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Monthly Archives: August 2016

Day 340 – Thankful for the Power of Teamwork to Hit a Goal

Today I am thankful for the power of teamwork to hit a goal.

This morning the alarm went off and I was really tired.  My legs and feet were stiff and not wanting to loosen up.  I was still half asleep and not at all motivated to do anything.  All I wanted to do was go back to the nice peaceful dream I was having…  But I didn’t.

Instead I stared myself in the eyes in the mirror for a minute or two (maybe longer, I might have fallen asleep for a second or two), kicked my self in the butt (envisioning Red Forman telling me “When the alarm puts its foot up your ass and tells you to go for a run, you do it and say thank you!”), got my running stuff on and headed out for a dark early morning run.

Becky and I are running the Oktoberfest Half Marathon together this year and I skipped our long run on Saturday due to running the 5k with Dominic.  This meant that she had logged a long run that I hadn’t yet, and I needed to make it up.  Today was the day to get my miles in.  While every ounce of me wanted to go back to bed it was the fear of letting down my teammate that got me moving this morning.

The first couple of miles were rough (I started early while Becky was doing her sit ups), but by the time I met her at the house and headed out for four miles together I was already feeling better.  She finished up her scheduled miles with me and then it was back to solo running for me.  By now it had gone from black starry night (Orion really caught my attention during the first few blocks) to sunrise and I was greeted with this view as I went over the I90 bridge…

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Pretty epic way to start he last few miles of my run!

As I continued I got tired, sore, and had a few aches and pains that I wasn’t quite ready for.  When all was said and done I had completed my miles and gotten myself back on track (we’ll see how I’m feeling for this weekend’s slightly longer run!).  It felt great to get this accomplished early in the morning and I was in a great mood.

And that’s when it hit me.  Had I been going for a goal on my own I would have skipped the long run, gone back to sleep for a while, and moved on with my training plan like I have for some of my other solo goals.  In this case I got up and got moving specifically because I didn’t want to let my teammate down.  Our goal is important to both of us and we want to accomplish it together.  Me skipping this run would have jeopardized that.  Crazy to think of how teamwork can help motivate like that!  Maybe I need to find more ways to get my teams involved in goals like this, or more specifically, get myself involved with my teams towards a goal like this…  It certainly seems to be working!

Thanks!!!

 

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Day 339 – Thankful for an Awesome Becky Birthday

Day 339 – Thankful for an Awesome Becky Birthday

Today I’m thankful for an awesome Becky Birthday.

For Becky’s birthday this year we both took the day off of work and have been hanging out with the monkeys.  It’s been a day of doing the things that Becky loves, good thing it’s stuff we all enjoy!

The morning started off with cards and gifts from us (even the dogs were thoughtful enough to get her a card!) and we then headed out for breakfast at Nutbush.

From there we loaded up the girls and headed out to hike Seven Bridges (kind of a misnomer as there are only 6 bridges now).  While the clouds of mosquitoes tried to dampen our spirits the awesomeness of the hike kept us smiling the entire way.  The views were pretty cool and we saw tons of wildlife including fish, baby mudcats, frogs, toads, giant grasshoppers, several turtles and many birds.  Some we could just see, others we caught.  The girls had a blast as the trail was empty and said no leashes were required.  This led to two very happy dogs who were running, swimming, rolling in mud, and smiling all the way!  The hike was pretty sweet, we’re just glad to have brought extra bug spray. 😄

On the 6th and final bridge of the Seven Bridges Trail ( ?)

Dominic’s huge toad

Lulu loving the smells that she is rolling in!

Gavin found a crayfish shell

Gavin and the girls running ahead

Looking at the baby mudcats swimming and eating bugs


After the hike we made a pit stop to see a memorial to one of Becky’s old co-workers and then headed out for her Birthday Coffee at Caribou.  What would a birthday be without two boys fighting and driving each other crazy to the point where dad finally blows his top and hollers at the boys (so Becky doesn’t have to yell on her birthday, that’s just how I roll 😉)…  Which inspired Becky to pull up the video of Red Foreman saying “dumb ass” in many, many ways.  We are all laughing pretty hard at that!

Heidi’s contribution to the Wildlife Refuge at Lake Onalaska


Quick lunch and then off to the boat.  While the boys were playing in the water and I was hanging a prop Becky was able to kick back and chill…  Sometimes reading, sometimes talking with friends on the phone, sometimes just relaxing.  That’s where we are now and will eventually need to head back in to reality to make supper, get Dominic to and from soccer, and have some more family fun time. 

