One year later


One year later.  I feel him; I know he's with me.  I miss him, and I know he's not coming back.  It took a while to accept it, but I'm there now. 

Miss you, pop.  We all do. 


Mentos Fun

We did a little experiment today.

Plop seven mentos into two liters of soda, and you get a fizzy little geyser of fun.  Ah, but which fountain would spout higher between Sprite, Coke and Diet Coke?  Let's find out:








To measure the geyser height, we used good ol' math.  The white board behind the bottle has two blue lines on it.  The distance between said two lines is 50cm.  So we took the photos, counted vertical pixel span between the blue lines, and used that number to translate the geyser height in pixels to centimeters.  I could have used feet and inches, but F that.  Metric people.  Metric!

Anyway, after all the pixel counting was over, Diet Coke is the champion!


The left over amounts are not quite accurate, as the kids drank some when I wasn't looking.

We were going to go to the store to get more soda for experimentation, but then someone ran over our test rig.  Oh well.

Update as winter dwindles down

Winter is almost over.  Flowers are starting to bloom, leaves starting to grow, and the weather is getting hella nice out there.  We're not out of the woods yet, but soon it will be Spring.  Sweet, sweet spring.

Here's an update on a few things:

Bike Stuff:
Cyclocross was fun, and I want to do much better in 2010.  I am training.  I now know what LT is.  And SST.  And zones.  I think it will help.

I have little motivation to do any spring races.  A big pile-up in what would have been my race at the Banana Belt has done nothing but confirm that.  There's plenty of time to race.  For now I just want to ride, get my work stuff organized, and hang out with the family.  Not super exciting, I know, but I'll post some more interesting bike stuff soon.


backYardHole We have been planning a smallish two story addition for a long time now.  There'll be one bedroom upstairs, two downstairs (for the girls).  Our living room will be expanded so there is more space to play and hang out.  Should be really nice.

Work has just started on this project.  The first step is to dig out some dirt and put in a retaining wall/foundation.  It's going to take a lot of concrete, but it will be very robust.

More news and photos will follow soon, but for now, all I have to show is dirt.  Lots and lots of dirt.


Did you watch the Olympics?  We watched some of it.

Best event: short track skating

Worst event: ice dancing

What were your choices?


The girls are awesome and doing well.  We have three now, as we took in a foster child just before Christmas. 

Mette just turned 8 and had a fun ice-skating birthday party at Lloyd Center.  She's had really rotten luck for her birthdays in the past.  I think twice she had to have surgery or was recovering from surgery.  Another time, we moved to our current house and had a ton of work to do.  This year, she celebrated three times, and thoroughly enjoyed it.  She's getting pony lessons for her gift, so that should start Monday.

Annelis is going to be playing spring soccer.  I'll be coaching her team...well, helping coach.  We're pulling in as many resources as possible.  Should be fun. 


We're watching my mom's dogs for the week while she is on vacation.  These animals are horribly dangerous, as you can see here:


Hans Voldengen, 1944 - 2010

dad6 On February 21, 1944, the Norse Gods belched from their collective gullet a man of unfathomable fortitude.  He was given the name Hans, a fitting name for one as tenacious as he.  Hans had a rough start, yet blossomed into the most wonderful man you can imagine.

Born in Oslo, Norway, Hans came to America when he was only 8 years old.  Alone.  On a boat.  He was reportedly seasick for the entire trip.  The only English he knew was what he learned on that boat, a limited vocabulary of Yes, No, and many choice four letter words.  He was reunited with his mother, who had married an Italian man named Gaiotti, and grew up on a Vermont dairy farm.

Not speaking English, his early education in a small town, one classroom school did not go smoothly.  He would often leave in frustration, following the railroad tracks home until he found his family's farm.  But school got better.  He started kindergarten at age 8, which means he was 17 as a freshman on the high school basketball team.  And when most boys where coming of age to drive, Hans was the first guy in school that could buy booze.  He was popular, to say the least.

Home life was rough for Hans, and at age 11 he came to the realization that if anyone was going to take care of him, he'd have to do it himself.  He got a job at a golf course (that's right, at age 11), where he stayed employed until the age of 26.  He eventually became a master caddy, earning as much as $100 per round from the rich golfers who played at his course.  His childhood employment enabled him to buy his own clothes, school supplies and comforts.  From the beginning, he had a strong work ethic.  Hans did things right. 

