Monthly Archives: July 2016

Day 308 – Thankful for Life Lessons for the Boys That Are Probably Really More of a Reminder for Myself

Today I am thankful for life lessons for the boys that are probably really more of a reminder for myself.

Camping has been a blast and we’re all having a good time.  The cousins are having a lot of fun fishing and the adults are enjoying the kids getting older and needing less supervision.  It’s crazy to see how much less stress there is camping now that they’ve gotten older.

That being said, we damn near had a total meltdown of possibly epic proportions.  The campground has a vending machine and the cousins love getting all types of goodies from it.  As we ended our trek to the cousins’ version of the camping holy land, it went from a walk full of promise to the boulevard of broken dreams.  

The vending machine was broken and didn’t take quarters (but it would take dollar bills).  Guess who’s got two thumbs and about 5 pounds of quarters?  This guy!  As I explained to my boys that they were out of luck the frustrations bubbled up to the surface.  “Stupid vending machine” and other frustrated and angry comments were made.  Seeing a fatherly advice window open I told them to stop complaining and asked the boys for other options.  What are ways we could solve this?”

After taking a few seconds to calm down they started thinking of options ranging from asking the camp host for help, asking people if they’d trade singles for our quarters and even having me check my wallet for singles.  Luckily for them, I found a few singles in my wallet and we were able to get some snackage from the machine.  Gavin even won the candy lottery, his Lifesavers fell onto a pack of gum, knocking it down also for the two-fee.

Disaster averted, I asked them what else we could’ve done.  All their ideas kept going back to the vending machine so I threw them a curveball.  I asked them why we went to the vending machine in the first place.  “To get candy.”  So I asked them what are other ways to get candy and they both kind of cocked their heads at me as they thought.  “Drive to a gas station?”  “Drive to a grocery store?”  As we talked about it they started to realize that either of those options would have resulted in a wider selection of candy and at lower prices.  

I explained that it can be very easy to tunnel vision on one idea and totally lose sight of the “why,” the thing you were trying to fix or solve.  As we talked about it I explained that recency and tunnel vision can cause us to miss many better solutions to things, but it’s an easy trap to fall into.  One of the ways to help prevent it is to zoom out, take a pause, remember the “why,”and then reset your thinking process.  

It seemed like they started to get it, we jumped back into full on camping mode and they took off chasing after some cousins.  As I had a second to think about it I couldn’t help but smile and wonder who needed that advice more, the boys or me?  

It still amazes me how many times that I share some “fatherly advice” or have a “dad talk” and afterwards I realized that I should probably take my own advice and maybe I gave the advice because deep down I knew that I needed it.  Either way, I’m hoping it all helps…  The boys and me.


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Posted by on July 30, 2016 in Uncategorized


Day 307 – Thankful for Learning From Years of Experience

Today I am thankful for learning from years of experience.

We’re heading up north for our annual camping trip with the Thums clan.  Over the years this has usually led to one constant…  Me having a major meltdown at some point due to trying to fit all of our stuff into the car.  It usually comes during the 2nd time that I’m pulling almost everything out of the car because not everything fit in the car.  ARGH!!!

This year is different.  This year I remembered all of the little tricks from previous years.  All of the mistakes I’ve made before popped back into my head and I avoided the traps and pitfalls like thinking only of size when choosing what to load in first.  Big rocks first, right?  Nope!  Not in this case as proven by the year I mistakenly packed one of the largest things on the bottom… The tent that I needed to put up first in order to put the rest of our stuff in it.  All in all it went very well…  And we have extra room!

The current packing list of what’s in our car includes:

  • 2 full size bikes for the boys
  • Fishing rods and gear
  • A rifle (thx again for letting me borrow the case Steve!)
  • 4 sleeping bags
  • 4 backpacks
  • 2 suitcases (the boys are staying up north for 2 weeks)
  • A crockpot
  • Groceries
  • A huge cooler full of drinks
  • A large tent
  • 4 camping chairs
  • Pillows
  • Towels
  • Life jackets
  • And a family!

It took a little fancy maneuvering, but we made it work!

Thanks to years of getting frustrated and making tons of mistakes this year went pretty awesome!  Dear God, does that mean I’m getting older and wiser???


