Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

What a wonderful time of the year. We got Sorin a little chair for him to sit in, which he liked right away.

Katie and I spent the 23rd and 24th at my mom and dad's in McFarland. We decorated some Christmas cookies and ate really good food.

Christmas Eve we left for Cedarburg to see the Robertson side. Sorin was as big of a hit there as he was in McFarland. It's a lot of fun to have Sorin be so warmly welcomed. And he's changing every day. New expressions and new gestures - he's grabbing objects better now.

For me, it's fun to have new experiences with Katie. Getting Sorin ready is in a nice way very meaningful - it's our family now! Our discussions are different, our days are different. But it's all so good.

Christmas this year has been interesting b/c of our focus on the Advent Conspiracy (see Oct. 26th post). Blackhawk took an offering last week for AC in which the money went to three organizations for global, missional causes. We gathered $140,000!!!

And now the day is winding down. I know it's supposed to be a Christmas season, but it always ends around 7pm Christmas day. Kind of sad.

But we're still with family and I'm still thinking about Jesus coming to Earth - Christmas Spirit.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Snow Day!!

It was fun last night to go to bed knowing there was a good chance I'd be off work today. Normally it's no big deal, but on Tuesdays Katie stays home with Sorin - so we both had all day together.

It started off with sleeping in - 'til 6:30. I needed the sleep but I love my mornings, so I'm a little upset that I slept past 5:30. Nonetheless, the morning started off great with coffee and a good book. I'm reading two right now - Momentary Marriage by John Piper and How People Grow by Dr. Henry Cloud. Only two chapters into each, I have to recommend both. It feels good to get back into deeper books - and Piper gets deep! Katie and I are reading it together, so it will make for good discussion.

Days off can't be all about relaxation - it feels good to catch up on some housework. Being the model husband that I am (read: "husband in training") I did the floors and a load of laundry. Before returning to my book, I went outside to start shoveling and clearing off the cars.

Lunch: There was no question what was on the menu for lunch -- grilled cheese and tomato soup. It's been my favorite meal the last two winters. And as much as I wish I could claim Campbell's tomato soup, I'm going with Trader Joe's Roasted Red Pepper Tomato soup - dynamite.

The afternoon included a lively discussion about theology and the Holy Spirit as it relates to our church. I know - random. I continued in my chapter on Cloud's book. Then we went to the gym together. I kept a little cardio going in preparation for the Jingle Bell run this Saturday and also got to lift a little. I'm trying to reestablish a lifting routine with core exercises, too. I have a physical job, but the weights really add a nice element to my workouts.

For dinner we reheated Katie's wonderful spaghetti and watched an episode of West Wing - "Gone Quiet."

It was a good day. I wish snow days were 48 hours long. There's so much to do and I never get to it all. Back to reality...

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Christkindl Market

Katie and I have a started a tradition of going to Chicago for Christkindl Market with our cousins, Matt and Amanda, Justin and Kelly. What is Christkindle Market?

It's a German festival at Daley plaza where they serve brats, potato pancakes, and Glühwein (a traditional hot spiced wine). Let me set the stage for you. First - Chicago. It's certainly called the Windy City for a reason. The elements are nothing to take lightly. I was decked out in my Mountain Hardwear coat and I had three sweaters on. On this particular year, the snow was in that frozen state on the top of some of the vendors' tents. But when the wind gusted, it ripped the snow off and blew it right over the top of the market.

At the market, lines are long for the food. We had six in our party - plus Sorin, but he wasn't standing in line. Matt went to get the brats: everyone was getting to the front of the line asking for one or two - Matt gets up there and asks for 7 regular and three with kraut. They had to give him a box to carry the load - $41 worth of sausage. Justin went for the potato pancakes. These are the hardest to fully describe - crusty on the outside and perfectly fluffy in the inside, a delicious component to the meal. We had 3 plates each with 3 cakes and applesauce on the side. Finally the Glühwein: Katie and Amanda went for the hot spiced wine and 2 hot chocolates. The best moment of Christkindl Market is that point where it feels like all your body heat has been sucked off your body and the cold air is inescapable. But the mug of Glühwein is on it's way over to the table and set before you. We toast to friends and drink back that first sip of the warm wine as it seeps down your throat and warms your insides.

Traditions are fun. Katie and I started this in 2006 with Matt and Amanda. In 2007 we invited Justin and Kelly. And this year we decided to bring Sorin which was a great experience. We had him completely bundled up in a snowsuit and then in the Snugli all day. We wrapped a blanket around his head to block some wind and he handled the elements as well as we did.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Life has changed a lot in the last 4 months. As we approached the arrival of our first child, Katie and I were coming off a busy summer preparing for parenthood. When Sorin was born on August 22, we experience an adrenalin rush for weeks on end. It has been such a blessing to care for Sorin and see Katie embrace motherhood.