He went to college, earning a degree in business administration, with a minor in accounting and language arts from Nathaniel Hawthorne College.  He finished school early, cramming in 21 credits per term, and got a job at a Vermont ski resort.  The skiing was great.  He was good with the kids, helping them on the chair lifts and rope tow.  Now a very handsome man, he was also good with the ladies.

1967, Hampton Manner,  located right on the border between Vermont and New York State.  Popular with the college kids because of the lower drinking age in Vermont.  Here, Hans met the love of his life, Linda Brock.  Instantly infatuated with each other, they soon fell deeply in love.  Linda possessed stunning Italian beauty, and had a very Italian father.  When Hans would bring her home from a date, her father was sure to blink the porch lights, cutting short the goodbye kiss.  But even his trigger-happy light-switch finger could not dampen his daughter's love, and Hans and Linda were married in 1969. 

Hans sought work as a salesman.  He sold things.  Insurance, books, you name it.  It was not easy work, and often frustrating, but he worked hard and eventually landed a job at International Harvester, an agricultural equipment company.  His first-hand knowledge of farming helped him relate to his customers and understand his company's products.  He was successful.

In 1971, Hans and Linda had their first child and only son, Erik.  Kristen came next a few years later.  Hans was a loving father, but his job required a lot of travel, and he didn't see his kids as much as he wanted.  He considered seeking work as a high school teacher, but was turned down by the principal who said he was too handsome and would cause trouble with the girls.  Really.  With that, he continued his work as a sales representative, partnering with Linda, a school teacher herself, to look after the kids while he was away.

His sales territory vast, Hans did a lot of driving.  Every car he owned was equipped with a CB radio.  He went by the handle Grumpy, while Linda was known as Snow White.  He had an amazing sense of direction, and his 20/10 vision could find any place he'd previously visited, no matter how long ago.  He didn't remember street names, nor could he recite directions.  He just knew where he was, and where he was going. 

When there was driving to be done, he did it in bulk.  700 mile days were not uncommon, much to the chagrin of his family on long summer vacations.  Rest stops were frowned upon, and timed to coincide with refueling.  He'd go even longer when he was driving alone, and faster, too.  The total number of speeding tickets he received in his lifetime is unknown, but he almost always had at least one showing up on his driving record.  Do the math; that's a lot of tickets.

Hans always wanted a Corvette, but since this was not the ideal family car, he never got one.  However, he was notorious for secretly altering his vehicles to enhance their performance.  It's amazing what sway bars, sport suspension and low profile wheels can do for a minivan's performance.  The new exhaust system and "power chip" in his 454 equipped pickup truck was damn near frightening.  He loved to drive, and drive fast, no doubt fueled by his amateur stock car racing days.  He wore driving gloves.  Often.

He continued to work hard, but always insisted on doing things his way.  He was wonderfully stubborn and free spirited, as illustrated by this story of just another day at the office:

Hans was to attend a trade show for his company, and as part of a marketing effort, he was to wear a special hat.  He hated this hat.  His boss wanted him looking sharp, so he ordered him to go get a haircut, and report back before leaving for the show.  In classic Hans style, he went the the Double Thes salon, and got the biggest, poofiest perm imaginable.  With a confident, hair-bouncing strut, he reported back to his boss, where he explained the situation: So big was his newly acquired afro, the cheesy hat would no longer fit on his head, and he would not be wearing it.  His boss, wide mouthed in disbelief, simply said "I'd fire your ass if I didn't like you so much."   Mission accomplished.  And it was groovy.

His job led to many transfers, and the family moved to a new state quite often.  From New York, they trekked to Pennsylvania,  Missouri, Utah, and Minnesota.  Here in the land of 10,000 lakes, Hans and Linda were blessed with the best two-for-one deal ever: Twins.  Amy and Carrie were born in 1983.  Now a family of six, Hans was once again transferred, this time to Oregon.

Hans liked Oregon.  The whole family did.  With both mountains and the ocean just a couple hours away, it had it all.  And the heavy rains were a welcome change from the heavy snows of Minnesota.  When his company again called with a transfer notice, Hans had to decline.  His change in work now kept him closer to home, and he felt he was given a second chance at experiencing fatherhood with the twins. 

