the celebration of 39 years for me

I’m 39. It feels the same as 26 (the year after my car insurance got cheaper) through 38. Wait. That whole 39 thing might explain why I had to refer back to Twitter to piece this whole post together.

On the 17th, the day prior to my non-monumental birthday, I had the day off from work thanks to an awesome new benefit we rolled out at my work last month. Everyone gets their birthday off and still gets paid. I felt so much like Oprah when I got to announce that to 500+ people, even if I about two seconds from peeing my pants out of straight up nervousness while on stage.

With daycare already covered for the day, Amelia and I had total freedom of the need to talk about farts and cookies, hearing about Mickey Mouse Roadsters Racers and not having to refrain from saying bad words. We opted for breakfast first, at a place that didn’t serve pancakes with a smile made out of Cool Whip. It was so quiet. I didn’t have to lie to anyone about my phone not being charged or prevent anyone from trying to shove their Crayon down their straw.

And then, because I effin’ love mini-golf, we went to Can Can Wonderland. IT. WAS. AMAZING. Go. Go now. We were there at 10:15am because we like to party and got in pretty quick without any waiting at all. It was 18 holes of amazing work by artists that cannot possibly be beat in any other mini golf course that I’ve ever seen in my life. They have a pretty awesome bar selection, but I couldn’t convince myself to drink a cocktail called “Happy Birthday!!!!!!!!” that included cream cheese frosting syrup, birthday cake vodka, milk, sprinklers, sparklers and poppers. But that’s just because it was before noon. (I have some great pictures and feel like I owe it a much better review.)

Our next stop was going to be IKEA, but that plan came to a halt when I happened to look at Instagram and noticed another credit union released their third clue to find a hidden hockey puck that’s worth $1000. We did what we could to figure out the third clue and spent about an hour hunting through A Place but we didn’t turn anything up. There was another clue that was released yesterday and I really want to go back, but I have a feeling Toddler McCrazyTown isn’t going to be very helpful in our search.

IKEA came next. We had no list of things to buy to fill up our large SUV. We wanted to walk around all three floors without being in any hurry at all. We could look at any MYSINGSÖ or CHOKLADKROKANT BREDBAR we wanted to. (Totally real product names by the way. The second one had an allergy recall due to undeclared hazelnuts, so watch out, you guys.)

We stopped by Sonic because we never go to Sonic.

And then we went to the St. Paul location of I Like You because I wanted really, really badly to buy an All Are Welcome Here sign for our front yard. Midway through browsing the whole store, we got a text from daycare that someone we’re responsible for had a 101 fever. Childless birthday celebration: over.

We went to pick the little guy up and he looked like he’d been hit by a Mack truck. His daycare provider thought he might be coming down with something when it was nap time and he didn’t try to roll his sleeping bag back up and put it on the closet. Pretty much confirmed it for her when he didn’t want to get up for snack the second she started making it. Apparently he’s the first to wake up and the first to get a seat at the snack table. (Not my kid. At all.)

Our daycare lady (WHO IS TRULY INCREDIBLE) said they just know when you’re out doing something fun without them. Totally believe her.

Still one of the best birthdays I have ever had and I’m pretty excited that I get the opportunity to do something like this every year with this benefit.

I’d write about my actual birthday (the 18th), but it would include details like a trip to the Urgency Room with the aforementioned toddler’s 103 degree fever, projectile vomiting after chugging a juice box the nurse gave him, and ramming as many vinyl gloves as I could fit in my pocket. Life goals at 39, you guys, and I’m totally cool with them.

downsizing our christmas shopping this year 

Before you get too proud of us for not being all about material things and not spending money on gaudy wrapping paper and deciding not to send out Christmad cards, hold on a sec.

We travel to Missouri for Christmas each year, with our boys and our dogs. We upgraded our car a month or so before Oz was born and that was one thing we kept in mind when car shopping. Last year, even without the teenager in tow, we had that damn thing packed to the gills. This year, the teenager is scheduled to travel with us, SO EXPECT GIFT CARDS, FAMILY.

I LOVE to buy things for people. All the time, for any reason. I have to be careful around the holidays or I’m likely to go broke buying coffee for the people behind me and buying dinner for the old guy that’s eating by himself. My point in mentioning this to reiterate how seriously difficult it is for me to not want to buy the people in my life ALL of the things.

