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

December 16, 2018

Christmas is Coming 2018

Christmas is Coming 2018
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for December 16, 2018

On Wednesday night, we celebrated Grandma Linda's birthday with her friend Mike at the new Restaurant, PLate, in downtown Prior Lake.  A good time was had by all.

My brilliant college student son, Luke, found himself with a bunch of money left over in his meal plan account at school and for some reason the dollars can't be carried over until next semester.  Lucky for all of us, he had a plan on how to spend the excess.  I think I may have to get a bit more involved with the meal planning next semester.

On Saturday night, we celebrated the college graduation of our good friend, Maddison Bailey.  She attended Concordia University and now has a degree in business and technology.  We are very excited what the future has in store for this wonderful young lady!

It was a great opportunity for us to see a bunch of the Hornbuckle clan.  We were surprised to discover that it's been almost 9 months since we last saw Chris and Teresa.  That's too long to go without partying with these wild and crazy cats.

A lot of love being spread by these people.

We got to see Jason, Jen, and the girls.  I can't believe these young ladies are already sophomores in high school.  It doesn't feel that long ago when we'd see them and they were still just little girls.  Somebody please stop the calendar because time is moving too fast!

We got to see Luke and Stephanie Benedict which is always a treat.

This was our first time meeting Carolyn's daughter, Anna, which was very nice.  

These ladies can get pretty nutty as the night goes on.

All in all, it was a wonderful party hosted by the Bailey family.  We were glad to be part of it.

The temperatures climbed into the high thirties today, so Luke and I took Blue to the lake and spent some time throwing around the old pigskin.  Playing on a frozen lake isn't quite the same as doing it in the backyard, but you gotta do what you gotta do this time of year.

December 9, 2018

Oracle Cloud Day 2018 in Dallas, Texas

Oracle Cloud Day 2018 in Dallas, Texas
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for December 9, 2018

I flew down to Dallas for a couple of meetings and a chance to attend Oracle's Cloud Day event at the Hyatt Regency next to Reunion Tower.  That's a big ball in the sky they have up there.

The cloud day event was a productive one.  I met with customers and colleagues while also experiencing keynote speakers and hands-on labs for some of Oracle's latest and greatest technologies.  I love technology so always have a great time at events like these.

Oracle's CIO, Mark Sunday, gave one of the keynotes and talked about how Digital Transformation is changing society and businesses and is generally making the world a better place to be for all of us.  He also talked about how Oracle has transformed our operations from on premise technologies to the cloud which is a pretty impressive accomplishment for a company with 137,000 employees.  Quite a fascinating talk.

I stayed at the same hotel as the event which was the Hyatt Regency Dallas.  It's right next to the Reunion Tower also known as that great big ball in the sky.  I love going to the nineteenth floor, standing at the railing and looking over it to freak myself out.  It's hard for me to stand there staring over the edge because I think it  would be just so easy to slide right over it and plummet to my death.  I would never do such a thing, but it's hard not to think about it when looking over the railing.  I have a weird brain.

The best part of visiting Dallas is having the opportunity to see much of my family who live down there.  My sister, Tracy, her husband, Dave, my niece, Bailey, and my niece, Mallory and her family, all came to Village Burger to meet me for dinner on Wednesday night.  It was so great to see them.  I hadn't seen Mallory's kids in awhile and they've all grown so much and are so well behaved!  It was really nice connecting with them all.

On Thursday night, I connected with my old mentor at Oracle, John Eder.  John and I worked together for a year and a half before I took on my current role.  He is a 20 year plus veteran salesperson for Oracle and I learned so much from him on how to be successful in enterprise sales.  It was great spending a few hours with him catching up on the good old days of 2017.

I came home Friday afternoon and had to jump back in the car to go out for the night with our good friends, the Zitzewitz Family.  They're such an attractive family that we try to spend as much time with them as we can in hopes some of that rubs off on us.

We were actually in St. Paul to go to the Ordway to see the new production of Elf The Musical.  We were on the edge of our seats with anticipation for an opportunity to spend a few hours with Buddy the Elf.

Our seats were on the railing of the balcony, so I had to spend a few more hours wondering what it would be like to fall from this distance.  It wasn't nearly as far of a height as I was seeing at the hotel, but it still would probably hurt pretty bad.  I just keep wondering what if I have some secret bouncing ability that I don't know about?  It would be sad if I didn't ever get to use it.

The play was fun, but ultimately not as funny as I was hoping it would be.  We are such big fans of the movie so had very high expectations.  I guess it's just not easy to be as good as Will Ferrell.

Back home, we are excited to have Luke home from college for winter break.  He wanted to take Blue for a walk out on the lake now that it's frozen.  My mom and sister were really worried about us going on the lake, but I promised them I'd have Luke go out there first to make sure it was safe.

Blue was so happy to finally get to go for a run and chase the ball.  He's really sick of winter already because we tend to choose staying inside rather than bundling up and going out adventuring.  We need to get better at that.

The critter watching around our house has been fabulous.  The birds and squirrels seem really fat so we've been wondering if we should keep filling up the feeders or not.  I think we will keep doing it.  They can lose weight for New Years.