Thursday, March 31, 2011

I got attitude - yes I do! I got attitude! How 'bout you?!?!

This is pretty much my daughter - to a T! For good and for bad, she's got it ... attitude :)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sea Life AND Maple Maze

After the Bagers' loss in the men's basketball tourney on Thursday night, this BadgerCubinMN needed some 'pepping up' this weekend. Good timing - some of our friends from Wisconsin came up to spend some time :)

They arrived on Friday afternoon, we enjoyed some good pizza, the kiddos played together, and we even got a chance to show 'em all some of our favorite family games. Saturday brought some time to go to the 'new' aquarium at the mall - Sea Life. (Basicially, the old aquarium just got a little renovation ... and you go through it in the opposit direction as you used to.) But it is still a fun time - never gets old walking underneath the water as sharks and rays swim around you. Plus, you get to pet a starfish and horseshoe crab, so you got that going for you :)

On Sunday, we took our friends to the community center. There's this play structure that is basically like a McDonald's Playland on steroids. The kids had a blast. We went after church but before noon. Apparently it's still busy then. I don't have any pictures of the kiddos, so this 'stock photo' of the play area will have to do. Not sure if my son or daughter, or their friend, ever stopped running, climbing or jumping - so not sure the camera would've done any good if I HAD taken it with me. Oh well.

Sunday was said to see come - as our friends had to head out. But the weekend was a blast. Thanks, Foxes!

... by the way - snow is still on the ground ... uggh :(

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Really? ... Really?!?!

This is from TODAY! ... and it's STILL SNOWING!!!

Monday, March 21, 2011

My two loves ...

High school baseball practice started today. I'm busy. I get to be around baseball almost every day. And I get to teach baseball to a bunch of young-adults truly interested in the game. It's fun ... but ...

It also means that I entrust my kids to a nanny for the afternoon. This is something that is difficult for me - a stay-at-home dad. I mean, I've basically been with the kids for the majority of the past three years. But every spring, I make the decision to walk away from them for afternoons/evenings to coach baseball.

So, basically, I'm torn between my two real loves - baseball and my family. Times get busy, and my life becomes quite different. I truly understand how someone can have two loves and have a difficult time choosing. Good thing I don't really have to choose between the two ... but every day when I leave, I'm still quite ... well ... torn.

Friday, March 18, 2011

One, two ... three? Keep it up! We're proud of you!

Usually I have a rule that I go by: First praise, then pick things to improve. I do it for myself and I do it for my kids (the two that are mine and the ones that I teach and coach). I've never really talked about this rule with anyone, but my son already knows it because it's what we do with school, sports, and whatever else we're learning/working on. Sometime's he gets frustrated with it because he just wants to have fun - but really, he likes getting better, so he always seems to be okay with it.

When my son brought home his first report card (from first tri-mester) from first grade in November, we had some nice things to praise, and we had a few things we figured he could improve upon. Basically, we decided that he should be getting S+ and O on everything that pertained, and 3 or 3+ on all skills marked by number (1-4). Many of his first report marks were in this range, but a few fell below - at S or 2/2+.

He has worked on a number of things since then, but the end of the second tri-mester quickly jumped on us. So, it was this past Wednesday, that he brought home his second report card (from second tri-mester) from first grade.

As we started to look over it, of course, there was first praise, as we noticed that some of his 3's had gone up to 3+ and a few of his S's had gone up to S+. Also of note was his Math scores - which were 4's and O's. My chest started to bow out (with just a little pride) as I recalled his teacher saying that they really didn't give out 4's (unless someone is way above grade level). And we kept looking the report card over. We decided to pick out three things to improve upon - just as we had in November. So we started back at the beginning of the report card and picked one thing out, then another ... then ... - well, then it was hard to pick out a third.

After further review, this papa couldn't be more proud. Seriously - even me - most critical and in need of something, anything, to improve upon - could only pick out two REAL things to ask him to improve. For gosh sakes - he had all 3+ and S+ or O's. What more can a parent ask? So, for our third improvement: "Keep It Up! We're proud of you!"

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Flower Man

Everytime I think about what our front room looked like for the first few years we lived in the current house, I think about the color white. I do this because for a number of years after moving in, we left the front room alone. It remained as it was when we moved in - as it was when the builders finished putting the white coat of builder's primer on for the owners before us.

