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. . .
I apologize for the lack of posts lately, I’m sure there has been a void in your life that just couldn’t be filled or overcome. I’m sorry.
The reason for the lack of updates was because my wife and I took a road trip! About 6 months ago, we made the decision to plan for a vacation to celebrate our 10 year anniversary! Kate and I never really went on a honeymoon and never really took a “big trip” before we had kids. We did most things on the cheap and put money into our first house. The first 6 years of our marriage, we spent an absurd amount of our own hard-earned money fixing up a house to flip it. So, while our friends and family were taking big elaborate trips, honeymoons, and vacations, we were pulling up old smelly carpet, replacing appliances, landscaping, installing cabinets, and refinishing hardwood floors.
Almost the same. . . Ok, anyways–back on topic… Kate suggested that we go to Nashville, TN for vacation. Kate and her brother went about 5 years ago and she thought that I would really enjoy it (don’t you dare throw that previous paragraph at me….I stayed home-and, since this blog is all about me, that doesn’t count). So, in the fall of 2017, we made the decision to officially put it on the calendar and book a trip to Nashville in April! After looking at a map, we figured out that Charleston is only a hop, skip, and a jump from Nashville–we could go there for a couple days too…and we could break up both long drives with stops in St. Louis, Gatlinburg, and Chicago. BOOM! It was settled.
We went through a travel agent, which—I’m not sure was necessary; I didn’t have to pay anything extra and she found some pretty cool hotels, but…eh; I probably could have done it as well. Since it didn’t cost me anything extra–I guess it was alright. The trip was set, we were going to leave early morning on Thursday, drive to St. Louis and spend the night and arrive in Nashville on Friday. Friday through Sunday morning would be in Nashville, Sunday through Wednesday morning would be in Charleston, Wednesday – Thursday would be Gatlinburg, and finally Thursday – Friday would be Chicago.
So, the Wednesday night before the trip we are going to bed around 11pm and my wife sits up in bed and says “I think I’m getting sick”. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a nightmare–I was very much awake because I could hear my 3 year old awake and crying in her room. After I get back from getting her back to sleep; the 11 month old is up. Kate hasn’t left the bathroom since I went into the 3 year old’s room a couple hours ago. Always a good sign.
Once I finally got back to bed, I asked an extremely sensitive and caring rhetorical question that I didn’t want the answer to: “Did you puke?”
“yeah-a bunch”. . . Instantly, this went through my mind: (Chris Farley Voice) “good, Great, Grand, WONDERFUL!” (Don’t get that joke? Click here.)
Ok, so what the hell do we do now? We’re scheduled to blast off in like 4 hours! Kate’s sick, I’m super tired and the girls are most likely out of whack now for the day. Probably not how grandma and grandpa envisioned the babysitting sentence starting off on day one. Anyways, around 10am, Kate finally comes downstairs and I buttoned up my salesman pants and talked her into still going on the trip. I knew that if we didn’t leave–we never would. And the car was packed and I had been overdosing on caffeine.
Ok–I’m coming to the realization that this is probably going to be a long post. So if you need to pee; I’d do it now.
We left for St. Louis about 5 hours later than we initially planned on leaving—not the worst thing in the world; but still. Kate was an absolute trooper; she didn’t feel awesome, but made it all the way to St. Louis in one shot (minus one stop in Cedar Rapids, IA to visit my cousin).
We got to St. Louis at about 8:30pm and fell directly face-first into bed. Now, as anybody knows, once a person in a house gets sick–the others are sure to follow. This was definitely on our minds the entire trip to St. Louis, “what if the kids get sick? What do we do?” After chatting with my parents who again, were taking the first shift of babysitting (each set of grandparents got 4 days), they said the kids were doing awesome and that we should enjoy the trip, with Kate feeling better (not 100% yet), we agreed that should be the plan.
St. Louis was cool, but honestly; we were there for such a short amount of time that we really didn’t take in much (any) of the city. We went to the arch because it was literally across the street from our hotel (Hampton Inn at the Arch); but in the short time I was there, I was really impressed with the downtown area of STL!
Ok while I’m typing this, I’m having a change of thought. Cory Cove on 100.3 KFAN, would call this an “on-air production meeting”. This is already getting long, so instead of having a long 50,000 word post, I’m going ‘glaze over’ the entire trip and put links to the different cities we went to, and you can get my thoughts on those directly at the bottom of this post (with pictures!!). Hopefully the rest of this post intrigues you enough to click on these. #clickbait
After a couple days in Nashville, we headed over to Charleston and while enjoying a really interesting harbor tour of Charleston; I received the following text from my mother: “I may not take Grace to ECFE.. I think I’m getting sick”.
Immediately my wife and I went from “vacation mode” to “parent mode”. We spent the rest of the night contemplating whether or not we cut the vacation short and go home or trust that the kids will be fine and continue with our trip. This conversation went well into the evening and we finally made the decision that if the kids did get sick, we would want to be there; and probably more importantly, they would want us there. So we made the decision to leave Charleston Tuesday morning, skip the Gatlinburg stop and drive as far as we could.
Turns out “as far as we could” is 14 hours, 1,243 miles, and one time change. Charleston to Chicago. #RoadWarriers
We spent the night in Chicago in a 2 person whirlpool suite so we could relax after sitting in a car seat literally all day. We had a bottle of wine and some fantastic Lou Malnati’s Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza. This was actually pretty nice and relaxing.
