Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Parenting: Not only am I capable...I'm pretty damn good at it.

Today my wife and I started a new chapter in life.  She went back to work for the first time after being a SAHM for 6 years which meant that today was officially my first day as a stay at home dad.  It was a pretty normal day.  I woke up with the wife to see her off, made the boys breakfast, played with trucks and puzzles, played superheroes, read books, put them down for naps, made them lunch when they woke up, went to the pool, and...then it happened.  As we were leaving, one of the mom's who was there with her 3 kids (roughly the same age as the boys) stopped me as we were leaving and said "That's impressive!  Not a single fight or melt down!"  Truth be told...I didn't know what to say.  I didn't know if she was impressed with the fact that my boys are so well behaved or impressed with the fact that I'm the Dad and I just brought all 3 of my kids to the pool and know...lived.  I question the intent behind the comment because the truth's not the first time, and it won't be the last.  In fact, anytime anyone finds out that she is leaving the boys with me for any amount of time, they not only question my ability as a parent (because I'm the Dad), but I truly think they also question her sanity a little for being confident enough in my parenting skills to actually trust my own children with me.

I mean..can we just stop pretending that all men are just some incompetent babysitters that can't function without a 2 page list of do's and don'ts readily prepared and laminated by the ever more competent mother?  I could we possibly get through the day with our own kids without the supervision of the "true parent"?  Let's get something straight... I'm a Dad, and a fully capable one at that.  And to top it off (and you might want to sit down for this), I'm not just fully capable of taking care of my own kids... I'm pretty damn good at it.  You know why?  I'm gonna let you in on a little secret... it's my job.  It is my job as a parent to do just that...parent.  Parent...not babysit.  There is only one person in the world who is just as equally good at parenting my kids and that is my wife.  That's right...I said it... "equally" as good.  You see, in some ways our parenting styles differ and in other ways they are they same.  Where one of us struggles, the other excels, and somewhere in the middle...we make one hell of a parenting team.

What I would like to know is who are all these a-holes out there that are giving all Dad's a bad name.  I it really that hard guys?  It's your own kid and you have one effing a parent.  Time's up...I'll answer for you.  No.  It's really not that hard.  Let me help.  Here's a basic summary of what you need to do...

Make sure they...
  • Eat (preferably healthy)
  • Have clothes on (at least in public)
  • Take baths (and actually clean some shit)
  • Take naps
  • Go to bed at a decent time
  • Say please and thank you
  • Say yes sir and no ma'am
  • Learn to share
  • Play nice with others
  • Are kind
  • Like to read
  • Play outside
  • Listen
  • Look both ways before crossing the street
  • Wear a helmet
  • Follow instructions
  • Respect authority (including yours)
  • Laugh (a lot)
  • Are polite
  • Always try their hardest
  • Try new things
  • Fight their fears
  • Most importantly... make sure they know that they are loved

Now, if you want some easy extra credit...try to throw in some of these on nights and weekends.  You know...if you're just too busy to do this parenting thing 24/7.

  • Make sure they know the value of hard work (see also:  how not to be an entitled a-hole)
  • Make sure they see how much you love, respect, and value your wife
  • Make sure they see you laugh and have fun
  • Make sure they can cook their own food and do their own laundry.  No...not because it's 2016 and it's not the woman's job anymore.  Because you're an adult and it's nobody's job to do it for you but your own (see also: "Adulting")
  • And again...make sure they know (without a doubt) that they are loved.

Now this seems all fine and dandy but here's the key... actions speak louder than words.  You can't tell them to be kind when they see you being a prick all the time.  You can't expect them to do their own laundry when you leave it in a pile on the floor for your wife to do.  And you can't expect them to grow up and respect women if they always see you disrespecting their mom.  And... nevermind... you get the idea. the man you want your son's and son in-law's to be.  It's not that hard guys.  Oh...and if you could stop giving the rest of us a bad name...that would be great.

I'm a Dad.  Not only am I capable...I'm pretty damn good at it.   

Saturday, May 14, 2016

A letter to my wife... "I've never been more proud of anyone..."

