Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Card Shoot

Thank you everyone for the Christmas cards, they are great to open. We hope everyone has a safe and fun filled holiday season. On the day we took our Christmas picture we meet a man out for a walk. He was very nice and agreed to take a few pictures for us. He absolutely loved the girls, having grown children of his own but no grandchildren, and was a joy to talk to.

We had fun taking pictures of each other and the girls before Michaela's nemesis arrived, a puppy off the leash, and gave her a big wet sloppy kiss. The day was done, after quite a few tears Michaela only wanted to go home. It was an absolutely stunning, warm, and awesome October day to be outside.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Reindeer, Doorknobs, & Finals

If you guessed, "What are the weekend activities of a new home-owning professor with young children at Christmas time" you should be on Jeopardy.

Main street Marshfield, a non-profit group, is working at drawing people back to newly renovated central avenue. Last night we went for a horse drawn buggy ride. It was quite possibly the coldest night in the past 10 months. Today, in much warmer weather, we visited three reindeer. The girls loved both sets of animals.

The last six doorknobs are installed downstairs. No more concern of Michaela or Danielle locking us out of a room. Menards had a $4 rebate on $6 closet doorknobs, so it was time to change them all to matching silver.

Marshfield had 8-10 inches of snow Tuesday night / Wednesday morning. A stiff wind made plenty of drifts and bad driving conditions Wednesday. I went in to campus to work a bit, not surprisingly it was very quiet.

I am not sure when I will get caught up, so for the time being this is the only other picture I have looked at/edited out of 24 days of photos. Since Tuesday night.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Canceled Classes: Time to edit pictures

I was grading homework tonight when I received the email that campus is closed today (at the time tomorrow) due to forecasted blizzard conditions in southern and central Wisconsin. Like so many other times in my life when I should be thankful for a break and take the opportunity to catch up, I instead decided to procrastinate school work and edit pictures instead.

I uploaded over 100 edits, mostly from June and September. While I realize that spending much time on pictures three months old has little value except personal satisfaction, I do enjoy looking over them and recalling past memories. Michaela was and remains today very proud of her wedding dress.

IS there any wonder why I call Danielle Monster sometimes!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Mead Wildlife Area - Volunteer Day 2

I canceled two class Friday of last week and took one of them, my environmental economics class, to Mead Wildlife Area again to volunteer. I absolutely loved the day outside at the Mead, having found a new favorite location to bird and get outside.

While I admit that I partially enjoyed the day getting out of the normal classroom and being outside, the joy I experienced was not superficial as a result of a day off. Three students out of five and myself joined two wildlife technicians out in the field with shears cutting buckthorn and applying herbicide on the stumps. We worked hard at identifying the buckthorn, which was a challenge since the leaves and berries recently fell off. When in doubt we cut it down, better safe than sorry.

I hope that this service learning project will make an impact on the students. With any luck this experience will instill the value of volunteering, environmental stewardship, and land ethics. I will finish the class project next semester with a survey, but this setback should have little if no effect on the pedagogical goal of the project.

After volunteering in the morning and lunch a student and myself jumped at the chance of a tour of a handful of managed flowages on the property. I could not contain myself and asked which ones would be best for Bitterns and Rails. We had no luck at finding a Rough-legged Hawk, but they should be around soon with migration.

Growing up with many outdoor experiences and memories I now realize how little I actually know about nature, being previously content with the peace of mind experience of being outside. Having spent two days with four different wildlife technicians, the DNR educational facilitator and DNR Mead WA supervisor I am reminded of our different knowledge specialities and my true lack of knowledge when it comes to nature. It is truly refreshing to have a conversation with someone where the enthusiasm and love of the subject mater is evident in almost every sentence. Thanks Bill!

With the recent involvement I was invited to join the Board of Directors for the Friends of the Mead, a volunteer organization that strives to raise funds for capital improvements at the Mead WA. I am eagerly looking forward to this volunteer opportunity, but cautious towards a large time commitment!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A bit behind

Who knows what actually caused us to laugh, but a bit of photoshop and all the good faces are in one picture!

I am only about two months behind on our pictures. We'll see if I get caught up after finals and before heading back to MN for Christmas ... I doubt it.

