“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

I met Destiny

This past weekend, I was swimming in a hotel pool with my 3-year-old daughter Grace. She can’t really swim, so I was basically holding her life jacket while she kicked and splashed. She loved it. I’m not big into swimming, but I love watching my kids have fun; so it was really enjoyable. The pool was warm, a bit crowded; but we had fun.

About 10 minutes into our Saturday morning swimming, a very quiet and shy little girl wearing green arm floaties came directly up to me and very quietly asked if she could play with us. She softly said her name was Destiny, and I would guess she was probably 4-6. I did a pretty thorough glance around to see if I could see some sort of parent figure looking at her or me; and didn’t see anyone that caught my eye. Regardless, she seemed pretty harmless, I asked Grace if she cared if Destiny played with us. Always one to make new friends, she said “Sure!”.

Well, Destiny was much more interested in me helping to hold her up by the strap on the back of her arm floaties so she could swim better (as I was doing with Grace), than playing with Grace. Since Grace is my daughter, I’m obviously going to be much more attentive to her and making sure she was having a blast. Unfortunately, I got to the point where I was almost ignoring Destiny. Not because she wanted to play, or anything like that; she was a sweet, albeit a little awkward, little girl. Because I wanted to make sure that I didn’t have to rescue my own kid from the bottom of the pool. Now, conversely, in the back of my mind during all of this was “what happens if I look over and this little girl goes under while I’m playing with my kid”. The whole ordeal is getting a bit stressful at this point. I glance around for some sort of parent/guardian for Destiny…nothing. :(

Parents, am I wrong to admit that in a situation where my kid and your kid are both going under water; that I’m saving my kid 10 times out of 10? Once mine is safe, I’ll go for yours, I promise. But am I a terrible person for admitting that? Look, I’ll save as many people as I can-given the opportunity, but my kids are going to be my first priority in a safety situation. Please tell me I’m not a jerk for thinking this way.

About an hour later Destiny was still there, but I think she was slowly getting the hint that if she didn’t want to play with Grace, I wasn’t really enjoying having to watch her as well. I felt really bad, but I’m not very good in those situations. Still no parent figure that I could see either, and I’ve had Lasik.

**For the first time in any of my blog posts, I’m going to have a point, and I’m getting to that point very soon-I promise.**

All of a sudden, out of nowhere, this giant inflatable ball appears! This thing was so cool!! The kids in the pool, young and old, loved it. So I grabbed Grace and we ran around the pool with the other kids ‘booping’ it back in the air like we were at a rock concert. This went on for about 20-30 minutes and then it was time for us to head back to the room to eat lunch, and I was out of breath.

As I’m getting out of the pool, Destiny floats over and again, very quietly says something to me: “I haven’t gotten to touch it”. I didn’t really know what she was talking about (I’m not bright), so I think I looked at her a little weird before realizing that she meant she hadn’t gotten to play with the ball that all of the other kids were playing with. I didn’t know what to say to her, so I said “well, keep trying!”. As you can tell, Tony Robbins and I are basically the same person…

As Grace and I are walking away, the ball comes flying out of the pool right towards us-slow motion style. I corral the beast and this 10-12 year old girl comes running up to throw it back in. So, I stopped her quick and said “NO RUNNING BY THE POOL!!!” Just kidding. I actually said: “Hey, this little girl right here (pointing to Destiny) hasn’t gotten to touch the ball yet”. “OK!” the girl said and pointed right at little Destiny and under hand threw it right towards her!

It went over her head.
https://giphy.com/embed/OWpMbuG5W4r4Y

BUT! Since kids now days are becoming more awesome because they’re being forced to (See: Parkland, Florida). I know, I said no political talk, but let’s be honest; when you were in high school, were you doing/thinking the things that these kids are? No, the answer is no-you weren’t.

Anyways, The other kids all heard the conversation that I had with the girl outside of the pool, so they caught the ball and walked it over to Destiny so she could throw it in the air.

You guys, she lit up like the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. It was so much fun to watch her instantly being able to play with the rest of the kids around her. It made me really feel good that Grace was able to see the whole thing as my wife and I always stress being nice to everyone to her. Now, I’m not telling this story to make myself sound like this great and wonderful person; I can do that on my own-just ask me. I wanted to tell the story to remind people, that sometimes a very small act of kindness can make a person’s entire day. Not only will I remember how much fun Grace and I had while we were swimming, I’ll also remember the look on little Destiny’s face when she finally got to be included with her newfound friends.

Also, I still didn’t see any parents to watch their child have the best time of the their swimming session. I’ll blog more on my thoughts on THAT particular issue and other observations from the hotel later this week.

Have a great rest of your week everyone.

-ML

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Why I don’t talk to my friends from school anymore

I bet that got your attention! That’s called “click bait”, sorry about that. But keep reading since you’re here..

This is the subject that has caused me the most anxiety over writing about-might as well get it out of the way! This is a subject that I’ve had on my mind LONG before I ever started a blog-years even. Keeping in touch with high school classmates is something that I’ve never been very good at since I graduated. Actually, I’m downright terrible at it.