Becky enjoying her book

Enjoying the time on the sandbar


Today’s been a great time, and it’s been so easy to get lost in the family time that I can forget that it’s Becky’s birthday.  As I think about it, today’s a pretty cool metaphor for almost all of the days of our family.  While we’re all out having fun, enjoying new things, getting out into nature, and loving life it’s usually because Becky set most of it up or enabled our ability to do what we’re doing.  Behind the scenes of any of our best family moments you’ll find Becky working her magic, being Super Mom and the best wife & best friend ever.  She sacrifices her moments for all of us to have fun and enjoy life a little more, her smile getting bigger the more fun we’re having.  I feel a little guilty today, it almost feels like we’re having more fun and doing the things we want to, but we are actually doing everything that Becky wanted today…  Not just the activities, but enjoying time together as a family, giggling, laughing, and smiling the whole time.  Happy Birthday Becky!!!

Thanks!!!

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Day 338 – Thankful for Healthy Boys (& an Awesome Family Doc)

Today I am thankful for healthy boys (& an awesome family doc).

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The boys had an early morning annual check up today at their normal doc (who’s pretty awesome, but more on him later).  Not gonna lie, they were really good sports, especially when Dr Johnson asked if the female student MD could join him for the exam.

The great news is that they are both very healthy, no serious issues.  Gavin may need glasses pretty soon and Dominic might have my flexibility in his hip flexors, but everything else was exactly the way it should be.  Gavin’s smile got HUGE when he found out there were no shots for the day, and Dominic took his shots like a champ.  We (the boys and I) were even able to keep straight faces and not laugh out loud when the doc was telling us all the things that the shots would prevent (yes, I still have the maturity of a 12 year old boy and usually giggle when I hear the terms penis, testicles, and anal).  All in all everything went pretty awesome…  Which leads me to the next point…

Our family doctor is incredibly awesome!  Dr Steven Johnson has been the doc for the boys since they were born.  At every step of the way he has been friendly and very pleasant.  He remembers little things about us even though we only see him once a year or so.  In today’s appointment he cut me off in a very polite way to prevent me from over parenting and gave Dominic the lead in a situation in which he should have the lead and I should shut up.  His explanations of what is going on and why are always spot on.  Best of all, he treats the boys with the love and tenderness that I would imagine he expresses with his own grandkids.  The big smile, firm but friendly handshake, and optimistic positive energy he displays are always trademarks of our meetings with him.  We’re so fortunate to have stumbled onto a great one like him.

As I wrap up tonight it’s amazing to think of how often I take the health of the boys for granted.  Every morning I wake up with the assumption that they are going to be safe and healthy, but rarely am I as thankful as I should be for that fact.  Gavin’s seizure and Dominic’s run in with the shovel remind me that things don’t always go as planned, but we’ve been so lucky with how healthy the boys have been, and for that I am overwhelmingly grateful!

Thanks!!!

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Day 337 – Thankful for a Day of Extremes

Day 337 – Thankful for a Day of Extremes

Today was pretty wild in an awesome way!

Last night was Dominic’s birthday party so it was non-stop chaos (but well behaved chaos) first thing in the morning.  Busy cooking, cleaning, and sorting through all the left over stuff kept Becky & I moving all morning…  <Side note:  pretty sure the lost and found website I’d like to start would be a hit with parents after sleepover parties: http://www.whosshitisthisanyways.com&gt;



After that the day took a turn for the other extreme.  After church we chilled out, grabbed some coffee, ate an easy lunch and then took a nice long nap.  How awesomely relaxing is that? 

As a rapid change of pace Gavin launched himself on me and we had an epic 30+ minute wrestling match in the living room complete with Gavin jumping off of the coffee table and couch onto me!

While the rest of the day was a combination of both – running errands and chillaxin’ on the couch to close up the weekend – the combination of the extremes of chaos and chill made it a great day.


Thanks!!!

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Day 336 – Thankful for Getting Crushed By Dominic In a 5K

Today I’m thankful for getting crushed by Dominic in a 5k.

Dominic started ahead of me in the 5K and I didn’t see him until he was cheering for me at the finish line.  He smoked me!  Not only that, but he finished the race in 5th place overall – crazy!!!

