May 30, 2016

The Wedding of Tiffany and Riley Huizenga

The Wedding of Tiffany and Riley Huizenga
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for May 30, 2016

Memorial Day weekend 2016 meant it was time to go on another road-trip to Iowa.  We ran into a little rain on the way, but were happy to see what soon followed it.

Eventually we hit the gravel roads that led us to our destination.  Grandma's House!

We were only in town for about 24 hours, but had a great time with Miss Sheri's family in the short time we were able to spend with one another.

We piled back in the car again on Saturday afternoon and headed down to Orange City where the grass is green and the girls are pretty.  At least that's what Guns N Roses said.  Wait a second.  That was Paradise City.  I don't remember what they said about Orange City, but I'm sure it was just as clever.

We were all very excited to go to the wedding of Tiffany and Riley Huizenga.

Tiffany is the second cousin of Miss Sheri.  She's a lovely young lady that we've known since she was a very little girl.  We usually get to see her every year at family reunions.  Tiffany found a nice young man by the name of Riley Huizenga and apparently one thing led to another and then they decided to get married.  We were lucky enough to have the chance to witness the event.

After a beautiful ceremony, the happy young couple walked back down the aisle as man and wife.  

I bet they were even more happy a short time later when they got a chance to cut into that delicious cake and share it with the rest of us.

I know that part made us real happy also.

We had to rush back to Minnesota after the wedding on Saturday night so we could attend the graduation party of Will Tinguley on Sunday morning.  The boys have had the honor of getting to know Will from the robotics team and he's a very pleasant young man.  Will will be heading off to Iowa State University next year to study Computer Science.  We wish him well.

Luke is back to work at DQ this summer which gives us a chance to go visit him while pigging out on Ice Cream.  Which is nice.  

May 22, 2016

The Winnebago River in Mason City, Iowa

The Winnebago River in Mason City, Iowa
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for May 22, 2016

On Monday night, we attended the annual Prior Lake Robotics KING TeC #2169 FRC team's awards banquet.  It was a great event that honored the team's achievements and accomplishments for the past year.

The juniors were sad to say farewell to the seniors and started to learn what their responsibilities would be for next year.  Jackson, Katie, and Luke were all named captains of the team next year along with 3 others.   Avery expects to be heavily involved in the programming department.  We're excited to see what the future holds for next year's team!

Miss Sheri, Jen, and I collected money for the banquet and sold Lakefront Music Fest tickets.  I think we looked pretty darn good while doing it.

Krazy Kory stopped by for a visit as he came up to St. Paul for a job interview.   He played a game of bags with us and then left to prep for his interview and get a good night's sleep.  It must have worked out well for him, because he got the job!

On Friday, we drove down to Mason City, Iowa to meet my ex-brother-in-law Cliff, his wife, Claudia, and their daughter, Chloe.  Unfortunately, Cliff's mom, Fran Nelson, passed away at the age of 89 last week and we met them there for the funeral.  It was great to see Cliff and his family, but of course we wish it would have been under better circumstances.

Cliff said he was nervous because he had to deliver a eulogy for his mom and claims not to be much of a public speaker.  But he did such a good job at paying homage to his mom.  He was funny, inspirational, moving, and engaging all at once.  Cliff told us about the challenging life his mom had lived, but honored her memory by sharing with all of us the lessons she'd learned in life and all the love she gave to those around her.  Fran Nelson will be missed.

On Friday night, I met up with some members of the Hornbuckle and Bailey clans to attend the opening night of horse racing at Canterbury Downs.  

I also enjoyed the time I got to spend with the lovely Jen & Madison.  Madison had her arm in a sling after a mishap which left her with a shattered shoulder blade.  Something about the word shattered mixed with any different body part always makes me cringe a bit, so I wish Madison a very speedy recovery!

I usually lose money when betting on the horses, but I followed the strategies of Jason and Mike and ended up walking out of there with more money than I walked in with which is always a good thing!

On Saturday, the weather was beautiful so we decided to pull the boat out of storage and go for our first ride of 2016.  Our buddy, Orlando, and his daughter joined us for the maiden voyage.

The water is still pretty cold so we all did our best to stay out of it except for the kids who wanted to go tubing for awhile.  Lucky for all of us, I was able to keep them on top of the raft and didn't send them off into the drink.  That would have been funny and sad all at the same time.

The birds are back.  We got that going for us.

