Moments like these I never want to let go of

When kids are young, as parents we get to do so many cool things with our kids.

All of those firsts like birthdays, walking, talking. You know. The basics.

But the one thing I look forward to – every time – is family movie night.

Over the years, it will change. But this is one scene I can’t get enough of.

20140208-205820.jpg

What are some of the things you do with your kids that you simply can’t get enough of?

Roman

Teaching a young kid new tricks

One of the best parts if being a dad is the experiences you get to have with your kids.

There are the bigger experiences like family trips, camping, and family outings.

But the ones I remember most are the daily in and out things that happen for the first time. Like the first tooth that is lost, or shaving for the first time.

Although my boys are too young to truly shave, they see me doing it in the morning and had a curiosity about it. Especially Big Dude.

When we were out at the store the other night, we came across a kids “shaving kit”. Big Dude saw it and asked if he could start shaving too. Now, the kids kit has a plastic surface that looks like a blade, but isn’t.

Tonight while getting ready for bed, Big Dude wanted to give it a try. What ensued made me laugh almost as hard as the time we tied Little Guy’s loose tooth to the door to pull it out (yes, that absolutely happened – and it was glorious!)

We had shaving cream up his nose, all over his face. Let’s just say that it was a learning experience.

The best was the photo below.

20140101-201524.jpg

Oh, and if you think I’m kidding about the loose tooth, here’s the before photo.

20140101-201657.jpg
And the after photo

20140101-201741.jpg

2014 is off to a fun start!

No more new year’s resolutions

I’m not quite sure where to start this post.  I think I’ve rewritten this first paragraph about 10 times so far.  I know where I want to go, but how to get there from here is the great question of the day.

Each year, many of us set out to make a new year’s resolution.  Sometimes we fulfill that goal and sometimes we don’t.  I can speak from experience on both sides of this coin.  In January of 2011, I set out to change my lifestyle to a more healthier me.  That last about a month.  The gym where I was working out wasn’t the greatest and was unfriendly.  I felt defeated and I was barely a month in to the new year.  I didn’t see myself begin to fulfill that goal until May of that year when I started at a new gym and met so many great people.  Their support pushed me through the last two and a half years to where I am today.

When I sat down to decide what this year’s resolution was going to be, I was kind of struggling between a few different things.  A few weeks ago, my friend Marc, who writes for, and is the podcast host of “The Conversation Hub”, began talking about his Three Words for 2014.  I remembered reading about his change to the three words last year, so I went back to read the post again.

After reading the blog post from last year, and talking with some friends around town, a bunch of us have decided to do away with the resolution, and move toward the three words.  Just as Marc stated, I think by selecting three words, it will better help guide me through the year, rather than a one off goal.  It will also really help me focus through 2014.

This afternoon, a group of us from town are getting together to announce our words to each other. This blog post will go up about the same time I’m meeting with my friends to announce our words.

So, let’s not wait any longer.  Let’s get to it.

My first word is Consistency.

“For changes to be of any true value, they’ve got to be lasting and consistent.” ~ Anthony Robbins

For me, consistency revolves around my fitness goals.  Have I maintained, sure.  This last summer I competed in four 1/2 marathons, countless 5k’s and participate in the MS 150, a 150 mile bike ride from Duluth to the Twin Cities.  That can be consistent, but after my last half marathon in October in Mankato, I decided to take a break for a bit.

The definition of consistency is the achievement of a level of performance that does not vary greatly in quality over time.  After last summer, I was sore all over and thought I needed a rest after a busy summer.  That time off, broke my consistency.  I still taught kettle bell class at AFC and participated in several classes through Get Fit in Hutchinson, but I lacked the consistency I had before.  Now that we’ve had snow and downright bitter cold, my running hasn’t been as frequent.

So between forcing myself out in to the cold to run, and fitness classes, I want to gain my consistency back that I had this summer.

This was the easiest word to do.

