a dad, three grandpas and my son

Happy Father’s Day. Since it’s a retail-recognized holiday, I’ll celebrate by blogging. 

Happy Father’s Day to my dad. 

 You are the best. Ever.  There was that one time when you yelled at me for burping out loud when we were having dinner at the Pit Stop Cafe. But I learned it from watching you, Ronald.  And then there were all the times you let me try things and do things and always encouraged me in your own way. I mean, Dad, that time you coached our 5th grade basketball team and we beat every single team was even more fulfilling since the only basketball game I think you ever played was H-O-R-S-E. Unless you didn’t feel like playing that long and you turned it into H-O. Or when we used THAT ONE PERSON’S NAME. I’ve learned a lot from you and I’m proud of it all. 

Now that I see you as a papa to Oslo, I get to see the love you have for him and it’s the sweetest thing in the world. He’ll grow up being able to have a grandpa in his life and I’m so happy for that. No, he will never talk and, no, you cannot cut his hair. Other than that, you’re a grandpa so everything else is free game. 

Growing up, I had two truck driving grandpas. And when there truck driving grandpas weren’t driving cheese all across the country, they were at home taking me fishing, giving me quarters, never letting me win at checkers and putting boobies on my snowmen. 

One died when I was in 2nd grade, which made it the worst year of my life. From him I learned that people don’t hand you shit. You work for it and you get better at it. That includes winning at checkers. I also learned how to negotiate Cheeto trades while sitting at the dining room table. Life skills, you guys. They don’t come with participation awards and my grandpa would likely mock every child that had one. 

My grandma remarried a widowed plumber that drove an orange and white Studebaker. The first time he showed up to pick her up for a date, I shut the door in his face. Soon after, they got married and moved from right next door to 30 minutes away. TRAVESTY. But he because the best third grandpa I never thought I’d have. He couldn’t hear a marching band two inches from his ear, was bow-legged enough to drive a Mack truck between his legs and just wore a rope as a belt on his dress pants when he couldn’t find a belt. He taught his grandkids a lot by  example; he exemplified not letting the little things get to you. He never told you that, but you saw it. He was the most patient soul I’ve ever encountered, even when he crushed your ribs with every hug. He died in 2006. 

My other grandpa is 91 and was running over a cat with his electric wheelchair when we were trying to FaceTime earlier today. This grandpa doesn’t say much; when he does share something, you stop what you’re doing and you listen. If he’s taking time away from watching the Weather Channel or RFD-TV, it’s important. He called me two weeks ago to see what Oslo was doing and tell me he might grow up to be a stand up comedian. The time before that, he called when we were driving through Iowa to see when we’d be there. That’s two more calls than I remember getting from him my entire life. He’s such an amazing silent example of an incredibly hard work ethic and a desire to provide everything you can to your family. He exemplifies pride in what he’s worked towards, like the riding lawn mowers he used to wax regularly or the fishing boats and trucks he would trade in on a regular basis. He’d give you the world if you needed it and wouldn’t ask why. I’m so thankful he’s gotten to know his great grandson. 

My little son doesn’t have a dad and not all kids do. My boy has a papa and a great grandpa. He also has two uncles that are so different in so many ways and yet are both the perfect role models from to see. He has a big brother that adores him and will no doubt be there to guide him along the way. He’s got more than a lot of kids out there and, for that, we’re so fortunate. 

We’re also thankful for the sperm of strangers in this household, both from Oslo’s donor and the fella who contributed to my existence. Thanks, fellas. I’m afraid there’s not a Happy Seed Provider Day, but we would definitely celebrate your… generosity.  

Happy Father’s Day, however you celebrate or however you don’t. 

an almost 3 month update on my list o’ 101 things to do in 1001 days

I suck at blogging. Whatevs. It’s not like you didn’t know that by now. I’d go back to 2001 blogging anytime, man. Posting five times a day with posts that were not at all important to anyone in the world and didn’t scream #branding and #sponsored all the time. (Hey, not gonna lie. I did a fair share of sponsored posts, but it wasn’t every single day, man. And it usually included a picture of some nature from a drinking escapade at a bar. But anyway…)

I figured it was a time for an almost 3 month update on this massive list of things to do. You can review said list here. I’ve wrapped up six things which puts me at just under 6% done with this list. I’m happy with that.

Things I have accomplished since March 4, 2016:

11. Graduate with my Bachelor’s Degree. I’m just waiting on my diploma to arrive in the mail. I feel like this task should be its own blog post. But BOOM. It’s done. Don’t talk to me about school every again. Except I already know what Master’s program I’ll pursue if I go ahead and do it, but I’m never talking about school again.

27. Do the Polar Plunge again. I technically did it again the day after I made this list, so I’ll check it off. But I also want to do it again.

41. Find a new primary care physician. I scored big on this one. I found a random one and then stalked her enough to find out she was friends on Facebook with our old doctor that we loved A LOT. I made an appointment because of some stuff I have going on and loved her. Ozzy had her 18 month check up with her last week and I got a prescription for blood pressure medication. Ha. Haha.

