2018 New Year’s Resolution Recap

A quick recap of my 2018 New Year’s Resolutions. Some went better than others!!

Happy New Year Everyone! I’m starting off 2019 by immediately looking backwards into 2018! In 2018 I set some New Year’s Resolutions and for the first time in my life, made a semi-conscious effort to adhere to them. This may make you feel really good about your own resolutions!

Let’s recap with letter grades…

Continue reading “2018 New Year’s Resolution Recap”

The Mattress Story

Buying an online mattress has big perks, some downfalls, but this has a happy ending. No-not THAT type of happy ending…

 

It’s been awhile since I’ve written anything, so I wanted to make sure that I got one or two more written before the end of 2018.

I was trying to think of a story to write that I thought everyone would enjoy and my wife suggested “The Mattress Story”. So here it goes…

Continue reading “The Mattress Story”

A Decade, plus.

Today is the 10th wedding anniversary between my wife and I. Enjoy the story of a sports star who ended up with a perceived drug dealer!

This post might not be very funny-so if you’re looking for a laugh. I recommend another post such as this one, this one, or my favorite, this one.

Continue reading “A Decade, plus.”

Things I’ve Learned In My Time As A Parent. (Volume 1)

A realistic view of things that are learned through the first couple years of parenthood.

As I write this, I’ve been a parent for 1,344 days, and a parent of two kids for 516 days. I’m by no means an expert, but I think I’m getting OK at it. According to what I hear on the news nowadays, I think I’m in the top 90th percentile. This isn’t going to be one of those “parenting is the best job in the world” bits, I promise. There is a lot that I have already learned as a parent, a lot more left to learn, but here is what I know so far. This is the real sh*t I’ve learned.

1.) I’ve never almost counted to three so many times in my life.

Continue reading “Things I’ve Learned In My Time As A Parent. (Volume 1)”

I Tried A Bidet

I tried a bidet this past weekend. That’s all you need to know.

I’ll bet that got your attention!

So this past weekend, my family and I were invited to the family cabin of our good friends Adam & Bridget. Side-note check out Adam’s photography business. Dude knows how to use a camera! ADH Creative Solutions. My family made the “family section” see if you can find me, 10 points if you can.

Anyways, I’ll do my best to set the scene for you without losing all of my followers and grossing you out. . .

Continue reading “I Tried A Bidet”

“Clever and Witty Title”

My first post in over a month–I hope you enjoy it!

Hi….I couldn’t think of anything good for a title for this post…I’m open to suggestions.

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything. Actually, I haven’t posted anything since Memorial Day. I’ve been….whats the term??…busy?

…no….

…Lazy? Yeah, that’s it!

I’ve been lazy!.

Kudos to people who do daily blogs or social media posts. Even weekly is tough! Apparently I’m on the Dane Cook plan. A ton of stuff right away, and then not so much. I ran into some old co-workers/friends yesterday and they all told me that they thought that the blog was funny! Obviously this renewed a fire in me to post something again. So, if you really like my blogs, tell me every single day and I’ll put one up every single day.

No I wont….Good God, can you imagine? I would alienate all of my Facebook friends and lose a bunch of Twitter followers in a matter of months. And we all know, that’s all that matters in life, right?

Anyways, I’ve had a Google Drive document with a long list of topics that I thought would be interesting to talk about. Obviously, my stories are probably my best work–but stuff just doesn’t happen to me very often. So, instead of trying to put a bunch of thoughts together for one topic. I’m going to touch on a few of the topics that I have written down. I have no idea where this post is going to go from this point forward, but one of my favorite radio personalities on KFAN, Dan “The Common Man” Cole’s ‘bit’ is that he never does any prep-work before a show and just flies by the seat of his pants. He’s got a daytime job on a major market radio, he’s doing OK. I can probably do the same thing-as I’ve said before, I’ve been winging it for awhile- how hard can it be?