Second word is Courage.

Courage to do the big things and courage to follow through on the little things.

“Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.” – Maya Angelou

When you think about it, we are all looking for courage.  Large or small, it takes a moment of courage to step out and do something different.  

Having the courage to step out and do something that you may not be comfortable with can be a real challenge for someone who hasn’t been used to it.

Courage plays such a large role in what we do in life.  To step out of our comfort zones and really step up, can be tough.

This year, courage for me is happening in two ways.

The first is having the courage to try new things.  I’m not that big in to trying new things.  From food to “experiences”, I tend to go with things I already know about.

While this may not seem all that big, but there are a few things I want to get better at, and it will take courage to do it.

The first is already happening with our new senior living communities. While they are set to open in 2014, it took some courage to become part of this group and move it forward.  I am really excited about the possibilities that these new communities hold.  There are other projects to be worked on, and each of those instances will take courage to make the necessary changes.

I want to teach my boys about having courage in the face of adversity.  The courage to stand up for what they believe in, the courage to do what’s right, even if that means it won’t be popular.  While there are great kids out there, I don’t feel as if people stand up for what they believe is right.  When someone gets picked on or bullied in school, who has the courage to stand up to those kids and say it isn’t right?

The second part of courage also comes through in part of my third word, which is Community.

 

“In every community, there is work to be done. In every nation, there are wounds to heal. In every heart, there is the power to do it.” - Marianne Williamson

I pondered on this for the last couple of weeks.  It wasn’t until recently that it actually came to me, and I’m going to borrow from my friend Marc on this one.

My community involvement over the past year has grown.  I’ve been able to participate in a bunch of awesome projects through the city and through the chamber of commerce.  This year, I want to try and give something back.  In December 2014, a group of photographer friends and I are going to participate in Help-Portrait, right here in our own city.

Help-Portrait is a community of photographers who come together across the world to use their photography skills to give back to their local community.  In December, photographers around the world will be grabbing their cameras, finding people in need and taking their picture. When the prints are ready, the photographs get delivered.  As the website says, it’s about giving photographs, not taking them.

Here’s a quick video to explain more of what I’m talking about.

Every time I see the video, I get more excited to do this project.

After talking with a few of my photography friends who’ve participated in this program, I am really excited about making this a reality here in our own town.

This is going to be a huge project to undertake.  I’m going to need help in pulling it off, but I am determined to make it work.

So there you have it.  My three words for 2014 are: Consistency; Courage, and Community.

With all of that in mind, what are you going to do this year?  A new year’s resolution, or Three Words?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Happy New Year everyone!

Roman

Sometimes a run is not just a run

One of the things we set out to do when we decided to get healthy, was to be good role models for our kids.

With some luck, they’ve taken an interest in running!

This past year alone, Big Dude has completed four 5k’s!

Last weekend, Little Guy decided it was his turn to run too. So, we all signed up to run as a family at a local 5k color run.

We went in to this knowing that we weren’t going for good times, just more to keep their interest.

See, Big Dude is a lot like Angie. He is in it for the bling. Give those two a medal or a shirt, and they are in. In this case, they got a shirt, and the opportunity to throw color at mom and dad. Figured it would be good.

The boys took off out of the gate in a hurry. Being a color run, we knew the boys would enjoy getting blasted by the colors as they ran by.

At mile 1.5, Little Guy slowed down. At one point, deciding he needed a ride.

I picked him up and kept jogging. Through the race, I probably carried him for a mile of it. Have you tried carrying a kid that distance while running?

At the end, they ran in to our group of friends who waited to cheer them on as they crossed the finish line.

After that, it was an all out color war. Little Guys hands were so blue, he thought he was turning in to a smurf.

We are glad the boys are taking an interest in fitness. They are already signed up for the kids run coming up in October.

Thanks to our friend Karlie for getting this shot of me running with Little Guy.

