January 19, 2020

It's 2020 and the snow is getting heavier in Minnesota.

It's 2020 and the snow is getting heavier in Minnesota.
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for January 19, 2020

We went into the weekend expecting a blizzard and Mother Nature didn't disappoint.  She dropped about 5 inches on us.  Not sure you can call that a blizzard, but maybe a snowstorm would be more appropriate.

In any case the cardinals were sitting outside our window feeders knocking and demanding additional food be brought out to them.  They get pretty cranky when they're hungry.

The snow stopped and it apparently is now cold enough for snowmobiles and even some cars to be out there driving on frozen Prior Lake.  Which means I can finally talk Miss Sheri into walking on the ice.

Blue is so sick and tired of being cooped up inside.  When we give him the option to go for a run on the lake, he just can't contain his excitement.

Miss Sheri loves using the Force to levitate the dog, but unfortunately hasn't quite figured out how to make it work yet.  She'll get there.

Turns out she was complaining to the dog about leaving too big of a layer of slobber on the ball.  You'd think the below zero temperatures would freeze it in his mouth, but I guess slobber doesn't work that way.

Blue was so happy to have the chance to be playing fetch again.  The darn dog doesn't know his own strength though and can only chase the tennis ball 2 or 3 times before he bites the dang thing in half.

Then he sits there and cries about it because I tell him I can't throw the destroyed ball any more.  I tell him to be more gentle with his tennis balls every time we go out there, but he just doesn't listen.  

I have become fascinated with TikTok! It's an amazingly simple tool to create & edit fun little videos complete with music and sound effects and share them with the world. What I would have given for a tool like this in college!

January 12, 2020

Bocce Ball at Pinstripes

Bocce Ball at Pinstripes
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for January 12, 2020

Winter break is wrapping up and our boys are heading back to college.  We thought we should get in one more afternoon of entertainment before we went our separate ways so we headed to Pinstripes in Edina, Minnesota.

None of us really knew what we were doing to play tournament style bocce ball, but figured how hard could it be?  You throw a little silver ball down the court and whichever team gets their balls closer to it scores points.

Judging by this ladies expression next to us, I'm guessing we weren't doing something right.  In any case our family tradition continued and dad ended up in last place.  Even if we weren't playing the game correctly.

Pinstripes had these attractive looking birds staring at us from different locations.  I'm guessing they are some kind of spy-cams or something.

Our mellow winter continued this week with this open body of water attracting a large flock of trumpeter swans.  I tried to sneak up close to get some swan shots.

I didn't know it before, but apparently trumpeter swans were nearly hunted to extinction.  Back in the sixties, their known population in the world was down to 3700 birds, but they have since recovered to more than 63,000 in 2015.  I find them to be pretty cool looking birds, so glad they're doing better.

Our other exciting bird photo this week was of a red-bellied woodpecker.  Kind of a silly name for a bird since it's their head that's red, but who am I to judge.  

Our albino squirrel friends seem to enjoy the warmer weather as they continue to stop by to feed their bellies.  We are planning on starting a squirrel weight watchers club this spring as many of them look to be getting quite plump.

We had out January get together of the Prior Lake Empty Nesters Club at T.J. Hooligans in Prior lake.  I usually say a Good Time was had by all, but this month I suspect a couple of them only had an OK time.  We'll work on that next month.

I feel like they were all expecting me to say something, but it ended up being a few minutes of really awkward silence.  Then I went home.

January 5, 2020

Minnesota Vikings vs Chicago Bears

Minnesota Vikings vs Chicago Bears
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for January 5, 2020

It's been a weird January so far in Minnesota.  Although it's felt like we've had plenty of cold weather over the past few weeks, the stream down the street from my house is still wide open and I haven't seen any cars drive on Prior Lake yet.  Could we be having a mellow winter this year?  Let's hope so.

The warmer weather has brought all sorts of interesting birds to our feeders including this guy who I believe is called a Northern Flicker.  I wish I was called a Northern Flicker.

Last Sunday, Avery and I went to the Vikings game.  Originally I was going to take the whole family to the Vikings and Broncos game, but Avery couldn't make it so we ended up buying two tickets for each game.  The Broncos game was awesome, but I was afraid about the Bears game since it was the last game of the year.  I was right to be afraid.

The reason for my fear was the Vikings already had their playoff seeding sealed.  Due to their loss against Green Bay, they were set to be the NFC 6th seed team and nothing that happened in this game would change that.  This meant they were going to rest all their starters including quarterback Kirk Cousins who we saw for a couple of minutes warming up so he could ride the bench.

But it wasn't just Cousins who was going to be sitting out but almost all the starters including Stephon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Kyle Rudolph and most of their defensive stars.

Therefore we paid $280 for 2 tickets to see Sean Mannion try to throw passes to Laquon Treadwell, Alexander Hollins, and Bisi Johnson against the Bears starters.  I'm sure they're all nice guys, but when you're paying those kind of prices for tickets you expect to see more than the 5th preseason game for the team. 

