Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Heavy Snow

This WAS an upright and tall 'evergreen' bush/tree. All the branches used to reach up to that middle one. Not sure what it will look like this spring, once things thaw. Right now it looks pretty goofy, to say the least.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Be Uncommon

"It is my right to be uncommon—if I can. I seek opportunity—not security. I do not wish to be a kept citizen, humbled and dulled by having the state look after me. I want to take the calculated risk; to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed. I refuse to barter incentive for a dole. I prefer the challenges of life to the guaranteed existence; the thrill of fulfillment to the stale calm of utopia. I will not trade freedom for beneficence nor my dignity for a handout. I will never cower before any master nor bend to any threat. It is my heritage to stand erect, proud and unafraid; to think and act for myself, enjoy the benefit of my creations and to face the world boldly and say, “This I have done.”
- Dean Alfange
"At the end of the day, I’m sure of one thing: accumulating stuff and women and titles and money are wrong keys. Fitting in, following the crowd, and being common are not what we’re supposed to do. There’s more in store for us. My football coach at the University of Minnesota, Cal Stoll, often told us, "Success is uncommon, therefore not to be enjoyed by the common man. I’m looking for uncommon people." That should be true for the rest of us as well ... I hope we can figure out what it means to be a man. A true man, one who is uncommon."
-Tony Dungy from Uncommon

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Baseball is HERE!

Yes, I'm still a Badger! Let's get that straight. However ... UW-Madison doesn't have a NCAA baseball program (only 'club' level teams), so we get excited to watch the Gophers play ball. Especially in February. In Minnesota. Inside (of course). And we know a few players now, so that's nice, too.

Took the kids out to the last of the four-game set versus UW-Milwaukee. Got to chat with Kyle O'Shea (fellow ex-Redbird) before and after the game, and watched a fellow Sun Prairie alum (Michael Handel) play a little shortstop, turn a couple double plays, and grab one of only a few hits that the Gophers had on the day.

Coach Oakes gave my son an official Big Ten baseball before the game and we sat first row next to the dugout - which is nice when your Twins tickets are upper deck (not that I don't LOVE every seat in Target Field, but the kids like being close from time to time).

After six stellar innings of 1-1 baseball, the Gophers decided to forget how to pitch. With relief pitchers in for the starter, the Minnesota hurlers proceded to walk or hit everyone they faced in the seventh inning - that is, when they weren't throwing the ball to the backstop or giving up line shots. Kyle got in to throw one inning (the 8th). His pitching line was a modest 1 run on 1 hit with a sac bunt, sac fly, and a ground-out induced. The final score turned out to be 6-1, but fun was had by all in our household clan.

Let's just hope the Gophers can have more fun next weekend when we head back to watch them play in their annual Dairy Queen Classic at the dome.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Food critic ... again

We were supposed to go to Travail Kitchen in Robbinsdale on Friday night with our good friends, Kim and Andy. It's supposed to be really good. It's had write-ups in the local newspapers and magazines touting it's scratch-cooking local-movement style, chalkboard menu, cooks-as-waiters staff, moderate pricing, and EXCELLENT food. Apparently a lot of food critics have come to take their shot at the place, too. We were SUPPOSED TO go there ... but I have no review for you. We ended up getting backed up and decided that with it's popularity there was no way we were getting in after 6pm on a Friday.

Instead we went bowling.

Well, first we went to dinner ... at the bowling alley. Okay, so the bowling alley had a 'restaurant' attached. Needless to say, it was a bit of a different experience that we would've had at Travail Kitchen. The Park Tavern Bowling and Entertainment Center didn't quite provide 'excellent food', but the company more than made up for it. And the beer was good, too.

On my 'really yucky' to 'really yummy' scale, I'd give the fish fry a 'kind of yummy', the cole slaw a 'really yummy' and the fries a 'kind of yucky' - but of course I was extremely hungry, so everything still vanished. The Leinie's Original on tap added another 'really yummy' to the list, while the atmosphere was comfortable for an establishment connected to bowling lanes. All in all it was another 'kind of yummy' night (though I may be bias based on the fun we had with our friends). Thanks Kim and Andy!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Bloodhounds ...