44. Make a new firepit for our house. A quick trip to Menards and an hour in the backyard and the firepit is alive. The backyard feels like it’s mine now.

63. Buy a new computer. I bought myself a Chromebook. The absolute only thing I don’t one million percent love about it is trying to figure out what to do with all the pictures I take. I think a gigantic external hard drive is in order, but just haven’t gotten around to getting one yet.

100. Get a new title. I put this on my list every time I make one and it always happen. Awesome, but now I feel like I have to wait 900 days for another new title. I went from HR Generalist/Recruiter to HR Assistant Manager. YEP, MIDDLE MANAGEMENT. That’s another long story, but one that ended up with a really great ending.

 

Things that are currently in progress:

2. Plan out my tattoo for Riley. I‘m tattoo-obsessed right now and think I have an idea for his tattoo. I just have to figure out if it’s possible for where I want it.

19. Go out with friends in some fashion at least once a month. Bro date with Ani for beers and basketball in March. Burgers with Jenny and then a mini-vacation with Matt and Jenni in April. May was dinner with Alisa who happened to be in town from New Hampshire.

20. Date night with my wife at least once a month. You guys, this is hard. I’d ask friends to babysit all the time, but my wife isn’t crazy about that idea. I feel like we have friends that wouldn’t be shy about telling us no, but again with my Minnesotan wife. :) I think we went to dinner one night in March and then we went to a basketball game last night. This needs to improve, so we’ll have to make up the missed April date some other time. Makeup dates are allowed because it’s my list.

30. Send my grandparents a postcard at least once a month. Postagram is the greatest app ever. I send them a postcard, normally with Ozzy’s picture on it, at least once a month and my grandma keeps them all out on her table. It’s the most adorable thing ever.

59. Visit 30 new restaurants (2/30).  We had breakfast at Capital View Cafe this morning and dinner at Fireside Lounge a few weeks ago. Both of them are less than a mile from our house and we’ll definitely be going back to both of them. We technically ate at five new restaurants when we were in Orlando in April, but I’m not counting them unless it gets down to crunch time and I still need five more!

98. Go to a work conference on average 2x a year. Knocked 2015 out already with a three day SHRM conference in Orlando and a one day local conference. Hoping to hit another one in October here locally if it works out!

 

yes, I am supposed to be in the ladies restroom

I’m in Orlando right now at a Talent Management conference put on by the Society for Human Resource Management. There are about 1500 people, give or take, people that work in or near the human resources areas of their companies.

A thing in HR is diversity. I mean, it’s important. There are studies and articles and full on natural conferences devoted to the issue. Diversity is an amazing thing and the only thing that it can do is good. REALLY GOOD. 
The bummer is that HR professionals, as a whole from my experience, aren’t all that excited about it. There are always diversity specialists and folks that want to focus on inclusion. Those people are my favorites. It’s just not as prevalent as it should be right now. 

That’s why I’m annoyed right now. 

Here’s a picture of me and my grandma from a few years ago. Let’s first look at my grandma. She’s the most adorable thing in the world and the best ever. Not really the point of this post, but I just like everyone to know my grandma. 

  

Now let’s look at me. Short hair. Usually spikey. No makeup. Maybe some chapstick. Argyle. Sweater in neutral colors from Kohl’s or maybe Target. Jeans. Probably sneakers or other sensible shoes.

Side story: when I was younger, one of my grandmas once told me the boys were going to like my chest. (Don’t bother saying anything about how wrong that was because I will kick you.) Fast forward many years and while the boy thing didn’t pan out, OTHER THINGS CONTINUED GROWING. Point being: when you see me from the front or the side, I have things that females have. I have enough to share, if anyone wants to negotiate this. 

Back to this HR conference where HR people should have some elevated knowledge and awareness of those around them that may be diverse. Now picture me again right now: button up shirt, argyle vest, gray pants from the ladies department at Kohl’s and, as always, sensible shoes.

In the 1.5 days I’ve been at this conference, I’ve been called sir three times and had two people ask me if I’m the right restroom. I’m not counting the lady that I held the door for and watched her look at the sign on the door and looked back at me twice. 

Where are these people from? Have they never seen queer women? (Side note: if I’m stereotyping by physical appearance, I’m the only one that’s visably a lesbian.) Do they not have cable where they’ve watched one episode of the Ellen DeGeneres show? 

Two points to this post. 

  1. Do better, HR folks particularly at this conference, in recognizing diversity of all kind. I know it’s scary but we’re out there and you need to accept that and be nice about it. You’re different than me, but I open the door, pick up things you drop and say “please” and “thank you” to you.
  2. Tell me again why we don’t need gender neutral restrooms. I was born a female and still identify as one and yet I’m questioned about going into the right room to pee. 

101 things in 1001 days v3

I’m a real list maker. It makes me unabashedly happy when I can check something off of a list. I used to cross things off my list so aggressively that I couldn’t see what was underneath the ink and all the scratching off the list would bleed into the next page. Now, I’ve picked up a new method where I draw these tiny little squares next to each thing I need to do and, let me tell you, when I get to put a check mark in that box, it is GLORIOUS. More than anything, it’s an ADHD coping skill, but it’s the most rewarding coping skill in all the land.

