January 13, 2019

The Nest Is Almost Empty Again

The Nest Is Almost Empty Again
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for January 13, 2019

Winter Break is no nice.  Our boys come home and spend a month with us and we get to live like a big, happy family again.  It's so quiet when they go back to school.  But it's that time again...

Our friend, Sara Patrick came over on Tuesday night to go bowling and have some fun.  

The kids also helped save the planet from some scary aliens which was very nice of them.

On Saturday, it was time for Luke to head back to Mankato to finish his sophomore year in college.  We're going to miss the heck out of him.  His brother goes back to school in a few days so we will be back to being empty nesters again real soon.

It's been a bizarrely warm January in Minnesota.  All the snow has melted so Prior Lake is like one big skating rink.  I guess it's still been cold enough that now trucks can drive on the ice, though.  I'm not sure I'd be brave enough to do that.

It's great conditions to play catch with Blue.  I can throw the ball and it rolls forever!  He does really good chasing it even though he slides all over the place while trying to track it down.  It's pretty cute when he finally catches it, because then his whole body slides about 10 feet before skidding to a stop.  Then he slowly walks back to me and we do it all over again.  This is what life is like without the kids at home.

January 6, 2019

So this is 2019...

So this is 2019...
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for January 6, 2019

On the Sunday before New Year's Day, we had the opportunity to go see the Minnesota Vikings play the Chicago Bears.  We were very excited for the game because if Minnesota won, they would make it into the playoffs.   They couldn't mess that up, could they?

They looked pretty fierce when they ran out on the field, but we probably should have expected something was up when they couldn't advance past the cheerleaders.

It's always nice to see the players praying before the game.  I was going to say something sassy about it based on the results of the game, but that wouldn't be right.  It's very nice for these guys to be doing this.

We were surprised to see Brad Johnson at the game blowing the gjallarhorn.  We always liked him when he played in Minnesota.

We had a great time at the game even though the Vikings really struggled on offense as they went on to be defeated by a score of 24-10.  It was a pretty disappointing way to end the season after the year we had last year, but I guess that's the NFL.  Everyone wants to win and only a few teams get to advance.  Dang Vikings.

We spent New Year's Eve at a party hosted by the Zitzewitz family.  We've been doing this for several years now and it's always a crazy way to ring in the new year.

Avery had the chance to go back to his high school for a panel discussion with the robotics team.  He got to tell the students what he's been up to since leaving the team and how robotics helped pave the way for his current studies at the University of Minnesota in computer science.  He also had the chance to connect with his old mentor, Bill, which I'm sure will end up being the highlight of his winter break.

Luke had his quarterly checkup at the Mayo Clinic this week. We pushed it past the holidays in case we were going to learn something stressful.  

Turns out, things are pretty stable. The nodules on his liver did show a little growth again, but the doctors are almost certainly convinced they’re benign.

We learned a new name for the nodules. They are called FNHs.

I thought the doctor was using profanity when he first mentioned them (like Effen Achez) but turns out that’s what they are called. Each spot on his liver is an FNH. And the medical community is starting to realize these nodules on the livers of people with a certain kind of heart defect who also have had certain kinds of surgical procedures can develop these nodules that look very close to the nodules that usually predict liver cancer. But they’re not the same.  So that’s really good news.

It was a relief to find this out and that it appears Luke may be in the clear for the foreseeable future. Of course, he will still have quarterly checkups at Mayo Clinic for awhile, but we
learned that he may be able to go down to checkups every 6 months at some point in the future. 

In any case, it’s nice he can go back to college with no new worries. He’s had a lot of those in his life.

Please keep Luke in your prayers that things stay great for him!

This weekend we drove down to Iowa to visit Miss Sheri's family on the farm.

Blue absolutely loves the farm for pretty much one major reason.  Kitties!  We say this word to him and he absolutely freaks out looking around the farm for them.  There's not as many as there used to be, but he was lucky enough to rustle one up which surprised us all especially the cat.   Unfortunately, while he was chasing the cat who wanted nothing to do with him, he ended up running through a massive bunch of cockle-burs which ended up getting matted all over his fur.  So he ended up getting a haircut while we were down there as well.

Although it was only a short time that we had to spend together, we had a fantastic time visiting Miss Sheri's family.  We always have a lot of laughs together.

Two Christmases!

December 30, 2018

Christmas 2018

Christmas 2018
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for December 30, 2018

Our golden retriever, Blue, has been pretty lonely since Luke and Avery left for college.  He was pretty excited for Christmas this year since we were planning on having 13 people and 4 dogs living in our house for almost a week.  Excitement was bound to follow.

My sister, Tracy, and her family were the first to arrive.  They were also bringing the three dogs with them.  Needless to say, it was never quiet again in our house for the rest of the week.

Before the rest of our family arrived, we went to Minnetonka for the day and had lunch at Maynards and went shopping at the old Minnetonka General Store.  We also stopped and posed for a bunch of pictures because we like to do that for some reason.

We saw the horse drawn carriage rides in downtown Minnetonka, so thought we'd stop and browse the stores and not go on a carriage ride.