Six new doorknobs are on the doors upstairs. We are removing all the knobs in the house that are keyed and replacing them with closet doorknobs (unlockable) and bathroom doorknobs (locking but easily opened from the outside). Michaela locked Danielle's door a month ago and I was unable to figure out how to open it. Luckily no one was inside, but I ended up drilling it out. Six more to go downstairs!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Visit from Oregon

Two weekends ago my sister Aubrey and her awesome family Steve and Abigail (Abi), the Sakaguchis, visited us in Marshfield. It was a weekend filled with lots of family time and extra help around the house.

My parents with all of their descendants.

Three granddaughters!

Michaela and Abi

Danielle, Abigail, and Michaela in matching clothes from Grandma.

Even with the extra week to work on pictures and having the time in which I could have posted a blog, my sister was still quicker than me after returning home from her trip.You can see some more of their visit on the Sak's blog.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Sickness & Wedding Pictures

After an exhausting Thanksgiving trip we are back in Marshfield. It was awesome to see everyone first in Willmar, then Brookings, then Motley, and finally in Staples. The girls loved the extra attention also.

Sickness has been spreading through our house. Danielle threw up three nights ago and Michaela followed the next night. Last night Christine was hugging porcelain and it wasn't from an all night binge. Hopefully I break the cycle and avoid it tonight as tomorrow I volunteer with my environmental economics class at a local wildlife area.

Derek and Kali, or at least Kali, gave permission for us to share their entire wedding pictures. The following link has all of our edited files for your viewing enjoyment.

The file size and print quality off of Picasa is limited, so if there are pictures that you like please send me an email and I can take care of it.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Wishing Everyone a Happy Thanksgiving

Even though Thanksgiving is not for a couple of days, I want to wish everyone a safe and happy early Thanksgiving. Below is a list of 5 things I am thankful for!

1. Christine, my wonderful wife, who supports me even when I don't deserve it.
2. Michaela & Danielle, two pistols of energy able to wrap me around their fingers.
3. UW-Marshfield, a job!
4. Family and Friends. Both sides of the family visited us in the past two weeks to help with a dishwasher and a few other home improvement projects.
5. Being able to check off one more item on my ever growing list of things to do for work, home, friends and family....Done with Kali & Derek's Wedding pictures!!

Friday, November 6, 2009

A Walk in the Wildwood Park

After coming home from the Mead WA today, we took the girls for a walk at Wildwood Park. We were eagerly greeted by the a disappointed population of Mallards, Black ducks, and Canada Geese looking for handouts. Christine adjusted the Kelty backpack carrier for herself this week while raking leaves and volunteered to carry Danielle and push Michaela in the stroller tonight. While I never feel bad carrying or pushing either or both of the girls, having binoculars and camera instead was pretty darn nice. Michaela did not want to wear her jacket, even though it was only 50, using it as a blanket until sunset.

Wildwood Park has a wide diversity of activities, including the zoo, playground, pool, as well as walking trails. There is a small herd of elk in northern Wisconsin but this view of a cornfield, farmstead, and captive elk is probably more commonly seen. We did see a bit of wild wildlife, when Christine noticed the movement of a Great Horned Owl.

I've never been much of an artistic person, but I could not help myself when I saw the warm sky colors reflecting in a slow moving stream. A three second exposure gave quite the contrast between the solid rocks on the left and fluid bubbles on the right.

Mead Wildlife Area - Volunteer Day 1

My environmental economics class is conducting a Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA) at the nearby Mead WA. The CBA project examines maintaining land diversity and I thought it would be very appropriate to not only apply class knowledge in the project but to also include a service component as a class. A small, yet wonderful, group of students got out of the classroom today and pitched in even though it included nearly 200 miles of travel.

It was great being able to help clear the service roads, but also to share my love and limited knowledge of the outdoors with the students. After a morning of brush hauling we had a great conversation with five Mead staff members over lunch. Thank you to everyone involved today, there is nothing like being outside to slow down, relax, and put everything into perspective again...such awesome soul food. To make things better we have another day scheduled next week at the same time!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

On their way home

Christine's Grandmother passed away this week. Christine was able to spend the week back in Minnesota with family and the two girls, visiting Grandma before she went to visit our Lord, and able to be with everyone at the funeral. Thanks to everyone who helped watch Michaela and Danielle.

I was able to spend every night at school this past week except Friday catching up with classroom work. While it was nice to catch up with school work, I missed my three girls greatly. Sorry for no recent posts, we had a wonderful visit from Mom, Caroline, and Aaron two weekends ago. Pumpkins, leaves, trick or treating and even a game of cards.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Beware of Monsters in Cupboards

I have been swamped with my first wave of exams and have been working too many hours, as such no new postings. After a long tiring weekend I am almost ready for another week of teaching and have a few minutes to try and get caught up. We'll see how far I get tonight.

