Monday, June 14, 2010

Birthday Parties!

It's really hard to believe, but my oldest son, Griffin, had his fifth birthday this weekend! I love him to pieces. It's so amazing to watch him grow and learn, and become his own unique individual.

My mom and my wife's mom came over on Friday for a small birthday party for Griffin, and Dina and I gave him the presents we bought for him. We also spent a lot of time Friday cleaning the house, because Saturday was the larger party with both family and friends coming over.

In total we had 31 people (adults and kids) over on Saturday. It was a crowded house, but was a good time. Griffin had a TMNT cake, which he's been wanting for months. He opened his presents and got all kinds of cool toys...we'll have lots of fun playing with them together! We originally wanted to bring the party to the carnival in town (Champlin has a carnival for Father Hennepin Days every year right around Griffin's birthday), but it was too rainy, so we took the party to the bowling alley instead. Everyone had a blast (except Rohan, who slept through the entire two hours at the bowling alley). Late Saturday night (10:15 is late these days) we woke up the kids and took them to see the local fireworks display for the Festival; the kids thought that was awesome.

Sunday was a day of recovery and cleaning, but we did get some other stuff done, too. Dina's mom and aunt came over and helped her do some gardening and landscaping in the front yard. Later that day the rain finally stopped long enough for us to take the kids to the carnival for a few rides before it closed.

All in all it was a really fun, though draining, weekend. On to the week!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Weekend Worth Blogging About

I've been waiting for something to happen worth blogging about, and this weekend provided that in so many ways it's not even funny. (Actually, I've mostly not blogged because I'm lazy, but you don't know that. Except that now you do.)

The weekend was framed around road trip metal goodness, but wait! Before we get there, let's talk about Friday. I had Friday off (because of aforementioned road trip metal goodness), but I got up early anyway because I wanted to continue work on the garden box project my wife and I have been dabbling with. Power tools and wood! We were building three 1'x4'x5' raised garden boxes. Anyway, Dina and I worked on the project and got the first garden box finished, which was a major milestone, because I am largely inept with tools. Anyway, that took much of the morning, so I rushed through a shower and grabbed my stuff to head down to Rygar's for the first leg of road trip metal goodness.

The road trip was based around two things: a kick-ass metal lineup for a show in Fargo, ND (Valient Thorr, Baroness, Between the Buried and Me, and Mastodon); and hanging out with a bunch of friends. Four hours is a long drive, but worth it for those two things. Anyway, Rygar, T-Rav, and myself headed out from the cities en route to Moorhead, where we were going to spend the night at the Loopduke household. On the way we met up with Beener, and took his vehicle for the rest of the trip to Moorhead.

On the way I got to listen to lots of metal I hadn't heard before, which ruled. We arrived at Loop's and chilled out for a while until everyone else who was attending the show arrived, then we all headed out. The show was at a place called The Venue, and that was a surreal place to see a show. It looks like a huge pole barn on the outside, but inside it's a bit like a mall...there's a liquor store, a restaurant or two, a casino...oh, and a BIG CONCERT VENUE. The main room itself is pretty cool, lots of space, with a nice balcony area for drinking (it was an all-ages show). The strangest thing about the place, though, is that when we got there, we just parked and walked maybe 50 feet to the front door. For someone used to going to shows in the Twin Cities area, that was a mindbender.

The show was fantastic. I'm a metal fan, but haven't followed it too closely for a while, so I'm not familiar with today's bands. The first band was Valient Thorr. My friends who'd seen them play had told me about them before the show, but there's nothing like seeing them live. They (and particularly their lead singer, Valient Himself) are very entertaining live. Baroness was next, and was also great, but a stark contrast. A big part of Valient Thorr's show is the showmanship of Valient Himself, who talks a lot between songs. Baroness had none of that - it was all business. I was really impressed by them, especially their drummer, who was phenomenal. Next up was Between the Buried and Me, who I didn't like at all. I couldn't get into any kind of groove or flow with them, as they jumped from noodly keyboard stuff to LOUD SCREAMING WALL OF NOISE multiple times per song. Bleh. I mostly drank and chatted during their set. Then it was time for Mastodon, and they blew me away. I know some of their stuff, but not much of their new album, which they played end to end (with various other stuff afterward). We were down on the floor for these guys, about six or seven rows back. The floor was active, but not crazy, and it was a ton of fun.

After Mastodon was done, the magic of The Venue happened again. Poof - the floor was empty. It was weird. T-Rav and I hit the merch table then wandered outside, and it felt more like getting out of a movie theater than getting out of a metal show. We found our way back to the vehicle and drove back to Loop's place to cap off the night, which for me meant nodding off on the couch until I headed upstairs and passed out at about 2:30.

I woke up the next morning in pain. I had a cold hit me pretty hard and my nose was completely stuffed up; that on top of the dehydration hangover really sucked. I took some painkillers and drank as much water as I could stomach, but it took a long time to feel better. Loopduke generously made us some tasty eggs and bacon, and we headed for home. After we parted ways with Beener, I ended up taking some naps in the back of Rygar's car while listening to loud metal. It was awesome.