We then went home and waited on the couch until the rest of the family arrived.

Bailey and Justin flew in from Dallas to see us.  We haven't spent this much time with them since their wedding, so we were looking forward to their company.

My sister, Tammy, her husband, David, and their daughter, Lindsay, were the last to arrive.  The house was now full and we were ready to have a good ole time.

Our first group activity was Karaoke at Hooligan's in Prior Lake.  because that's just what this family needs.  Booze and a microphone.

Growing up, I lived in a house with just my 2 sisters and mom.  There was a whole lotta singing during those days, so karaoke seems like the right thing to do when we get together.

My niece, Lindsay, did a great job singing Journey's Don't Stop Believing!

We made a couple of trips to the Mall of America.  We liked going to Benihana and visiting Nickelodeon Universe.  

We went to church on Christmas Eve and took pictures at church after the service.  Some people might think that is odd, but it's become somewhat of a family tradition for us.

The Mohars and Grandma Linda at church.

The Kelleys at church.

Grandma Linda with several of her grandchildren.

The Mohars planned to coordinate pajamas for Christmas morning.  We were all delighted to discover that Justin and David also wore the same outfit completely by accident.

As usual, the kids were spoiled and had a lot of fun opening their presents.

We always have to drag the Texas people out on a frozen lake so they can say they did it.  We had some weather in the forties for a couple of days so there was some nervousness going on the lake, but it was thick enough so we didn't have any breakthroughs.

We went tubing at Buck Hill which was a bunch of fun.

It was pretty busy and hard for us to all go down at the same time, so we all went down at random times.

We went down the hill about 5 or 6 times which was a lot of fun.  The hills were so fast they had to lay down strips of carpet so we didn't go crashing into anything at the bottom.

She may be 76 years old, but Grandma Linda is still a pretty good sport and was looking forward to her trip down the hill.

We were all really excited to go eat Chinese at D Fongs in Savage for the Kelley's last night in town.  It was a chaotic few days, but we wouldn't trade it for the world.  It's so awesome to spend time with the family over the holidays.

Krazy Kory even made an appearance at the end of the week.  He and Harli joined us for dinner at the Outback and then we went to see Aquaman in 3D at the Imax.  That was a pretty mind blowing experience!

December 24, 2018

Swank Family Christmas Letter 2018

Merry Christmas and Thank U, Next 2018!

Ugh, another year done already?  We still haven’t started our New Year Resolutions from last January.

Our empty nester lifestyle is continuing to evolve.  In March of this year, Todd was promoted to be a field sales rep at Oracle selling cloud technologies.  Now he works from home unless he’s traveling to see clients.  Since Todd & Sheri are together all day, it was like we became co-workers.  Which was very cool, until she slapped Todd with that harassment suit.  No more comments can be made with the litigation still pending.

Our Golden Retriever, Blue, is very confused why Todd is home every day and not able to entertain him whenever he demands.  We try to tell him it’s worktime, but he doesn’t seem to understand.  We’re giving him a daily planner for Christmas so he will know when it’s time for walks.  That should help.

In February, we celebrated 24 years of marriage by taking a vacation to Key West.  We wanted to be kind of wild and carefree so went to one of those bars where they do body painting.  Ultimately we decided not to participate when they insisted on using the big roller on Todd.  It’s definitely time for a diet.

Todd had to endure kidney stone surgery this past summer.  At first we didn’t think it was going to be that big of a deal, but when you hear the doctor mention the words “Shock Wave” and “Urethra” in the same sentence, you know it’s not going to be a fun day.

Miss Sheri continues to stay busy with projects around the house.  She thinks we have gremlins because every time she fixes one thing, it seems like two more things break.  She insists that Todd call her Fix-It Felix which in all honesty he finds to be incredibly hot.  That’s probably too much information for a Christmas letter.

Luke and Avery started their sophomore year at college. Avery is studying computer science and had the opportunity to do research at the University this past summer.  He developed a virtual reality project for the Department of Native American Studies. He’s also moved into an apartment and has to cook his own meals which we’re guessing is why he’s lost so much weight. 

Luke is studying finance at Minnesota State Mankato and has kept himself busy selling stuff on Ebay and obsessing over Fantasy Sports.  He’s also serving on the community council for his dorm room floor and was elected treasurer.  So he collects the money, sells stuff to make money, and has an affinity for gambling.  We can’t imagine anything ever going wrong with that scenario in the future.

This past summer we took a family vacation to the East Coast and visited New York City, Boston, and Martha’s Vineyard.  Our favorite part of the vacation was attending a live production of the Today Show and could be seen on TV waving like maniacs behind Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb.   We kept asking the employees on set the question “Where in the World is Matt Lauer?” but none of them seemed to think it was very funny.

Our goal for 2019 is to stop growing older. It’s not nearly as fun as we thought it would be so we have decided to go back to being in our twenties again. So in next year’s pictures we’ll be looking a lot younger than we do now. God Bless Us Everyone! 

The Swank Family