August 30, 2015

Minnesota State Fair 2015

Minnesota State Fair 2015
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for August 30, 2015

There's a Fair in the Air!  The Minnesota State Fair started this week and the family and I both had a chance to attend on different days.  There's thousands and thousands of people all crammed into a small plot of land ready to stand in line, jostle for space, and attempt to get near various booths, exhibits, and food trucks.  It's so much fun!

Sheri and the boys went on Thursday to support a booth sponsored by Prior Lake High School Robotics Team #2169 KING TeC.  They brought the basketball shooting robot to support the STEM day.  A good time was had by all.

They also had time to rub shoulders with none other than Jerry Springer.  Apparently no chairs were thrown during their brief get together which is a bit of a surprise.

I went to the fair with my new team at work.  It was a celebration of a great FY15 Q4.  This group of 30 people currently represents Oracle Direct Mid-Market ERP.  And we rock.

These are my new work buddies.  Erin and I started on the same day in July and Mike started with us a week later.  The three of us sit together on an island away from most of the team and have to lean on each other to figure out what the heck we're doing.  We also have a tendency to create a little bit of trouble with one another.

Some of our group went to the Haunted House.  I had never actually entered this attraction before, but had walked by it for many, many years.  I was excited to get a taste of fear after wondering about it for all this time.

The fear factor ended up being just a bit underwhelming.

I did have a bit of a freaky experience the next day when I was walking into Mystic Lake Casino.  I felt something fly by real close to my head and suddenly my ear felt wet.  I spun around thinking it was a bird and was surprised to see this bat swirling around the air just above me.  He eventually landed on the wall.  I sat there and watched him for awhile and wondered.  I thought bats have radar and he could totally avoided me if he wanted to, so why did he swoop so close to my head?  And what did he do that made my ear feel wet? 

Baby Blue had a real tough week.  He got neutered on Wednesday and no matter what we do, he just won't stop licking the scar!  It seems like it may be getting infected so he's now taking anti-biotics and we keep experimenting with different ways to keep him from licking himself including this new inflatable he wears around his neck.  It doesn't seem to be working.  The licking temptation can overcome any obstacle!!

Luke and Avery are going to be juniors in high school in a couple of weeks, so it is time for them to start doing college tours.  Miss Sheri took them to the University of Minnesota on Friday where they scoped out the campus and learned about how hard it is to get accepted.  They're not sure exactly where they want to go or what they want to study yet, but we keep telling them it's time to start thinking about these things.

On Friday night, I went to my Fantasy Football Draft.  It's my turn to win this year.  At least that's what I keep telling them anyways.

As always, Steve "Cuds" Cuddihy puts on an incredible draft night party and is the best fantasy football commissioner in the business.  Curtis is a great auctioneer for the draft.  At least when he keeps his tongue in his mouth, he is.

We have 12 teams in the league and I ended up with Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Joseph Randle, AJ Green, and many other future super-stars.  I'm gonna win this year!!

On Saturday night, Luke and Avery drove to St. Paul with some friends to attend a birthday party.  Of course, they never tell me anything they do at these parties, but Avery did text me this picture.  I think he appreciated the guy to girl ratio in attendance.

August 23, 2015

Luke's Follow Up Appointment in Chicago

Luke's Follow Up Appointment in Chicago
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for 8/23/15

We took a family trip to Chicago to see the wonderful doctors at Lurie's Children's Hospital.  Last year, we had a scare with Luke where he needed to be evaluated for a heart and liver transplant.  You can read about it here.  As a result of that visit, Luke was recommended to get a pacemaker which he did this past February.  We wanted to go back and visit with the heart and liver team at Luries for a follow-up to make sure he's still doing well.  I'm happy to say that they were quite pleased with Luke's progress and we seem to be on the right track for now.  We appreciate everyone's prayers for Luke as we went through this process!

We went down on Wednesday which also happened to be Miss Sheri's birthday.  She wanted to get Chicago Style pizza from Gino's East, so that was our first stop after checking into the hotel.  It was good pizza, but awfully darn thick!