[Editor’s Note: I was going to have a bunch of topics lined up and comment briefly on each one, but I couldn’t stop typing during my second topic…so now it’s only two topics and, shockingly, a long post]

First topic on my list: “Digital Parenting”. So, my 3 year old can navigate her way around an iPad (Amazon Kindle–but iPad is shorter) better than I can drive in the city-so that’s great….. My 1 year old is now getting the hang of it as well. Now, I want to start by saying that my kids are not on the iPad all day long; in fact–my 1 year old threatens to burn the house down anytime she is inside it and my 3 year old is getting into riding her bike–which is awesome. They would just rather be outside-and they should! They are 3 and 1 and it’s summer-I want them outside! I just find it fascinating that kids that can’t tie their $7 shoes can operate a $1000 smartphone. However, I will say that parenting is “easier” with these devices in certain situations-such as car rides. If we don’t pack the iPads for a drive longer than 20 minutes; I will turn around and get them. I would rather listen to the “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” or “PJ Masks” than a crying child. Man….typing this out makes me sound like a bad parent! Let’s be clear–argue with this statement all you want, but this is the way the world is going: Kids are growing up in a digital age and they know how to use technology at an age that was unheard of even 20 years ago. But, 20 years from now (2038–yeah its a real year) if they DON’T know how to use and adapt to technology–they’re going to be in trouble. Go ahead, prove me wrong-I’ll wait 20 years.

I don’t believe this makes you a bad parent if you give your kid some sort of screen time-but for Christ’s sake…set a time limit. Truthfully, our iPads are out on road trips and maybe 10% of the time at the house. Seriously. My wife and I are very aware of how much time they are on it. Obviously childhood obesity is increasing by the year, so kids definitely have to get outside and do things, but the digital age isn’t going anywhere and they are growing up right in the middle of it. Speaking of screen time (and I’m a giant offender of this), try to put your phone away when the kids are around. I know that I’m not good at it, but I’m trying to get better. It bugs my wife and it even bugs me-and I’m doing it! I read something on one of my friend’s Facebook posts the other day that hit home: “You only get to spend 18 summers with your kids”. Let that sink in.

We’re off to a good start, right? Nice controversial topic right out of the gate.

Let’s lighten up a bit with Topic #2: “My Emotional Attachment to Sports”: My wife is either going to skip right over this or go through it with a fine-toothed comb and call me out on every little thing that I say that she might have a different view on. Love you, honey.

I don’t remember the exact day and time that I became a big sports fan, but I can remember certain things growing up that definitely contributed to the addiction. The first thing I remember is going to Twins’ games in the old Metrodome when my favorite MN player ever was manning center field, the late Kiiiiiirrrrbbbbyyyyy Puck-Ett. The first game that I ever went to was right around the time of the ’91 World Series team. I don’t think it was that year however. Kirby was forced to retire in ’96, so it was definitely before then. My first game was against the Seattle Mariners; Kirby Puckett and Ken Griffey, Jr.—baseball immortality! There was even a home run hit to the lady DIRECTLY behind me. Seriously, had I been 6″ taller and not deathly afraid of a ball hurling towards me at what felt like 900 miles an hour…I’da had it. I remember walking into the “field area” of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome for the first time and just being in awe. It was the biggest building that I had ever been in–the lights and sounds were almost overwhelming to a kid from a town that would have fit under the Teflon roof. This was probably my gateway drug.

The next step into the emotional sports attachment abyss was the Randy Moss and Kevin Garnett era. KG in ’95 and Moss in ’98 (like you didn’t know that one) took Minnesota sports to a media fame level that hadn’t been seen for quite some time, if ever. I was never a giant Timberwolves fan, but I remember watching a skinny high school kid play with NBA players, whose cards I had in a shoe box. It was surreal–the skills and attitude that he brought to the team at 18 years old was awesome. That patented KG double shoulder-shake, turnaround fade away jumper was something everyone tried to replicate. Speaking of attitude, Randy Moss: He had a negative attitude, famously took plays off, nudged people with his car, paid fines with “straight cash homie”, walked off the field, mock-mooned Green Bay fans, and squirted an official with a water bottle. Still, he was the reason that every kid in Minnesota wanted to play wide receiver. Everyone wanted to catch that 45 yard bomb and score 20 touchdowns. Unfortunately-99.9998% of MN kids probably weren’t 6’4″ and running 4.25 40’s. I was a bit under that…5’10” and like a 5.0 40 yard time (any high school teammates reading this are wholeheartedly disagreeing with that number). I played Tight End anyways-we’re supposed to be slow and sit on the bench, which is what I told myself. Anyways, if you forgot how good Moss actually was, click here; I bet you watch the whole thing. Moss is the greatest receiver to every play the game. KG and Moss were stepping stone #2 into the addiction; the ball really was rolling now. Also-kinda off-topic, Michael Jordan is better than LeBron James, don’t @ me. It’s the truth…you’re forgetting how good MJ was, OR you’re too young to fully appreciate how good he was.

