Monthly Archives: May 2016

Day 247 – Thankful for a Great Time with the Boys and Their Friends (& Becky & My Mom)

Today I’m thankful for a great time with the boys and their friends.

It’s been a pretty cool day and change so far.  We picked up the Lyga boys yesterday afternoon and headed up to my mom’s.  

After playing some pool, eating ice cream and playing other games they “cooled down” by catching fireflies.  The boys stayed up maybe a little too late giggling in the tent in the backyard talking about the types of stuff boys talk about.  I finally had to threaten to sit outside and listen to them unless they went to sleep a littl after 11:30 last night.

In the morning we packed up and headed off to Valley Fair for a day of roller coasters, chaos  and junk food.  We’re still here, the boys are waiting in line for another roller coaster.

Seeing as it is probably going to be a little bit of a late night I thought I’d take a couple of minutes to type this up.  I’m also wondering if it’s better to write it now than after couple and a half hour car ride with four crazy exhausted monkeys.

It’s pretty awesome to make some memories like this, it brings back memories I have of going to Great America, Valley Fair, and Disney.  Kinda neat to help make some of those memories for our boys!


Leave a comment

Posted by on May 30, 2016 in Uncategorized


Day 246 – Thankful for Dominic’s Big Heart

Today I am thankful for Dominic’s big heart.

We’re only halfway through today and there’s already been a few things related to Dominic that I am thankful for.  I taught him how to mow the lawn today.  I’m thankful for the patience my parents’ must’ve had when they taught me to mow the lawn.  I’m thankful I didn’t get so frustrated that I finally just mowed myself.  I’m thankful that Dominic persevered and finished mowing the lawn.  I’m thankful that I don’t have to teach him again. ūüôā

On the serious side, I’m very thankful for his big heart.  Yesterday while we were on the sandbar he found a caterpillar that he saw as a new pet.  After a good 15-30 minutes of having his new pet it somehow fell off of his hand and was washed away in the river.  After quite a bit of frantic searching he realized that it was gone.

It really bothered him that, in his mind, he killed his beloved caterpillar.  He was very sullen and stopped playing with the other boys.  He went off on his own and you could tell he was pretty tore up inside.  After a while he got started doing something.  What he was doing I could quite tell.

Once he was done he asked me to see what he had made.  He had made a cross out of sticks and long grass, a grave marker that said “RIP Caterpillar,” and some shiny shells as decoration.  It was easy to see that this was helping put his emotions at ease.  That was that, or so I thought.

This morning at church Dominic leaned over and whispered in my ear part way through the service.  “During the general intersessions I prayed for Mr. Caterpillar and I prayed that he was enjoying sitting on a branch in the sun in heaven.”  Talk about one of those moments when a dad gets a big cases of “the feels.”

I’m so very thankful that Dominic cares for everyone and and everything as much as he does.  He truly wants everyone to be happy and will do what he can to help them be happy if they aren’t.  

I’m also thankful that I have days like this when he both frustrates me and then amazes me.  Days like this remind me that I need to remember how much he cares and how big his heart is when I get frustrated with him and change what I do with my frustration.


Leave a comment

Posted by on May 29, 2016 in Uncategorized


Day 245 – Thankful for Not Skipping My Run

Today I’m thankful for not skipping my run.  

It was tempting today.  Maybe I can run later.  Maybe tonight.  Maybe tomorrow.  Maybe I’ll do something else instead.  Maybe…

Maybe I should get off my lazy ass and run!  For extra motivation I asked the boys if they wanted to go with and they were in for biking along with me.  With them on their bikes I had the last little motivation I needed to get moving.  I’m thankful that I got moving, we had an awesome time!

First, we ran by Becky and the dogs and she pointed out the ginormous (pronounced ji’ nor mus) cargo jet at the airport.  Turns out that one of the largest cargo jets in the world was loading up a huge cooling unit made in La Crosse to Asia.  We had to get a closer look so we took a detour to see it better.  While we were there Dominic decided he wanted a selfie of the three of us and the jet.

After that we kept going down the road and found some awesomely huge puddles to ride through (& maybe run through too!).

Freshly soaked we went to the end of the road and turned around and found this little guy, who was pretty nice:

And this big angry one that reminded me how fast snapping turtles can spin around and bite!

As we were in the home stretch we heard the engines of the jet roar and were able to get this pretty gnarly view of the ginormous jet taking off before it went over our house.