This year, we’re trying to stick to a four present plan of attack for the boys like a complete guide on welding helmets:

  1. Something they want
  2. Something they need
  3. Something to wear
  4. Something to read

I’m sure you’ve seen it on the Internet, but sometimes the Internet has really good ideas, guys! Whether or not Ozzy needs a 3-in-1 tricycle is yet to be seen, but what does he know? He’s 13 months old. He knows the toilet seems like a great place to splash in and we’re currently hiding the remote in the Christmas tree to hide it from him, so I’m not giving him a lot of credit right now.

Always being away from home for Christmas might lead to some logistics related questions when it comes to Santa, so we’ve had a talk with that creepy old guy and he’s going to drop presents off in Sedalia in a smaller dosage. And no oranges. Please, Santa, don’t leave your rotten fruit in my kid’s stocking. Citrus and his digestive system aren’t friends yet. Give it some time.

We adopted people through the Aliveness Project again this year. This is at least the 11th year I’ve done it with Jenni, with the adding of spouses, friends, etc over the years. This is the first year we didn’t have a giant group shopping trip for it, so it was a little bit of a different vibe. And this was one area of Christmas where we didn’t scale down. We got to buy the hole Printed clothing online stock for some particular items for five single guys this year, which means are dining room table is full of things like dress shirts, a flannel shirt, jeans, sweaters, gloves, hats, a toaster, baking sheets, wooden spoons, spatulas, pillows, and pillow cases. Those were the things they asked for which are the things they should just have and not worry about asking a charity for those.

We also tapped into the fun things they listed, like the best reciprocating saw a book about a pro-wrestler, some DVDs, random Latino music CDs and a PlayStation 2 our pal Art is parting with for a pittance. We still need to buy a couple of winter coats this week before dropping everything off, so if you know of a crazy good deal somewhere in coats, pass it along!

(I don’t know where this post was going. I started it four days ago.)

Anywyas, take a look at website to learn more.

sometimes it’s easy to forget about kindness in others 

This past weekend, I found out that my grandpa was feeling a little on the sad side. 
He hasn’t been able to go to church since he got out of the hospital this summer. Since August, Grandpa Chuck’s pastor had only been to visit him once. Considering it’s a small church in a small town, it was disheartening, disappointing and down crappy for me to hear that someone else was making my 91 year old stoic grandfather feel bad. 

Instead of sending rabid beavers with the best pole saw to the pastor’s house like originally wanted to do, I decided to finally USE MY POWERS FOR GOOD. My cousin, my wife, my brother and my sister-in-lawish joined in and we invited over 1000 people through Facebook to send a quick card, letter or what have you to his house. It wasn’t a visit from a pastor, but it was a dang good place to start. 

Since 3am this past Monday when insomnia hit both my cousin and I like the 18 wheelers our grandpa used to drive and pushed us to get this going, he’s received 16 letters/cards and a CD. He’s read them all, put them back into the envelopes and put them on the table. This is a guys who counts his birthday cards every year and leaves them out on the table for all his visitors to see. He’s digging it. 

We heard today that a Brownie troop made craft projects for him and two classes of pre-K all made cards for him today. He’s getting Hallmark DVDs, stuff from Hawaii, a card from Spain, candy and even more cards, letters and so, so much love. The kindness of everyone is awe-inspiring and restores my faith that sometimes people just need a reminder that they can make a difference in someone’s day. Like Chuck’s.

He and my grandma are Christians and amazing people in every since of those words. They love unconditionally. They open their home to all. They accept. They support. They share. They embody just genuine love and compassion. They’re good folks. They deserve so much of that in return, but would never even dream of asking. And really, they shouldn’t have to. If everyone in the world had he kind of hearts and souls my grandparents have, it’d be an amazing place. 

 XOXO, world. Thanks for doing a solid for my grandpa. 

and then we bought a house

  1. Got married.
  2. Had a baby.
  3. Sent a kid to college.
  4. Bought a house.

Yeah, I think we’re officially grownups now.