With my son's last basketball game of the season quickly approaching, I thought I would post some pics. Of course, his team's the one in red - both this fall and this winter, his teams have been lucky enough to be red. Unfortunately, nobody ever wants to be called the Badgers here in Minnesota, so ... for your viewing pleasure ... the Bloodhounds:

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Why having 212 college credits might not be ALL GOOD

Okay, so, yes, I have 212 college credits (... and one degree ... so far). If everyone doesn't know the story, I started out at a university that used trimesters (they called it quarters, but there were only 3 ... or 5 if you counted the two summer ones). First, it was engineering, then architecture, then eventually a complete detour into kinesiology, which brought me home to the University of Wisconsin - Madison, where I graduated in four years (of course AFTER the first two at UofM) with my Kinesiology - Teacher Prep degree with a Health Education minor. When I got married and we moved to Minnesota, the state decided I needed 19 more credits to officially be licensed in Health (even though I had been completely licensed in Wisconsin).

Now, I'm completing my masters program in Education - Differentiated Instruction. I thought it would be interesting and offer new concepts for me to impliment once I venture back into schools to teach. Well ... not so much. Not to fault THEIR program. I just think my previous education has been pretty good.

For instance, most of my first masters class, Education of the Exceptional Learner, probably was first taught to me back in 1995 and 1996 when I took my Strategy for Inclusive Schooling and Adapted Physical Education classes. I did like reading the book Keeping Katherine - and suggest it as good reading for parents.

My next masters class was Educational Research & Applications. Actually, I liked being able to look up my own stuff for that class; unfortunately, the bulk of the material actually taught in the class itself was how to do research and write in APA format. The APA stuff I remember from high school and my freshman composition class at the UofM. What higher level research and writing techniques I didn't pick up from those classes, I probably have learned from being an informal editor for my research-scientist wife for the last twelve years.

Currently, I'm taking a class called Effective Practices in Differentiated Learning. Though there are many 'new' terms, their doesn't seem to be a whole lot that I didn't learn at UW, or while teaching and doing workshops/inservices at Green Bay, Lodi, or in our current district. This week, we were supposed to watch PBS Frontline's "The Teenage Brain" - which I've watched a few times since it was first broadcast in 2002. We have also talked about theorists from Socrates, to Piaget, to Gardner. Good thing I studied them in high school, college, and in workshops. We're beginning to write a unit plan (which I will never use) and this week I'm also supposed to help a language arts teacher write a rubric for a personal poetry book project. Sounds perfect :) ... (on a side note: I DO actually love poetry)

As I said before, I don't write to fault the masters program or the class or even the instructor(s). I just need to vent because I really wish I felt like this was helping me be a better teacher in some way. Maybe it will someday. Who knows? Just doesn't feel like it now ... at all.

Keep smiling. My new motto: Work hard. Lead well. Be great.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ash Wednesday

I've found it a lot harder to 'fast' over the last four years while staying home with the kids. When I'm hungry, I usually eat - not thinking much about it. I've always had a hard time remembering that it is Friday over course of Lent, too. More than once, I have asked for forgiveness for forgetting about my commitment not to eat meat on Fridays. This year, I pledge to be better ... in many ways. Maybe it'll help that I'm a proclaimer in church now ... and a volunteer for faith formation. Maybe. I know it won't hurt to help remind me ... especially since I read the first reading this past Sunday and will do so again tonight at Ash Wednesday service.

"Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return." - Genesis 3:19
"Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel." - Mark 1:15

Monday, February 20, 2012

Pitch 2 Pitch

Saturday was a nice day for activities. My son played in his next-to-last basketball game of the year. I'll get some pictures up later this week. Surprise, surprise ... in case you haven't seen the pics from this winter so far, my son's team is red (just like his fall team), AND ... my son knows how to dribble and pass. I'm so proud of how hard he works, how close he listens to his coaches, and how team-oriented he is. Go Bloodhounds! One more game.

After basketball, we came home, changed, and headed out to the local dome for some 'sandlot' baseball. It was our first time, but I've heard of the company before ( and I thought my son would like it. It was pretty awesome. The dome itself is pretty new, and there ended up being only 7 kids in his age group (6-10 year olds), so they had the entire dome to themselves. They split into two teams (4 on 3) and the instructor pitched while the boys hit, fielded, and ran themselves ragged. The boys all had a blast (including the instructor!) and it was 90 minutes of great fun!

We have two more sessions we've signed up for, but may end up doing more.

Thanks CJ and Matt for putting this together and working with the boys!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Food Critic

So, I said I'd give a review of the Nectar Wine Bar & Bistro (Osseo, MN) ...

On a scale of "Really Yucky" to "Really Yummy", I'd give the overal experience a "Kind of Yummy." Of course, I may be bias because of the great company (my wife and our two good friends, our ex-neighbors).

We started off with the Mixed Greek Olives, Shrip Cocktail, and a bottle of La Bete Petite Noir. All were very nice and good "starters." I think all four of us enjoyed at least two of the three. So dinner started off well. The bread and olive oil were also very nice.