There have been so many times in our marriage that have made me proud to be your husband.  Though I don’t always tell you when the situation arises, know this… I have never been more proud of anyone as I am of you.
When you went in to labor with our first, both of us were thinking that it was just going to be like most other “normal” labor and deliveries that we had heard about…but in fact it wasn’t.  I watched you fight through the tears and pain and push as hard as you could for 21 hours, but it just wasn’t in the cards for us.  I could see the disappointment in your eyes as you somehow felt like you were already failing him.  Like it was your job duty as his mother to get him out safely…and you tried.  You tried as hard as you could and with every ounce of strength you could muster but, the doctors ultimately had to call it and do a C-section.  What we didn’t know was that Kingston was turned just enough that his shoulders were blocking your efforts and you could have pushed for another 21 hours and it wouldn’t have worked.  I can’t imagine how you must have been feeling during all that, but know this… I’ve never been more proud of anyone, as I was of you. 
Alright…at least the hard part was over…or so we thought.  I just watched you go through the hardest fight of your life trying to push a small human out of you and then have, by all accounts, a pretty major surgery.  I mean…I just watched you basically do Cross Fit for 21 hours straight and then get wheeled  into the operating room where they basically pulled every major organ out of you, layed them on the table next you, pulled a baby out of you, and then shoved them all back in, stitched you up, and sent you on your way with what they would describe as some “slight discomfort”.  Oh, by the way… you now have a baby to take care of.  They told you that you needed to breast feed right away to create that bond between you and the baby… but it just wasn’t in the cards.  I could see the disappointment in your eyes as nurse after nurse came in to try to help you get the baby to “latch on”.  All had different advice, different methods, and different positions to try.  And though they were just trying to help I know that in your head, all you heard was “you’re doing it wrong.”  I watched you try every method they showed you, over and over again, for weeks… not willing to give up…determined to breastfeed our baby.  I watched the tears flow over and over again, each time he wouldn’t latch on, because you thought you were somehow failing as a mom because you couldn’t breastfeed him.  I can’t imagine how you felt during those weeks, and I imagine you somehow felt as though you were giving up when you decided to finally bottle feed but know this… I’ve never been more proud of anyone, as I was of you.

We made the decision when we started trying for our first that we didn’t want someone else raising our kids and that one of us was going to stay home with them.  At the time…that someone was you.  5+ years later we now have 2 more kids added to the mix.  I’ll be the first to admit that I have no idea what most days are like for you at home but I know it hasn’t been easy.  I can hear the disappointment in your voice when you tell me about your day.  About how the kids were fighting all day, or someone was having freak out sessions all day.  About how they wouldn’t listen to you, wouldn’t take their naps or pick up their toys.  You will tell me how they wouldn’t eat their lunch because the crust wasn’t properly removed from the bread and I can see the exhaustion on your face and I know it’s overwhelming… how can it not be?   I know that by wanting to go back to work you probably feel like you somehow failed at being a stay at home mom, but you didn’t.  Our boys are smart, polite, well mannered, well behaved, loving, compassionate, kind, and courteous…and they owe it all to you!  You have held the hardest job in the world for 5+ years and you did it like a boss…you fucking nailed it.  It took a lot of courage to admit to yourself, and to me, that you wanted to go back to work and because of that…I have never been more proud of anyone, as I am of you! 

Now… wanting to go back to work is one thing… actually doing it…that’s another.  I didn’t realize at the time (when we first talked about it) how difficult it might actually be to re-enter the workforce.  Even though being a SAHM qualifies you to do pretty much any damn job you want to do now…hiring managers don’t necessarily see it that way.  I could see the disappointment in your eyes when you were filling out applications and writing your resume.  I could tell you were thinking “I’m not qualified for this…they’re never going to hire me”.  It’s been inspiring to see you fight through your self-doubt through endless interviews and applications, and I know it hasn’t been easy.  So, when you accept your new job offer on Monday, know this… I have never been more proud of anyone as I am of you right now! 
I have no idea what the future holds but I do know this... no matter what challenges you may face, I will always have your back and I will always be proud of you... no matter what!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

You might want to sit down for this...

So... I have a secret to tell you.  3 weeks ago, Ang I made the decision to move to Austin, TX.  Well, if  I am being honest, I finally made the decision.  Most of Ang's family is down there so she has wanted to move down there for years.  But for was never the right time.