For me, it meant more hours at work and less down time after work. There seemed like more and more things to do. At the same time I felt like I was still leaving so many things undone. Life has been very busy. Good, but busy.

As I look at this week of Thanksgiving, I am not letting Thursday be a day of over-eating, boring football, and mindless family time. The Bible constantly tells us to remember. Stop, reflect, and remember what you have. Be thankful: for all the good things in your house you did not provide, wells you did not dig, vineyards you did not plant (Dt. 6:11). Stop and be thankful. It is a gift from God.

I am thankful because I compare. I compare myself to others less fortunate. And I know that I have so much compared to the rest of the world. Sure, my friends and neighbors may have more than me, and that's an easy comparison that could lead to self-pity. But that's not how God tells us to view others and the world. Is He enough for me? Do I trust that He is providing for our needs? Yes I do, but it's always a battle for my attention and allegiance.

I am thankful for my relationship with the Lord. I'm thankful for Katie and the love she puts into this family. I have never seen a harder working woman in my life. She spurs me on to be a better man. She doesn't stop. She's always thinking and planning. She cooks a mean jambalaya. And she married me (don't hold it against her). Shame on me for ever living a day without being thankful for Katie.

I am thankful for my son, Sorin. I am so thankful that he's healthy and so vibrant these days. He will continue to challenge me to be a great father - nothing less than a great father.

I am thankful for the work I have - I enjoy the tree work, I am challenged by the personal training, and I am trusting God for the next chapter in my life as I pursue a career in exercise and fitness.

I am thankful for the friends and family who supported us so much as we began our family with Sorin's arrival. The showers were an unbelievable help in starting this family. What a testimony to the Body of Christ, when so many come together to help for such a cause.

I am thankful for the gifts God has given me. While I may not understand why I can't use them all right now, I am very thankful for the person God has grown me to be. This is not a pat on my own back - I have short-comings longer than I'd like to admit. But God has blessed me with talents, abilities, and thoughts that are not of my doing - He is the Author. I am the steward.

I begin and I end with the Lord. I am thankful that He is in control and that He cares for me and my family more than I do. The God of David is the God of my soul. There is always much to give thanks.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Historic Day

Politics make for polarizing discussions.  Sometimes it's the social norm to avoid political discussions.  Many went to the polls today with their candidate on the tip of their pen.  And we all waited to see how the numbers came in.

Republicans and Democrats.  Red and Blue.  Age, race, experience, policy...  Do you know what today was about?  Freedom to vote.  The beautiful reality that in America, our President is chosen by the people.  We just elected a black man to be the 44th President of the United States of America.  History was made to day.  Let that sink in.

If you voted for him, you're probably relieved and excited.  Many are moved to tears.  If you voted for the other guy, you're probably frustrated and disappointed.  Many are admittedly scared for the leadership decisions Barack Obama may make.  I view the future as optimistic.  Can our country move in a worse direction?  Politics are very polarizing.  But I choose to trust the leadership of our public servants and believe that they will work long and hard to strengthen our country.

It's a privilege to vote in America.  It's a right to express your opinions.  But I firmly believe it's our responsibility to support our leaders and to give them a chance to do good.  

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Advent Conspiracy

I love discussing with my wife how we're deciding to conduct our lives. One area is Christmas spending. Over the last couple years of marriage, we've made consistent efforts to create gifts and not focus on the price tag or the pressure to give a certain amount. We're very much on the same page here. If we see something for $85 and we know a family member really wants (or needs) that, then it's a joy to get it for them. And if we see another item for $35 that another wants, then the same spirit of giving has been present in each situation. This is obviously easier said than done.

At the same time, Katie and I are trying to give more to causes near and dear to our hearts. The biggest for me is Blood:Water Mission. Started by Jars of Clay, BW:M exists to provide clean drinking water to areas of Africa affected by the AIDS pandemic. I need to fully dedicate a post to this cause. But for now it's part of a different cause.

So Katie and I are trying to be conscious about our giving at Christmas. Then this movement called Advent Conspiracy comes out. Advent Conspiracy is best described as "taking back Christmas from the pop culture of spending more, and bringing it back to the Christian heart of giving." The videos at the right of the Advent Conspiracy blog are fantastic.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Happy Birthday Brett

I know - kind of weird that I know Brett Favre's birthday. But it's just one of those things I guess. So for his birthday Brett got to celebrate a week off (Jets had a bye last week) after throwing six TDs the week before. Career high.

In a related story, Aaron Rodgers' birthday is December 2 (I had to look that one up). If anyone's thinking of what to get him, they might consider shoulder surgery or 6 months of rehab.