This post is fairly self contained by the title, Danielle was having fun on Sept 30th and Christine was there to document it.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Another Month Has Passed

When you are busy time flies. I often fail to recognize that some or all of these moments might pass me by, unless I take the effort to recognize them specifically or have family visit which helps remind of them.

This past weekend Grandma Cindy visited much to the happiness and desire of the girls. We all appreciated her visit, and I am thankful for these moments.

1) Danielle decided this past weekend to take major progression towards walking, taking more thana couple of steps back and forth between Grandma, Mom, and myself.

2) Little projects turn into great memories when you do them with family. Thank you to Aunt Aubrey for sending the pumpkin cat!

3) When you fall and feel blue, a kind shoulder can be great comfort.

4) You gotta share the good stuff, candy for everyone.

5) Having the cat by the tail is enlightening for all ages.

6) It's never too early to dress up in Halloween costumes, especially when Grandma is watching.

7) Having a cat by the tail is enlightening, but it is just pure joy when you have your sister by the tail.

8) Even in pretend, tickling is fun.

9) As a father of girls and husband it is completely great to see the resemblance in all of your girls.

10) After a week of decisions and a tired brain, having someone else make a decision for you is nice. Thank you to Christine and Mom for deciding that I would install a recessed medicine cabinet in the bathroom, I am happy it is done and the bit of manual carpentry work felt good.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Horses & Cider

We had a very nice Saturday, first visiting the Fall Fest in Marshfield and then driving north to Prentice visiting Cindy, Quan, and Forrest Banh. The girls seemed to enjoy the zoo more than the Fest, struggling to smile while on their requested pony rides. Perhaps they picked up on our sentiments, as Christine and myself we were more excited to see the Cackling Geese, Black duck, and Wood Ducks at the zoo pond than browse through all the art vendors.

It was awesome watching Danielle beg to and ride a horse, yet actually be worried about initially. Danielle has turned into a daredevil, climbing and riding her plastic tricycle wherever she pleases without much regard to her own safety. She likes being in control, any help from Michaela usually result in yelling.

Visiting the Banhs was an awesome get away, with the hour and half drive short in comparison to most of our trips. Their yard is full of wildflowers and a large garden with raised boxes, giving Michaela quite the maze to run through. The girls enjoyed the sandbox while most everyone else was busy with the cider press. They surprised and sent a couple of gallons home with us. While it is possible things gifts taste better, all of us love the cider. Michaela told me, “That Apple Juice is yummy!”

Monday, September 14, 2009

Warm Weather Yard Work

Great Aunt Steph and Great Grandma Gold arrives at our house in Marshfield Friday afternoon after a brief detour on Becker Road. Michaela and Danielle took most of that night warming up to them, showing off the house and sizing up the company. Danielle enjoyed the ripe raspberries, sent my Grandma Gold! In anticipation of their arrival I finally got the grill put together on Thursday night, now just to put it to use.

Saturday morning Christine and I went for a bike ride to a garage sale, only to forget and return tardy for the dirt delivery. Moving two yards of topsoil and yard work began shortly after breakfast. Dietsche's trailer, wheelbarrow, and shovel helped us level off low spots in the yard, plant two apple trees, and dig a flower garden at the southeast corner of the house. One apple tree had two apples, so each girl grabbed one and chomped in, sharing a bite with everyone. Christine and I were very thankful for the company, as they watched and played with Michaela and Danielle allowing us our best attempt at physical labor. We completed much of the work Saturday before lunch and after supper, leaving the middle of the day for naps! Danielle even helped out with the apple trees while Michaela was still sleeping! Hot dogs and cheeseburgers on the grill tasted good, even though we had the grill a bit too hot initially.

I leveled off the remaining dirt Sunday morning and Michaela helped seed it. Hopefully the yard will look better in three weeks. The clay soil is almost prohibitive for flowers, hopefully the flower garden and apple trees will drain well enough. Sunday night we did the entire meal on the grill; corn, potatoes & onion, and chicken!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Family and Friends

The holiday weekend brought good times spent with family and new friends. Saturday we went to Paul and Janeen's home south of town and the girls enjoyed playing with the girls and Aunt Diane. Though Michaela had a 'near' run-in with the dog and proceeded to have a melt-down, from what I heard the dog hadn't even touched her, but just came towards her quickly and she couldn't get away fast enough and fell causing her to be frightened of the dogs all night.

