January 20, 2019

Ice Fishing on Prior Lake

Ice Fishing on Prior Lake
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for January 20, 2019

The weather in Minnesota has finally become cold enough that the big ice houses are out on the lake and the really big trucks used to drag them out there are out there as well.

We are told that the ice is 15 inches thick which is plenty to drive on.  However, we are still always nervous to drive on the ice no matter how thick it is.  We roll down all the windows and open the sunroof to give us enough escape hatches just in case...

On Tuesday night, our friend Dan Walters told us he brought his new ice house out on Prior Lake near our house and told us to come out for a visit.  Avery hadn't gone back to college quite yet so we were more than happy to oblige.

We hadn't seen their new ice house yet, but were pretty impressed.  It seems to be quite a bit bigger than the last one they were using and had a lot of the comforts of home.  

We don't have our 2019 fishing licenses yet, so we weren't able to actually join Dan in his fishing adventure.  Sadly Dan didn't have much luck anyways and we didn't get to see any whoppers pulled out from the ice hole.  Stupid ice hole.

  Is that a UFO off in the distance?  Nah.  Just the big lights from Mystic Lake Casino piercing the night sky.

The one thing about having our boys go to school so close to home is they seem to come up with so many reasons to swing home for a night or two.  I think the fact that I'm always willing to take them out for another "Good-bye dinner" probably has something to do with it.

Jen and Dan invited us to their ice house again on Saturday night so Luke had a chance to go check it out as well.

Jen thinks Dan went a little overboard on the new heater he bought for the ice house.  It does make it pretty toasty warm in there!

I don't care that it snowed last night.  I'm sick and tired of posing for your pictures!

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!