Definitely a bittersweet moment today…  Incredibly happy for him kicking butt, humbling because he totally beat me, super proud of him because he also won the T shirt design contest (the T shirts we all got for participating) and a great time with him afterwards.

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As you can see, we were both pretty wasted and sweaty!

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Getting his medal for his age group

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Getting his award & gift card for the T Shirt design contest…  If you look closely at his shirt you’ll see his design.

Overall I’m super thankful for the great race with him.  Not gonna lie, I’m definitely going to be working on beating him in a future 5k, that’s just how this dad rolls!

Special thanks to Becky & Gavin for volunteering with the other scouts to help on the race course!!!

Thanks!!!

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Day 335 – Thankful for Dominic

Yup, no suspense today!  Today’s blog is all about the kid who turned me into a dad, Dominic.

It is incredibly rewarding for me to watch to Dominic continue to grow up.  He’s mature beyond his years while maintaining a youthful exuberance and love of life.  I’m so proud of him for so many reasons, it’s tough to try to put them into words.

From the way he cares about his friends and family to his generosity to his incredible ability to shoulder responsibility I am in awe of him.  Throw in his competitive spirit, his willingness to help anyone anytime, his understanding of the importance of practice, his ability to pursue his dreams, his grit, his incredible intelligence (gotta be from Becky!), his passion for reading, awesome imagination, and his love of learning and I couldn’t be more proud!

It is crazy to pause and take a look at just how much he has grown over the years.  Here’s a pic from (almost) every birthday…

2005

His Birthday!  Just a couple of hours old in this picture…


2006

1st Birthday, having fun diving into his birthday cake.


2007

Hot Wheels were all the rage for a little while


2008

2008 – the year of the dinosaur cake(s)!


2009

Chuck E Cheese birthday party for his 4th birthday


2010

Hmm…  Pretty sure this place looks familiar…


2011

The joys of digital pics…  This was the best picture I could find of him from 2011, will have to check the other hard drive.


2012

2012 – Tough to tell, but I think we’re here again!


2013

Cool way to celebrate the day before your birthday, run a race, kick some butt, get a medal!


2014

Whew!  We’ve moved on from Chuck E Cheese…  To Shenanigans!


2015

Welcome to adulthood, birthdays aren’t a good reason to skip soccer practice!


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Today for his 11th birthday he went hiking with Becky and the girls.


2016

Happy Birthday FaceTime call with grandparents!

With today being his special day I am so thankful to have him in my life.  Everyday he opens my eyes to new things, sometimes about how to be a better dad, and sometimes how to be a better me.  When I coach and help him I catch myself giving the advice to me.  He brings back many of my childhood memories and always puts a smile on my face.  One of the best parts of my day is tucking him in bed (yup, I still give him a hug every night), telling him I love him, and hearing him say it back.  Is there anything in life better than that?

Happy birthday Dominic!!!

Thanks!!!

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Day 334 – Thankful for Legos

Today I am thankful for Legos.

Seriously, is there any toy or creative outlet that even begins to compete with the awesomeness of Legos?  Nope!  By far and away the best toy-ish things ever!

Gavin has been saving up a chunk of cash for a while and finally had enough to get the big thing he really wanted, the Lego Minecraft Village!  The 1,600 piece behemoth showed up today and he’s feverishly putting it together…

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There are few things that can both calm the savage beast and evoke so many smiles as Legos.  There’s the calming side of building something by following the directions and a smile once it is completed.  Another smile when it’s torn apart and rebuilt into a new crazy creation built purely from imagination  (why am I envisioning Benny the 1980’s something spaceman screaming “SPACESHIP!!!”).  Along with yoga, Legos are one of the few times that Gavin and I (& Dominic) can get completely lost in the moment and pay absolutely zero attention to the world around us.

It’s kind of funny, I went back through some old pics and found other ones from back in the day.  If I really combed through I’m pretty sure there’s a ton of pictures that involve Legos and either looks of extreme focus or pure ecstasy.

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Thanks for creating such an awesome thing for us Ole Kirk Christiansen, you are my hero!!!  I can’t imagine leaving a legacy of so many millions of smiles.

Thanks!!!

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Day 333 – Thankful to Be Part of a Team

Today I am thankful to be part of a team.