Ummm...explain yourself please...
We made the decision long before we had kids that we didn't want someone else raising our kids and that 1 of us was going to stay home.  We knew that that wasn't going to happen working for someone else so we started coming up with a business plan.  2 weeks after we found out we were pregnant with our first, we opened Silentium Finishing... a wood finishing shop were we specialize in pre-finishing cabinetry, windows, doors, trim, and furniture.  Shortly after we had our second mini-me we opened {3:17}.  It was literally the first time that we had ever been to Afton when we happened to drive by what was then know simply as "The Little Red House".  We had never talked about opening a storefront, and we knew nothing about Afton but we called the number on the sign that night and signed the lease on our new store the next day.  The point is...I've never been afraid to take chances.  I've always been the type to just jump in head first and figure it out once I'm in.  The problem with being the sole provider for our family though is that, as much as I knew Ang wanted to move, I was never willing to take the risk.  That is until 3 weeks ago.

What we knew...
All of a sudden, all the pieces of the puzzle started to come together.  We had a job opportunity down there which meant steady income right away.  We bought a foreclosure home when the market was bad, pumped a little money into it, and are now sitting on a good chunk of equity in a sellers market so... that means we would have some cushion when we moved. 

Now the variables...
There were a couple things that need to happen for sure to make a quick move even possible.
1.  We needed to sell both businesses...quick.  And 2....  We needed to sell our house...even quicker.
The house was actually surprisingly easy.  The house officially listed at 11:15 last Friday and sold Sunday night for full asking price.  The businesses were the tricky part.  

Here's the deal... We've worked hard the last few years to grow our little shop in Afton.  We've grown a pretty amazing and loyal customer base, we have put together an amazing group of vendors, and developed a ton of amazing friendships and relationships in the industry.  We've always had a clear vision of what we wanted our shop to be and we've always stuck to our guns.  When choosing who we wanted to take over our shop it was important to us that we kept it in the family so to speak.  Ideally...we wanted one of our vendors to take over.  Also, we wanted to choose someone that we were confident would continue on with our vision.  Sure we could of just sold it to another shop...that was always on the table if push came to shove but, ultimately, it is not what we wanted.  In doing that, everything we have worked for would simply go away as they would just come in as "their" shop. didn't guarantee that any of our vendors would stay.  These are people that we have fought for, built relationships with, grown with as individuals and businesses...we are a family. 

Do you think she'll do it?
The decision process was pretty simple.  This is how it went down...
Ang:  Heather?
Me:  Yep!
We didn't need to talk about it, we didn't need some spreadsheet listing all the pro's and con's of multiple people...we just had to be Heather.  Many of you know Heather.  Heather is Elk Heart Design...she's the one with the sweet vintage camper that you always see at all our events!

She is also responsible for some of the coolest looks we've seen in the shop lately...

She is also the one who has always supported all of our crazy decisions in the shop (and there have been a lot of them) no questions asked.  She shares our vision of what we want our shop to be and truth be told...I truly think that she will be able to do it better than we did!  Though she tried hard to talk us out of moving to TX she did ultimately accept the offer!  We are grateful and honored to have her take over our shop and we know you will love her! 

So what now?
We have put a lot of thought into when/ how we wanted to announce this as well as how we want to make the transition.  Ultimately...we don't want to disrupt things too much.  We have decided to slowly transition out over the next month.  We will still officially be running "The Market" in May but you will see a new name.  Yes...we are keeping our name (we will be opening up shop in TX).  We want it to essentially just look like a re-branding.  Allow me to introduce...

See...same logo, different name.  Just a subtle change.  We will also be officially changing the FB page over to dwell. for  "The Market".   Again...we wanted there to be as little change as possible as far as you, the customer, is concerned.  We want to be able to introduce Heather and the new name while we are still here.  We don't want it to seem like we are closing...we aren't.  It's just a changing of the guard.

So come say goodbye, and say hello to Heather.  Please join us for our last weekend...  "The Market" in May.

-Mike & Ang

Sunday, April 24, 2016

"Is that peanut butter on your wall?" A look inside our home...