I grew up on a farm in a small town in southwestern Minnesota of about 900 people, the phrase “everybody knows everybody” is incredibly true. To this day, my dad still says “nobody uses their blinker because everybody else knows where you’re going!” You obviously can see where I get my wit.

Growing up in a town of that size, you do know everyone-especially the other kids your own age. I remember so many summers riding my Huffy bike about a half mile into town every single day (kids can’t do that anymore unfortunately…) to hang out with my friends, play T-Ball/Baseball, go swimming, or just ride our bikes around town; usually begging one of our parents to let someone stay over night. Man, summers were the best!!

Now, summers are just a reminder that I didn’t choose “teacher” as a career.

I grew up with those kids, from daycare to graduation. You get to know them, you know their families, where they live, etc. I distinctly remember being a freshman in high school and watching the seniors walking through the hallway. I felt like a kitten walking around in the lion’s den. THEY WERE SO BIG!! Some even had facial hair. When I got to be a senior and we were “Soooo big” as my 10 month old ‘says’, my classmates were the same size in my eyes that they had been since 5th grade. We didn’t change, we even added a bunch of great friends.

After graduation day; everyone kind of goes their own separate direction. There are some who go to college, some who don’t, some who move far away for personal reasons, and some who stick around. During high school, your friends might not be your “best friends” anymore, “cliques” form, and people change. But, you still play sports with them, you party with them, and you grow up with them.

Regardless, in the end the T-ball team full of 5 year old kids is still the Class of 2004.

Facebook came out in 2004 and not to be left out of a growing trend, I joined during college in 2005. I thought “this is great!, I’m going to stay in contact with so many of my old friends”. I did that by “liking” things that they might have posted; or experiences that they were sharing.

Almost two decades of friendship, stories, and experiences has been reduced to a blue and white thumb. Don’t forget that at least 50 other people clicked that thumb as well; so it probably got lost in the shuffle anyways. I remember feeling anxious the first time I clicked “like” on a post of one of my high school classmates that I hadn’t talked to in, I don’t know-one freaking year. Now I pop thumbs like I’m poppin’ tags.

Now, I think there have been 2 class reunions since I graduated. I have not been able to attend either one; I’m sure they were awesome-we had such a great class! So, maybe had I been able to make one of them I wouldn’t feel so damn weird reaching out to some of them!

I’ll be at the 15 year reunion. That’s a promise.

I can count on about 3 fingers the amount of classmates that I genuinely keep in touch with; and 2 of those-I’m pretty poor at. If you’re reading this (I really hope someone reads this) and we went to high school together and we’re Facebook friends. I can almost guarantee that I have kept up with your life in some capacity through Facebook. I notice it when you get married, have a new baby, made a lifestyle change, got a new job, a first or new house, a new car, started a blog/podcast, started a business, or you had an amazing trip to Europe. Granted, these are all the “positives” that make the Facebook timeline anyways. But, unfortunately it’s not very difficult to spot the negative things as well, perhaps a divorce, death, ilness, job loss; etc.

Jesus H. Christ, that made me sound like a stalker…I hope people get what I’m trying to say.

I CARE, OK?! DAMMIT, I CARE!! There, I said it. With all the crap going on in schools and on social media now days, I’m not sure that phrase is said enough.

I feel weird reaching out to old classmates, and I know its because I feel guilty that I haven’t reached out. I guarantee there are people out there feeling the same way. I have this anxiety where I feel like I’m bugging someone by reaching out (yet-oddly enough, I’m a very good cold-caller), so I don’t reach out-I watch their lives on Facebook like the rest of the world. Do people still call each other? Whenever someone that I haven’t talked to in a while calls me, I’m always like “Do you need help? Say ‘Kangaroo’ if you’re in trouble”. Its almost weird, right? Everyone lives in a world of Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and text messages. Myself included. I think they’ve even started teaching kids how to have actual conversations in school. That’s sad. I can promise that both of my kids (and any future kids—calm down Mom; just saying) WILL be able to hold a conversation with another human being. I hate when you ask a kid a question and the parent answers. HATE IT! If the kid is able to, let the kid talk answer…if they embarrass you-so what. It’ll be more embarrassing when they’re 16 and don’t know how to answer questions in a job interview without you doing it for them. Sorry-I’m off topic…

Anyways.

Let me put this out there, if you’ve been doing the same thing as me and watching your classmates that you haven’t talked to for a long time on Facebook or otherwise. Reach out to them! Maybe it’s me? Maybe you think your kids would like to play with my kids, maybe you want to grab coffee or better yet, a beer and just catch up. I’m 100% in. This is something that I would love to get better at, but I’m also not sure that I will-but I’ll try. Let’s figure something out and reconnect! It’ll no doubt be awkward, but who cares. If not, I hope you’re all doing very well for yourselves!

Well, …that was kinda mushy. Sorry about that.

-ML