I can clearly remember stop #3 along my journey. The 2003 NHL Western Conference Playoffs… Quarterfinals: Minnesota Wild vs Colorado Avalanche. This was the Wild’s first playoff appearance since becoming a team 3 years earlier. I started watching during game 5. Wild were down 3-1 in the series. I had NEVER been a big hockey fan at all; never played hockey-can’t skate to save my life. I turned on the game in the 2nd period basically for background noise. The Wild were winning 3-0 in Colorado and they ended up winning the game 3-2. I was really intrigued with the pace of the game and how intense every single shift was. If you’ve never watched hockey or don’t think you like it–watch playoff hockey; it’s different. The next game was Monday and the series was back in St. Paul. The Wild were still down 3-2 in the series, but I figured I’d turn it on anyways. The game was relatively boring until the 3rd period. It ended up going into overtime tied 2-2, when Richard Park scored to force a game 7! I was almost hooked. Wednesday night in Colorado (9pm start time on a school night) I turned the game on and watched the Wild beat the Colorado Avalanche, again in overtime on a Andrew Brunette goal, scoring on goalie Patrick Roy (pronounced “Wah”, for some reason), who retired the next day. The Wild then faced the Vancouver Canucks and DID THE EXACT SAME THING!! They came back from being down 3-1 in the series only to force and win in game 7. We won’t talk about the Anaheim series in the Conference Finals, bit of a hiccup there…But at that point, I was completely hooked.

#4 was my wife (awww): I am not athletic. At 32, I’m still coming to grips with it, but I’m just not. I have some attributes that are better than average, but overall–I’m just not athletic; I get it. I’ve fully embraced the dad-bod, insurance agent lifestyle. I was on the football team in high school and played Kickoff, Kick Return, Field Goals, and Tight End/Defensive End if we were up by 5 touchdowns with 7 seconds to go. Kate, on the other hand, has enough athletic talent in her pinky toe to make up for my shortcomings. I used to play Pep Band while she was lighting up scoreboards at Yellow Medicine East basketball games. During the early years of our courtship, I used to drive 4 hours to watch her play college basketball at St. Catherine’s University each weekend; eventually I only had to walk about 10 minutes to watch her after we both transferred to Bemidji State University #BestDecisionEver. Kate’s dad was an extremely good basketball coach and she learned a lot from him, but she also put in the time to get very good. She used to tell me how, if she made 1,000 baskets, her dad would buy her a CD. Kate has amassed quite the CD collection. You’re probably wondering–“OK, Romeo; how did this affect YOU?” Well, I watched Kate play most every single basketball game since high school and there was an emotional attachment to watching her succeed and the competitive spirit that she had. Although she never showed it… whenever Kate played basketball, she always looked like she would rather be taking a nap. But I got into those games, I got to know the teammates and the dynamic of the team chemistry and the friendships that they formed. I never really had much of that sitting on the bench.

Also, I hope my kids have her athletic ability.