We hear it all the time... "Man...I'd love to see you house someday!"  Let's just pretend that that doesn't sound at all stalkerish (is that even a word?) for a second... there is another little problem.  You see...we have 3 boys under the age of 5.  3 of them.  Boys.  3 boys.  See where I'm going with this?  Most days the bottom 3 feet of our walls and woodwork look like some dickhead of a toddler decided to make a mural out of what vaguely resembles a mix of peanut butter, juice box, and dirt... could be shit (it's a very real possibility) but...lets just pretend it's dirt.  To top it off we we're very naïve first time parents and homeowners.  We thought at the time "let's have white'll be fine", or "let's use flat paint on our walls", or "let's have dark espresso floors", or my favorite...let's buy a light fabric living room set (cause that shit will stay clean).  Side note:  That was fun when we tried to get rid of the living room set.  I couldn't decide if I should burn it, take it to the dump (that would have cost money), or post it up on Craigslist with some brutally honest post and hope that some poor soul would decide they wanted it.  You can see the post here... "Free Couch".   That was the first time we failed at parenting, adulting, and well...pretty much life in general.  Side note:  don't be're better than that.  You see the problem?  In order to take pics of our house that are post worthy...we literally have to re-paint the entire house, re-do all the woodwork, clean the carpets replace the carpets, clean throw a bunch of shit in the closets, stage, clean the weird sticky stuff off the camera lens on my phone, drink...a lot, and then...ta da.  Ahhh screw it... we would literally have to burn it to the ground, sell the kids, and buy a new house... then we could take pics. thanks.

Well.. as fate would have it... we are now selling our house and "apparently" potential buyers don't like to throw up in their mouth when they walk into a property so that means I had guessed it... re-paint the entire house, re-do all the woodwork, clean the carpets, clean throw a bunch of shit in the closets/ boxes, and a 20 yard dumpster, stage, clean the weird sticky stuff off the camera lens on my phone, drink...a lot, and then..."ta da" we have ourselves some pictures ladies and gentlemen. 

So here it is... "Our Home"


"We met through mutual friends"... and other lies we'll tell our kids.

Ang and I met 10 years ago "through mutual friends".  Well...that's the story she will tell you anyways and it is certainly the version our kids will hear but... that's not quite how it went down.  Truth be told... it was really quite romantic and glamorous.  It was the fairytale encounter that every girl dreams of...the type of stuff you only see in movies.  We met at a bar.

*I'll just let that sink in for a minute...

Ok well...both "versions" are actually true.  Mari, one of my best friends since elementary school, had just started dating a guy (Eric) from Houston, TX (pay attention...there's a test later).  Things were starting to get serious and he was coming up to visit for the weekend.  She wanted me to meet him when he was in town so I could scope him out and tell her what I thought of him.  I was supposed to go to UND that weekend to visit my little sister but... Mari was one of my best friends and I wasn't about to let her date a douche bag so it was set...we were heading out downtown know...what better way to really judge someone than to get them drunk, in a city they've never been to, and then interrogate them.  Brilliant!  Anyway...I approved.  Now they're married...coincidence??

(Mari & Eric)

So... Mari worked with Ang's aunt (Miriam) and they had never hung out outside of work before but somehow found out that each of them were heading downtown and they decided to meet up.  Miriam just so happened to be going out with Ang that night. 

(Ang & Miriam)

The moment we met...
Then it happened.  We (Mari, Eric & yours truly) meet up with them (Miriam &Ang).  Honestly... I can't remember which restaurant bar we met at because the moment I saw her, she was all I could think about.  I new right then that I was either going to marry her or stalk her...either way it was a win.  We proceeded to walk over to this really quiet, romantic place called Spin Nightclub.  I mean...this place just wreaks of class booze and desperation.  But...we proceed and throw caution to the wind.  Once we entered said classy place Ang disappeared.  I literally didn't see her the rest of the night...until...last call.  I randomly run in to her again at the bar, buy her a drink, and decide to ask her out.  You know...because when a girl you just met ignores you all night, the only logical thing to do is to ask her out. worked.  I got her number.  Side Note:  On second thought... maybe her version does sound better?