After deliberating (and, of course, not choosing what anyone else decided to order), I went with the Beef Tenderloin Bourgogne on Au Gratin Potato Cakes. De-licious. I would say that the entree itself was a "Really Yummy" - maybe even too rich for this palate that does not experience it too frequently.

The night was finished off with after-dinner cocktails (Leinie's Bach for me) at Dick's across the street. I recommend trying the combination of establishments some time, as an early dinner at Nectar is very quiet (and happy hour is nice), while Dick's was also laid back with a number of televisions, but also fairly comfortable for conversation. For us, it was a nice quiet night with our friends.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Nectar Wine Bar & Bistro

Date night this weekend. I'll give my reviews later ... :)


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Ok, technically my daughter won ...

And even not-so-technically. It was family game night, after all. And I could not gain my revenge on my daughter's winning ways from the other day. My wife even was able to take part in the weekly gaming ritual, having been able to get home in time before her evening work dinner. After she left, we played another game, and I still couldn't get a win.

Oh well, the night ended with two kids in bed with me, listening to me read a book from the "Captian Unerpants" series and the "Weirder School" series as well (Mrs. Roopy is Loopy ...?). I'd be in heaven if only the Badgers hadn't lost tonight and it wasn't 33 degrees outside. I guess it is February in Minnesota, so I'll have to be okay with that - the second part - not the first.

I'm all-good, though! "The world always looks brighter from behind a smile." - Anonymous

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

An afternoon with my daughter

Not that I don't usually spend the afternoon with my daughter; however, today, she had every intention of playing board games with me. I was totally up for it, so we started with Zingo (in which she beat me 4 out of 5 times ... legitimately), moved on to Chutes and Laddes (again, beat me legitimately - but only after we had each taken the big slide at least twice), processed on to Gobblet (which I think I may have actually taken 2 of 3 from her while playing; not sure because I took some beatings this afternoon), and finished with a few games of Sequence for Kids (she finished me off with a two out of three victory).

Good thing that Family Game Night is coming around soon (or at least I think it is), because I need to get some payback on my daughter. Gotta make sure that Farkle Trophy finds a semi-permanent home on my nightstand.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Friday, February 10, 2012

"the Barn"

Went to "the barn" on Thursday. With my son. That's him below. Wore his Jon Leuer jersey.

We watched enthusiasitcally as some omnivorous creatures from the Mustelidae family took some extra time to devour a group of small burrowing rodents.

We sat in the top row, by the way. And that was our view (above). It was cool. We had lots of room and my son could even stand, kneel, sit - whatever he wanted - without disturbing anyone. I think he started one of the "Defense" cheers that arose from our UW Alumni section, as well.

My #Badgershirtstreak continued, by the way ... and the Badgers won in overtime (in case you can't interpret the messages above - or weren't paying attention to college basketball this week). All in all, pretty cool ... although I don't know that I'll ever actually call Williams Arena, "the Barn" out loud. The Barn I remember was way cooler to watch a basketball game in.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

FYI ... I'm deleting stuff

I just realized what happens when I delete photos from my google-whatever account when I need more space. It looks kind of goofy, so don't go back more than a year or two trying to find my posts - or at least the pictures from those posts. It looks like this:

I keep hitting my limit on how many images the server (or whomever is running this free site) allows me to have online. So ... I've been saving my blog posts via Microsoft Word on my computer (to print out at some point ... although I'm not sure what I'll do about the video ... I guess I have that somewhere on the compute here, just like the images). Anyway ... I've been deleting images off the server so that I can add new ones - which I just did when I wasted one image spot with the stupid pic above.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Bloodhounds ... drop a dime! :)

"Super" Weekend

It wasn't really about the Super Bowl, although that was a pretty good game to watch. It was about the family and friend time this weekend. Saturday was family time spent cleaning and prepping for the weekend - including making Badger sugar cookies with icing. My son had a basketball game (which I'm pretty sure they won again - this is 2nd grad ball, so they don't keep score - pictures/video to follow). Our new neighbors had most of th neighborhood over for a soup and chili open house on Saturday night. Sunday was spent at church, relaxing, finishing cleaning, and with friends watching the big game.

All in all, not bad. Just wish I would've been watching the Pack.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Middle 3 next session! My daughter is officially a swimmer! :)

Just so we're clear: this is the daughter who wouldn't put her head in the water, was afraid to do "humpty-dumpties", and was in one particular level of swimming lessons for three consecutive sessions.
No longer.
She has officially moved from Little (whatever number) to Middle 1 to Middle 2 to Middle 3 in three straight sessions. [Proud daddy!] She is a wonderful little swimmer ... and learner!