Sports has always been an emotional outlet for me-whether I was playing or not (most likely not). There’s just something about it that I can’t describe. I know there are a ton of people that think I’m crazy–but I know there are a ton of people who know exactly what I’m talking about. Since the birth of my daughters, I can say that I’ve eased up on watching every single game (especially the Wild–82 games plus playoffs is a bit much). But I follow the social media accounts of the media writers, players, coaches, national outlets, etc. This might sound crazy, but when the Vikings win on Sunday; I’m in a better mood on Monday. The outcome of 22 millionaires on a grass field has literally no bearing on my life at all; but I care and it affects my emotions for a day or so. I wear the purple colored glasses, I think the Vikings are winning the Super Bowl every year or the Wild are hoisting the Stanley Cup; but then I remember that…you know…Minnesota.

Remember the ’98 missed field goal by Gary Anderson against the Atlanta Falcons; I had to ride a bus to Sharing and Caring Hands with my church group immediately after (most of us were late)–and I don’t think anyone said anything the entire 3 hour bus ride. So, I know I’m not the only one that gets affected by the outcomes of games. If you’re a glutton for punishment, feel free to relive it here.

I wish I had a better way to end this; I really do… I honestly didn’t think that I would get to be such a long post-but I can’t seem to stop typing. I hope you enjoyed this post! I’ll try to keep posting a bit more often than I have been. I’m still trying to grasp onto the fact that people actually enjoy these.

Thanks for reading!

-ML #83

Charleston, We Hardly Knew Ye…

My time in Charleston was awesome, but unfortunately–very short.

Charleston, South Carolina was the 3rd stop on our road trip and I want to start off by saying that Charleston is home to some of the nicest (if not, theee nicest) people I’ve ever encountered while on vacation. And I’ve been to over 4 different places.

We arrived to Charleston from Nashville to an absolutely beautiful day with an awesome hotel setting. We checked in to the Shem Creek Inn in Mt. Pleasant (just across the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge. For the first time in my entire life, I was going to try one of those “Tips to get a better room” things, so I left Kate in the car and started preparing my speech while walking into the hotel. The super nice receptionist at the hotel immediately asked how I was doing and if I was checking in. I told her I was and that we were visiting celebrating our 10 year anniversary. She said “Ohhhhhh, congratulations!….Let me see if I have any better rooms available”. As you can tell, I’m quite the conversationalist and my sales pitch of “Hi, I’m here for my 10 year anniversary” worked. She upgraded us to a corner suite king room on the creek side with a wrap around balcony. And then……AND THEN…she handed me two beers. Two. Free. Beers. just for checking in!

Instantly my favorite hotel of our trip. They must know, because they followed me on Insta’.

After lugging our luggage (that has to be where the term “lugging” comes from, right?) into our room. . . Actually, I say “lugging” like we were huffing and puffing going up 6 flights of stairs with 9 suitcases and 3 coolers, when in reality–everything was on a giant 4 wheeled cart and we took an elevator all the way to the second floor… #exercise… After we got to our room, we obviously enjoyed our beer with our view of everything.

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View out of our hotel room

We had scheduled a Ghost Tour of the USS Yorktown for that evening at 8pm, which I was probably more excited about than Kate (fun fact about the author: Mike really enjoys ghosts and paranormal stuff…but HATES scary movies-especially ones with ghosts). So we asked the super nice hotel receptionist for advice on eating; if we should go before or after-she recommended after. So we took a nice walk down the boardwalk before going over to the ship, which was about 5 minutes away.

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USS Yorktown before our Ghost Tour

When we got to the dock at Patriot’s Point where the USS Yorktown is, we asked a security guard a few different questions about the ship and he said that the tour guide that we have, is probably the best in the world at giving that tour. He has written several books regarding the Yorktown as well as Charleston in general. His name is Bruce Orr and he was phenomenal. We didn’t really have many (any) ‘ghost experiences’ on the ship, but the stories behind the ship and the tour was phenomenal. We both had a lot of fun and I bought his book and got a picture with him… :)

The tour was over at about 10pm, so we found a spot to eat literally right next to our hotel called Vickery’s . I wanted some authentic seafood; so I had the Lowcountry sauté and Kate ordered the Shrimp and Scallops with Basil Pesto. You don’t care-but I don’t care either, it was awesome and you should go there. Also, the waiter (again-super nice) was like “you guys came all the way out here and haven’t had fried green tomatoes?”. So, sat down next to us in our booth and ‘sold’ them to us. So, always looking to spend more money, we ordered those as well and HOLY F were they good! I generally dislike tomatoes, but these were so damn good! Big fan. The waiter was awesome, he even gave us some “under the radar” bars to try out during our trip. Also, they played 90’s music–which was awesome; including the Fresh Prince of Bel Air Theme Song!