Becky left to work in the field to do some research early Monday morning and won’t be back until tomorrow late afternoon.  That’s left me as Mr. Mom for the past few days.  Yes, I’ve been home alone with the boys for more than a few days before, but it is always a great reminder for me.

Over the past few days my life has consisted of waking up early, getting the boys up and ready, driving the boys to two separate locations in La Crosse for drop off at either Summer Care or Cub Scout camp.  From there I haul my butt as quickly as I can to get to work on time.  After working for the day, I take off in almost a dead sprint to pick up Gavin from Cub Scouts at 5:05, but then the bus doesn’t arrive until 5:25…  Then grab Gavin, head out to pick up Dominic.  Load up Dominic, drive to drop Dominic off at soccer.  Head home with Gavin for a little while, cook supper and get stuff done around the house.  Drive to pick up Dominic, get home about 8, spend some time with the boys, put them to bed.  This usually leaves me just enough time to finish stuff around the house and get my work done that I wasn’t able to get done on a slightly shorter work day.  Write my blog, crash for 5 minutes, head to bed…  Repeat.

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It’s not the craziest schedule ever, but it’s helped me remember just how much I appreciate being a part of a team to keep the house running, the boys having fun, and being a family.  I don’t know just how long I could keep up this pace if I didn’t ave an awesome teammate alongside of me and helping get everything done (she usually pulls more than 50% of the weight!).

Chunks of time like this remind me of how incredibly fortunate I am to have an awesome wife, great mom to my boys, wonderful teammate in the crazy race of life, and a best friend here with me most of the time!

Thanks!!!

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Day 332 – Thankful for the Metaphor of a Shoebox Diorama

Today I’m thankful for the metaphor of a shoebox diorama.

For some reason I still remember bits and pieces of an elementary school craft project I made a long time ago.  I took a shoebox, built a scene using small toy dinosaurs and scenery made of construction paper and other materials, and put the scene inside the shoebox.  After that I cut a large hole in the lid and covered the hole with colored tissue paper.  I then cut a few holes in the sides of the box in random places.  Once the holes were all cut I taped the lid on and the covered the box in construction paper – leaving the holes open and the tissue paper uncovered.  The shoebox diorama was complete!  I could then take a look in the box from one of the holes and then look at it again from another hole.  While the scene inside was the same there were details that looked completely different from the new angle.  Colors were different, the lighting changed, and it just looked slightly different and had new meaning.  All these years later I still think back to how cool that was, so many different ways of looking at the same thing.


In one of his books, Jim Collins said that his books were all new holes cut into the box for different angles.  All looking at the same thing, but from different perspectives.  This metaphor was a new one to me and it was one that really made sense, it was one I could easily “see” in my brain.  It has stuck ever since, but has recently started to take on new meaning.

The metaphor to me has really started to sink in as I think of my life, situations I’ve encountered, interactions with others, and when thinking of others (like yesterday’s post).  It seems like each stage of my life (sometimes even each day) there’s a new hole to peer in if I take the time to look at it.  It helps me see situations from when I was a kid to see more of the big picture.  More holes showing me things that I either wasn’t looking for, had the wrong angle to see, or were hidden in the shadows.  Sometimes I just needed to see more of the picture to get the context of it.  Just as I start thinking I fully understand I realize that there’s still some unexplored views, something else that I haven’t quite seen or that I haven’t seen in the right way.  Maybe that’s wisdom slowly sinking in, realizing that I know just enough to know how little I probably really know!  

This metaphor has started helping me out, taking one situation and trying to put context to it.  It reminds me to look at life from other perspectives.  Sometimes it seems like the more life I experience the more holes I have to look in on, which is great and makes me think I’m making progress…  Until I realize that the more life I experience the more boxes I have to look inside of!

Regardless of the situation, event, interaction, or memory, I find that there are usually some very fulfilling answers when I take time to look in each eye hole and look at it from a new perspective.  Kind of silly, but yes, I seriously picture the shoebox diorama in my head every time I think of that metaphor!

Thanks!!!

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Day 331 – Thankful for Reminders of My Personal Shortcomings

Today I’m thankful for reminders of my personal shortcomings.  

Just a heads up, this is kind of a tough one to write that I’ve come up with many excuses not to write it, but even though it hurts it is an incredible lesson for me to remember.  I am embarrassed and ashamed to admit where some of my thoughts went, but this was been a very good slap upside the head that I’m sure to remember for some time.