The 'white room' became brown only when we hired a painter to come in and take care of the two-story vaulted ceiling room with it's staircase and landing. Needless to say, once the painting was out of the way the room became 'new' again to us.

Since then, we have gradually added pieces. First a piano. Then two sitting chairs and a love seat. And of course, a coffee table and end table - better to set down coffee during relaxing weekend hours reading the newspaper.

This past weekend, my wife and I made a run to a couple of stores to purchase the 'stuff' we would put on the walls. My wife, thinking me to be a 'man's man', believed that I would not go for 'flowery' stuff on the walls. In fairness, she probably also thought this because every time she picks out bright pastel colors, I balk and ask for something else.

Of course ... if they're not bright pastel ... then I'm the flower man :)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Saving more than you spend ... kind of

Went to Pier One Imports and Kohls today to purchase some 'accent pieces' for the front room. This means: art for the wall (think BIG ART, because it's a vaulted ceiling, right) and a floor lamp for the poorly lit room.

At Pier One, we found a floor lamp on clearance and had a 10% off coupon, plus we had $20 in Pier One Rewards. So, a floor lamp that was originally $160, we took out the door for $75 ... or somewhere around there. Savings = $85

Next up: Kohls for wall art. Decided to try two large framed textured art pieces for over the piano and a 'branch-type-thing' with lots of 'shiny' pieces for over the love seat. Also purchased a couple other pieces as 'back up' that actually might hang on the stairs wall.

Kohls' items seem to ALWAYS be on sale, so it's hard to know what you actually 'save.' But I'll take a shot at it. :) The two large pieces were marked at $120, and the three other pieces were each marked at $70. It was a 50% off sale, so the total came down from $450 to $225. Then, we had a 20% off coupon from our Kohl's catalog, which took the price down to around $185. If you do the math, we saved $265.

Now, do I feel bad about spending $260 today on art and a floor lamp? Or do I feel good about SAVING around $350?

My optomist brain tells me that I got what I needed/wanted and saved more than I spent. Plus, it's not all about money, right? At least that's what I think ... kind of.

Don't burst my bubble, though :)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Sky Zone

Kids had fun at Sky Zone yesterday for a birthday party. Both were invited and I thank our friends for that. I'm sure my daughter would've had a great time on her own, but my son loved it as well - even if he had to jump on the trampolines with kids half his age :)

I quickly posted on Facebook how "cool" the place was, and eventually described it as a trampoline place where my daughter's friend was having his birthday party. Just as quickly I was reminded ...

"Eh-hem....Ben introduced her to his guy friends as his girlfriend." (by Ben's mom)

Funny. Four-year olds ... ok, so Ben's five ... whatever :)

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Wisconsin's Republican state senators held a committee to pass a bill late Wednesday night. It started as a "budget repair bill" but was passed without any language in it besides anti-union legislation. Wisconsin's governor, Scott Walker, has stayed true to his word to shove the bill down Wisconsin's throat, no matter how many thousands of protestors show up at his doorstep. Two unions that supported him during his election now won't even help him clean out his capitol - the Madison Police and Dane County Sheriff will not help evacuate protestors.

Mr. Walker, you are an elected official of the great state of Wisconsin. Your oath as an Eagle Scout asks you to "Help other people at all times." And the Wisconsin constitution states, "All people are born equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights ... to secure these rights, governments are instituted, DERIVING THEIR POWERS FROM THE CONSENT OF THE GOVERNED."

Gov. Walker, you are not helping nor are you respecting the rights of the people and you no longer have the consent of the governed.


You may not agree with all that I believe, but I know you believe in education, the strength of middle class workers, and the decency and rights of all people. Thank you.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

How much do I actually yell at him?

Snow balls were thrown. Anger was fueled. Asked to stop, nobody did. Tackling ensued. Snow balls continued to be thrown. The anger grew. More tackling and kicking followed. Then laughter, as somebody tried to defuse the situation with silliness. Everyone walked away, unscathed. No blood, no tears, no foul?

There are two sides to every story ... and then there's the truth somewhere in the middle. Or, as is more normal in our world, there are multiple informants, with their stories, participants with theirs, and the truth ... well, only God knows.

My son decided that if the older kids weren't going to stop, that he was going to stop them - by tackling them. Not the greatest decision in the world, but what do I tell him besides, 'we don't fight' and 'walk away'? My wife and I impressed upon him the need to hold himself in high regard and realize that he doesn't need to do or say a thing to be who he his, blessed and loved in this world by his family, and God.