I got home and found that Dina's dad had come up and helped put together the remaining two garden boxes. We placed the boxes and filled them with a topsoil/compost/peat moss mixture, and put mulch around them. It looks really good. The rest of the day we spent putzing around the yard and playing outside with the kids.

On Sunday Dina's mom and aunt came over and they helped Dina plant a whole bunch of seeds and plants in the boxes. It should be a great garden! I mowed and did other outside stuff, and played with the kids (it's finally nice enough outside for squirtgun fights!).

We also got the fantastic news that Dina's sister had her baby on Sunday. I'm an uncle again! Congrats to them, and I'm looking forward to meeting little Sarah.

All in all, this was about as good a weekend as anyone could ask for.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Little Green Aliens

Some friends and I have a private forum website where we chat with each other and post interesting and funny stuff for each other to read. This place is called the Jabberboard, and one of the things we've devised to amuse ourselves is something called the Jabberboard Cover Song Challenge. The challenge consists of a series of rounds in which someone defines The Rules, and then everyone who wants to take part records a cover song that follows The Rules. Very fun.

The Rules for the current round are basically "record a song from your band in high school." I decided it would be fun to record a version of a silly song called "Little Green Aliens" (the original is online at I got together with Lundo and Phil, a drummer and guitarist with whom I'm good friends and have played in various bands, and we recorded a new version, in which (gasp!) I sing. We dubbed ourselves "Negative Terminal" (a riff on "Ground", the band the three of us were in together), and recorded this.


Back in the Saddle

Oh, hi!

It seems I've ignored about a sixth of the year so far. That went really fast. It's been a heck of a year so far.

On January 19th, Caden and Rohan turned two! They had a fun birthday party with family, and enjoyed the heck out of their cake. That same weekend we also got together with Dina's brother and sister and their families for "sibling Christmas", which was a lot of fun.

We dealt with coughs and colds and sick kids through the beginning of February, so that month flew by really fast.

I've been able to get together to play Dungeons & Dragons with friends more often recently. We're playing fourth edition, which I initially didn't want to embrace, but to which I have come around. It is both geeky and awesome, and is a ton of fun every time.

There has been some sadness this year, too. My uncle Wayne, my mom's brother, passed away toward the end of February; he was 60 years old, and had cancer and heart failure. We went to the funeral last week. I will miss him.

In happier news, I've decided I want to lose some weight this year. I decided to set a ridiculously easy goal for myself: I want to lose one pound per week. That will put me in a pretty good place by the end of this year. So far it's working; I am down five pounds for February, which is when I really got started. Woo hoo! My approach is pretty simple: write down what I eat, and exercise every work day. My wife is also working on losing weight, but she is more dedicated and is doing so at a faster pace than me. She's working really hard at it, and I'm proud of her!

That's all for now, but hopefully I'll keep up with this a little better for the remaining five-sixths of the year. I owe it to the three of you who read this. :-)

Monday, January 4, 2010


The 2009 holiday season is over. Well, almost...we still have a "Christmas party" with Dina's brother and sister (and their spouses and kids) this month, but for the most part we have made it successfully through another Christmas and New Year's!

It was a low-key year, which was great. On Christmas Eve, Dina's mom came over and we exchanged some gifts and set up our Christmas tree. This was the longest we'd waited to set up our tree, but this year there were just too many other things going on to get it done. We also had what is becoming our traditional Christmas Eve sushi dinner. Dina gets better at making it every year. Mmmm....

(A funny side story. On Christmas Eve afternoon, we took Griffin to the dollar store so he could pick out presents for Dina and I and his grandparents. While searching for something for his Grandpa Dean and Grandma Karen, he picked up a big box of matches and told Dina, "Maybe we can give them FIRE!" I'm proud of my little Prometheus.)

On Christmas Day, Dina and I and the kids opened our presents from each other. The kids had a blast, although Rohan and Caden took turns sleeping while the opening was going on. I got a couple of really nice things, but my best present was watching the kids have fun with their new toys.

That evening we went to a nearby hotel in which Dean and Karen had rented a big suite for Dean's kids and their families to get together. We had a good time visiting, and the older kids swam in the hotel's waterpark while our three played in the room's enormous jacuzzi tub. Dean always gives interesting and slightly confusing gifts that are very small-town Minnesota. This year he gave everyone new knit gloves with a roll of quarters inside. I naturally assumed the gloves were to conceal the roll of quarters, which would be held while punching someone, but my wife seems to think that's not the case.

My mom was supposed to come over the next day, but the roads near her hometown of Benson were in pretty bad shape due to ice and snow, so she came over Sunday instead. She wasn't here long, but we had another gift exchange and a good meal with her.

Time passed, and then it was New Year's Eve.

For New Year's Eve we had a couple over who had twins about a year after we did. They also have a 17-year-old. We all hung out at our place for a fondue dinner and for a while afterward, but our guests left before midnight, so Dina and I watched the replay of the ball drop in Times Square. Holy crap did Dick Clark seem old this year.