Alright, I'm being too hard on Aaron. Yes I miss Brett, and Ted Thompson is the biggest idiot in the NFL - no, he's the biggest idiot in pro sports. I miss Brett, but I'm behind Aaron Rodgers. The Packers' problems haven't been the QB. Their line has been dismantled and they seem to lack the leadership that Brett provided.

Random post, but anyways -- Happy Birthday Brett.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Celebration of Life

Two weeks ago, I was supposed to meet a client at the gym at 4:30. Unfortunately A.J. had passed away the night before of unknown causes. A.J. was a very active man - 23 years old, but he was autistic. He was a bowler, golfer, runner, and he worked out with me at the gym.

Being a person with a disability, A.J. was still able participate in so many activities. He worked at Copps and had just moved into a house of his own with his long-time friend, Max. At the gym, A.J. and I would meet twice a week - once to lift weights and once to ride our bikes for cardio. My newest goal was to get A.J. to train for a half marathon. I know he would have been able to do it b/c every time we ran, he never tired out.

Two days ago I went to A.J.'s Celebration of Life. Walking into the chapel at Edgewood College I was faced with an aspect of A.J.'s life I hadn't expected. The audience was filled with other people with special needs. After I realized that this was the representation of A.J.'s life, it was warming to see friends and family gather to remember A.J.

The women's choir sang a song. His attendant and advisor talked about their memories of A.J. But what I will never forget is eight of his friends reciting a poem they put together entitled "How I'll remember A.J." When they stood up to read their section of the poem, it was often simple memories spoken in broken English. My words aren't doing the experience justice. Seeing people with special needs talk about a friend is very touching. They don't add anything that isn't supposed to be said, like many others often do. They pull every word straight from their heart. And they remember the simple things: bagging groceries at Copps, his love for comic novels, and art work. He was a good artist. Here's his painting of Favre handing off to Driver.

The hardest part of the night for me was the social afterwards in a room filled with a bunch of A.J.'s personal belongings. The first thing I saw was these two NFL jerseys which A.J. would wear to the gym. It just forced into my mind a memory of him walking into the weight room to begin our workouts. It really made me miss him. A.J. was very authentic in everything he did -- as someone stated in the service, you always new where A.J. stood on things.

I'll miss A.J.'s attitude and effort that his had in his workouts. Fully aware of his disability, he never let it stop his pursuit of sports and other hobbies. He made the most out of his years here on Earth.

Monday, September 08, 2008

So This Wasn't Really a Nightmare

I just realized that during the whole summer and preseason I was mistaken. I was under the impression that the nightmare that was the Brett Favre Saga was not really happening. Sure, Aaron Rodgers started the preseason games, but the reality of it never sunk in with me. And yesterday I was watching the Ironman while Brett was throwing a 56-yard beauty for the Jets, so I didn't see him start his 17th NFL season with a team other than the Packers. But tonight, as I tuned in my radio and heard Aaron Rodgers take the field for the Packers, I couldn't help but think of where Brett was watching the game.

We don't have cable, and I needed to be home with family tonight. But it was an amazing (yet disturbing) feeling to know that I'm tuning into the same game that Brett Favre is. He HAD to be watching. The Packers were taking the field for the first time in 17 years WITHOUT him.

Ted Thompson should be fired. I'm a Packers fan, and maybe a bigger Favre fan. The leadership of the Packers has made a huge mistake - from a business perspective. A leadership failure, that of which their large egos won't allow them to realize.

It's just not right. But it's another example for me where I need to keep in check the truely important things in life.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sorin's Here

It is my honor to introduce Sorin Steven Schiefelbein to the Game Plan. As of right now, you won't be hearing much about him here b/c he has is own blog - (

He has been an absolute joy for the last 48 hours. Sorin was born Friday night:

Birth: August 22, 2008
Time: 4:41 pm
Weight: 6lbs. 8oz.
Length: 19 inches

Better pictures to follow.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Baby Prep

I haven't written about our pregnancy all summer, and I'm not sure why. I've certainly thought about it, but I think it's one of those things that's been so new for us, it's been hard to put thoughts and words to the whole process. Instead, I've been writing about sports - go figure.

Obviously I think about our baby all the time. Want to know what his name is? Stay tuned for that one... Being pregnant has been such an interesting experience for Katie and me. I guess as I write tonight I can say it's gone quite fast. But recounting the nights when sleep was at a premium reminds me that parts of this process have been very difficult.

Lately my thoughts and words to Katie have been the following: I am so proud of her in the way she's brought our son to life in such a healthy way. She's been so aware of her diet and physical activity all this time. She's read so much about pregnancy. She's found so many pieces of furniture - the crib, changing table, and car seats. And she even found some time to pick out some cute outfits for Junior. I've actually enjoyed that last part - I might be that dad who dresses his son to match himself. Picture it - I'll make it a reality this fall.