20130924-173644.jpg

It’s already been 20 years – time for the High School memories to flow

senior photo

I have no idea how I would change this photo now. CD’s were the thing 20 years ago.

It’s hard for me to believe that it’s been twenty years since I graduated from high school. In a way it still feels like yesterday and in others, it seems like a lifetime ago.

This weekend is my twenty year high school reunion.  TWENTY YEARS!

It will be a fun trip back as many of my friends from high school will be there.  For most people I know, they stay connected to their friends after high school.  For me, I tried to stay connected, but before Facebook, it wasn’t easy.  As I moved around, it became tougher and tougher to stay connected.  It wasn’t until within the last 5 years that many of us were able to connect again.

School is hard, and not for the reasons you may think.

I really wasn’t having fun in school until my senior year.  Maybe it was that way for a lot of us, I don’t know.  I didn’t really feel as though I fit in.   Continue reading

Why I’m riding in the MS 150

bikerideGood morning everyone!

I initially was going to put this on twitter, but with only so many characters to use, I found myself running out of space pretty quickly.

For many years, I’ve wanted to participate in the MS 150 – a 150 mile bike ride from Duluth to White Bear Lake.  When I first started looking at this, I was not in any kind of shape to ride in something of that distance.  Now that I’m in much better shape, I feel way more confident.

However, that is not why I’ve decided to ride this year.

I don’t talk about it, because it’s not my story to tell. However, after talking with her about it last night, she told me I should tell the reason for why I’m riding this year.

I’m riding this year to support my sister, Sarah, who is living with MS. My sister was diagnosed when she was in college. I remember her going through the tests in high school and wondering what it was that was giving her so much trouble.

It’s hard to see my sister live through days of unknown. Will today be the day that she can’t feel her fingers? Will today be the day that she has trouble seeing? What will today bring? It’s hard for me to imagine waking up every morning, wondering “what’s next?”.

They are making some great advancements in treating MS, and maybe someday, we’ll see a cure for it.

A recent research study shows that one out of every two local residents knows someone living with multiple sclerosis. MS is a chronic disease of the central nervous system. People with MS are usually diagnosed between the ages of 20-50 and face unpredictable symptoms that can include numbness, blurred vision, paralysis and blindness.

There’s no cure, but with the help of dedicated fundraisers, research is progressing at a remarkable rate. The National MS Society has committed to invest more than $47 million in 2013 to support new and ongoing MS research projects.

When you donate today, you aren’t just donating to a faceless cause. You’re donating to my sister and thousands of people just like her who are waking up every morning, wondering, what’s next.

Will you help me, help them?

Click on the link below to donate today.

Roman’s Donation Page


 

Our first real family vacation

Every year since we’ve had our boys, we keep telling ourselves that we would take a family vacation, but for one reason or another, it seemed like it was mom and dad, who needed the vacation.

This year we decided to change that.  It had been a couple of years since Angie and I had taken any significant time off of work, and you know?  Time is short, and the kids will only be this little for so long.

So we decided we would take the kids to Florida over spring break.  We didn’t tell them we were going.  We really didn’t want them saying anything to anybody about the trip.  We just didn’t know how they would react and more than anything, I didn’t want them to keep asking if we were going “tomorrow”.

IMG_0101

 

Singing along with the radio on the way to the airport

So we held out on them.  We didn’t tell them until the morning we left for the airport.  I think they had it in their mind that they were going to one of the Grandma’s houses for spring break.  They didn’t really react they way I had though they would, but once we got in the car, they couldn’t wait to go.

We thought we were doing a good thing by packing them each a backpack with their game system in it so they would have something to do.  We were met with “This is too heavy, you need to carry it!”  It was fun when the security guard stepped in and told Little Guy that if he didn’t carry his own bag, he couldn’t get on the airplane.  If she wouldn’t have said that to him, it would have been a meltdown.  It may have had something to do with our flight leaving at 7pm too, but I thought it would be better that way.