Much of our spare minutes have been spent over the last couple weeks setting up an entertainment room in our basement. We bought a projector from a friend and mounted it on the ceiling, then moved our surround sound system and Wii, DVD player, etc downstairs. Someday we can replace it with an HD projector, but for now what we have works really well. It's a ton of fun to play very-large-screen Mario Kart! Pretty nice for watching football, too. And if the kids break the screen, we can repair it with drywall and paint. :-) (And even if they break the projector, it was only $150). It's a pretty good risk/reward setup.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Wow - it's been almost a month

Annnnnd....a month went by with no posting. So I decided to figure out why that's happening, and I realized that normally I post to this blog during down time at work. However, I've been part of a new project at work that has been pretty time-demanding, so my limited downtime means there's no convenient time to write a post. I'm sure I'll get some more time as the project gets over the initial craziness.

Let me catch you up a little. The weekend before last my family and I attended the funeral of my cousin's husband, who lost a year-long battle with brain cancer. He will be missed. It was a good funeral, which sounds a little strange, but what I mean is that although there was a lot of sadness and grieving, everyone was surrounded by the comfort of family and friends sharing happy memories. It was the perfect example of why we as humans have funerals. Also, there were a very many little children running around (my own included) reminding everyone that life is a cycle and we're all just at different points. It was very heartwarming to see the joy and comfort that a little kid can bring someone who is grieving.

The Sunday following the funeral I got to take Griffin to his first Vikings game at the Metrodome. I got some really cheap nosebleed seats, but we both had a good time. By the end of the game Griffin got a little bored, but he did a great job doing the same thing for such a long time. Then that night we met Dina and the twins and some other family and went to the "Day in the Life of an Elf" display at Macy's downtown. That was pretty fun - Caden and Rohan had a bunch of "gasp!" moments. The kids got to sit on Santa's lap, and Rohan balled his head off for the picture. It was perfect!

This last weekend, on Saturday, Dina and I each had chiropractor and haircut appointments. There was something really out of place in my right shoulder, and my chiropractor really had to work the muscles hard to get things back into place. It's still pretty sore today...I might have to make a follow-up appointment. The haircut was much more pleasant. I spend more than I probably should on a haircut, but I go to the same salon my wife goes to, and the relaxation is worth the extra cost. I almost feel like I'm cheating on my wife when I go, as the "haircut" also includes a scalp massage, shoulder rub, and hand and wrist massage. I am always a happy customer when I leave.

Sunday was the extended family Christmas on my wife's side of the family. We drove out to Afton, MN, where Dina's aunt lives, and had a big meal and hung out with a full house of family for a few hours. Our kids are starting to get old enough that they can play independantly now, which means Dina and I get to actually talk to other people more, which is really nice.

That evening we decided to take the kids to the Holidazzle parade, since it was the last night it ran and the weather was so nice. It was a lot of work to get them all bundled up and out there, but it was worth it. All three kids absolutely loved the entire thing. Griffin even said he wants to volunteer to be in the parade sometime!

Well, that's all for now. Here's hoping I can keep up with this a little better in the future!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Playtime and alpacas and sculptures, oh my!

We had a fun weekend this weekend. On Friday night Dina had a scrapbooking event, so I got to hang out with the boys, and I also had a chance to play around with recording a bass part in GarageBand for a little while. I also watched an episode of Fringe, which I am totally hooked on after watching the first four episodes.

On Saturday morning Caden and Rohan woke me up early, so I got up with them and did the morning routine. When Dina got up a little while later, we all hung out for a while, then Dina left to run a bunch of errands while I took the boys out to a park to play. Gotta enjoy these days of fairly nice weather while we have them!

That night Dina's mom and our niece babysat the boys while Dina and I had a date night. We went to our friend Kamini's place for wine, food, and fun. There's a group of friends that has a "wine night" once a month at a different person's house each time, and although we don't make it every month, we like to attend when we can, because it's always a good time! Dina and I even did karaoke for a song, which is unheard of for us. (The song was "California Dreamin'", if you were wondering.) It was past midnight when we got home, so we thanked our babysitters and got some sleep.

The next day we got together with Dina's mom, her brother and his wife, daughter, and in-laws, and went to the open house of Spirit Song Alpacas, an alpaca farm near Lindstrom, MN.

Alapacas are pretty cool creatures. They're very docile, and very social, much like sheep, but are much more intelligent than sheep. The kids absolutely loved getting close to and touching the alpacas, who say hello by touching noses. I think someone got a couple pictures of kids touching noses with alpacas, which I'm sure are cute enough to be nearly illegal. This farm actually spins the fiber shorn from the alpacas into their own yarn, so they showed that process as well. Pretty cool.

After checking out that place, we went down the road to Sunrise River Alpacas. Another alpaca farm, as you probably guessed. This place had more alpacas, but wasn't as welcoming, so we didn't stay too long.

From there we drove to the Franconia Sculpture Park in Franconia, MN. That place is very cool. It's a free outdoor sculpture garden on a large chunk of land, so some of the pieces of art are really quite massive. Some of the pieces were your typical modern art head-scratchers...

...but there were also some that were very cool:

By the time we were done there it was dark (which is happening pretty early these days) so we headed home for dinner and the bedtime routine.