Archive | February 2019

Reality TV

I’m all in, I’m watching the Cohen trial.  What and how did we get here?

Sorry to my family, the laundry did not get folded because my phone stream gets fouled up so I have to watch it on TV downstairs.  It is a nice balance though that our ‘live’ TV has a second use in the year, although, the Superbowl has more amusing commercials, I actually know more about what is going on with this scenario.

Is this the Nixion trial of my generation?  Are they setting up the rest of the family?  I don’t think that a writer could have come up with this, but, there are some great lines in this.   It isn’t as good as asking what beer he likes, but there is still time.

My life has been a bit crazy these past few days.  I’ve been trying to get things that bother me off my plate so I can focus on the things that matter.  I think I’m making good choices even if they are not easy.  It’s going to be an interesting time to reorganize but I think it will be good.  Among many positives, I’m very glad that so many of my friends and family took the time to offer support on the decisions.  My story, this trial, all things not scripted are evolving and we just have to see what happens.

Other Kate!

3 in a row!  Don’t get spoiled people 😉

I know at least 1 reader out there adores the ongoing saga of my Other Kates.  I’ve collected a few over the past couple months that together make a fun post.

Recently AUKate has generously offered to cover for a coworker, I’m assuming for a good reason like having a baby but who knows with Australia, they get something like 20 weeks of vacation a year.  Anyway, I’m alerted to this by the normal method of reading her misdirected mail.  This alone was not going to make a post but I just got another fun one for her.

AUKate is cordially invited to a holiday party…. in November.  Save the date!  Technically *I* was invited since the invite came to me and a BCC list of what I can only assume are fellow Doctors and Staff but who knows, maybe her hospital is throwing a random invite international party?  Why else give 11 months notice other than to allow for travel.  I should really show up to one of these parties I get invited to.  They don’t give too much info but they do say there will be a dinner, tempting, I’ll see if they follow up with notes about entertainment or an open bar.

UK-Kate has been quiet lately except she signed up for StitchFix and even loaded up her credit card info but not her address and somehow used my email as the login.  I was asked, very nicely via email, to fill in a survey so they could accommodate my taste.  The temptation to go wild was there, but, I’m not that kind of Kate.  I hope she got it straight and they don’t just send her generic stuff.  I did dig a little to see if I could find her actual address on the site but that section was not visible and so I did the kindest thing and unsubscribe saying I didn’t ask for this.  Maybe somebody will call her or something, I do hope UK Kate gets the fashion she desires, my sister loves the service.

Thus completes my semi-regular update on the people who accidentally use my email address.

Dream House

I love a good writing prompt.  The thing is, I can’t not be influenced by the ones I read before I write.  I found this prompt from my Irish friend FancyPaper who nails it; I want a magic house too.  I would love a house that self cleans and does not get faded or worn and a garden that makes itself.  My mother has a line of thought that in our current era we are all so separate in our own pod houses that we don’t have the generational effect of more hands in a household.  We all need to be independent.  We also live in the shadow of the era when there were staff and a different level of expectation and so many of us try to maintain that level but all by ourselves.  Heap on top the ever growing list of things one must do to allow the advantages of the age to fully benefit our young children and I get tired just thinking about it all.

The original prompter is a blogger who is in a wheelchair and that absolutely is not the main interest of her life story, it does make finding a house in a city difficult.  She is also looking in Edinburgh (Scotland) and given my experience with the “ancient” American 20th-century construction, I can only imagine what she might be seeing.  Or I could be totally wrong!  I’ve never been there and a shameful amount of my knowledge about Scotland comes from TV.

On to the prompt, what is my dream house?  In lots of ways, we are *in* our dream house in that we got to build it and we built it the way we wanted.  However, unlike real dreams, there are always limits in construction between land consideration, the budget, time, and there comes a point when you just want it to be finished already so you kinda quit caring.

I documented a ton of the process of building this house.  It was exciting and exhausting and a part-time job that I almost miss.  There is a semi-sad theme that has emerged over time for me on house building;  In building, I was constantly in the details and I never got that grand “wow” moment of walking into a new house full of potential.  I already know its secrets, I know the flaws and the ‘why is that wall like that’ so there is less to ponder.  I have to step back and let myself enjoy what we built and let go of the process.

