played on in my hand. It was AWESOME!!! That’s when I realized that we’d literally called down the thunder by listening to Thunderstruck. The irony made me smile as we slogged home through the thunderstorm.

Today’s going to be a busy day with much going on but I have a feeling that I’m not going to forget the feeling of jamming out in the rain while running to that song this morning.


Day 695 – Thankful for Inaction

Usually I should be taking action, right?  Isn’t that what I was taught at an early age?  Fail by trying, not fail by failing to try .  Always better to take action and have it not work out than to not take action at all.

If you know me well you know that it’s tough for me to not take action.  I’m usually in a perpetual state of motion and action.  If you’re not sure about that just ask some of our vacation buddies what I’m like when I’m “relaxed.”  I still remember being told while on vacation in one of my favorite places of the world, the Big Island, to “quit pacing, you’re making me nervous” while I was attempting to “relax.”  That’s just a part of who I am.

While it is a part of who I am, it is not always the appropriate thing to do.  Sometimes inaction is necessary.  Once in a while it is better to not take action and remain in a state of inaction.  Those moments are particularly difficult for me.  My mind starts racing and I want to start moving towards a solution, but I need to use every ounce of my will to pause and stay still.

Tonight at yoga I was reminded of this.  As we were wrapping up our practice we got to a point when our instructor told us to stay exactly where we were, to hold still, to not even twitch or squirm in the least.  They told us to stay still and hold.  My initial reflex was to want to move, but this instruction held me tight.  As much as every ounce of me wanted to move I stayed in that pose.  The more the seconds went by the more desperate I was to move, just a little, just for a fleeting moment, but I didn’t.  As the clock slowly ticked I focused with every ounce I had to keep my gaze locked onto the same tiny imperfection on the hardwood floor, to keep my legs perfectly still, and to not even let a single finger move.

After a long while it actually started feeling great!  It was reminding me that I am in control of my actions.  If I should take the path of inaction I was reminded that I can do that, regardless of how unnatural it feels to me.  Inaction is something that is within my control and I can harness it when I need to.  This was helping me practice for those moments, to keep the stillness of mind to not immediately react, to not fold to my reflexes.  It was quite liberating!


Inaction is an odd thing to be thankful for, but I really am tonight.  By not taking action I was able to remind myself of how my will can keep me on track when I am best served by the path of inaction.


Day 694 – Thankful for a Taste of and a Memory of Empty Nest Life

Today on Facebook I had an old memory from 7 years ago pop up reminding me of the hiking excursion Becky and I did on a glacier in Canada.  It was one of our vacations in which we left the boys behind and went off adventuring with just the two of us.  That trip to the Canadian Rockies was AMAZING and will be remembered forever.  It wasn’t just the natural beauty, it was also a great time for just the two of us being a couple.  We chilled and watched Canadian TV in our hotel room before bed, experienced poutine for the first time, and started a tradition of having an excellent meal and a few drinks on our last night.  It is one of my favorite vacations to date.

Tonight Becky had the idea to head to Moon Tunes at Riverside Park with a friend to enjoy the Johnny Cash tribute.  With the boys at Camp Grandpa it’s a little taste of what life will probably be like when we are empty nesters in about nine years or so.  We headed out and just chilled without having to run boys around to various events.  When we were ready for food we went out for subs to eat at home.  Now at home we’re both chilling and slowly getting ready for work tomorrow and bed.  Totally chill, peaceful, relaxed, and without a schedule.

I already miss the boys and can’t wait to have them back home to get back into our normal chaos together, but for these few days it’s nice to get a taste of what’s on tap in the future.  If this is what the future looks like in a little less than a decade, sign me up!  I’m going to enjoy the time we have with the boys while remembering that life after they move out will be pretty cool too in its own way.


Day 693 – Thankful for a Year of Gavin!

Today Gavin is 10!!!  The little red headed tornado isn’t so little anymore and has been around for a decade already!  How crazy to think that it was only a decade ago Gavin came into the world the same way he’s been living his life ever since, in a ball of energy that one can only hope to contain, and leaving a trail of smiles and joy in his wake.

When I’ve been thinking about what I am thankful for today the biggest thing that has kept running through mind is what an incredible year I’ve had with him.  To be here to experience so many incredible moments with him has me feeling like about the luckiest person in the world.  There are so many memories with him that come to mind from this past year that my jaw has pretty much dropped.

And then when I dug through the pictures I have of him from the past 365 days my jaw dropped even further…  what a year we’ve truly had with him!!!  From cooking to scouting to New Zealand to National Parks to soccer to our everyday craziness it’s been an epic year with Gavvers!  Take a look at the pics below and you’ll understand…

Another trip around the sun with Gavin, another year of adventures.  I am so thankful for this past year with him.  I am blessed and grateful to be his dad.

Gavin, I don’t know what we’re going to do for an encore this year, this past one has been AWESOME!!!  Thank you so much for keeping me running full speed ahead, smiling, and loving life.  You inspire me to be a better dad and person so often you wouldn’t believe me if I told you.  Love you tons, so proud of you, and I can’t wait to see what adventures this next year brings.  Love you Dude!!!