Danielle is now loving corn on the cob and proceeded to carry her half corn cob around all night and did the same tonight when we visited one of Malcolm's co-workers home for a BBQ with a group from the college and their families. Michaela and Danielle met a bunch of new friends as most everyone had little girls that were close to Michaela's age and of course there were lots of new toys to play with as well. Michaela said that we needed to go back and play some more another time...I guess she liked it :)

Tonight on the way home from the BBQ we were driving right at sunset and so we stopped to take the above picture. Ahhh, the beauty of Wisconsin. Well, back to the grind of things, classes start again tomorrow for Malcolm and I am in the process of trying to patch and re-texturize the bathroom so that I can hopefully paint tomorrow or the next day. It is most definately a learning experience for me as I have never painted by myself...Michaela's room in Madison was the first time I remember even helping to paint (though I did do the stenciling and it made me appreciate it enough that I may never do it again!)

Hoping everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend and we now can look forward to the beauty of fall...there are quite a few changing maples already!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Silly Times!

Somedays are so interesting. Today was one of those days. The girls and I went on one of our almost daily bike rides to the park and all three of of had a blast, I even played like a little kid too. Then we came home only for me to get a little exhausted from Michaela constantly trying to run out of my is hard on my nerves! To feeling rejuvenated after Malcolm took the girls for 45 minutes while I actually cooked a decent meal...yeah! To then beginning the bedtime routine of baths and storytime. Storytime ended up being playtime and the girls were crawling all over us, laughing, kissing (this is Danielle's favorite), and it was great...I can't remember the last time all of us laughed so hard. I told Malcolm that this was just a sneak peek into the near future when the girls will play better together and get eachother wound up. Usually Danielle just cries/screams when the two of them roughhouse, but tonight they laughed and giggled :) What a blessing in disguise.

Also, I wanted to post two pics from the last two days. First is today when the two girls were playing well again and Michaela was taking Danielle for a walk with the monkey backpack/leash. They went around and around the kitchen/living room and I just had to snap a picture! The second pic is my new deal and I had to brag as Michaela LOVES it :) I went to the second-hand store in Marshfield and found this desk and chairs for the girls. Only $6 for everything. Michaela loves drawing on it and also there is a little light that she can turn on and off which of course she thinks is so cool.

Sorry for the rambling and disorganized post, but alas, that is how my thoughts are running tonight.

Monday, August 31, 2009

First weekend in Marshfield by ourselves

Two weeks after moving and of course we are not settled in yet. Christine has done a wonderful job unpacking, but we have to much stuff to be completely unpacked.

I finally finished the deck yesterday, after way too many trips to Menards to get a drill bit extension. (It is surprising how many of the extensions are actually bigger than the 3/8" diameter whole I was drilling.) We tried out a church that happened to be in the middle of ministry week, no sermon at all...hmmm...we will have to go back again to get a sense of what a service is like in general. We also found a place to walk and bird, the McMillan Marsh Wildlife Refuge is just north of town. Not much for birds this time of year, but it was nice to get out for a couple hour walk and pick a handful of blackberries.

The girls were fairly well behaved but we have a few issues to address with Michaela. When we are outside she likes to go around the garage; which entails entering the back garage door, running through the garage and around the outside back to the deck. For the time being it is too scary letting her out of our sight while she is running, the road is very close.

Michaela does not mind time-outs anymore, so we have moved to the draconian measure of losing a bedtime story when she misbehaves. Two days and only one story so far, which is not good considering she starts with two a day. I think she has missed the idea of gaining extra books by being good.

The girls are still enjoying their play room, finding toys and other entertaining items (mostly bathroom stuff) spread out in the room.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Settling In

I just felt like writing a quick post to let you know that we are back from a quick trip to Minnesota last weekend for my parents 40th Anniversary...congratulations mom and dad! And though we were hoping to see a new baby too, Dan & Renee's little girl decided to wait a couple of days after we left, but CONGRATULATIONS Dan & Renee on having a healthy, beautiful girl, we can't wait to meet her!