I guess I have a little regret that I haven't documented our pregnancy these last 9 months. But at the same time - an unapologetically - it's been Our Time. We've enjoyed the privacy and intimacy of a whole new life experience together. That's been very special for us. Fun, funny, hard, and educational to say the least. And now we climax with the final week. 5 days until we start a whole new experience.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Summer Olympics

I have fond memories of my first Olympics in 1988 - it was the first Games where I was paying attention and knew a little bit about what was going on. I'm sure these Games contributed to my patriotism.

The Olympics of 2008 bring a hype I haven't seen in years. Most would say the Olympics have lost the glory it once owned. And marketing the Games has addressed this, including the NY Times talking about how much the viewing audience and network coverage has increased each year. It's almost like they were telling us we're supposed to be watching this.

Well this year Michael Phelps truly gives us a reason to watch. The headlines are intriguing: Phelps could become the most decorated Olympian of all time. And as I write this, he's just broke his 4th and 5th world records, so that would mean 5 golds in 5 events. Michael Phelps is the winningest Olympic athlete ever -- ever. That's a story.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

(old news) Brett Favre Saga Over

I know this is "old news," but for the sake of documentation I wanted to pull this sidebar off of ESPN (thanks guys) as a sad reminder of these last couple weeks:


After pushing and pushing to keep playing either in Green Bay or elsewhere, Brett Favre's storied career will continue in 2008. The unretired quarterback has been traded by the Packers to the Jets.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Embarrassed to be a Packers Fan

It is a sad day in Wisconsin. Meeting clients at the gym I work at, the tv was tuned to ESPN which was reporting that Brett Favre has been traded to the Jets.

Packers Football was so pure. It had been so great, then it was so bad, and then we got Brett Favre. Now Ted Thompson comes in and drafts Aaron Rodgers (who I think will be really good). Thompson thinks he needs to create his own legacy with his own QB. And all of Wisconsin suffers. Who in their right mind says 'no' to Brett Favre? Favre's last throw was an interception - and a stupid one at that. But he was one score away from the Super Bowl, and nothing has changed since. Yet they don't want Brett back. It's bad leadership. This never would have happened under Ron Wolf. Thompson and the Packers need to keep one eye on the future. But AT THE SAME TIME they cannot overlook what is right in front of them - a quarterback legend who wants to play a couple more years.

I'm disgusted with the Packers. I'm embarrassed to be a Packers fan. I wish Brett would have retired rather than be traded away from Green Bay. But this is the sports world we live in now. Nothing's pure. That was made clear today.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Summer is too busy

I won't even mention the line that goes something like, "Can you believe how fast summer is going?"

We haven't been all that busy with events and things like that. Our life within pregnancy has seemed to change things. We still go to the Farmer's Market, which is great. Over the 4th of July we went canoing down the Wisconsin river, near Arena and Spring Green. That was great to get on the water and be outdoors. Speaking of outdoors, we bought a great tent (well, it depends who you ask) at REI for cheap. My version of a great tent is one that can be strapped on to your backpack and fits just above your head as you're lying down to sleep at night.

Katie's version is the one that can fit a queen-size mattress and where we can fully stand up inside. We bought the latter. But we'll use that tent for the next 20 years at Family Camps at Fort Wilderness and other State parks around Wisconsin. Look at the view from inside that thing!!!

So we're doing our best to stay active. Katie gets really tired and is just wishing she could work out like she used to. No bike rides, no runs. The paddling wasn't that comfortable for her, either.

Summer has been busy. What's new. But like Matt Metzger talked about today at Blackhawk - we need to be intentional about taking a Sabbath, taking a day off to rest and refresh.

For me, that includes reading and writing. I started this blog to process life, and that's gotten too far and few between. I need this time to create journal memories and document and process.

I need to read b/c readers are leaders - I get refreshed when I read the paper and learn new things.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Concert on the Square

One of my favorite things about Madison is Concert on the Square. For 6 weeks during the summer, the Madison Orchestra performs on the Capital Square as people gather around the lawn with blankets and small chairs. It's actually quite and ordeal - people really go all out on this. Nice food, nice wine. Concerts are upscale events. And we love them.

Of the six concerts, the best one is near the 4th of July, when they do a patriotic concert. My dad always was playing patriotic music when I was a kid, and I developed a big sense of loyalty and appreciation for my country. When I think about the armed forces, I immediately think of the respect I feel towards their service to our country. Their efforts, along with the men and women who served before them - their efforts are why we are free and safe.

There's a point in the concert when Maestro Sewell does a tribute to all the men and women who've served their country. The song starts slow, then it goes into branch's song. As the song for the National Guard plays, anyone in the crowd from the Guard stands to a round of applause. This continues for the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines. Seeing these men and women stand up here in Madison in their civilian clothes, I think about the time they gave to this country. When did they serve? What was their job? What did they see? Learn? Accomplish?