 

IMG_0110

Heading down the ramp to board the flight

IMG_0113

 

They didn’t stay awake very long

We arrived in Ft. Meyers late at night.  The boys were a bit tired, but powered through until they got to grandma’s house in Florida.  Once there, they saw the pool and wanted to go swimming immediately.  At midnight.  Needless to say, we didn’t go swimming, and they didn’t exactly go to bed right away either.

The next morning we woke up and headed out to spend 4 days at Disney World.  The boys had a blast getting to meet all of the characters, and go one a lot of the rides.  I’m not going to break this down by day, or moment to moment.  One thing I would have done differently would have been to bring an iPad along.  Even though we used the FastPass option a lot, the lines were still incredibly long on some of the days.  On our last day there, I saw an all-star dad pull out his iPad and give it to his kids.  They didn’t put up an ounce of fight due to waiting in line for so long.  Was the one moment when I thought to myself, I wish I would have thought of that!”

IMG_0120 IMG_0122

 

IMG_0134 IMG_0131 IMG_0173 IMG_0172 IMG_0154 IMG_0187 IMG_0281

 

IMG_0323 IMG_0336 IMG_0342 IMG_0352

After our four days at Disney, it was time to head back south to the grandparents place.  The boys woke up the next morning and swam for a good portion of the morning.

IMG_0356

We spent the afternoon at one of the beaches and watched the boys build sandcastles and pick up sea shells.

IMG_0378

As the sun began to set, we came around a corner and noticed a photo shoot going on. I made the group sit down so I could watch for 30 minutes or so. While it wasn’t my shoot, it did give me an idea for a shoot sometime in the future!

IMG_0377

On our last full day in Florida, we went out on grandpa’s boat towards the Gulf of Mexico.  We visited an island called Cayo Costa.  It is hands down, one of my favorite spots to go in Florida.  It is only accessible by boat, so the crowds are extremely small.  Angie and I spent the day walking up and down the beach taking photographs and walking in the Gulf.  On our way back, we laid down on the beach and listened to the waves crash against the shore.  For me, it was like nothing else in the world mattered at that moment.  It was one of the best moments of peace I’ve had in quite some time.

IMG_0383 IMG_0391 IMG_0392 IMG_0394 IMG_0396 IMG_0397 IMG_0417 IMG_0427 IMG_0429

On the boat ride back to the house, I asked the boys, “What was your favorite part of the trip?”  Big Dude came back right away with “umm, the beach, and meeting the Disney characters.”  Little Guy didn’t have an answer right away. It wasn’t until we were back home and on the way to daycare that he said “Dad, you know what my favorite part was?  The characters at Disney.”

IMG_0301

It was fun to hear him say that, because we had suffered through one tired kid tantrum on the last day when we had stood in line to meet Mickey Mouse.  So much so, that he refused to get his photograph taken with them when we went through as a family.  It wasn’t until he got to meet Chip & Dale that his attitude changed.  We were lucky that the character spot for Mickey was still open, or I don’t know what kind of epic meltdown we could have seen.

I’m so glad that we decided to take the boys.  While it may have been too early for some, I had wanted to take them while the “magic” still lived in them.

I hope that someday they will look back on the trip and remember something from going down there.

IMG_0382

One thing I can say, is it won’t be our last trip.  Even though there were times of stress, I wouldn’t have traded anything to see the looks on their face the first time they say Mickey Mouse or when they saw the Gulf of Mexico.

Here’s my one take away on the whole trip.  We need to take our kids on trips.  Big or small, it doesn’t matter.  We need to take the time off of work to spend more quality time with them.  We only get them in our lives at this stage for so long, and then they move out to be on their own.  I don’t want to look back someday and wish I had taken the time off.  There is never going to be a perfect time to go, but we have to force ourselves to look at what’s important in life too.

We only get one time around at this thing, so we had better take advantage of it when we can.

Stay awesome everyone,

Roman