As I was checking the Facebook updates on my post about Gavin’s birthday my eyes wandered to the “People You May Know” section.  One of the names jumped out at me and immediately had me remembering an incredibly embarrassing moment of him that has always been the first thing I think of when I think of him.  I then thought about some of his questionable values from when I knew him as a kid.  In my head I started picturing how miserable his life probably has been, knowing that I must be right even though it’s been decades since I last spoke with him.  It was with a sense of smugness and superiority that I clicked into his Facebook profile…

When I was growing up I was picked on.  People made assumptions based on the clothes I wore, the hobbies I had, the games I played, and the fact that I usually did a great job of keeping myself out of trouble (honest to God, I didn’t even have my first full beer until after I graduated high school).  I was given a hard time about my extreme lack of athletic talent, the way I wore my emotions on my sleeve, and for many other reasons.  Years after leaving town I even had one of the bullies explain to me (while he was drunk) that he didn’t like me because my pants were always too short.  People made assumptions about me, picked on me and ridiculed me.  There was on specific event in which a bunch of classmates did some really stupid stuff and when they got busted blamed me for it and I got the awesome nickname of “Red Rat” that stuck with me through high school.  The funny thing was that I wasn’t even the one who said anything and personally I could’ve cared less about entire situation.  This, and many other reasons, were why I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of my hometown, make a name for myself based on who I really am, and never look back.  I never wanted to go back to deal with jerks and bullies who treated people like that.  I also promised myself that the only time I would truly get angry at one of my kids was if I ever caught them bullying someone.

Fast forward to my freshman year at Michigan Tech when I was the ONLY kid from Phillips enrolled.  It was a amazing!  I got to be me, no prejudices, no preconceived ideas, no known backstory, just me as I was at that moment.  I was only judged and accepted for who I really was at the time, the gravity of the past had absolutely no bearing on who I was to my new friends.  They only knew me, not the Mike who had made mistakes and been picked on.  It was liberating in a way that I struggle to explain.  I was free to be me.

As the years have gone by I’ve start to learn that those formative years are tough for everyone.  We all have our mountains to climb and our crosses to bear.  My story isn’t incredibly unique and I’m growing less and less surprised by learning that the stories of very successful people have often started with adversity as a child in some way shape or form.  Who knows how many of my childhood friends, college friends, and now adult friends have travelled a similar path?  How many felt trapped by the dogma of childhood experiences?  How many found an escape or dealt with it?  How many still struggle?

Which, sadly, brings me back to today.  As I opened up the profile with a little evil glee I was stopped in my tracks with what I found.  A proud dad.  A soldier who had served his country more than I have ever dreamed.  A happy and successful man.  

As I read the info on his profile I eventually made eye contact with myself in the reflection on my phone and immediately felt my face burn red with shame.  I had just done to him what others had done to hurt me in the past.  I judged him by a handful of incidents from long ago.  In my mind I held him captive in a prison built of his past.  How awful is that?  How wrong am I to to think and feel that way? Of the things that have hurt me the most in my life I was brandishing the same weapon.  That realization hurts more than the taunts of the past, I know better!  

And that’s why I’m thankful for reminders of my personal shortcomings today.  In past blogs I’ve written about the line that just seems to stick to me like glue…  From Matthew 7:1-5…

Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.  Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?   You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Father Mark used to talk about knowing the gap between who we are and who we are called to be.  I didn’t mind the gap, I totally tripped and fell right in it!

Father Dodge just discussed a similar concept just this weekend about having to go through our own narrow gate.  Walk the narrow gate?  Nope, I ran right into the wall at breakneck pace and didn’t even notice the gate until I was flat on my back.

While these realizations of my failures hurt, it is in their sting that I can realize the error, learn from it, and do my best to work on the flaw.  Now that I’ve seen it I can spend time on it, think on it, pray on it, and work on it.  

As one mentor once told me, “when you are uncomfortable, you are growing.”  Writing this blog today has been about as uncomfortable as any blog has been to date, I hope I’m growing from this one!  One thing’s for certain, I’ll be pausing for a moment to check my thoughts when I think of someone to be sure I’m remembering to focus on them in the present as opposed to judging them from their past.  I’m just thankful God has given me time to work on these shortcomings.  As He already knows, I’m pretty sure I’ll need to live to be 105 or older to work on them all.

Thanks!!!

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2016 in Uncategorized