Day 533 – Thankful for Stargazing and a Gift in the Background

The skies were perfectly clear this morning while we were on our run and the stars were out. Becky quickly pointed out the constellation Cancer. At one point while we were running a satellite slowly made its way across the sky. Later I noticed a very bright star so I pulled out my StarWalk iPhone app and discovered it was Jupiter. It was awesome to spend time looking up in awe at the wonder of space.

While looking up I was reminded of great times in Scouts when we would just lay on our backs and look up at the stars. We’d take turns pointing out satellites and drawing constellations. Even after all these years I am still struck by that same sense of wonder when looking skyward, and that’s something that I’m very grateful for. My hope is that my boys feel the same way and they continue to pass that on for generations.

Today I did my blog a little different. As I was running this morning I already had part of it semi-written In my head, and as I left the house something else struck me. What caught my attention was a gift I received about nine months ago. I smiled as I saw it, thought of all the ways it’s stuck with me, and started to mentally write this blog about it.

Little did I know that later in the day as I was stuck and trying to think a way out of a difficult spot I thought back to this and smiled… and it brought me strength and support. As I look back now I’m even more thankful for happening to notice that gift out of the corner of my eye this morning.

The funny thing is that this gift is right in our kitchen, right where I put my keys every single day. I can’t help but see it daily and when I notice it I smile. When this gift is in my mind I know that I’ll be okay through any situation. Any challenge in my life I know that I’ll make it through and be stronger because of it.

It was the gift I got from my neighbor Elaine the morning we found out that Dad wasn’t going to make it. She had put this in our door along with an envelope labeled “Donut Money.” That act of kindness brought tears of happiness, memories of love and happiness, and also a reminder that no matter what’s up The Big Guy Upstairs is always right there with me.

That gift is this simple and beautiful sign with a simple and powerful message: “but the Lord stood with me and strengthened me.”

Thank you Elaine so much for such an incredible gift! All these months later it still brings me joy and strength regularly. Thank you!!!



Day 532 – Thankful for Becky’s Parent’s Coming Down for Dominic’s Concert

I always have fun watching Dominic play at his concerts, it’s so cool to watch him perform.  Just like each other time I enjoyed watching hm play his cello, watching the way he works the bow, and seeing his head move along with the music.  It’s clear that he enjoys playing.


Tonight was Dominic’s orchestra concert and it was made all the more awesome by Becky’s mom and dad coming down to watch.  Ken and Mary drove a few hours south, had dinner with us, went to see Dominic’s concert, and are now headed back home.  We had a great time with them, talking about upcoming vacations for them, sharing experiences we’ve had, and just joking around.  I love Ken’s sense of humor, we’re sometimes on the same page so much that it’s scary!

The boys had fun seeing Grandma and Grandpa, Becky enjoyed the time with her parents, and I am always thankful for time with my in-laws.  Tonight I’m so thankful that they made the trip down, we all had a blast and had more fun because they joined us.


Day 531 – Thankful for Tracking My Food Intake

Today’s isn’t necessarily the most fun thing to be thankful for ever, but I’m very thankful for it regardless.

About a month or so ago when I got on the scale I really didn’t like the number that I saw. When I looked in the mirror I didn’t like the way some of me was looking. Instead of getting angry, disappointed or frustrated I decided to take action and get back on track. I am confident that I will be successful in getting back down to the goal i have set for myself, partially because I have a secret weapon… my food diary.

When I’ve dropped weight in the past it’s one tool more than almost any other that’s kept me on track. If I know I’m writing down EVERYTHING I’m eat during the day I make very different choices than when I’m not tracking it. It helps stop me from overeating and forces me to pay attention to how unhealthy certain foods are. If I’m especially hungry this tool helps me see how much extra exercise I need to earn the snackage I’m in the mood for.

This one little step has already helped me drop a solid number and I’m only two weeks in! How can I not be thankful for this awesome tool?