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Posted by on July 29, 2016 in Uncategorized


Day 306 – Thankful for Struggling to Narrow It Down to One Thing to Be Most Thankful For

Today I am thankful for struggling to narrow it down to one thing to be most thankful for.

It’s kind of nice when it is my blog and my rules.  What I say goes, and I’m glad that it works out this way today!  Why focus on one thing to be grateful for when today was absolutely filled with things to be thankful for?  Instead of narrowing it down to just one I’m going to hit a handful of the highlights.

Early morning hiking at the bluffs with Brian and Steve was an excellent start to the day.  The weather was great, the conversation fun, and the exercise felt wonderful.  Similar to training for the marathon with Becky I’m pretty sure I’m going to miss the training after we get to the top.  Thanks to B for noticing that the flag was putting off a shadow this morning!


This week we have two new franchisees from the St Paul Express Employment Professionals office visiting our Winona location.  They’ve just completed their training and this week gives them the opportunity to try out what they’ve been learning in a safe but very real environment.  It’s been awesome spending time with them, not only sharing some of the cool things we do, but also learning from them.  It’s an even cooler bonus to find out that they are flat out an awesome couple with many common interests.  They’re great people and their enthusiasm and passion for our business have been very infectious!  There’s something magical about the beginner’s mindset!

Yes, there was already a blog post about Situational Leadership (learning to drive on the left side of the road in Australia), but it was definitely near and dear to my heart today.  Between tough conversations to get back in alignment and set a clear path and working through someone’s first time in a specific situation it was incredibly helpful in getting us on the same page and helping me remember what type of leadership and direction they needed for that specific scenario.


The boys crack me up.  How can they go from fighting so much that all I can do to keep from coming completely unhinged is to have them do chores every single time I hear fighting to suddenly giggling, laughing and acting like the best friends in the world.  Those moments are absolute bliss!

I’m thankful for our last family meal at the dining room table as a family for the next couple of weeks.  Between my Colorado trip next week, Becky researching in the field, and the boys hanging out with grandparents for a couple of weeks it will be a while before the four of us get back to the normal that I love and appreciate.  It was nice to take a moment and let it sink in.

It’s crazy to see just how much can get done in a week that is crammed with way too much.  This week had us prepping for camping this weekend, getting the boys ready for being away for two weeks, and me prepping to be out of work for a week.  All that coming off of a weekend in which we didn’t get home until Sunday afternoon.  Absolute insanity and chaos, but several quiet moments to enjoy time with the family (and ice cream).

Lastly, how could I not be thankful for how much the boys love to read?  It’s crazy to think that one of the worst punishments we can levy is to tell them they can’t read for a little while!

As you’ve been reading this you can probably start to see why I’m thankful to be struggling to get it down to one thing to be most thankful for.  The day has been a flurry of activity and non-stop action since 3:30 this morning, and it’s been pretty freaking awesome.  I have a lot to be thankful for today.  Life isn’t just good, it’s pretty damn awesome!


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Posted by on July 29, 2016 in Uncategorized


Day 305 – Thankful for the Magic of Cardboard, Duct Tape, and Imagination

Today I am thankful for the magic of cardboard, duct tape, and imagination.

As I went downstairs to see what Dominic was up to I couldn’t help but smile as I walked by his latest creation.  He had already moved onto, and was deeply engrossed in, his next project.

While up at my dad’s this weekend the boys were offered some pretty good size pieces of cardboard to take home and make something out of.  As soon as we got home Dominic headed downstairs with his sheets and got to work.  He came up once in a while for supplies – duct tape, scissors, etc…  And that was all we saw of him and his project until he was done.

Then he called for us to come downstairs and this is what we saw…

How cool is that?  No directions, pictures, or diagrams.  He just went from his imagination and built a pretty awesome car out of cardboard and duct tape! 

It is amazing to watch him in his element, creating something.  Sometimes it is something by direction (like the sprinkler) and other times it is from his imagination (like the car and many Lego creations).  Either way I’m always impressed with his ability to take a concept and make it reality.  I can’t wait to see what other incredible things he makes in his life using his awesome imagination and his ability to turn the things in his head into reality.  If he can do things like this with cardboard and tape, just wait until he has more hard core supplies!