Avery didn't come with us the last trip because it was during school, but we were happy to have him come along this time.  He's good at giving Luke moral support during his procedures.  Oh, who am I kidding?  Luke insists that Avery leave the room whenever anything medical is happening.  It did give me the opportunity to take some pictures of him overlooking the Chicago skyline, though.

After our appointments on Thursday, we went to Shedd Aquarium.  We like the fishes.

They also had sting rays which they said we could pet which some of them liked.  Some of them didn't.  One of them even freaked out on Miss Sheri and sprayed water all over her.  It caused her to scream loudly.  After she screamed, the nice employee got on the microphone and reminded the whole audience the proper way to interact with the sting rays.  My wife is such a rule breaker.  Knowing her, she was probably pinching that ray's fin.

They had blue lobsters.  I'd like to order one of those the next time I go to Red Lobster, but I'm sure they won't have it else they'd have to change their name.

This guy started whispering to me and asked me to switch my auto insurance, but I just walked away.  It's like, Dude, I'm on vacation.

The Shedd Aquarium is famous for their Beluga whales, but I notice they've downplayed them in their advertising during this visit.  I'm sure it's a fallout from all the Sea World controversy with keeping killer whales in captivity.  As a matter of fact, during the whale program, they played a bunch of videos highlighting how their whole program revolves around all the animals they've rescued including a blind seal and some dog they brought in from a local shelter.  They didn't mention anything about their whales being rescue animals, though.  They just had this guy keep talking to one of them and asking him in front of the audience "You really like being here, right?"  Then the whale would nod his head up and down.  I'm not sure if the whale really understood the question or if it was some kind of a trick.

We had planned to stay in Chicago throughout the weekend, but on Friday we came up with the bright idea that we could knock off half of our trip home by going to the Wisconsin Dells and staying at Kalahari Water Park.  They had an end of summer deal, so we were able to stay at their hotel, go to the water park, go to the Tommy Bartlett Ski Show, and the Timbavati Wildlife park for less money than it would have cost to spend another night at the hotel in downtown Chicago.  And they didn't even have a pool!

We had never been to the Timbavati Wildlife Park before and had very low expectations going in, but were incredibly impressed.  They had a huge selection of animals that were way more accessible than at any other zoo I've ever attended.  Plus you could feed most of them.  They sold a big cup full of carrots for $4.00 and we walked around and giving them out to our furry friends.  Feeding them to the giraffes was the best!

The zebras also liked the carrots, but they used their teeth a lot more than the giraffes.  Darn zebras.

The giraffes use their tongues a lot more which caused us a lot less pain as we gave them their carrots.  Eventually I became envious of the giraffes and tried to join them, but didn't have much success.  No tourists wanted to feed me for some reason.

The sign outside the baby tiger cage said Please Do Not Feed  Carrots.  I'm guessing he was more interested in meat, but unfortunately I didn't have any on me.  Any that I was willing to share with him that is.

We spent about a half hour with these guys just yelling "Hump Day" at them.  Then high fiving one another.

The huge bird cage was really cool and again I was amazed that we had such close access to the animals.  We were surprised to discover how much they like carrots.  

Giraffe Selfies!

The boys were very confused about what the turtles were doing until I told them that the one on the bottom was really sick and the one on top was pushing him to the hospital.  That joke just never gets old.

August 16, 2015

Minnesota Twins vs Cleveland Indians

Minnesota Twins vs Cleveland Indians
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for August 16, 2015

Now that we have two new drivers in the house, we figured it was time to get a third vehicle.  So we headed over to Burnsville Toyota, spent about three minutes spinning around, opened our eyes, pointed and said "We'll take that one!"  I absolutely hate buying cars!

It's nothing too fancy.  A 2007 Toyota Sequoia with 91,000 miles on it.  But after a few days of driving it, I have to say I'm really happy with our purchase!  It's a bigger vehicle then I've ever owned and it's 4 wheel drive which makes it really easy for me to drive over other cars and stuff.  Which is nice.