On the bright side, I really do love what we built!  We have an open plan, lots of space, the ability to move furniture anywhere because we didn’t make any divisions on the floor or with lighting to say ‘this is where the table goes’.  In the front room, we purposely hung the fixture high so we can all walk under it if we want to have a dance party.  There are tons of windows and lots of light.

We wanted options, that is why we actually have our guest room on the ground floor.  Just in case we or any of our kids or family need a wheelchair, our house is ready.  Wide doors, no thresholds between rooms, and absolutely no odd sunken/raised living room.  I see why that design style was ‘in’ for a while but I find it so limiting and slightly dangerous for one who trips on stairs.  Our last house was a 4 level split meaning there were stairs everywhere and it was my fear of fears that I would have to commit to a single level and there were no good options there.  This house has a great upstairs and that too was something I wanted and yes, if stairs become a problem there is a problem but those who plan early plan often right?

Back to the magic house side of things.  I think my dream house would be one where everyone got along and nobody screamed about seats at the table or who wore what socks or yes you MUST brush your hair.  This house is getting the first taste of adolescence and I am sure that will be as loud a phase as all the others.  I hold true to my blogging credo, I document what I want to remember but in full 360 reality (not semi-edited print)  I am nowhere near perfect nor is my family or house but do we stop trying?  Nope, press ever onward in teachable moments and home improvement and neither will ever be ‘done’.

Risking my life for Apple Juice

Today it is snowing.  Not just ‘oh, some snow’ this is tie a rope between the house and barn snow I always thought was hyperbole in the Little House on the Prarie books (ps.  I do actually live where those books were generally based!)  Yesterday they were predicting snow but half I didn’t have time and half I didn’t believe them so I went ahead and did my grocery order for this morning.


off to our sledding hill in a lull

:: Tangent on Grocery pickup::  Free grocery pickup came to our area about a year ago.  I kept failing to make it work for me because I need stuff today, or, I can’t be sure of my schedule for tomorrow so I just shopped in person.  Over the past few months, I got into the swing of things, meaning, I manage to plan a whole day in advance what I need.  For me, picking up right after I drop kids at school is a very good use of driving time, and, most reliable for my schedule.  Overall I’m impressed with the speed and accuracy and it actually is kinda nice to use a virtual search function for a specific grocery item and then someone else does the physical searching.  The negatives are; I can’t use my reusable grocery bags, and, I forget things because I’m not walking the aisle and seeing it.  As you may expect, you don’t necessarily get the perfect product, but usually its ok and it has never been downright bad.  I’ve gotten pretty good at the comprehensive list and most things I can wait the day to get. That is why we A. had an apple juice shortage and B. the need to go out in a storm because I’m not positive of the no-show policy and you prepay. ::

Poor Zoe has been out of her favorite drink, apple juice, for a few days and I kept not getting the grocery order in so when my order was ready today despite the snow and school closing I had to go.  It wasn’t actually so deep on the ground yet so sooner the better and off I went.  I only had to go 5 miles but it was so hard to see that cars just suddenly appeared out of the white out.  It was all fine in the end, driving was not slippery yet even, it was the visibility.  Home again with all the kids and we are getting used to this home thing.  They played outside, I shoveled, now they are playing and it is not the most productive day but I’m glad to all be snug in the house.


can’t see the steps = 2f of snow out there

On the subject of MN weather, it is always impressive to see the chunks of ice they pull out of the lake to make open water for the Polar Plunge (where crazy people jump into that open spot of water to raise money for charities).  We were there selling cookies and supporting our friends jumping and it was a lovely day outside.  Given our winter, you can’t just hibernate, you have to get a good set of snowboots and lean in.


Ice chunks!  we are standing on the ice that according to the blocks is 2+ feet thick.

Happy Valentines Day

Oh what a fun little holiday.  You can ignore it and nobody cares, you can go crazy and nobody minds too much.  There is very little debate over ‘the meaning’ and it is almost fun to be the ‘guy who hates valentines day’.  Nobody really takes it too seriously so anything you do it all good.