The dreaded phone call...
I waited 3 days 1 day and called her.  Here's what I know for certain about that moment...
1.  She answered the phone so...she actually gave me her real number. 
2.  She had absolutely no idea who I was (there may or may not have been some cocktails involved).  She did however enter my number in her phone as "Mike- Mari's Friend".  She knew that Miraim worked with Mari, Miriam liked Mari, and I was friends with Mari so I couldn't have been that bad.
3.  She actually agreed to go on a date with me which was essentially a blind date for her since she didn't remember who I was.

Things are looking good right!?

The first blind date...
Ang had always dated the same type of guy... the hockey player, Abercrombie & Fitch type guy.  Then there's me.  Keep in mind that this is a blind date for her...she answers the door to some guy with ripped jeans, tattoo's, piercings, and a mowhawk.  Yep...that happened.  I'm pretty sure at this point she thought she was going to die but, bless her heart, she went on the date anyway.  She didn't expect things to go well but we ended up hitting it off right away.  It was the "easiest" first date either one of us had ever been on!  It was like we had been friends forever and were just picking up where we left off.  The evening just flowed and we had set up our 2nd and 3rd dates before we even finished dinner.

Happily ever after...
I wish I could say that everything continued to just flow after that first date but this is Ang were talking about here.  Lets just say things didn't always go as planned.  Ang and I dated for 4 years and during that time she actually broke up with me 3 times.  The first time she called me and gave me some line about how she didn't think we had a connection and maybe we should just be friends.  Ummmm...como se what?  Yea...even Miriam thought she was crazy when she told her that.  That break up (break up #1) lasted about a week.  The next one (break up #2) was even better.  She called me while I was at work ("apparently" she has a thing for breaking up with me over the phone) and told me to "pack my shit and get out by the time she got home".  First of all...this is sweet little ole Ang were talking about.  Second of all...WTF?  That lasted until I got home that day to officially "pack my shit and get out" where she swiftly apologized and proceeded to tell me she just "had a bad day"  Side note:  What the hell am I getting myself into?  And the 3rd time...well...I honestly don't even remember the specifics of that one but it was short lived like the rest of them.

Livin' the dream...
Fast forward a little...we got engaged and got married.  I'm still not even quite sure how I got her to say yes.  I think maybe she was either in a coma at the time or confused about the question...either way...I'm pretty sure there was a nod or a slightly audible yes in there somewhere.  Shortly after we started our family.  10 years after that drunken stupor night, we have been blessed with 3 little boys who keep life...well... interesting.  I document some of the craziness over at my dad blog Tonka Trucks & Tattletales.  I am blessed to be married to a fiesty Christian women who's idea of a swear word is "goodness gracious".  We rarely fight because, come on, you can't really take someone seriously in a fight when they come at you with "goodness gracious".  Am I right?  Anyone...anyone?  We have had an amazing journey together so far and I can't wait to see where our next chapter takes us! 


Monday, March 28, 2016

Afton? Where the hell is that? The History of {3:17}...

Summer 2012...What the hell were we about to get ourselves into? 

While teaching youth group at church, Ang meets who will soon become our roommate...Anna.  I had never met Anna before so she decided to come over, see the place, hang out, determine the level of craziness she was soon about to enter, you know...stuff like that.  2 of the things that she needed to figure out before moving in with us were 1.  How was the commute to and from work?  And...2. Would we be ok with her having these "Vintage Sales" out of our house?  Ummmm...what?  We had never heard of such a thing!  Do tell!  Well..."apparently" she had been doing these vintage sales with a group of friends for about 5 years.  They would do it out of someone's house, porch, barn, garage, etc.. a couple times a year, and wanted to know if we would be ok with her hosting it at our house.  "Sure!  Why not?  I might even do some stuff for the sale!"  Famous last words...

Dec. 2012
This shit's no joke!  There's mailing lists, email lists, postcards... I had no idea!

So the time comes and we start prepping for the sale, which basically means we have to move out of our house.  We take all of our furniture out and take all of our own décor of the walls because, you's perfectly normal to stage your entire house for a sale.  Right?  But yep...that happened.