Our first trip with the family truckster was taking the dogs to the dog park.  It makes them kind of happy to go there.

Avery ditched the rest of his family and went camping in Duluth for a couple of nights with the robotics team.  They competed in the Gitchi Gummi tournament and were part of the winning alliance.  Which was nice.

Avery was very excited that he got to participate as part of the drive team for this competition.  I guess all those years playing with joysticks is coming in handy.

The team was literally jumping for joy to celebrate their good fortunes!

They went to do a little site seeing so Avery has a bunch of nice pictures of his face in front of all sorts of new blurry backgrounds.

Luke was really sad that he didn't have to share the tube with his brother this weekend.

On Saturday night, we watched the Minnesota Twins defeat the Cleveland Indians by a score of 4 - 1.

We went with our friends, Jeff and Cathy.  It was their first anniversary of their wedding and we were excited to have the chance to help them celebrate.  It's hard to believe it's already been a year since they were married.  Time sure does fly when you're having fun!  Which is nice.

I was really excited to meet the lady who plays the organ, but I don't know if she was all that excited to meet me.  I guess it's because I just stood there for 15 minutes or so saying over and over "Boy, lady.  You sure have a nice organ."

August 9, 2015

Prior Lake Lakefront Days 2015

Prior Lake Lakefront Days 2015
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for August 9, 2015

On Sunday, we got to go boating one more time with Cousin Joey before he had to go back home.  Luke was pretty excited about that.

Avery has made it a goal this summer to learn how to knee board.  He's doing pretty good getting up, but I haven't seen any back-flips or 360 twists or anything yet.  He's gotta work on that.

Joey gave it a wack also and did pretty good.  He only bit the water a few times before getting up on it.

On Friday night, we headed down to Lakefront Days.  It's Prior Lake's annual festival to celebrate summer.  I go down there to celebrate my lovely wife.

We also went down to support our kids who were busy manning one of the booths for their high school robotics team.  They brought some of the cool robots down to show off to the kids in the community.

You can just see the joy in my boy's faces when they have the opportunity to work with kids.  It's kind of heartwarming for me to witness it.

On Saturday, we went down town to watch the parade.  
I Love A Parade!

This guy was all tongue.

It's been a long time since I've seen an actual DeLorean.  I kept yelling at the guy to get it up to 88 MPH so we could see it disappear into the future, but he didn't pay me any attention.  It was a little bit of a disappointment.

This lady appears to have been attacked by a snake while she was walking the parade route, but didn't seem too stressed out about it.  I was kind of surprised nobody was trying to help her.

Finally, the float we were waiting for arrived and we were pretty  impressed with it.  The KING TeC kids did a great job at building their castle and Coach Volm was beaming with pride while walking along side his team.  We're looking forward to another great year ahead of us!

Their future is so bright, they gotta wear shades.

When the horses come, you know the parade is over.  I always think they should make the horses go first so we can watch everyone have to navigate their droppings.  It would add an additional layer of excitement to the festivities.

On Saturday afternoon, we went to the high school graduation celebration of our old friend, Andy Schoen.  We've known Andy since he was a little boy, so it was a bit shocking seeing him as the man he has become.  Andy has signed a contract to play hockey in Sioux Falls this year and we're hoping to find the chance to go and see him play some time.  Congratulations, Andy!

On Saturday night, we connected with our old friends, Tim, Kelly, Dan, and Jen.  We were planning on going to Lakefront Days, but were side tracked by a Karaoke Bar.  I just can never pass the chance to sing Karaoke!

Dan and Jen are always game to get on the stage and sing it up also.  We were surprised to find the place pretty much empty, so we took turns serenading each other for most of the evening.  We had a great time, but I'm guessing the lady who was running the Karaoke machine was pretty much ready to quit her job before we were done.

Sheri took the stage and blew me away with her singing.  I think Jen kind of liked it also.