We closed on a house on Thursday in a suburb about 20 miles away from our current house. The good news is that it’s less than four miles from my work and the commute involves no freeway and a maximum of two stoplights. That’s hard to be mad about even if we did end up leaving the confines of our beautiful city of Minneapolis. I will miss it dearly, so it’s nice that we can get there in less than 15 minutes.

We started house-shopping in the end of June. We were kind of guessing at what we could afford and what we wanted to afford. We’ve been paying a CRAZY low amount for rent the past few years, so we’re spoiled when it comes to leftover money for living expenses. The biggest thing we knew we wanted to do is avoid being broke as hell all the time, sitting in our living room pissed off because all of our money was going towards a house payment.

We found our realtor (Joe Anderson with Re/Max) from a referral on Twitter. I mean, where else do you find anyone anymore, right? But then we realized we probably needed to figure out how much money some crazy financial institution was going to give us, so we found a super awesome loan officer (Cheryl Stuntebeck). We found Cheryl’s information on Joe’s blog, because if you’re not finding a referral to some sort of professional on Twitter, you might as well look at blogs. THE INTERNET, YOU GUYS. IT’S GOING TO TAKE OFF. (I seriously cannot say enough about Joe and Cheryl, so if you’re buying a house or selling a house or doing something that required financing for something to do with your house, these two are A+ individuals, the cat’s pajamas, the bee’s knees, and stand up solid dudes and ladies.

We got pre-qualified and it wasn’t anywhere as scary as I thought it would be, plus we had a heck of a lot of information we actually understood when we left Cheryl’s office. We let Joe know we had money to spend and we were off.

At first, we wanted to live in Minneapolis and only Minneapolis. Joe took us around to a few houses one night and then we realized maybe Minneapolis wasn’t the exact right answer. We expanded to Richfield and St. Paul, and then we added West St. Paul and Bloomington. My real hope was to stay as central as possible, just meaning I didn’t want it to take a half an hour to get to my friends’ houses in Minneapolis and I didn’t want to spend more than half an hour commuting one-way.

We looked at a house that was in the path of about 19 runways from the MSP airport, which was super cute and would have fit us nicely, except it was also right next to the freeway. While both of us grew up next to train tracks, this was more like growing up in a box car. That same trip, we went into a house that had been flipped and the doorways were so narrow my shoulders barely fit through. There was a super awesome house on that trip that we absolutely adored and then we got into the one part of the basement where the teenager would be sleeping when he was home from college… and the ceiling was less than six feet tall. We like our teenager’s head and face, so we decided that probably wouldn’t work.

We looked at a house in St. Paul that had a heavy punching bag hanging in the kitchen and one near our current house that smelled like fourteen cats decided to have a pissing contest in the front room. We saw gorgeous old houses that would do great on shows like Property Brothers. We saw so, so many stucco houses.

Our checklist wasn’t terrible. We wanted at least three bedrooms, with at least two of those bedrooms on the same floor. We wanted a decent sized kitchen with more counter space than we have now and it needed to be upgraded enough to where we wouldn’t have to do any major  updates on it for the next few years. We didn’t want to walk into a house that would require a ton of work, but we were open to a few projects! And we really wanted to make sure the big ticket items weren’t anything that would have to be immediately replaced, like the roof or electrical or central air, etc.

Our dream list included things like central air, fenced in backyard, main floor laundry, no stucco, decent neighborhood, four bedrooms, finished basement and a two car garage.

We somehow ended up with everything on our checklist and our dream checklist. Not only that, but we came in way under what we were approved for and feel super comfortable about that six digit figure we’ll be paying on for the next 30 years.

We packed in a load of boxes on Thursday right after we closed and another two car loads yesterday plus some help from Short Notice Movers Inc. Today, we took over a carload full of our wall art and stopped to pick up a new TV stand we bought. We also headed to the furniture store where we bough a new coach and loveseat. So, things are moving along at a pretty good clip. We have movers coming on Labor Day to deal with the heavy furniture crap, so we’re hoping to be able to move most everything the rest of the week and be living in our new home on September 8th!

And then, I swear to everything, we are done with anything major in our lives because I’m about exhausted from all of these life changing events. I mean, there’s probably nothing else left to do anyway until retirement, right?