What I like to do after the show is walk over to one of the men I saw stand up and shake his hand and thank him for serving. Here's a couple of the men I saw last night.

This last guy was in the Air Force, and he's the one I thanked this year. I just want to do a small part to show appreciation for what he's done.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

4 years and a Baby Shower

The date is one of our romantic anniversaries - June 24th. Four years ago today, I invited Katie to a Brewers' game with some church friends for an outing that I was sure to clarify was not a date. So looking ahead to June 24th on the calendar, I was excited to see that Katie had a baby shower with the women from work. That meant I could pick her up from the shower and take her on a walking date around the old neighborhood where we took so many walks during the summer of 2004.

Regarding the shower - it still amazes me the generosity of our friends. It's been such a help to get the supplies we need for having this boy!

My favorite outfit was the Wisconsin onesie and matching booties! Thanks Linda!!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Gone Fishin'

I just got back from the Robertson Men's Fishing trip in Canada. In the works since last November, I'd been waiting for this trip with eager anticipation. I'm certainly not an experienced fisherman, but any chance to be out in the wilderness on a trip like this is an opportunity for me to cherish.

The final total was 14 men on the trip - 5 uncles and 9 cousins. We had four vehicles meet up in Eau Claire and then Duluth before crossing the border to Canada at Baudett. After gearing up a few last minute supplies, we made our way to the outfitter and were able to check out the 2 houseboats that we rented. We had five small 25-horse boats for our daily fishing. The set-up couldn't have been better.

We ate like kings, thanks to Uncle Tom. How does this menu sound... pork chops, marinated chicken sandwiches, ribs, and steak. That was just dinner. Breakfast was as usual... Wranglers and Lumber Jack - eggs, bacon, pancakes. Life was good. And of course mid-day we had shore lunch, sandwiches filled with the walleye we caught in the morning.

I struggled with walleye fishing. The bites were smaller and I had a hard time with the feel of it. Now fishing for northerns is a whole different thing. That was a blast b/c the bites were rock solid - there wasn't much of a fight for the fish, but reeling in 8-12 a day was a lot of fun.

The fishing trip to Canada was a great time to spend with family, working and playing together. Everyone chipped in and we laughed a lot. What more can you ask for from a group of men?

And as I was coming home, it begged the question --- what next?

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

I only met Christian one time - at his wedding reception at his parents' home two summers ago. Big guy. Almost quirky, but certainly an attractive personality. I'm not that great with words sometimes and I only met him once, so you will have to trust me in my thoughts here... As I hear about what Katie and her family say about Christian, and as I hear about his funeral and what was said and who attended, I'm left in awe of the man he was.

On a training flight last fall while in Italy, Christian's helicopter went down with 9 others aboard. From the details I've read, he died in the hospital of head injuries.

It's the first time I've admired someone so much from knowing him so little. I don't mean to be trite with this comment, but people say the nicest things about people when they die. But Christian's death was different - and this I could tell from the one time I met him. He had a personality everyone was attracted to. He genuinely cared for people and naturally demanded the attention in whatever room he entered. I won't do him justice... but he's got my thoughts today.

He's survived by his wife, Liz. As I woke up on this Memorial Day, she came to mind very quickly. Patriotism is important to me. Men and women sign up for military service -- Service. And many have to pay the Ultimate Sacrifice. Is there a better way to die? Is there any more honor than dying for your country? Christian would probably say there is, and that would be to die serving your Lord. And Christian did just that. His life was lived in faith, and his death proclaimed that faith. I can't imagine the sorrow of that family, but as a brother I can relate to the pride I have for a man who was so highly regarded by everyone when he left this life. What an example, what an inspiration for any Christian man.

Well done, Christian. We honor you on this Memorial Day.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Crazylegs 2008

I think I've run about 6 editions of the Crazylegs Classic. The 8K run is one of my favorites. This year was a new experience for me b/c we had a team with our life group, appropriately named Team LG. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to run b/c I thought I broke my toe the week prior. But the pain got better each day, and by Friday night I was pretty sure I'd be able to run. My alternative was to walk with Katie and Melissa, but I just didn't want to do that.

So Brian and Melissa picked us up to start the day, and we took our first pic waiting in line for the shuttle that took us from Camp Randall to the start line at the Capital Square.

Katie and I look like the forecast called for 35 and windy
---- oh wait, it was!!

And at the finish,
Team LG was victorious.

For those of you keeping score at home, I ran 41:03 without any training. Katie loves it when I don't train for my races.