After a 2,879.3 mile round trip (Two Thousand, Eight Hundred Seventy Nine POINT Three) we got back home about 2pm on Wednesday (2 days earlier than we planned). I will say that the reaction we got from Grace when we walked in the door made me forget about the fact we had cut our trip short…Although, I definitely was a bit resentful that I had to cut our first “real vacation” in quite some time short, but it was good to be home.
However, I am curious and would love your opinion. Please leave me a comment on what you would have done. My wife and I had an extremely hard time making the decision to come home. The thing that we kept thinking about was if the 3 year old got sick. IF she were to get sick, she’s going to want mom & dad (mom) next to her –no question; the 11 month old probably couldn’t care less. That alone was a driving factor in us coming home early. So please–let me know what you would have done; would you have done the same thing or would you have stayed?
Sorry for getting long-winded…The experts would say that I’m 736 words over the ideal length at this point.
Oh, and the girls never got sick…
Please read my blog posts on the other cities. They’re not as long and probably a lot more humorous; unless you just don’t find me funny, and that’s OK!–many people don’t (my wife, kids, parents, friends, in-laws, colleagues, the cashier at Target, etc)…
As I mentioned in my previous post, last weekend my in-laws paid for a hotel room for all of their kids/grandchildren to be together and have fun for one weekend. There were definitely some things that I observed, that I would like to share with you.
Here’s at least 10. . .
1.)A hotel is a pizza joint’s main source of income. In cities with both a hotel, (motel—Holidaay Iiiinnnnn) and a pizza joint, it absolutely has to be. I saw a different pizza delivery person every 20 minutes. I suppose that people get to the hotel and think “I just carried 27 bags, 6 kids, a table, cooler, food, walked the longest hallway of all time…pizza sounds like a great ‘pick-me-up'”. Besides, it’ll go great with the beer. (Hot Tip: if you live in a town with a hotel but no pizza place – move; if that isn’t an option-open a pizza joint and thank me later. A phone call from your yacht will be just fine.)
2.) Related…It’s nearly impossible to eat healthy at a hotel. Let’s be serious-no one brings bags of salad into a hotel room. Maybe a neglected fruit or veggie tray; but the stars of the show are generally licorice, cookies, pizza, and soda/alcohol. OR..you and the family go out to eat, which is usually unhealthy as well. This isn’t a “health and fitness” blog, just saying…
3.) No matter how bad of a parent that you think you are; a hotel is a great place to see parents much worse (portrayed) than yourself. Especially at the pool area. There are kids swimming while parents are scrolling through their phones. Disclaimer: I’m not immune to this–I definitely check my phone more often than I probably should; but I was also in the pool with my kiddos-playing with them. There are a lot of impatient and grumpy parents out there as well…
4.) And, no matter how great of a parent that you think you are; a hotel is also a great place to see parents much better (portrayed) than yourself. You know the ones, the parents who are always bright and smiley, with a million things to do with the kids. More importantly, they look like they are genuinely enjoying everylittleactivity that they are doing with their family. Weirdos.
5.)There are no good places to get rid of dirty diapers. I used the men’s room bathroom down the hall…. :D. As most mens’ rooms go, the diaper was the best smelling thing in there.
6.)Pool/Court side rooms are awesome, until they’re not. When everyone has a room court-side as we did; all of the cousins could run around, play basketball, volleyball, go swimming etc. It was awesome, they could do it all together while the parents could either go play with them, or watch from the “Base Camp” 20 feet away. They’re not awesome when your little kids go to bed at 8pm and the pool/court closes at 11pm. 3 hours of agonizing over which stray volleyball banging against the door is going to wake the kids up or, more importantly, spill my cocktail.
7.)You look forward to quiet time! From 11:01pm to 8:00am there was almost complete silence! It was marvelous! The downside is that quiet time basically means that the area is closed; not “you can sit here, you just have to keep your voices down”. It means “go to bed, it’s 11pm-you have kids who don’t care you’re on vacation they will wake you up early.”
8.)Quiet time is strictly enforced by Ruth. Ruth was the enforcer of the hotel; the Derek Boogaard of the hotel if you will. If you weren’t in your room at 11:01pm; she was going to put you in there, and wait awkwardly until you fell asleep. I’m fine with this at night, but when your kids wake up at 6am and the curfew doesn’t get lifted until 8am, you’re kind of stuck in that hotel room for a couple hours. “THIS PLACE IS LIKE A PRISON!!”
9.) Pools are dirty. Breaking news, right? I distinctly remember a point when I was holding my 10 month old and I saw some brown stuff at the bottom of the pool, looked at my wife in horror and said to her: “is that us?” Sometimes I don’t think; and this was one of those times–I slid my foot through the brown mystery substance. It was sand (whew!). Sand, at the bottom of an indoor pool- in central Minnesota- in the winter. How does that even happen? Also, the amount of snot that gets smeared into the pool water is disgusting. I saw my kids do it, I saw other kids do it. I saw parents do it. Kids, this is why you don’t drink pool water; you could die.
10.) For now, my kids like me. They loved swimming with mom and dad in the pool, jumping in from the side while I caught them, and absolutely had a blast when I could throw my 3 year old into the air about 10 feet and catch her. We had a blast! I know that eventually, they aren’t going to want to do that with me, so I really enjoyed the time we had while they wanted to have it!
Thanks for reading the entire post! If you made it down here, here’s a bonus number 11!
11.) When called upon, my kids can sleep through the night! My wife and I were borderline terrified of how both kids would sleep in the same room after the past couple weeks we’ve had at home. Both of our kids are LOUD criers and inevitably, if one wakes up the rest of the block wakes up. Somehow, both slept through the night; allowing mom and dad to get a full 6 hours!
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 everysingleday (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…
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!
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.