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Posted by on July 28, 2016 in Uncategorized


Day 304 – Thankful for Digital Cameras

Today I am thankful for digital cameras.

Tonight’s post was going to be about being thankful for ice cream on the deck on a summer week night as a family.  As I went to get a good pic of the family I snapped a pic, and then another, and another, and another, and yet another.  I’ve learned over the years to snap several and then you should have a good one or two to choose from.  As I checked the pics this is what I had to choose from:

Gavin looking like he was in Colorado…
Gavin looking like he was afraid of my phone…
Gavin after drinking too much…
And Gavin looking like he was caught with his hand in the cookie jar.
I was down to one picture left…  How did it turn out?  Becky was smiling the whole time, was her smile going to fade a little?  Maybe she was blinking?  Dominic looked relatively normal and happy, was he going to be making a face this time?  Could Gavin really go zero for five?  Maybe, just maybe, would and act of God have gotten him to smile for just one pic?  Could just one of the five have turned out???


Thanks Becky for deciding to tell me I was number one!  Perfect!  Thanks for making this picture memorable with just one finger Becky! Another benefit of digital is the ability to hide an obscene gesture. 😂

I’m kind of used to that from Gavin (this beauty was from 4 or 5 years ago when he wanted to show me where his finger hurt).

And that’s why I’m thankful for digital cameras today.  Had this been a standard camera I would’ve taken one picture and packed the camera away, only to surprised and disappointed a few weeks later when it was finally developed.  Now we have the ability to snap off several at once to find the one that’s just right the first time (or enjoy the hilarity of the ones caught at just the wrong time).  Here’s to the many gigs of pics that didn’t quite turn out that will probably be saved for eternity to be laughed at over and over again.


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Posted by on July 27, 2016 in Uncategorized


Day 303 – Thankful for a Perfect End to a Busy Day

Today I’m thankful for a perfect end to a busy day.

Man, I was busy all day long today!  Non-stop from the time Becky and I went for a run at 5am until getting home from soccer and getting some stuff done around the house.  At one point I even played “I’m in a Hurry” by Alabama for Becky!

As I finished watering plants I was all geared up to get other stuff done when Gavin came outside, already in his pajamas, and asked, “Hey Dad, want to sit outside on the steps and eat ice cream with me?”  As the phrase “No, I’ve got shit to do” started coming out of my mouth I was able to cut it off after the first word.  “Bud, that sounds awesome.”  And with that we proceeded to sit out on the back deck, eat ice cream, chillax, and play some games together.  (Dominic had a headache and was already in bed, so it was just Gavin and I).

It was exactly the end of a busy day that I needed.  Set everything aside, be present in the moment with Gavin and just relax.  It’s not often I take the time to chill with Gavvers when he’s in chillin’ mode and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it.  He taught me some new games, he hammed it up for a couple of pics, and we did some internet research to find out why it’s called a “poop deck.”  The real world and all of its stresses, tasks and demands all melted away and we just relaxed.  How awesome is that?

Yesterday I mentioned the master appearing when the student was ready.  How crazy is it that today I learned to slow down and relax from the unstoppable force of nature, the non-stop Energizer bunny incarnate… Gavin? Crazy, but I’m very thankful my best-est buddy talked me into being present with him tonight.


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Posted by on July 26, 2016 in Uncategorized


Day 302 – Thankful for an Insightful Story From an Unexpected Source

Today I am thankful for an insightful story from an unexpected source.

There’s been a story that’s popped into my brain on a couple of occasions since I first heard it last week.  It’s one that I hadn’t heard before, and was very powerful in getting a point across.  To make it even more awesomely serendipitous, it came as the result of an almost random conversation with someone I’d only spoken very briefly with prior to the conversation that led to this story.

We’ve had a few issues with the heating control system in our building and I went to the office of one of our tenants to give them an update.  The person I meant to speak with was out, so I engaged in friendly conversation with Wayne, one of the massage therapists.  Wayne and I have exchanged pleasantries several times, but have never really gotten into a real conversation.  One thing led to another and BANG! we were in the middle of a pretty deep conversation on presence.  He shared a story with me that has really stuck in my head and has had me re-thinking many things.  Here it is (special thanks to the person that wrote it at this page – I purely copied and pasted the story below from that site):


A senior monk and a junior monk were traveling together. At one point, they came to a river with a strong current. As the monks were preparing to cross the river, they saw a very young and beautiful woman also attempting to cross. The young woman asked if they could help her cross to the other side.