New (First) Outfit

I have to admit how much I'm looking forward to dressing my son. I've always been interested in fashion, and those adult outfits in kids sizes are just the cutest thing I've ever seen. So Katie and I decided we should go out and get a first outfit for Baby Boy. Tori was with us, and we had fun looking through Baby Gap and H&M's selection of infant clothes.

I ended up picking up this outfit: a cute baseball-looking shirt with blue sleeves and a brown pair of pants that can be rolled up into shorts. I'm very excited to get Junior into his first set of clothes.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

20-week ultrasound

I haven't written about our pregnancy on the Game Plan b/c I had a couple other (out of town) people to tell personally. It's kind of a long story which I can't (and won't) get into. But now it's officially on the blog - we're having a baby, due date August 28.

To all my readers (if there's any besides my 2 moms, let me know), you can keep updated on our progress here, at the Game Plan. This has proven to be a very reflective time for Katie and me. Discussions are different. Planning is ambiguous. But the excitement is high. It's been amazing to see Katie's belly grow with the development of our child.

Seeing our baby for the first time on the ultrasound is a moment I'll never forget. It practically took my breathe away, and it felt like time stopped for 2 seconds.

Calling it a child or baby has been our way of conversation for the last 4 months. Well that changed today! We had our 20-week ultrasound today at 3:15. After 18 weeks it's usually possible to see if it's a boy or a girl.

In the room, the sonographer was going through all these measurements of our baby, similar to the last couple ultrasounds. She measured the head (5cm diameter, 17cm circumference), arms, spine, internal organs. One of the most amazing shots was the 4 chambers of the heart. The heartbeat was 150. She said she had to chase the baby a lot - very active. Then she said, "And that's a boy not afraid to tell everyone he's a boy." There it is - we're having a baby boy!!! !!!

!!! !!! !!! !!! !!!

I can't write without a smile on my face! I'm so excited to see what's next. Now I don't want to wait. Sitting here, I just want to get to the first week in September and hold him.

So stay tuned for pictures and stories. Who knows... maybe Baby Boy will get his own blog. But until then, he'll have to be the star of dad's blog.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Say it ain't so, Billy Joel

I understand that we all get older, and the music we listened to gets more and more "out of date." But like a good bottle of wine, it gets better with time.... right? (Rhymes are flowing today.)

In high school a good friend of mine, Jason Jobke, always listened to the Oldies. He was raised on it by his parents, and so we listened to them so much that the Oldies really grew on me. The summers of 1993 and '94 were filled with nights of shooting pool in his basement, playing basketball in his driveway, and driving to McDonald's at all hours of the night to the soundtrack of the Oldies.

On a different musical commentary, I've never been ashamed of my love for 80's music. A genre in and of itself, the Monster Ballads will always take me to a good place. The music I grew up on was Bon Jovi, Van Halen, the Police, and even AC/DC. Elton John and Billy Joel were classic musicians, not to be confused with the Oldies. NOT TO BE CONFUSED!!!

Yesterday I'm driving home from the club on a beautiful sunny day, and I do the quick scan of the stations to find some good music. I flipped (quickly) through the Oldies station and had to double back to confirm what my ears were telling me. Billy Joel is on the Oldies station!! "Movin' Out" was certainly a catchy tune, and I guess you can even say it "sounds" Oldies, but Billy Joel on the Oldies station is like hearing Def Leopard on the Country station.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

What a Shooting Performance

Well I was sure Wisconsin was going to get a decent victory over Davidson in their Sweet 16 match-up Friday night. I wasn't overlooking the Wildcats, but I honestly felt we were a better team. And maybe 8 out of 10 times we are, but last night Curry and Davidson gave the Badgers a whupin'.

Can I say that I actually enjoyed watching that shooting performance? I mean if he had a good look at the hoop, he was amazing. Not much else to say - what a disappointing way to end the season.

Monday, March 24, 2008

NCAA Tournament - 1st two rounds

Well the NCAA Tourney is upon us - what a great time of the year. Now Katie's fully involved, so much so that SHE organizes the office pool! This year Easter weekend falls on the first and second rounds, so I've never watched so much basketball. We were home since Thursday night b/c Katie's sister Tori was coming home from England. Of course Wisconsin played Thursday night, and we watched them handle Cal-State Fullerton. But I was nervous about their second round game with USC - oh wait! USC lost to Kansas State. Well that made my day so much better, as we watched a much more balanced Badger team easily handle the one-player team that is/was the Kansas State Wildcats.

Each night Katie got tired and was off to bed early, so I was able to stay up with dad and Grant to watch basketball. They tried to stay up as late as they could, but each night I closed down the tournament's final game watching teams go down to the wire. Friday night Villanova's defense baffled Clemson and knocked out the 5th seed. Saturday night Michigan State handled Pitt and UCLA barely beat Texas A&M.