At least we got to see the Bears starters play.  They beat up the Vikings pretty good early this season, so we were hoping to see  some payback when we first bought the tickets.  We didn't have much confidence in the backups being able to do that, though.

Ex Minnesota Viking Cordarrelle Patterson is one of our favorite players on the Bears.  He had fun before the game throwing the ball back and forth with people in the stands.  Although try as I might to catch his attention, he never threw the dang ball to me.

Back in September, there was an incident at the Tennessee Titans stadium where one of their pyrotechnic machines caught fire, so the NFL banned the use of fire in any pre-game celebrations.  So now the Vikings come out of the locker room through a bunch of smoke without any flames.  Doesn't look quite as cool as it used to.

The first half was pretty ugly, but the second half was much more exciting and the Vikings backups gave Mitch Trubisky and team a good run for the money.  But it wasn't meant to be.  The Vikings led all the way up to the end of the game before the Bears kicked a field goal to win by a score of 21-19.  Oh well.  At least the Vikings were going to the playoffs!

We had a bunch of fun on New Year's Eve going to two different parties the first of which was happening at our old friends, The Bollig Family.

We counted down the New Year at the Zitzewitz household along with these wild and crazy people.  Happy New Year, everyone!

December 29, 2019

Merry Christmas 2019

Merry Christmas 2019
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for December 29, 2019

The boys are home for Christmas break so all is good in the Swank Family's world again.

We've dealt with some cold and icy weather over the past week or so, but Santa was nice enough to bring us all some new winter clothes.  We like to bundle up and go face the elements.  For a few minutes at least.  It's really cold out there.

We've had the good fortune to see some good friends and family over the holidays.  I had fun with my buddy, Mike Miller, munching on the new boneless chicken wings at Buffalo Wild Wings.

 For Christmas Day, we drove to Iowa to see Miss Sheri's mom and brother.  We celebrated family togetherness with puzzles and card games and other wholesome activities.  I really love being so wholesome this time of year.

Blue loves going to the farm.  I take him on "Kitty Hunts" where he terrorizes all the wild kitties that live on Grandma's Farm.  Most of the time, they run all over the place and come to the door when it opens because grandma gives them food.  Things are pretty different when Blue is in town for them, though.  He loves to barrel out the door and chase down any of them that gets in his path.  I have no idea what he'd do to one if he ever actually caught them, but I'm pretty sure he'd just try to give them kisses.  Not like he has a chance to ever actually catch one.  They have a million places to hide so mostly he runs around the farm whining and wondering why none of them will come out to play.

We had a great time with Grandma and Uncle Jerry's family.  It was a very nice Christmas for all of us.

Krazy Kory and Harli came up to spend the weekend in Minneapolis so we hung out with them quite a bit.

We sushi'd it up on Friday night at Kona Grill.

We spent Saturday at the Mall of America creating mischief and generally just having a good ole time.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone!

December 22, 2019

2019 Swank Family Christmas Letter

It’s the end of the Twenty Teens and we feel fine!

Todd & Sheri celebrated 25 years of marriage this year.  That means we’ve now written 25 different Christmas letters and have officially run out of clever things to say.  Our apologies for what is certain to be pure crap going forward.

Todd still works from home as a cloud solutions sales rep for Oracle.  When he’s not out visiting clients in a suit, he’s usually at home working in his underwear.  This wasn’t a big deal until Zoom video conferences started being a thing.  At first he was afraid of scaring customers, but now he’s developed a pretty good gig selling wiggle dances on the side.  It’s pretty lucrative.

 Sheri’s most significant accomplishment of 2019 was correctly identifying the Rottweiler on The Masked Singer as being Chris Daughtry.  We tried to tell her this wasn’t that big of a deal, but she keeps poking us all in the chests and exclaiming “Even the judges didn’t guess that one!”  Hopefully she stops rubbing it in our faces after the new year rolls around.

Avery is in his junior year at the University of Minnesota and doing well in his studies in computer science and works at Trimble as a software developer in his spare time.  He also lives in a fraternity house which we thought was cool until we stopped by to visit.  We forgot how disgusting bathrooms can be when they are utilized by dozens of young men.  

If I lived there, I’d never poop again.

 Luke is also a junior at Minnesota State Mankato and is doing well studying business.  He’s moved into his first apartment where he lives with a couple of good friends and a rowdy dog.  He’s still obsessed with fantasy sports, loud trash talking while playing video games, and sleeping in as late as humanly possible.    We’re hoping he can find a good job that accommodates those traits, but are having some challenges identifying exactly what that would be.

Our golden retriever, Blue, really hates the winter.  He’s so sick and tired of our excuses for not taking him out on walks any more. Every time we try to hold a conversation with him he just stares at us like he doesn’t know what we are saying.  It’s pretty sad.

 2019 was fine and we feel extremely blessed that we’ve made it through another decade of relatively good health and prosperity.  We are so thankful to have so many good friends and loving family in our lives.   

Our resolutions for 2020 are to get healthy and get our children financially independent.  This way we will have extra money to spend on getting unhealthy again.

God Bless Us Everyone!

  The Swank Family