As we got home I had a huge smile on my face and I felt great!  Not only did I get a run in, but I also had a ton of fun with my boys.  And to think I almost skipped all of this by being lazy and not going on my run.  


Leave a comment

Posted by on May 28, 2016 in Uncategorized


Day 244 – Thankful for Gavin’s Ability to See the World Very Differently

Day 244 – Thankful for Gavin’s Ability to See the World Very Differently

Today I’m thankful for Gavin’s ability to see the world very differently.

Who knows what this kid is going to do in his life, but I’m definitely excited to find out!

At the end of the school year the kids bring home their art projects and we have a great time looking at all of the things they’ve made. Afterwards we put the art into big totes and once in a while go back to look at it again.  This year it real hit me how Gavin’s brain is just wired very differently than other people’s and I think in a good way.

The first thing that stuck out can be seen in the picture above.  Look closely and you’ll see that he decided to “hide” some diamonds inside the trees of his collage.  That wasn’t part of the project, he just thought it up and added it in.  Pretty neat idea!

And then there’s this drawing that was selected to be in an art show:

At first it looks a little crazy, but once you start looking closely it is amazing to see the storylines and ideas he built into this.  I was going to try to explain it myself, but then realized I should let Gavin explain.  Enjoy this short clip of Gavin explaining everything going on in this picture:

Gavin’s ability to see the world differently can be downright exhausting at times, but when I take time to appreciate it I can’t help but get a huge smile on my face and be thankful for his crazy creativity!


1 Comment

Posted by on May 28, 2016 in Uncategorized


Day 243 – Thankful for My Friend Kathy

Today I am thankful for my friend Kathy.

In case you didn’t know, Kathy is my “Sister from Another Mister.”  As two people who’ve been blessed with awesomeness on top of their heads Kathy and I hit it off from the start when Steve introduced me to his new girlfriend.

There are so many reasons I’m thankful for Kathy.  

  1. She keeps my friend Steve happy.  
  2. She keeps all of his friends happy.  Whenever there’s a fantasy football draft to be held, a poker league that needs a basement, or a group of semi-drunken Oktoberfesters need a place to play Cards Against Humanity, Kathy is there with bells on offering up her home and always makes sure we are well fed.
  3. Speaking of food…  Have you had her chocolate chip cookies or red velvet anything?  AWESOME!
  4. I lovingly refer to my hair as “the ruins of a once great civilization,” and even though I don’t give her much to work with, she gives a pretty fantastic haircut.
  5. While she always fakes being disgusted at my totally inappropriate behavior she is always the first to poke the bear and prods and coerces me into more and more inappropriate behavior.
  6. She’s always in a good mood and can cheer her friends up with her humor and energy.
  7. She is an awesome friend to Becky.  Wine trips, wine tastings and other various girl outings start with an idea from Kathy and Becky always comes home in a great mood.
  8. Kathy is totally genuine, what you see is what you get.  You never have to question her honesty or motives, she is who she is and shares exactly what she is thinking.
  9. She is willing to help out with anything, anytime.  Whenever a form asks for a non-parent number in case of an emergency her’s will be the one written down.

Of all the things I appreciate most about Kathy, the one that sticks out the most is how much she cares about her friends.  She has a heart of gold and is an incredible friend.  

While I don’t always say it because I’m too busy trying to gross her out with a totally inappropriate joke or gesture, I always appreciate her friendship!


1 Comment

Posted by on May 27, 2016 in Uncategorized


Day 242 – Thankful for a Reminder of My Grandpa

Day 242 – Thankful for a Reminder of My Grandpa

Today I am thankful for a reminder of my grandpa.

Over the years I’ve lost more things from my childhood than I (or my parents) would ever care to remember. ¬†Some of them were very important to me and yet they somehow escaped my possession. ¬†My class ring. The silver cross necklace from my parents. ¬†Countless other important things, now nothing but a faded memory. ¬†Almost all of the other things that have survived my childhood are very cool reminders of people, places, stages¬†in my life and various events. ¬†All things that I cherish, appreciate, and bring me joy. ¬†There’s only one that comes to my head that is used on a fairly regular basis and has been as long as I’ve had it. ¬†It’s travelled with me to many places many times and has been used countless times in so many ways.

Of my grandparents, the one that I think of the least is my Grandpa Kreiling. ¬†It’s not that I love him any less than any of my other grandparents, it’s just that I lost him first when I was pretty young. ¬†Funny, one of the strongest memories I have of him was when my dad called me into his bedroom, had me sit on the bed next to him, and told me that Grandpa had passed away the night before. ¬†I still remember the confusion yet immediate and complete understanding of his words, the almost instantaneous tears, and then a big hug from my dad as I sobbed.