Easter Sunday was tough to watch hoops (but we managed to see some of the Tennessee game). Katie and I headed back around 3:30 and came home to watch the last disc of the Office Season 3. We woke up this morning to find out that Georgetown had lost!! This is a big deal b/c it was the 2-seed, and our next opponent. Now we play Davidson!!

I told Katie on Sunday morning that I found myself caring very little about my bracket. (That way when she beats I have less emotion tied to my bracket.) I just want to see really good basketball games, and some upsets. Katie and I agree that we're seeing things we didn't see last year. It's always something new - new, but different.

Friday, March 14, 2008

March Madness

Let the Tournaments begin! It's the first day for a whole new season, and you better be wearing your Wisconsin Red today! (Do I need to tell you..) The Badgers play Michigan at 11:00 this morning, and productivity in the workplace takes a hit. This is such a great time of the year. Just wait until the first four days of the NCAA Tourney...

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


So I guess you could say it took me about 35 hours to get to this point: where I could publicly talk about the retirement of Brett Favre. When I heard it on the radio, I really didn't know what to do with the news. I was certainly disappointed, but more so I was just really sad. We all knew the day would come "one of these years."

But why now? Why not two years ago, when he was coming back to a really crappy team? Why now when the team is so good and we are so close to the Super Bowl?

I'm not calling it a man-crush. I'm calling it fully-devoted appreciation of the blessing Brett Favre has been to Packer fans for 16 years.

Katie got a little annoyed this season when I insisted on watching every game. I told her then and I reminded her now that my reason was simple - I knew this day was coming, and that when it did, we'd no longer be entertained by the hero and the legend that is #4.

So last night I was able to look up some videos and pics from Brett's career. They're so rich with meaning and stories. My favorite is probably this, Favre Soundbites (ESPN).

But I found some good pics too that I can share now. I'll post some more material later.

(below) Diving for the game winning touchdown in the last game at County Stadium.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Mineral Point, WI

When Katie and I decided to get away for her birthday weekend, we had no idea we'd be so impressed by Mineral Point, Wisconsin. It's difficult to describe a town like that, so I'll just recommend you visit it yourself.

Katie and I got into town late. We checked in at the Brewery Creek, a pub owned by the same people who own the cottage we were staying at. It's a very inviting pub, with a simple bar on the left and 8-12 tables in the rest of the room. Old railroad ties line the top of the doorways and windows. Soft lighting makes this pub feels like an extension of the owners' kitchen and dining room. It was just one of those hometown places where you knew you could spend a few hours sitting back to a good meal.

We checked in to the cottage which was exactly what we were looking for: three simple rooms, cozy couches, and a fireplace. Saturday we spent the day reading, talking, and cross country skiing at Governor Dodge State Park. We went to the Brewery Creek pub that night for dinner and ate really good food (fish sandwich and a great version of the classic pub burger). That night we started season 3 of the Office. Sunday morning it was back to the couches for more reading and talking. Katie and I really can't get enough of those cottages.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Irony on the Roads

I was driving home earlier today when a guy in a minivan pulled out in front of me. I wasn't too annoyed as I switched lanes, but I didn't have enough time to get ahead of him before I needed to turn right, so I had to slow down (he had sped up) to get behind him to make my turn. My slight annoyance was calmed when I looked at his windows. He was displaying a marine flag in the side window, and on the back he had a marine sticker and an Ultimate Fighting Championships sticker. Remember: he's driving a (teal) minivan. So I had conflicting emotions. I'm annoyed he pulled out in front of me and then sped up so I couldn't pass. But I'm a little intimidated b/c this guy could whoop me. But he's driving a minivan - so maybe I'd have a chance...

It really begs the question - how many minivans are representing the Ultimate Fighting Championships?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

You Know It's Cold When...

You know it's cold when Madison schools are closed. Not the surrounding areas - they're much more likely to have a delay or close. But when the Madison schools close for the day, it's cold. I was all set up to work today, and the Verona website announced "School Closed." It used to be the local news that we relied on for that info - now we go directly to the school's website.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Best Snow and Best Gear

It's hard not to notice how excited Katie and I are to be cross-country skiing this season. I've found two components to making the skiing experience the best it can be: good trails and good gear.

Katie and I moved to the Monroe Street neighborhood and the location couldn't be better for us. We are under one mile from the UW Arboretum - which has miles of groomed cross-country ski trails. The numerous routes take you in and out of prairies and woods, over bridges and even under a tunnel. And the snow today was the best we've ever been on. It was very fresh from the three inches or so that we got last night and even a little this morning. It was soft and slick, so today's event was exceptionally enjoyable.