May 15, 2016

Grill Fest 2016

Grill Fest 2016
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for May 15, 2016

On Friday night, Miss Sheri and I hooked up with my good friend, Orlando Mazzolini, and headed to the casino.  We didn't have a very good night gambling, but we did have a heck of a lot of fun together which is A-OK in my book.

We even made some new friends.  Which is nice.

On Saturday, we hooked up with our good friends, Troy and Rhonda Brown, along with a new friend, Renee, and headed to St. Paul to CHS Field for Minnesota Monthly Magazine's Grill Fest 2016.  

Grill Fest is a neat event.  You pay $45 to enter and then visit booths from 90 different exhibitors from various bars, restaurants, breweries, wineries, grill companies, and food companies that want to show you that they know how to make a backyard BBQ something pretty special.  The Big Green Egg grill company was a premium sponsor.

I had no idea that I could turn into a glutton so quickly.  It was a mile long selection of free samples and everything tasted so good!  I tested about 20 different kinds of meat, burgers, salsa, dressings, sauces, and appetizers.  I pretty much had to be rolled out of the joint three hours later.

There were also about 100 different samples of beer and wine.  It seemed like every bar and local brewery had a booth there.  They give you a little glass at the door that you walk around with and everyone pours you a sample.  I tried a lot of them.

These two gentlemen were very nice.  They had recently launched their Colombian Picante business called Uncle Simon's traditions and were at the festival to spread the word about their name.  Their picante spread was pretty good.

CHS Field is a new stadium in St. Paul where our minor league baseball team, the St. Paul Saints, play.  It was a beautiful stadium and a great setting for an event like this.

MMMM.  Spicy Olives.

I kind of felt bad for this pig until I discovered how delicious he was.  It had to be tough to get him to crawl into that rotisserie, though.

I also felt kind of bad for these veggies, but couldn't really figure out why.

Smoke on the Ball Field!  

Deep Purple should write a song about that.

The Big Green Egg grills have a cult following of people who use them to cook all sorts of stuff.  These guys were showing off the pizzas they baked in there.  I was kind of hoping for some ham, but didn't see anybody serving any.  I've always wanted to try Green Eggs and Ham.

I did get to make my own pizza from scratch and grill it.  It kind of tasted like crap, though.  I need to work on my Grill Skills.

May 8, 2016

Mother's Day 2016


 Mother's Day 2016
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for May 8, 2016

On Friday night Avery really wanted to go see the new Captain America movie.  I was hesitant.  I thought the last Avengers movie was a real mess.   I wasn't sure if I was ready for another 2 and a half hours of way too many super heroes on the screen at the same time.  Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised.  Admittedly, I struggled to keep track of who was the good guy in this movie and who was the bad guy, but I did find myself enjoying it quite a bit.  The appearances by Ant Man and Spiderman were especially exciting.  Go check it out if you're on the fence.

On Saturday morning, we woke up early to go and help the robotics team sell Lakefront Music Fest tickets to raise money for the team.  I didn't have very high expectations for our success, but the six students who went door to door for us did a great job in the two hours we were out there.  People are really generous in our community and we all ended up having a bunch of fun raising money for a good cause.  

Saturday night we made the spur of the moment decision to invite over a bunch of friends to enjoy the weather, have a bonfire, and a hot tub party.  

Dan Walters brought over a bunch of chicken wings and grilled them to spicy perfection.  The Walters are from Florida and I believe they said these have Everglades spices.  I'm not sure what that means, but they were really dang good.

We ended up making a pretty late night of it and ended with a lot of laughs and hugs.  Not necessarily in that order.

On Sunday morning, we drove over to St. Paul to board a Padelford river boat for Mother's Day Brunch.

We knew when we arrived at Harriet Island and saw the stump playground we were all set for an awesome day.

Soon enough we were on the boat, enjoying the river, and waiting for our breakfast.  Grandma Linda kept us all entertained by explaining to us that Elvis was still alive and she really loves one of his new songs.  She gets like that sometimes.

I was the luckiest guy on the boat because I got to hang out with the prettiest mom on board.  Plus, we had some really yummy pancakes to enjoy as well.

After breakfast, we went to the bow of the ship to hang out with the captain.  He even let me steer the boat for awhile.  It's actually a lot harder to drive one of these things into the river bank than you'd think it would be.

Miss Sheri had her eagle eye on the lookout for cool wildlife.  She didn't disappoint us when she caught this awesome picture of a mother bald eagle sitting on her eggs in her nest.  Either that or she may have been sitting on the father bald eagle.  It's tough to tell from this angle.