The two monks glanced at one another because they had taken vows not to touch a woman.

Then, without a word, the older monk picked up the woman, carried her across the river, placed her gently on the other side, and carried on his 

The younger monk couldn’t believe what had just happened. After rejoining his companion, he was speechless, and an hour passed without a word between them.

Two more hours passed, then three, finally the younger monk could contain himself any longer, and blurted out “As monks, we are not permitted a woman, how could you then carry that woman on your shoulders?”

The older monk looked at him and replied, “Brother, I set her down on the other side of the river, why are you still carrying her?”

This is a great reminder to me of many things.  First, to be present.  Not just as in the case of the story, but in conversations with others.   I will never know if a random conversation can lead to incredible insight.  As the old saying goes, the teacher will appear when the student is ready…  The funny thing is that I’ve been trying to focus on being more present recently.  Second, engage in conversation with others and listen more than you speak.  If I’d taken the lead in the conversation I could have pushed it in another direction and never heard this beautifully simple story.  Third, stories have incredible power.  Throughout time our history has been passed along by story telling.  I need to remember this when I’m trying to teach, motivate and explain.  The more I can put it into a story the more likely it is to be remembered.  Last, simplicity is beautiful.  The story doesn’t need to be long or overly detailed, the more simple the more memorable.

Thanks again to Wayne for sharing this story at the right time, it was greatly appreciated!


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Posted by on July 25, 2016 in Uncategorized


Day 301 – Thankful for Cousins’ Weddings

Today I am thankful for counsins’ weddings.  I have it mention that today was the first time, after 300 days, that I received a request for today’s blog…  Luckily for Aunt Laura this was going to be the topic all along! 🙂

This weekend’s trip up north was prompted by the wedding of Becky’s cousin Julie.  Congrats Julie & Caleb!  

Are there many family get togethers better than the wedding of a cousin of a spouse?  They’re great!  No stress, no pressure, just a relaxing and fun time with the family.  Fortunately for me Becky has something in the range of 2.7 million cousins.

There are many reasons these events are outstanding, and here are a few of the highlights:

  • Let’s start off with the most obvious…  Free beer.  Do I really need to elaborate?
  • The awesomely fun best man speech from the little brother who explains that the older brother was “a prick” and made his life terrible.  That being said you could tell the best man really does love and appreciate his older brother.
  • Seeing cousins who have babies doing their best to keep the little ones happy reminds me of how thankful I am that we’re at a point that we can leave he boys home alone for short periods of time.
  • It’s always a great time seeing the uncles and horsing around with them.  My personal favorite of this wedding was Uncle Teddy shaking my hand to give the sign of peace and then promptly pulling down very hard and almost causing me to tip right over the pew.  
  • Seeing family members we haven’t seen for a long time is always great.  It gives us a chance to catch up and shoot the bull.
  • Sitting through the wedding ceremony makes me think back to our wedding…  Standing in front over everyone, getting nervous, smiling as I saw Becky for the first time that day…  Pretty awesome memories.
  • Watching the little kids dance like Drunk Mike used to dance back in the day is always entertaining.  Sadly, I have to admit that Gavin and Mason have way better moves than I’ve ever had.
  •  Not gonna lie, this one was even better than normal.  It’s not every day that the groom is a fellow redhead who was referred to as an “angry Ginger” during the best man speech.  Glad to have one more of us good guys in the family!
  • Any event that gives me an excuse to do some slow dancing with Becky is a pretty cool event as far as I’m concerned.

All in all, there’s a lot to be thankful for from weddings.  I’m very thankful to have been at the wedding today!

Congrats again to Julie and Caleb, here’s to many years of happiness and to many years of attending weddings; during which they’re blessed to have many memories rekindled and new memories made.


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Posted by on July 24, 2016 in Uncategorized


Day 300 – Thankful for Stoney Pub

Day 300 – Thankful for Stoney Pub

Today I am thankful for Stoney Pub.