And I just have to admit- I'm a Gear Guy. I subscribe to two magazines, Men's Journal and National Geographic Adventure. When an issue comes in the mail, I'm tearing through to the gear review and features. Knowing this, my brother-in-law (Peter) and father-in-law (Steve) got me some cool gear for Christmas. I'm really becoming a fan of the Under Armour, which you can see as a base layer shirt and beanie on my head. And Mountain Hardwear has been a top brand of performance gear for a few years. Peter got me their Canyon Pant which is perfect for cross-country skiing and hiking. Thanks for the gifts, guys. I'm doing my best to put them to good use.

53.0 and Counting

This has been the best winter I can remember. When I was a kid, I have fond memories of going to Matt Keefe's house and building forts in the monstrous snow piles. The school playground seemed to always be covered with snow for exciting recess football games. I grew up learning that winter would be filled with months of beautiful snow.

But that hasn't been the case over the last 10-12 years. I might be in the minority, but I want a little snow by Thanksgiving - just get us ready for December. And if we don't have any snow by the middle of December, how is it possible to get into the Season? I guess I can understand why people get a little depressed at this time of year when it's sometimes bitterly cold and there's no snow. But this year has been such a wonderful surprise! Even Katie has noted how beautiful the outdoors look (and feel) when there's so much snow on the ground. It makes us happier. It's a romantic scene to look at snow-covered roofs, shoveled walkways, and people walking around with bundles of warm-weather coats.

Just how much snow have we been blessed with? We're sitting at 53.0" this season! Have you been enjoying it? Katie and I have had a blast on our new cross-country skis, and we'll be out there again today after a couple weeks off due to very low temperatures.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

What I'd pay to hear

When DVDs started getting popular, the thing I liked about them was the special features. I've been known to watch a movie twice in a row - the second time while listening to the director's commentary. It's the behind the scenes material that I can't get enough of.

In the sports world, they put a mic on a player and catch him in a behind the scenes moment on the field. For me, it's a glimpse into the reality of the sport - a sense of how normal (and humorous) these players are. And Brett Favre is probably one of the best. One of my favorites is this clip from ESPN.

While I'm at it, you should watch this video that will get an annoying country song stuck in your head. This is a little cheesy, but you'll miss Brett when he's gone, so watch this video and appreciate what we've got.

And lastly, the ultimate behind the scenes moment comes here, with a home video of Brett Favre, Don Beebe, and Frank Winters going trick or treating to Coach Holmgren's house.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Center of Attention

All week I have had memories of 1996-97 when the Packers were making their great Super Bowl runs. I wasn't listening to sports radio like I do now, but I was into SportsCenter much more than I watch now. Sports Illustrated was on my desk every week. There was a buzz about all the cold-weather conditions, Lambeau Field, and the storied Green Bay Packers. The Packers were the center of attention, and after a ten-year span of mediocrity we are back to the center of attention.

The pictures of their green and gold popping out from a snowed-out landscape doesn't get old for me. Green Bay gets all the glory, but Foxborough will be not much warmer:: The weather forecast for Green Bay on Sunday: a high of 11 degrees. For Foxborough: a high of 16.

But weather has always played a part in memorable football games. Check out this ESPN Zoom Gallery and don't miss pictures 2,3, and 12.

For more information including stats, video, and photos of cold-weather football, check out the sidebar titled "More on Frigid Football".

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


I can put cPT behind my name.  Last Tuesday I passed my exam for a certified personal trainer.  I studied through ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) widely regarded as one of if not the best certifications.

It was a very difficult exam.  I knew going into it that I would be a great trainer, but it was just a matter of passing their test first.  What a relief when the computer-based test processed my scores and told me of my passing grade. 

It's still a little intimidating - it's not just "here's some exercises and you should run three days per week."  And I'm thankful that there's so much research and studies about things to look for in people's history and lifestyle.  So it will be a challenge I eagerly accept in coaching others toward a healthier lifestyle.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Playoff Football

It's been an amazing season for the Packers.  What a feeling it is to have your team back on top - like it was back in '96 and '97.  Can you believe that was 10 years ago?  Growing up in Wisconsin, the Packers weren't that great in the '80s and '90s.  But I was always a fan and very mindful of the rich tradition the team holds.  A group of guys got together in a grungy old editorial room at the Green Bay Gazette to organize a football team - they became the Green Bay Packers.  
I could go on and on.  But the story today is the team's victory in their playoff game against the Seahawks.  How great was this game?!?!   I don't even know how much I would have paid to have been at Lambeau today.  That snow on the field was amazing - it's how football is supposed to be in January in Green Bay.

Here's some pictures, courtesy of Sports Illustrated and the Green Bay Packers.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Well that was quick (Part II)

A few months ago, I wrote about how I was raking my leaves one day, and the next day the rake was 6 inches deep in snow. Remember? Well I'm NOT happy to report that the reverse has happened - the snow has disappeared as quickly as it arrived.
Here's the picture from December 3, followed by today, January 9.