Day 530 – Thankful for Dominic’s Willingness to Try Something New, Becky Being Awesome, and Workshop Time with Gavin

Day 530 – Thankful for Dominic’s Willingness to Try Something New, Becky Being Awesome, and Workshop Time with Gavin

This is starting to get crazy.  While I was in final pose for yoga tonight a little bead of sweat rolled into my ear and started to tickle like mad.  I almost laughed as I thought about yesterday’s blog about sensations of life and realized this was one of them.  For a moment I thought about how thankful I was for that sensation and for being able to fight back the laughter in the middle of a room full of quiet people!  There have been no less than a dozen moments today in which I just paused and thought about how thankful I was in that moment.  Trying to focus on only one seemed to not be right so I’m focusing on three instead as they were at the core of my happiness today.

Dominic out of the blue decided that he wanted to try Drama Club about a month or so ago.  Over the past couple of weeks he’s been crazy busy preparing for the play, “The Little Mermaid.”  This weekend they presented it Friday morning, Friday night, Saturday night, and Sunday afternoon.  We had so much fun watching him last night do his backstage work.  In between each scene change he’d run out, move a rock or two, and be back out of the way.  While he was only on stage for a few moments it was easy to see how much fun he was having focusing on his task.  It was awesome!

Dominic, Bud, sorry dude, but we weren’t able to get any pictures 😥  Due to some licensing stuff the school wouldn’t allow us to take pictures during the event otherwise that would have been the key picture for today.  Watching you on stage is burned into my memory and heart and I’ll never forget it!

That kid never ceases to amaze me.  He’s always open to new ideas and experiences and just kind of goes his own way.  I am so thankful for his willingness to try new things as he figures out what he’s really passionate about, what he derives the most joy from, and what he’s encoded to do.  It makes me smile from ear to ear as he tries different things like this, he’s learning a ton and puts his all into each project, even in the rare instances he finds that it’s not his favorite.  I hope he keeps this open mindedness and optimism his whole life, I appreciate it and am motivated by it!

A few days ago my post from the year prior was focused on Becky’s winning of the 2017 Wife of the Year award.  She pretty much tied it up again for 2018 earlier this year, but today was just awesome.  Making lasagna is something that I’m always thankful for, so that one’s given.  We had a relaxing run to start our day and I always appreciate the time we spend enjoying nature, just like today when we paused a few times to watch the eagles (there were 15 eagles in two trees close together!).  While she made lasagna this afternoon she also cooked up all of my lunches and breakfasts for the week which saved me a ton of time.  Throw in the fact that she picked up Dominic so I could go to yoga and she was amazing!!!  I’m so thankful for her every single day, but today even more than most.


While Becky was making lasagna Gavin and I had some time up in our workshop.  At the Renaissance Festival this past summer I had promised to help him make a wooden sword or axe and today I followed through.  We ran to Menards, picked up a couple of four foot 1 x 12’s and started crafting.  Gavin decided that he wanted to go Minecraft themed so we made a Minecraft sword and pickaxe.  These were our prototypes and based on how they turned out we’re thinking we’re ready to make them for reals now.  One of the parts I enjoyed most were all of the memories of learning to use tools with my dad and the memories of the fun things my Grandpa Lamping would make out of similar lumber.  The other part I really enjoyed was watching Gavin learn how to take a blank piece of wood and turn it into something.  We had a blast making these and we’ll be doing more of this next weekend with Dominic too!


All in all it’s been an amazing weekend, one in which I’m left awestruck by the number of things that I’m thankful for.  What a miracle it is to be alive, and I am so grateful for each moment I have.


Day 529 – Thankful for Sensations of Being Alive

This is the day that the lord has made, so let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Does there really need to be much said beyond that? No, but I will anyways. 😁

Today has been seriously awesome, pretty much all the way through. As I look back on it even the fifteen minutes in which I went to battle with my printer and swore at it several times as it won the first few rounds now are the source of a smile. I got so pissed off for no good reason, and, as luck would have it, The Big Guy Upstairs went out of His way to prove how ridiculous I was acted in those moments.