The sale was great, people loved it, and we sold a TON of stuff!  We had no idea what we were doing but...we were hooked!  We ended up doing 2 more sales out of our house.  Each one a little busier and each one we got a little better.  We started figuring out what type of items sold best, we started getting better at finding stuff, and we started putting out better quality products.

The last sale we did out of our house, there was a line out the door an hour before we opened, both sides of the street were filled with cars as far as you could see, and we were selling inventory quicker than we could get it out.  It took us 3 months to put our house back together after that one and we realized..."Yeah...this isn't going to work anymore."

Carver Junk Company

I first met Brandy and Chad off a Craigslist posting of mine.  I had come across about a dozen massive old 15 pane warehouse windows from an old building in NE Mpls.  They came down to our wood finishing shop in Savage to pick up a couple for the shop  and by "a couple" I mean all of them).  I just so happened to be working on stuff for our upcoming sale out of our house when they stopped by.  They tried to buy pretty much everything I was working on at the time but I played hard to get...I made them come to our sale.  Anywho... shortly after our sale they had successfully convinced me to become a vendor with them.  This is how it pretty much went down...
Them:  " wanna come sell with us?"
Me:  "Yep."
And so it was born.  {3:17} at CJC.  (Has a ring to it doesn't it?)

We spent a little over a year with CJC and still remain good friends.  We met a lot of amazing vendors and learned a lot about the business from one of the best in the business.  We are forever grateful for the opportunity they gave us.  "You're my boy Blue!"

The PORCH & Atelier 

Somewhere along the line we thought it would be a good idea to add another shop to sell out of.  We were still selling with CJC and we had just opened our shop so, as any sane person would do, we decided to add even more to our plate.  Theresa had been following us since we started selling out of our house and we had been following The PORCH for as long as I can remember so we thought it would be a perfect fit!  We were only there for about 4 or 5 months.  We quickly realized that we had overextended ourselves and just couldn't put in the time that we needed to really be an asset to her, and sadly had to cut our time short with them.

Though our time with The PORCH was short lived, it was truly a blessing to be a part of such an amazing shop.  Theresa and her family are genuinely some of the nicest people you will ever meet!  We remain good friends and colleagues to this day and you have no doubt either seen her or her son, Adam, at one of our events.  We learned a lot from Theresa and we are grateful to have had the chance to work with her!

Afton?  Where the hell is that?

July, 2013.  It was Saturday afternoon and we took a little drive to look at houses.  We ended up in this small town, seemingly in the middle of nowhere... Afton.  We had just grabbed some ice cream at one of THE best ice cream shops around, Selma's, and on our way out of town we drove by this little red house that had a sign out front that said "For Lease, Commercial Only".  Now...up to this point we had never talked about opening up a storefront but... I whipped a U-turn and we decided to peek through the windows like a stalker.  I called our landlord as soon as we left and after about an hour on the phone with him...we had secured our place in Downtown Afton. what?  It was July 30th.  Labor day weekend was a month away and is pretty much our last and only chance to get some exposure before the boats come out of the water and Afton turns into a ghost town for the winter.  1 month.  1 month to re-paint the place, find vendors, stock it, stage it, advertise, etc...  Yea...we like to set lofty, somewhat unattainable goals for ourselves. all started to come together and vendors started to come on board.  I think partly because some of them were excited to be a part of a new shop in a new city, and partly because they wanted to see who the crazy people were that decided to go for it!  But... it all came together and we opened on time.  Side note:  While looking for pictures of our set up for opening weekend I quickly realized that "apparently" we didn't know how to take good pictures back then...

Lighting sucks, pictures are blurry... no bueno.

Fast forward 2 1/2 years later. In some ways...not a lot has changed.  We've been blessed with an amazing group of vendors and a pretty high retention rate.  A lot of the vendors that took a chance on us at the beginning have stayed with us and continue to take a chance on us through all our crazy ideas we come up with.

They continue to grow individually as vendors as we continue to grow as a shop.  They continue to amaze us every month with the new inventory they bring in and looks they create.  And in return...we try to get a little better at taking pics each week...

And...we still have THE best, most loyal, customers around!  Without you guys coming in every month...none of our crazy ideas are possible!  Thank you!