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Fried Green Tomatoes at Vickery’s

The next day we went to Middleton Place Plantation to check out how the rich and famous of the 1850s lived. It was pretty cool. That’s all I’m going to say, it’s a plantation…not Wally World; and it was cold and drizzly. We then had a harbor cruise and reservations at HUSK later that day, so we walked around downtown Charleston for a while when we got back. Quick fun fact about HUSK, is it was recently named the most iconic restaurant of South Carolina: (See). Then we got coffee at a place called The Rise Coffee Bar; some of the best coffee I’ve ever had-seriously! After walking around Waterfront Park for awhile and having fun with our Slow Motion feature on our phones, we started towards the harbor.
We hopped on the Harbor Cruise at 3:15 pm and chatted for awhile with our captain about which craft beer they were serving was the best. He was great!

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Kate and the Boat Captain

Unfortunately, I can’t remember which one I picked–but he was right (pretty big information nugget there, huh..). The harbor cruise was really cool, we saw lots of different attractions in Charleston from a different perspective, including Fort Sumter (where the Civil War started), and a really cool view of the USS Yorktown, the Marina, and the bridge. We also had dolphins swimming along the cruise for a majority of it–that was pretty cool!The captain also said that Charleston has been voted the friendliest city in America for the past 20 years. I haven’t fact-checked, but I believe him.

Anyways, during the last part of the harbor cruise, I get the following text from my mom (babysitter team #1): “I may not take Grace to ECFE.. I think I’m getting sick“. This immediately sent us into ‘Parent Mode’ and we started thinking “Ok, Kate was sick before we left, now she’s sick…the kids are going to get sick”. We started the conversation about skipping the rest of the trip and heading home in the event that they got the flu. We ate at HUSK after the cruise and the food was amazingly delicious, the atmosphere was awesome, the waitress was great…but we didn’t really enjoy it because all we kept doing was texting back and forth with home trying to figure something out with the kids. This obviously wasn’t a conversation either of us wanted to have at that point in time-but our kids are important to us…you might have made a different decision.

We made the decision that night at the hotel to cancel the rest of our trip (which included a night in Gatlinburg, TN and whitewater rafting in the Great Smokey Mountains) and head for home. I chatted with the same receptionist at the hotel (after one night of our upgraded room) and she was amazingly supportive and told us that they would absolutely waive the cancellation fee because of our situation. Seriously, one of the best hotels I’ve ever stayed at.

We left for home at 5am on Tuesday and made it to Chicago at 8:30 that night. Home at 2:30 Wednesday.

Bye Charleston…I’ll be back someday to finish off my extra 2 nights at the Shem Creek Inn.

Some more photos:

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Fishing boats down the boardwalk from Shem Creek Inn
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Kate & I before the ghost tour
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Inside the USS Yorktown
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USS Yorktown
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Middleton Place
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Middleton Place
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Middleton Place
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Tomb at Middleton Place
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Blacksmith at Middleton Place
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Kate & I at Waterfront Park
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Cruise ship that was approximately 40,000x bigger than our tiny harbor cruise ship
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Ft. Sumter
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Arther Ravenel Jr. Bridge
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HUSK Restaruarant
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My meal at HUSK–pork belly wrapped in pork shoulder..YUM
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HUSK Cornbread
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Kate’s lettuce wraps at HUSK
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We snuck out to the beach before we went to bed the night before we left to see the beach/ocean
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This is clearly a pizza…
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View from the end of the boardwalk back towards our hotel/Mt. Pleasant
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A couple nice little boats along the boardwalk by the hotel

Thanks for reading!! Go visit Charleston–seriously.

-ML