He became an avid runner, participating in about 10 Hood to Coast events.  He always loved to snorkle, and could stay under water for a remarkably long time between breaths.  He was in great shape, which made it all the more surprising when he had a heart attack at age 54.  He made a full recovery, however, and stayed very active.  While he did make several lifestyle and dietary changes (mostly thanks to his loving wife), Hans never compromised his stubborn will to revel as he saw fit.  His family's mild frustration was dwarfed by their admiration of his spirit.

Time went on, the twins grew up, and Erik and Kristen both married and had children, giving Hans a nice collection of four grandchildren.  He loved them dearly, and they melted his heart.  His grandchildren worshiped him, their almighty smiling blue-eyed Nordic giant, Grampa V.  It suited him well. 

As the nest emptied, the house was too still for his taste, and dogs were added to the family.  Hans loved dogs, and they somehow completed him in a way that is hard to describe.  He loved them, and in doing so, learned to express love more openly with the world.

He started a small business in 1999 with Linda.  Night and day, they were together.  Through good and bad times, their love for each other grew even stronger.  They were best friends, with a common vision of retiring and growing old in each other's arms on the Oregon Coast. 

In 2008, they purchased their dream house in Depot Bay, Oregon.  They worked hard on the home, pushing their bodies until they hurt all over.  But they didn't care, as the end goal was finally at hand.  In 2010, with Hans turning 66 in February and collecting retirement, they planned to slow down and enjoy their ocean home. 

Tragically, Hans passed away on the first day of 2010. 

He is survived by his loving family, who are all in shock at his abrupt departure from this world.   They will never forget the wonderful man he was, and the love he had for them.  They won't forget his unique sense of humor and his limitless generosity.  They loved him for who he was, and everything about him. 

They loved him unconditionally, despite the irks throughout their life together.  They reluctantly accepted his relentless display of underwear around the house.  The extended solitaire games in the bathroom (which grew more hi-tech with the introduction of the laptop computer).  His high-pitched banshee scream that would induce a barking frenzy from any dog within 300 feet.  His ridiculous family domination of Parcheesi and Monopoly.  His puzzling obsession with Rush Limbaugh.   All part of him, part of the man they loved.

Everyone has a happy place.  For Hans, it was sitting on his ocean view deck, smoking a cigar, a glass of chardonnay in hand and a dog at his feet.  I suspect that's what he's doing right now:  Relaxing, smiling, watching over an ocean of friends and family, you and me.  Rest in peace, Hans Voldengen.  Rest in peace.

Fairwell Hans Voldengen

If you didn't see them before, here's the details on the Funeral Arrangements.

Stay Awake

Dad, can you please sing us Stay Awake?

Stay Awake.  It's a song from Marry Poppins, actually.  I've sang it to my daughters at bedtime since they were babies, and it always makes me tear up.  As the words relax them to sleep, I'm overcome with joy in having such wonderful children.

So how am I possibly going to get through singing this song to them tonight without loosing it?  It's midnight, and it's been a very long day.  They need to relax, to know their dad is okay so they can sleep.  I am certainly not okay.

My New Year's day started with a 5:30am wakeup call:

Erik, I've lost Daddy.  I woke up and his hand was cold.  I tried CPR but he's not coming back.

We thought he was free and clear after his heart surgery to repair an aneurism.  They discharged him yesterday, and everything was said to go well.  He only had to stay one night in the hospital.  How could this be happening?

I called my sisters while driving 80 miles per hour down 185th towards my parents house.  Nobody is on the road at 5:30am on New Years day. 

I've got to keep it together for my family.  Everyone is overcome with grief.  Someone needs to keep it together.

Like I said, it's been a long day.

So here it is, midnight, and my girls are so sad they lost their Grampa V.  I've got to pull it together for them.  I can't leave them here in their beds alone with their grief.

I grabbed a pair of swim goggles and squeeze them on my face.  The girls laugh.  Whenever you're about to start crying, you can interrupt it with a laugh, and it actually works!  I invite the girls to sing along with me as I sing all our classic bedtime favorites.  Kermit the Frog's Rainbow Connection and It's not Easy Being Green start things out.  Then a few old Raffi songs.  Then There's a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea.  I remember all the words to the song requests, no matter how obscure.  We get into a full-on sing-along at the top of our lungs. 