My day has been spent with much of my Express family and we had a lot of fun together while celebrating each other and our associates. I’ve had some time with Becky and Gavin. Now we’re at Dominic’s play and watching his first ever stage appearance (just a hunch, but I’m guessing you’ll all learn more about that in the next day or two). I’ve had some quiet time to myself. I was on the phone with my mom and got an excellent text from my little brother. It’s been an awesomely full day.

While in church tonight I had time to pause, close my eyes for a moment and just breathe. When I did that I realized how thankful I am for something that is truly at the core of all of the awesomeness today, or better explained, a sensation of that core…

With my eyes closed I drew in a deep breath and appreciated how good it felt in my lungs. Exhale, inhale, exhale… the sensation was amazing! I could feel the warmth emanating from my heart and then pulsing through my body. The sensation of my heart beating sent warm waves through my body that I could feel in my chest, finger tips, toes and lips… and it felt awesome! While just breathing I took time to appreciate the feeling of being alive and I’m so thankful I did.

Do me a favor today if you don’t mind. Stop reading this right now (don’t worry, this blog will still be right here!), close your eyes, focus on your breath and feel the magic of being alive. Focus on your breath, enjoy the feel of the air pulling through your nostrils and expanding in your lungs. Then feel the beating of your heart and the pulsing of blood throughout your body. What a miracle it is to be alive!

As I think about all of the little moments that brought me joy today, from jokes that made me smile to the pride of watching Dominic work backstage to the sensation of eating a dang near perfect potato chip, each of those moments was a little celebration of being alive, a sensation that reminds me I’m alive. Today I’m thankful for all of those sensations of love that cause me to pause and give thanks for the wonderful gift of life I’ve been give.


Day 528 – Thankful for Road Tripping with Gavin to His Art Show

Day 528 – Thankful for Road Tripping with Gavin to His Art Show

Gavin and I made a quick run to Madison today to see his Kiwis vs Robots on display at the state capital.  It was pretty awesome to see his creation hanging up right in the middle of the Rotunda!  He even had his own fan club meet us there 🙂


We wandered throughout just about every open inch of the building while we waited for the presentation to start.  This included trying (unsuccessfully) at getting out to the viewing area outside, rubbing the brass badger’s nose for good luck, peaking into the hearing room and WI Supreme Court, and even letting Gavin briefly take over as Supreme Overlord of Wisconsin…

This reminds me of the time he and I had our picture taken with Nixon’s statue in Rapid City…

Today was one of those days that I hope he will remember as long as I do.  Having a few hours just to the two of us was pretty awesome and we made the most of it.  Moments like this are amongst the most precious times of my life and I appreciate them more than words can even being to explain.



Day 527 – Thankful for Being an Occasional Tour Guide

This morning my good friend Harvey flew in from Oklahoma City to spend some time with my Winona team.  When I went to pick him up from the airport I had an idea.  Once he was in the car I asked him how many bald eagles he typically sees in Oklahoma.  When his answer was “none” I knew I was on the right track.

Instead of jumping on the interstate we went back behind the airport on Fisherman’s Road and we were able to see exactly what I was hoping we would see.  On the ice, in the air, and perched on trees were well over 30 bald eagles migrating through.  To make it even more awesome, a couple of the eagles had caught fish and pulled them up on the ice to eat.  It was perfect!


We tooled around the backroad for a few minutes and then got on our way driving up the Mississippi, making the same drive I was thankful for yesterday.  Along the way I was able to point out a couple of eagle nests and it was fun seeing his reaction to the wonderful scenery.

As I drove home from Rochester tonight I kept thinking about that little bit of time when I was essentially a tour guide today.  It brought me a ton of joy, and, as I thought more about it, it was on a couple of different levels.  There’s the joy of bringing a smile to someone else’s face, there’s the joy of seeing the sights myself, and then there was something else…  when playing the role of occasional tour guide I am looking at this thing I’ve seen so many times before through the eyes of someone else and I’m left awestruck by it.  When I’m showing someone a location, sight, or whatever it reminds me to appreciate it and see it more clearly and with more gratitude, and what an incredible gift that is!  Hmm… being an occasional tour guide…  I may have to add that to my dream book or retirement list. 🙂