For me, it is one of my 2x yearly I try and get a good picture of my kids.  I like to make the cards, I started a few years ago and I’m only sorry I didn’t start earlier.  For a DIY craft it is one of the easiest and over the past few years, I’ve refined my technique.

Here is my how-to for photo cards

  1. figure out your theme. There are tons of great ones on pinterest but this year we did one that was not actually from there (but it will be there soon!).  It was my 10 year olds idea, we have a cute dog and she wanted to include her.  We have done the holding candy and blowing kisses, both are super cute but I don’t want to repeat.
  2. Take the pictures.  I use my DSLR but a camera phone is just as easy really. Take as many as they/you have the patience for so you have options and be chill with the details. Some of what makes them really great is that the kids add their own style by choosing the outfit or style.  I tell them the goal, they fill in the details.  One of my favorites was when Fiona insisted on holding the sign with her feet – it was so cute and so her. img_5954
  3. Import your photos into whatever software you like.  I still use Picasa but there are plenty that will let you do the layout you want.
  4. Go to and select one of their templates that will fit 4 per page.  This is a time saver for me rather than try and do all the sizing on my own like I used to.  Upload the picture and if you want to use the Avery collection of clip art and do it up.  They also have a pretty easy interface for adding text, I add my text there now instead of in Picasa.
  5. Save the Avery file as a pdf onto your computer
  6. go to and do their 8.5×11 color printing option.  Select 100# card stock and full color and upload your pdf.  Double check sizing etc and order.  I did 10 sheets to yield 40 cards and it cost around $8.


You can also just print on your home computer but for the price, I like the quality.  My home printer is absolutely NOT photo quality.  I originally got cards printed via walmart as photos, however, the cardstock is more sturdy and the price is better so I’m not going back.

As they get older I like the idea more. The cards in the store are really intended for younger kids based on the cartoons etc and my way the sky is the limit because I can type whatever message I want.  I did one for a friends son and it said “Valentine’s Day? Whatever…” and had an eyeroll style picture that is very him (and also cute).  For the parents that don’t have time, I get it, but I count going to the store and hunting up something as more of a pain than sitting at my computer.

For this particular picture, we had a fun time getting the puppy kisses.  We were going to use peanut butter but you can see that in the photo so we went with pepperoni.  It was a win with the dog and gave the kids a bit of a shiny blush that wasn’t bad at all.


yes, that is her outfit, that is why these are headshot style only.  

I hope you are inspired!  I keep a set from each year in their memory boxes, makes me feel better that at least a few physical pictures exist of each of them.


2018 <- never before published because I was at a funeral this time last year.


2017  – this shape was really fun, perfect for adding a pencil to the back.





polar vortex

Every time I miss a whole week I have trouble starting up again because I never know if I should note what I did last week or just move on.  This goes double for my life that was basically skipped last week…  Last week we were the center of a polar vortex, kinda like a hurricane of air super chilled from the Arctic and swirling around us.  We were -50f one day and -20ish the days around that so basically our life hit the pause button.  The kid’s school was canceled, even the post office closed.  One would think you could still ‘do things’ but actually there was a real fear of the gas in the car freezing or the battery freezing so the car won’t start if it was out in open air so we were pretty trapped at home.

It really wasn’t that bad at all.  The kids were reasonable, we had plenty of food, the sun was shining so our passive solar giant windows worked great even when the utility company asked all users to lower the heat to 55 because there was shortages.  Our house is built for the cold in general so I wasn’t worried about pipes and we have a 3 car garage so our cars were safe.  It just isn’t normal life and I didn’t get most of my normal things done.  We did some homework, kids played tons of a math game they like and Minecraft and I relaxed the TV rules and we watched way too much of it.  I got next to no computer work done because the biggest fights happened the second I sat down so finishing all that was my focus as soon as they went back, and here at the back of the line is the online life check in.  And life moves on much like it always does but this week I’m able to go to the gym again because I don’t have to worry about my gas freezing.

These days we are a busy bunch of people.  Kid activities, Lars’ guys game group, and my school board obligations are piled onto our previous stuff so we end up running all the time.  It is a nice thing to be busy and fortunately, a person that used to dominate most weekends has stopped being a factor so we have some free time to work with and that makes the crazy weeks feel ok.

So this is my check in for the week.  We are not frozen and just marching forward.