And that’s why every 1001 days, for the past 2002 days, I’ve put together these lists of 101 things to do in that time span. I never finish them all, but it’s fun to… keep written track of my failures? It tends to make me think more about the things I do and I get to compete with myself in a way. I like competing. Even with myself.

So for the third attempt at this, I give you 101 Things in 1001 Days: Version 3. Ready, set, go!

the beginning of riley’s story

Back in 2004, I took a trip down to Jordan, Minnesota, with a friend of mine so she could visit with a litter of puppies. I was along for moral support, because I lived in a house with two roommates, already had the daunting responsibility of taking care of two tortoises and also didn’t really like dogs all that much anyway. They pee on things, smell bad and their hair gets all over the place. Even their food smells bad. No thanks. But I will, however, take a mini-road trip down Highway 169, look at the two puppies that were remaining and take pictures of them because anything that tiny is cute, whether it’s going to poop on my shoe or not.

My friend decided one of the puppies we met was destined to be hers. The other one was this guy:

LOOK AT THAT FACE. Is that not the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever seen in your life?

I couldn’t get that wrinkly, pink-nosed face out of my mind for one hot minute. I some how struck a deal with my friends that had adopted his brother. I don’t know how it happened, but TWO WEEKS after not being able to get this puppy out of my mind, I was making a deposit on him. My incredibly generous friends were going to let him live there until I ended up in a dog-friendly apartment and there wasn’t any type of time constraint at all. Hello, gigantic amazing and fortunate gesture that I could never possibly repay.

After a few months, I finally found a place of my own and, since then, we’ve only been apart a few days at a time. From apartment to apartment and from house to house, this guy’s been my consistent since about three years after I moved to Minnesota. He’s been with me through job changes, deaths, moves, pain, successes, failures, relationship mistakes, love, adding to our family and a baby. He’s logged thousands of miles in my car with me and fooled people into thinking he’s a vicious guard dog.

He’s some kind of master of escape which leads him to becoming the master of disaster. He stays in a gigantic kennel when we’re gone, which is held together by an extra carabiner and multiple industrial strength zip ties. Otherwise, he’s been known to open cabinets and knock cans of food out of it, open cans of wet cat food and eat the contents, examine everything in every trash can and lock himself in the bathroom. Evidence from 2005:

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Riley, who’s never bitten anyone or anything in his entire life, has a hatred for mailmen that runs deep through is veins. He sounds like he might come through the window anytime a mailman would approach the house. And once he did. It didn’t help matters that the mailman was a jackass and yelled and barked at him every day. (Nice hiring decision, USPS.) Straight throw the window. Busted that whole thing out. Then ran around the house in a panic turning our whole first floor into what looked like a murder scene from Dexter. Wound up with a ton of stitches in both front legs and had to wear the cone of shame for a long time. He used that cone like a battering ram and everyone had bruises on their shins to prove it.

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Our maillady at our hold house pushed the door open on accident once and then ran down the sidewalk screaming that Riley bit her. Except… Riley’s eight teeth are the size of Chiclets and SHUT UP. HE DID NOT. (Rumor has it she did this to everyone in the neighborhood. So, again, improve your hiring practices, USPS.)

This dog. He spent a handful of training sessions with a pit bull that had some severe dog aggression. Riley was there because he’s Riley. Dog near me? That’s cool. He got to sit for an hour and eat Vienna sausages out of my hand. We fostered over 50 dogs and cats and he was the sweetest, gentlest thing to all of them.At first we did not know which dog food to choose for our dogs but in the end we decided on one brand only.

My grandpa calls him Rilo and, once, we surprised them with a visit and let Riley go to the door first. My grandpa didn’t say hi to the rest of us for at least half an hour. My grandpa also watches the Weather Channel so he knows what the temperature is at Rilo’s house. He’s also taken to calling him One Eye recently. Weirdo.

If someone doesn’t immediately fall in love with Riley when they meet him, then I’m pretty sure their soul is dead and their heart is a dirty piece of coal.

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His time is limited to less than two weeks due to a tumor in his chest that’s causing fluid build up in his entire chest cavity. To go with that, there’s an enlarged prostate, a bladder that just won’t empty and some pretty rough arthritis in his spine and down into his back legs. I don’t want to lose him, but I won’t be selfish with him in any capacity. He’s never been selfish towards me and has given me 10.5 great, great years. I’ll honor him by making sure he can leave the physical world with dignity and without excruciating pain.

I don’t have any regrets when it comes to my time with Riley. My friend Angie said it best today. He’s been a constant through years of change, my rock through a lot of good times and bad times and he’s earned his place in wherever it is that dogs go when they’re not sleeping on my couch anymore. In my mind, he’ll meet my grandma and my grandpa. He won’t have to worry about my step grandpa breaking his ribs because he pets him so hard. He’ll have unlimited soft tacos with no lettuce from Taco Bell, puppy cups from Dairy Queen and puppuccinos from Starbucks.

He’s a good one. There won’t ever be another one.

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