But in reality ... he fought. Not good. So there was and will be punishment.

And on this Ash Wednesay ...
"Have mercy on me, O God ... and cleanse me from my sin." Psalm 51:1-2
And help my son make better choices, especially on his walks home from school, if you could, please.
Thank You.

Monday, March 7, 2011

With One Breath; Ain't it Grand!

My wife and I don't go "out on the town" that often. In fact, we hardly ever hire a babysitter so that we can go out to dinner or to a movie or show or anything, so it's always a perfect storm when the annual fund raiser for Cystic Fibrosis comes around. Horrible disease. Great night out.

One of my wife's former co-workers basically runs the event. Her eldest daughter has CF and it's a strong passion she has to find a cure. For the past six years, they've put on a pretty big fund raiser, with bands playing, a silent auction, and several raffles, in addition to a few kegs of beer, appetizers, and some "free" blackjack. Basically, it's just plain cool.

We've been to the event at O'Gara's Bar & Grill in St. Paul the last several years and really enjoy it. The music is pretty good, the food is nice, and the beer is free :) ... okay, so you pay an event fee to get into With One Breath, but the only cash I threw around for the rest of the night was for tips ... and for the silent auction, technically, I guess.

In 2010, we brought along our neighbors and had some fun with them. After a trip with all four of us through the silent auction area, the two men strolled through one last time near the end of the bidding. When we got back to the women, we told them about bidding on The Billies, a band. First reaction: "oh, cool ..." Second thoughts a few seconds later: "What are we going to do with a band!?!" Anyway, for 2011, I was instructed not to bid on any bands. (I didn't.)

My wife and I went alone again this year, but we always enjoy talking to Jill, my wife's ex-coworker who is the event coordinator. And we seem to have settled on the one thing we will be bidding on every year.

See, it's this nice hotel in downtown Minneapolis. And in 2010, in addition to bidding on the band, I also bid on a Twins' Tickets / Hotel Stay combination. We ended up being able to do the Twins game in the spring (saw our first Twins game from row 17, behind the backstop, if I remember correctly) and the Grand Hotel stay in the fall (for my wife's birthday). In 2011, the Grand Hotel stay was packaged in combination with Guthrie Theatre passes. We won ... again. :) Needless to say, another "grand" birthday present for my special woman :)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

What will we watch? Father knows best.

While my wife was on a business trip for work most of Thursday and Friday, I had some extra time with the kids - especially bath and bed time, which my wife usually takes full advantage. It was nice to have her home on Thursday morning before she left for the aiport, and since my son had been home sick with a head cold on Wednesday, my wife decided to drop him off at school before heading off for her flight.
As my son came home from school on Thursday, I set out to find something that we could all watch together for a family 'movie night'. Fairly quickly, I realized that my son and daughter would not come to a consesus. My son, though, came up with a solution: he would watch his movie downstairs, while my daughter and I would watch ours in the living room. I allowed this for the night, but quickly decided in my head that Friday would be another 'movie night' for the three of us.
After school on Friday, I made sure the kids had a good meal - steak, rice, brocolli, beans. Then, I mentioned that we could watch a movie again after dinner. Realizing the struggle it had been to come to agreement on anything the night before, I suggested we watch Madagascar together, thinking that they would jump at the fact that I had suggested it rather than their dreaded sibling (okay, they don't really 'dread' each other, but I take a little dramatic license, here).
After roughly thirty minutes of arguing between my daughter and son about what movie to watch (since neither wanted to watch my suggestion - Madagascar), we ended up on the couch together, laughing up a storm ...

... watching Madagascar.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

2011 Basketball Season Finale

Ok, you don't even want to know how difficult it was to get these pictures on here, much less arrange them in any particular order. Anyway ... in his last game of the year, my son got to score a few buckets (I think 4 from what I see on the videos now.) He also got to do a 'jump ball' - which is strange for any level these days. And he received a medal. Very proud of the way he shook hands with the other team. Pretty good picture of his team, the "Dunkin' Devils"!!! And he even thanked all of his coaches.

Check out the four videos. One on this post has him playing through a bruised rib, diving for a loose ball, double-dribbling, and making a shot. The other videos catch him at various stages of making his four shots on the day. The last video misses his shot, but shows the ball going through. You can tell his range, though.
 He did miss on the day ... trust me ... but only a couple :)

"Nice shot, buddy!"