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”

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 know a guy…

A quick story about getting my car fixed after it was rudely rear-ended.

This is a very popular term whenever someone is in need of electrical work, auto repairs, plumbing issues; and for some people, “certain medication”. It makes sense to ask someone that you know and trust if they “have anyone” for a certain project. You trust that person and if they’ve had a good experience with the person or business they’re recommending, you can usually bet that your experience will be similar. In today’s age of social media, a thousand positive reviews on Google, Yelp, or Facebook can sometimes get discarded by a poorly placed negative review. So, its’ nice to “know a guy (or gal!)” outside of all of that noise.

Do you remember about 2 months ago, when I got rear ended on my way to the Super Bowl 52 festivities? If you haven’t read that story; go ahead and click that link quick-have a laugh and then come back here. I’ll wait.

Done?

Great! So, eventually after doing a bunch of “sleuth” work on my own, I filed a claim against the person who hit my car through State Farm directly. The gentleman with the vintage Impala told State Farm that he hit my vehicle, but said that there was no damage. Well, ladies and gentleman that statement equals “admission of fault”. So, State Farm said they would pay for the whole cost of replacing my bumper and nothing goes on my record with my insurance agency, so my premiums stay the same. In all honesty, had the guy not run me all through downtown Minneapolis and just apologized initially; I probably wouldn’t have pursued anything because you could barely see the mark. The moment that he tried to run away from me, I wasn’t giving him a brake (pun intended). Actually, now I hope his premiums go up 372% :) Whatever happens to him, I needed to get my bumper fixed.

Well, I know a guy. His name is Todd. He and his wife Amy, own Collision Pros & Glass located in the very small town of Clarkfield, MN. I grew up in Clarkfield and actually spent a year or two working with Todd detailing cars after he repaired them. Actually, as I’m writing this–I have no idea how or when I got hired there or when I really left-maybe I’m still employed? Todd, if you’re reading this and you remember-let me know. Did I just show up with donuts one day and leave a couple years later? Did I dream the whole thing? I’m completely drawing a blank–must have been a real intensive and thorough interview process. Either way, I think I was OK at my job. I had a 1992 Pontiac Bonneville that I washed about every other day at the local car wash, so I knew how to clean a car. Maybe that’s how I got the job! It was a small town, so word probably got back to Todd that I had the cleanest grandma car anyone had ever seen and he was like “I gotta have this kid at my shop”.

Yeah, that’s probably what happened.

I had a lot of fun working with him in my late teenage years. Him and I have pretty similar personalities, very sarcastic with tons of ‘tongue in cheek’ comments. So there was plenty of barbs tossed back and forth and even more practical jokes between us. When I worked there, he had a makeshift dirt track just outside of his shop, where he could practice his jumps. If he wasn’t an auto body specialist, he would have had a career as a race-car driver. Not NASCAR though, it would have been something off the wall-like school buses, tractors, or dump trucks, maybe 4-wheelers. I would like to put this out there that he challenged my grandma car to a drag race against his 4-wheeler (quad as he called it). The race took place about 3 miles east of town, and I forget how the race ended up——–wait-no I don’t- he lost. Todd has never met a gas pedal that he didn’t like, I can appreciate that.

Anyways, I called Collision Pros & Glass and said “Todd, I need a bumper” and he said “I know, I saw your Facebook post and it was the funniest thing I’ve ever read in my entire life. It’s such an honor to be speaking with you! I can’t believe I’m talking to you on my personal cell phone!!”. I’m just kidding, only about 3% of that happened-like the first 12 words, the rest was me trying to pump up my ego. He did enjoy my story, however.

Todd let me know his estimate and how it ties in with insurance, etc. Since I’m such an impeccable driver, I wasn’t really sure how it all worked. I told Todd that whenever he was ready, I would meet my dad halfway and switch vehicles so dad could drop the vehicle off with Todd (my dad would find out later that he had agreed to this). Thanks Dad.

After I made the switch with my parents, I got the vehicle back in ONE DAY. Not even one day, less than that: 23 hours-exactly. Do you know how long it would take me to YouTube ‘how to remove a bumper’, actually remove the bumper, put the new one on, and clean an entire vehicle? Me neither, but it would be more than 23 hours! The coolest part about the vehicle getting fixed was how unbelievably clean it was when I got it back! I have 2 little kids, so it’s dirty again-but WOW was it clean for a day! He even touched up some paint chips and included touch up paint for any future door dings. When I dropped my car off, I had 42 cents in the cup holder, when I got it back there was 53 cents in there. This is an honest company my friends! Or I miscounted the first time.

I think my blog posts are turning into “Small Business Review”, but that’s OK. My parents owned a Coast-to-Coast (True-Value, & Hardware Hank) hardware store in town for a majority of my childhood and I watched as a Wal-Mart 15 miles away help put it out of business. It’s not any fun to watch your parents’ business basically get pushed out of town by a business not even in the town. So, I’m going to give some love to the small businesses out there! Or at least for this post and this one. There is absolutely a level of service that is not matched by the big companies. Admittedly, I’m as guilty as you are and have 3 Amazon packages delivered seemingly daily at my house, but I still get a feeling of satisfaction when I buy something from the local hardware store, coffee shop, or restaurant. I generally make a conscious effort to help them out.