One of the awesome parts about rolling into Phillips before it gets too late is going out to eat at Stoney Pub.  Nothing says Phillips eating quite like it! 

The hot sauce, cheese and chips are an awesome starter.  The beer is cold, the Old Fashioneds are delicious.  While there are many great things on the menu I need only 3 seconds to decide what I’m going to order…  The huge, cheesy, full of taco goodness enchilada.  It’s pretty awesome how diets of any kind just don’t apply once you walk in the front door.

While the food and drinks would be enough alone to bring me back, it’s the people that make it even more awesome and that make it feel even more like Phillips.  The past few times I’ve been there over the past couple of years Butch and his wife have been sitting in the same place at the bar (last time Butch asked if I was the youngest son, “Nope, I’m the more awesome son.” 😄).  There’s always a random person or two that I haven’t seen in a long time there.  I’m pretty sure if I lived in Phillips it would be a real life “Cheers.”

Best of all, there’s always Bill.  How can you not love shooting bull with the guy?  Always remembers you, big smile and huge handshake as you walk in, he makes you feel like a good friend you haven’t seen in a long time.  I can’t imagine not seeing him there, he’s the face of Stoney Pub.  I’m also very thankful for Cindy.  While I really haven’t ever spent much time with her, she plays a huge role in the experience every single time – thanks for cooking!

As I lay in bed writing this my stomach is still full from eating way too much a few hours ago.  Seriously, the food is too good to stop at a reasonable point!  I can’t help but think that Stoney Pub is one of the iconic places in Phillips that transforms it from a small town to my hometown.  So many meals have been eaten there with many family and friends, I can’t (or don’t want to) imagine not stopping in for a meal at least a couple of times a year and creating more memories.  Thanks Bill and Cindy for helping to welcome me back to my hometown a couple of times a year!


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Posted by on July 23, 2016 in Uncategorized


Day 299 – Thankful for My Buddy Steve

Today I’m thankful for my buddy Steve.

Today started off extremely early, but extremely awesome!  To get in some hiking miles in prep for our Colorado trip Steve and I met up at the base of Granddad’s Bluff at 3:30 this morning.  Not gonna lie, I was pretty stoked to get going and the majority of the reason was to hang out with my friend.  Eight miles later we were still shooting the bull and having a great time.  That really got me thinking about how much I appreciate Steve.  

As opposed to some sappy BS, here are my Top 11 reasons I appreciate Steve:
11)  Steve is a blast to get old with!  I’ve learned more about fist shaking and hollering at neighbor kids from him than anyone else who’s within a decade of my age.

10)  In case of a zombie apocalypse there is one person I know who is more totally prepared than any other friend or family member…  Steve.

9)  While others may enjoy the crazy excitement of Vegas, Steve is just as happy chilling on the couch of the hotel, drinking beer, and watching Thor.

8)  Steve married Kathy, Kathy’s pretty awesome (see Day 243), and the two of them are always fun to hang out with.

7)  Umm…  Who else is crazy enough to meet up at 3:30am for a hike?  Along those lines, he’s also the mastermind behind our trip to Colorado.

6)  Seriously, have you seen the guy’s beard?  If he shaved it off tomorrow it’d be back within 2 hours!

5)  Steve is exactly who you think he is.  He’s straight forward, honest, and is true to himself.  You can always count on him to be him and rep spins the way you’d expect him to respond.  His consistency is pretty cool!

4)  As I started getting in shape a long time ago Steve was an absolutely awesome help.  He helped me understand everything from the impact of different weight training programs to how carbs impact weight loss, to how to keep my energy levels up while doing long distance running.  His knowledge of training, nutrition and supplements are fantastic!

3)  We share a love of Mai Tais…

2)  The number and depth of conversations you can have with Steve is amazing.  He never gets uppity and judgmental, he just gives you his opinions to think over.  This morning we discussed everything from hiking, religion, aliens, drinking, work, and life.

1)  The dude is always there for anyone whenever you need him.  Steve helped out a ton with building my garage and so many other projects.  Whether it is a project of just needing a friend to talk with, he’s the man.  I am very grateful for his willingness to help out  anytime.

Thanks for being an awesome friend Steve!


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Posted by on July 22, 2016 in Uncategorized