Then it's time for one last song, something to close the deal and put my girls to sleep.  They close their eyes, and I take a deep breath.  Be brave. 

Stay awake, don't rest your head
Don't lie down upon your bed
While the moon drifts in the skies
Stay awake, don't close your eyes
Though the world is fast asleep
Though your pillow's soft and deep
You're not sleepy as you seem
Stay awake, don't nod and dream
Stay awake, don't nod and dream

I nailed it.  The kids day is finally over, and they can sleep knowing their Dad is okay.  They know he's here, he's healthy, and he loves them dearly. 

I'm not going anywhere, my loves.

Detroit Lake 2009, Barftastic!

In what I hope to be a regular annual event, we returned to Detroit Lake for a big group camping trip.  Up to a dozen families come and have a relaxing time.  It's a lot of fun.

We also did this last year, and it was great.  The kids played, caught bugs, rode inner-tubes towed by ski boats.  The adults got their share of fun, too.

This year was a little different.  We arrived to cloudy skies and set up camp.  We awoke to raindrops hitting the tent.  Rain is okay, but there was more.

Sickness.  There seemed to be a 24 hour flu going around.  Some people were deathly ill just before vacation, while others contracted the bug on the trip.  I believe I was the first lucky soul to violently toss cookies over night.  After a full day out of commission, I was back to normal.  Donna and friend Julie also were hit with it.  And for those who didn't…I bet they're throwing up right now ;)

I had hoped to ride my bike every day I was there.  But the sickness, rain and cold weather threw me for a loop.  I did get one ride in on Saturday in the forest roads around the lake.  I was hoping to find the correct route I was looking for last year, but ended up missing the same turn.  It was a lovely ride, however.

The sun came out for our last two days, and we enjoyed ourselves.  The damp weather kind of slowed the adults down, but we still had fun.  The kids didn't even notice the rain, and played as hard as they always do.

Looking forward to returning in 2010.  Hopefully a more sunny, less barftastic time.

Happy Birthday Annelis

annelisGoat 10 years ago, I became a father to this wonderful girl.  Here she is at the farm today, goat in a headlock, wrestling it into submission...or something like that.

Happy birthday Annelis!

Nice Weekend

We had some great weather this weekend.  Although cars are kicking up big yellow clouds of pollen, nobody cares.  We are sun starved and enjoyed it very much.

80sPartyI went out early for a few hours on Saturday for a nice road ride.  I expected it to be warm, but it was actually really cold.  While I expected to be riding in short sleeves, I instead got numb feet and hands.  That's weird.

That night, we decided to go to an 80s party.  I dug out my Vision Street Wear sweatshirt and wore the closest thing I had to parachute pants.  I totally forgot about my checkerboard Vans, damn it.   We didn't really get that into it, but I think it'd be a fun party to throw at home, too.

Since I froze my butt off on Saturday, I decided to wait until afternoon to ride on Sunday.  It was warm and beautiful outside.  So much so, I just had to take Annelis to Forest Park for some fun mountain bike riding.

She did great.  Leif Erickson is still very muddy but she took it all in stride.  We ended up making it all the way to Saltzman and back (from Germantown).  I think that's over 10 miles of muddy, bumpy, kinda hilly riding.   She has a great spin and was riding really well.  I'm so proud of her...which is why I'm going to post some pictures:

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Forest Park Fun

The girls and I went for a little ride in Forest Park today.  With weather this good, there's no way we weren't going out to do something!

Mette doesn't have gears and I've never seen cranks as short as the ones she's sporting, but she was a champ.  Annelis did great on her 20" MTB.  It's getting a little small for her, but I want her to be able to throw it around and develop uber bike handling skillz.  I think it's working!

Forest Park is muddy right now.  I'm very proud of the girls for riding through some of the yucky mud.  Annelis was loving it, hitting every mud puddle she could find, sometimes going back to do it again.  Mette said she hated getting dirty, and would often stop to wipe the mud splatters off of her legs.  Who would have thought...

We arrived at the Germantown parking lot for a few more mud puddle runs, and returned home, dirty and happy.

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Not Okay

While I sometimes threaten to do it when they fight, I wouldn't normally put my girls on the roof of my car.  They just happened to climb up there by themselves, and that's how they got home.


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