Fortunately, that is far from the only memory I have of him. ¬†Every time I see blaze orange for the first time during hunting season I think of him. ¬†When someone shows me a picture of a fish they caught I think of him. ¬†Occasionally when the boys are whining about something I can hear his voice saying “Quit your bellyachin’.” ¬†I remember him when I think of hunting and doing things in the outdoors. ¬†There’s also something that always makes me think of him every time I use it. ¬†The exact memory is pretty faded, so much so that I had to double check with my dad to make sure my brain wasn’t filling in the gaps… ¬†(Know what I mean? ¬†Ever have one of those memories that was so visceral that it had to be true, but because it was so age torn and year tattered that it had almost unravelled into nothing, and you couldn’t tell if the loose threads that were left were the real thing or something your mind built to make sense of the memory that was left?)

As Paul Harvey would say, and now for the rest of the story…

IMG_0056 2When I crossed over from Weblos (Cub Scouts) into Boy Scouts one of the gifts that I was given was a Boy Scout pocket knife from my Grandpa Kreiling.  It was AWESOME!!!  A sign of me being old enough to have some responsibility, I had a blade and tool of my own to use.  I was almost a man!

Throughout Scouts many a stick was whittled (usually into a stick with a point and no bark), many cans of food were opened while camping, so many things were poked or pried, screwed or unscrewed, and sometimes there was a little accidental self-induced damage…IMG_0057 2IMG_0059 2

As life continued after Scouts the knife from my Grandpa stayed at my side. ¬†It has lived with me in Phillips, Houghton (MI), Minneapolis, and La Crosse. ¬†It has gone on vacation with me to many states. ¬†As a larger child (not sure my maturity would ever allow me to be considered an adult), the knife has continued to go with me when doing things outside, and I’m positive it will be with me when I summit Long’s Peak with some friends this summer. ¬†As a Cub Scout leader it has been with me at Pinewood Derbies, Space Derbies, Rain Gutter Regattas, and any event that involves being outside.

IMG_0055 2And that brings me to today. ¬†Earlier this evening we had a hike in the bluffs for Cub Scouts for our den meeting. ¬†As we were on our hike I put my hand in my pocket and felt the cool, welcome feel of this gift from my grandpa. ¬†As always, when I grasped it I immediately had thoughts and memories of him. ¬†In some cases they might be as fleeting as seeing his face for a flash of a second in my head, but in other cases, like today, I pause and think more about him. ¬†I thought about him and his love of the outdoors, I thought of him and his incredible work ethic, I thought about the incredible struggles he fought through in his life and I thought about him smiling at me. ¬†As I thought of all of this it also hit me that of all the things and stuff I’ve lost in my life, “how is it that¬†this is something that has lasted?“. ¬†I’m pretty sure that me keeping this knife for all of these years is nothing short of a miracle.

Is it a miracle, or is there maybe something else that helps keep this gift so close to me? Something that knows that I sometimes struggle to find a memory of him. ¬†Something that knows that¬†other times I feel guilty that I don’t have as many vivd memories of him as I do of my other grandparents. ¬†Something that knows that I grapple¬†to remember more memories of him more clearly because I want to remember him better and I can feel my memories slowly fading. Something that knows I still love my grandpa and would love to have just 5 more minutes with him to refresh and clarify my memories of him.

Whatever it is, tonight I am so incredibly thankful to have such a powerful reminder of my grandpa to help keep his memory close to me.  Through all the ups and downs of my life this knife has been with me, just as my Grandpa has been.



Posted by on May 26, 2016 in Uncategorized


Day 241 – Thankful for A Lot of Stuff

Today I am thankful for a lot of stuff.  Yes, today I have officially broken the rule I set for myself of being for ONE thing every day for a year.

It was a pretty awesome day filled with many things to be thankful for.  At several times today I caught myself thinking that I had found what today’s topic would be.  As opposed to leaving out some of the awesomeness I’ve made an executive decision to include as many of them as I can remember.  I’ll do my best to list them chronologically.