So if you need a vehicle fixed, repainted, rust removed, add some fender flares, or even a hitch added; please give Collision Pros a call!

If you don’t want to drive the whole way, my dad can meet you halfway.

-ML

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Still winter…

As you probably know, I live in Minnesota. Living in Minnesota, there are two things every year that you can bet on. It is going to snow and it is going to be cold–you can’t avoid it. Minnesotans, for the most part, embrace the cold and fluffy winter snows. We joke about it, we laugh at the southern states when they get a “dusting” and all hell breaks loose; and for a couple times a year, we enjoy the bragging rights of owning the coldest city in the contiguous lower 48 states-International Falls. This year, even the Super Bowl branded the events leading up to the big game around the hashtage #BoldNorth. Its cold and it snows, but I challenge you to tell me another natural event that can transform a landscape from dull and dirty to clean and bright like a fresh coat of snow. That is, of course, until we dump salt and sand everywhere making it look more like a spilled chocolate malt than a winter wonderland.

When we get the first snowfall of the year, everyone seems to embrace it and we say things to each other like “Well, I think this is here to stay”, “Have you gotten your snowblower ready, yet?”, and my personal favorite: “They’re predicting a bad one this year”. Who is? The talking weather heads on TV with the inevitable weather reports claiming that the next winter storm will be the end of life as we know it. Dramatically, we still find a way to survive. The first snow, will always bring two things: 1.) the obligatory “my view of the snow is more beautiful than your view of the snow” social media pictures, and 2.) Idiots. . . Every. Single. Year. The idiots come out of hiding.

Living in Minnesota, we have winter 4-5 months out of the year. We claim that we know how to survive in it. Yet every year, there seems to be a 3 month learning curve for some people remembering how to drive in snow again. Now, I get it; if you’re driving safely and something happens that’s one thing; Or, if you’re a 16 year old kid trying it out for the first time-you get a free pass for a couple years. However, if you pass me at 92mph in a snowstorm driving a 250lb Ford Focus while adjusting the radio; you’re an idiot. If my kids are in the car and the road conditions are “iffy at best”, I’m going 18mph–tops. You can flick me off, you can make fun of me, I don’t care. I’m not an idiot (when it comes to winter driving-other topics are up for debate). Also, every year we also hear about someone who thinks that the 3 day old ice is going to be strong enough to hold their 18,000lb SUV so they can shave 4 minutes off of their commute or get a fish before everyone else does. Unfortunately, a lot of these end up tragic.

With a 3 year old daughter who loves being outside, it makes the winter a little more manageable. I never thought at age 32, that I would voluntarily jump headfirst into a snow bank just to hear a 2 second giggle from a kid! There is something about those laughs that is almost addicting…once you can get your kid to genuinely laugh and smile at something you are doing; it’s really hard to stop! The “playing outside” days seem to be few and far between, but they definitely make you appreciate the time that you get with the kiddos in the snow. Ultimately, every winter that passes gets one more winter closer to my kids not wanting to go outside and play in the snow with dad.

December comes and goes, and the same with January. Once the calendar turns to February, even the most die-hard winter lovers are doing the ‘ol “Oooooookaaaayyy. I’m ready for this to be done”, full well knowing that we have at least another month and a half left. I’m not even sure it’s the snow that makes us start to despise winter-I think its the cold. 3 straight months of being cold and paying high heating bills start to take their toll.

The silver lining is that the weather is generally warmer in February/March and the sun stays out past 4:15pm. If you have kids like I do; it is so much more appealing to bring them out to play in the snow when its 30 degrees (this probably still sounds cold to some, but remember #boldnorth) than when it’s -20. The sun also seems warmer as well. But that might be because we haven’t’ seen the damn thing since Thanksgiving either, I’m not sure.

Also-Groundhog Day is the dumbest thing that has ever been used to predict anything. Groundhog Day doesn’t apply to Minnesota. We’re having 6 weeks more of winter every year, I promise.

When March arrives, it might as well be June 20th. If you’re looking to people watch, come to Minnesota and watch the native Minnesotans walk around in our shorts and T-shirts, myself included. Prime people watching time is around mid-March, book your hotel now. After months of being cryogenically frozen, it doesn’t take much to thaw us out. 50 degrees should do the trick.

All things being equal, and they’re not, Minnesota winters can actually very fun and Minnesotans DO enjoy it for the most part. We embrace the cold, we embrace the snow, and it makes us get that much more excited for Spring, Summer, and Fall (by far the best 2 weeks of the year in Minnesota). There are so many things to do (personally, I don’t do many–but I know people who do and they seem to enjoy them): Ice fishing, downhill skiing, ice skating, dog-sledding, cross-country skiing, sledding, pond hockey, snowmobiling (I’ll have a blog post about my near-death experience on a snowmobile in the future), snow-kiting, fat-tire biking, and snow-shoveling. The last one sucks, but people do it I guess for “exercise” or something like that.

-ML