After a still long, but much shorter trip home, we are back and getting into the swing of things here in Marshfield. I have slowed down on unpacking, though we have gotten the majority of stuff unpacked we still have things that need to be organized...too small of clothes, books, movies and bathroom stuff. For whatever reason I can't get my head wrapped around how to organize our bathrooms, with no medicine cabinet in either bathroom and only a narrow, deep closet upstairs (no storage downstairs, where all our rooms are)how do I fit everything in where it is still usable. Oh, the hardships of new home ownership...I know you are all laughing and rolling your eyes, Malcolm included :)

Lastly, I have become spoiled, I am already missing having family here. Anyone want to come for a quick weekend?? Aubrey, how about you, you still have a couple of weeks, right? Just kidding! Anyways, missing everyone and hope you all have wonderful weekends.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Move to Marshfield

Two weekends ago we were blessed with an plethora of family and friends who helped us move from Madison to Marshfield AND build a deck on our Marshfield house. Mom, Matt, Chandler, and Nick were at our apartment door Friday morning at 9 am to help load the U-Haul truck. Three hours later we had much of the apartment empty; leaving only a few odds and ends to pack with a bit of cleaning after lunch at the golf course to say goodbye.

Matt stopped at the Madison Menards to pick up a few deck supplies the Marshfield Menards called to inform us that they did not have, calling us only after realizing upon delivery that morning they were short on the order placed two weeks earlier. Nick and Chandler drove my Jeep to Marshfield and were happy to get out of it upon arrival, as the Jeep has no AC, no cruise, no radio and only one CD, and the electric windows only work sometimes. I drove the biggest U-Haul truck we could rent, which was close to 34.5 feet in total length, felt like an apartment on wheels, and scared the crap out of me on the freeway. All the girls rode together and the four different vehicles arrived within an hour of each other in Marshfield. Paul welcomed us and with Pizza and Wings for supper and helped unload. A few hours later the truck was empty and out of the driveway. Dad, Gary and Chris arrived around 10 pm Friday night; the crew had assembled for the deck the next morning!

Saturday morning Paul and Matt picked up a Bobcat with a dirt auger attachment. Dad inside the Bobcat made short work of the the four foot holes for each of the eight 4x4 deck posts. Gary brought all the necessary tools for the deck and with all the helpful hands we made good progress throughout the day. We started the railings before dark but had the stairs remaining to finish the next day. Grandpa and Grandma Swecker and Caroline arrived around noon on Saturday. We ate well, played a bit of cards, and my immediate family thoroughly enjoyed the extended families company. Michaela and Danielle especially loved the attention and extra stroller rides from their great aunts. Matt headed back to North Dakota on Saturday, having been an awesome help with moving and the start of the deck. The Trout boys and Matt carried many heavy loads with all of our stuff.

Sunday morning we had a bit of rain. Cards in the morning before getting to the deck as I needed to go get a tarp and rope to help everyone stay dry. The sky lightened and cleared up late morning. Three hours of work and the deck was completed as far as possible. We are short two pieces to finish the one section of railing. The extra help was great inside as well. Boxed items for the kitchen, playroom and office were put into place. Mid-afternoon everyone packed up and headed back to Minnesota. We love the deck and the help was greatly appreciated, I'm not sure how long it would have taken us to do it alone or if it would have even been possible.

Pictures from that same weekend, but not related to moving or deck activities, as well as a few others can be found in the link below. Once at the main list of albums click on "8/24/09". After a few weeks I will move these pictures to other archival folders.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Happy Birthday Danielle!

Today is Danielle's first birthday! Oh, how the time has flown. We have spent the weekend at my parents cabin north of Park Rapids after surprising them by showing up to celebrate their anniversary and today Auntie Lisa came through providing presents and I made a cake for Danielle.

Elizabeth and Michaela have had loads of fun together and spending time with Grandma and Grandpa. They went for golf cart rides, (which turned into a 1/2 mile walk after the golf cart died!) and swam in the lake and went for a pontoon ride and just danced and sang with their dancing dresses on all day :)Family is so special and much appreciated.

Danielle had ideas of her own for her birthday cake...she was very tired and first Grandpa tried to convince her to try her birthday cake which resulted in tears and then when I tried to convince her to try it, she finally stuck her finger only to shove it in my face. The next few minutes were filled with Danielle progressively grabbing more and more cake/frosting and putting in my mouth and face and it turned into a bad flashback of our wedding, only I was the only one get covered! Even Michaela joined in by feeding me too. So, though I hate to have pictures of myself up, I had to share Danielle's idea of eating birthday cake. I was glad that she finally did eat some of the cake and seemed to enjoy it...lemon/blueberry was a hit :)

Hope you all enjoy the pictures, I just wanted to have a blog to commemorate Danielle's special day and share with all of our loved ones.