  1. A great night of sleep!  Last night was the first time in a long time that I only woke up once and felt fully rested by the time the alarm went off.
  2. Early morning biking with my boys!  The boys were totally in when I asked them if they wanted me to wake them up early to go for a bike ride so I woke them up at 5:35am.  Both in a good mood, we headed out for a nice bike ride on the island filled with some cool conversations and some great music.  Gavin and I may have been jamming out to the Flobots’ song Handlebars while getting ready afterwards.
  3. The Bodeans.  They’re a great band that brings back memories of chilling with friends in college.  I was totally jamming out while listening to them on the drive to work.
  4. Going with the Flow.  Attitude is everything when it comes to a drastic change in the day.  All you can do is keep a smile and look for the best.  And surprise, surprise, whether you think it will be awesome or horrible, you’re right!
  5. Unexpected Great News!  Right after my plans changed I got an awesome phone call from the boys’ school.  Turns out that Dominic is crazy awesome at math and they want to “double accelerate” his math classes… which would put him in Pre-Calculus as a freshmen!  How cool to have an opportunity like that – if he decides to take it.  I’m also glad that we started discussing decision making tactics yesterday to help him decide if he should do it or not.
  6. Time with Mentors.  It’s not often that you get a chance to hang out with your closest business mentors as well as the founder of a crazy large business.  Believe it or not, I did my best to not speak and just soaked in what they all had to say on many different topics.  So much knowledge was shared in a very short time.
  7. My Dad Being a Jerk When I Needed It.  To be very clear, I love my dad to death and he is pretty awesome.  When I was younger I used to get so frustrated because sometimes he was such a jerk.  Funny how that behavior was usually correlated with something that I did that was either wrong, half assed, or disappointing.  I’d get frustrated with him being a jerk first, and then I’d start to realize what he was trying to teach me.  He did it out of love to prove a point and help grow my values set.  The reason I am thankful for it now is that I had to act like that to Dominic to help him understand the level of hatred I have for the word “can’t.”  While I didn’t want to prove the point I knew that I had to in order to help shape his mindset and help him understand that worst four letter words in our household are “Can’t” and “Fair.”  It is only now as a dad that I can really appreciate my dad “acting like a jerk” when I needed it, it is neither pleasant or easy, but it is sometimes necessary.
  8. Late Night Yoga Date with Becky.  Becky took me to yoga after I had a chance to spend time with the boys for a while tonight.  It seriously kicked my ass.  I don’t think I’ve sweat that much since the last marathon.  While it was a good physical beat down it was great to spend time with Becky doing something she loves.
  9. Dominic’s Idea to Help People.  I’m not sure what exactly got this in motion for him, but Dominic showed me the first draft of a plan he put together to do a food drive in our community.  As I asked him questions about it he said that he wanted to do something “change the world and help people,” he wants to “take on new challenges that I haven’t done before,” and “create and lead something.”  He had the whole thing already laid out and as we talked through the strengths and weaknesses of the plan he’s going to put more thought it in and then let ‘er rip.  How awesome is that???  It was also neat to see Gavin jump in and try to figure out how he could help Dominic on this project.  Pretty cool to see the gears turning in both of their heads!

And that’s why I’m thankful for a lot of stuff today.  This was a pretty awesome day, it was too tough to not be thankful for several things.  How great it is to be alive!


Leave a comment

Posted by on May 25, 2016 in Uncategorized


Day 240 -Thankful for Taking Time to Think Differently

Today I am thankful for taking time to think differently.

Buy the iPod or wait to buy a nicer iPod? ¬†That’s the question that Dominic was asking himself tonight that got me thinking about what I am thankful for today. ¬†At the Kid’s Cup Silent Auction I saw an iPod similar to, yet different from, the iPod Dominic has been saving up for. ¬†After thinking it over I put in my bid and won it. ¬†Once I got home I offered Dominic an opportunity… ¬†Buy this iPod for the same amount I got it for, or keep saving up for the other one (which will take some time) and I’ll have a different use for the iPod. ¬†I explained that the decision is his to make, and if he hands me the cash it is his to keep. ¬†As one can imagine he’s ready to buy it immediately because it is real, here and ready now. ¬†But…

I offered up some ideas for him in how to make his decision and told him that if he went through them he’d feel better about his decision, whichever decision it is. ¬†Some of those ideas include (special thanks to the Heath brothers and their excellent book Decisive):

  • Start with “Why?” – Why do you want what you want? ¬†What are the reasons behind it? ¬†The better you know that the better decision you can make.
  • Widen your possibilities – Write a list of 25 other things you could do with the same amount of money. ¬†The question isn’t “should I buy this or should I buy that?”, rather “What should I invest my resources in?”
  • Reality test your decision – How can you test your idea in real life to help you see if the decision may be the right fit
  • Attain distance – If your best friend asked for your advice on this decision, what would you tell them?
  • Prepare to be wrong – What could go wrong? ¬†What are the top 2-3 factors that would make you think you were wrong?

As you can imagine, he was pretty overwhelmed by the process and would just like to buy it without thinking about it because that is the easy thing to do.  Which brings me to why I am thankful for this today.

Today was Kid’s Cup and it was wildly successful, raising over $106,000 for a fantastic cause. ¬†Over the past 20 years it has raised over $1,500,000 to help bring relief and medical assistance to sick children and their families. ¬†Did you know that if two people hadn’t taken time to think differently this amount would have been significantly smaller, like $200,000. ¬†Still a big number, but not nearly as big as $1.5M. ¬†Mark and Sheryl Tasler donated $10,000 to a similar event over 20 years ago. ¬†After taking time to think differently they came up with a fantastic idea to use their same $10,000 investment in a way that helped to generate significantly more revenue for the same cause. ¬†It would have been very easy for Mark and Sheryl to keep giving the same, keeping status quo, and not take time to think. ¬†Thankfully, they did, and now Kid’s Cup has been incredibly successful and many more children and their families have been positively impacted.

And that’s the story I shared with Dominic tonight as he was struggling to think about what to do. ¬†As I told it I could see that he got it, and I’m hoping that it starts to sink in. ¬†Personally, I really don’t care what he does with this $100. ¬†He’s earned and saved it, it’s his money, and he can do what he wants with it. ¬†Whether or not he makes what he feels is the right decision the $100 seems like a pretty small price to pay for a life lesson that I’m hoping will stick with him. ¬†I hope he learns to not just take the first of two options because they are the first presented. ¬†I hope he learns¬†to take time to think differently.


Leave a comment

Posted by on May 24, 2016 in Uncategorized


Day 239 – Thankful for the Generosity and Support of My Friends and Family

Today I am thankful for the generosity and support of my friends and family.

As you probably already know I am raising money for Kid’s Cup. ¬†This year my friends and family have been absolutely wonderful in helping me raise more dollars to help the kids!

I am very thankful and humbled for all of their help and support. ¬†Some have given money and others have given well wishes and kind words –¬†it’s all appreciated!


This event is incredibly special. ¬†To be sure, the¬†golfing is great and the lunch is fantastic, but those pale in comparison to the end of the event. ¬†After the golf is complete (all 36 holes) there’s a silent auction to raise a little more money and then the magic starts. ¬†We usually have between two and four speakers helping us understand where the dollars go. ¬†There’s usually a doctor help us understand some of the ways the money raised have helped them improve their medical facilities and support. ¬†Then one of the kids or families who have been helped by the funds share their story and there’s not a dry eye in the room… ¬†And we’re all reminded why this is such an incredible event to support.

And that’s why I’m thankful for the generosity and support of my friends and family. ¬†Without them I wouldn’t be able to participate in supporting this cause in nearly the same way. ¬†They make the entire event possible and I appreciate their support tremendously!

If anyone feels moved to make a donation to this awesome cause¬†before the event tomorrow, please check out this¬†link¬†(¬†http://¬†)¬†ūüėĄ

If you’d like more information, please check out a video¬†here¬†or¬†here¬†(¬†¬†)


Leave a comment

Posted by on May 23, 2016 in Uncategorized


Day 238 – Thankful for the First Day of Summer

Today I’m thankful for the first day of summer.

Yeah, yeah, it’s probably not technically summer yet, but I don’t care.  Today it feels like the start of summer…  And that is awesome!!!

After a morning of cleaning and soccer we headed out to pick up our boat.  While we weren’t able to get it in the water yet (that’ll be tomorrow) it felt great to have the pontoon in our driveway again.  

Even before it hit the water the boat also rang in another reminder of the start of summer… The inaugural run to Farm & Fleet to dump more cash into the money pit known as Serenity NOW!!!.

Only home for a few minutes, Becky found enough time while watering the plants (another reminder of summer) to scare a duck out of the hostas.

From there we biked to church.  Summer’s here when church becomes a Saturday night affair.  

After church we biked to The Pearl for our first “Ice Cream Supper” of the summer.  

After choking down some ice cream goodness we biked back home… To a house with open windows and a ceiling fan blowing fresh summery felling air through the house.

Who cares about whether or not it’s officially summer, it sure feels like it to me…  And it feels AWESOME!!!


Leave a comment

Posted by on May 22, 2016 in Uncategorized