2014 Wrap-Up

Ah, my poor neglected blog! I have mostly migrated over to other social channels for regular updates. But I have returned for the Dad by Dawn tradition of an annual summary, a sort of digital family newsletter for my internet friends.

So what's new? The major change for me this year was a job shift; after nearly 7 years at the same company, I left to pursue a career in event planning. Starting a podcast about local events was a logical extension of that move and hands-down my biggest project in 2014. And of course Jenna and I celebrated our ten-year wedding anniversary. Let's break it down:

Events Ahoy
2014 in a nutshell was the year I turned my passion for event management into a full-time gig at Greenspring Media. If you count the Food & Wine Experience, where I worked three days as a volunteer, I did a total of nine events this year. Which is the total number of Craftstravaganzas we've produced in as many years. Pretty crazy! So far, I'm loving it.

Business School Dropout
I'm not a businessman, I'm a business, man. I don't need an MBA to do what I'm doing or what I'm planning to do in the future. Besides that, my employer isn't footing the bill any more, which changes the equation. I've been successfully running my own business for coming up on a decade now, and I felt like my time and money could be better spent elsewhere, so I kind of unceremoniously dropped out by just stopping going. Which leads us to the...

Weekly Planner Podcast
A year ago I started doing two things: talking with other event planners and being on podcasts. I enjoyed participating in other peoples' shows and I didn't want to stop networking just because I found a job, so it was only natural to combine both pursuits and start my own podcast. Interviewing guests, recording and producing the episodes has been a fun challenge. My resolution for the year was "to keep making connections and exploring new possibilities," and I nailed both with this one.

Mushroom Hunter 
Spring through fall found me heading to the forest any chance I got, to search for edible mushrooms. I cooked a ton of Shaggy Manes and found a huge Chicken-of-the-Woods mushroom right at the end of the season (I ate that too). My forays in the woods (and other miscellaneous adventures) are documented on Instagram, which was made possible by me getting an iPhone this year, finally. I don't know how I lived without it.

Art Projects
I resolved to draw a bunch of comics this year and started strong, but only made it through February. The Pokemon sugar cookies I decorated for Natalie's 6th birthday were a hit. I also illustrated the posters for two of our craft events this year. My primary creative outlet has been cross-stitch, which I still enjoy a lot. Everything's on Tumblr!

The Children
I guess I should write more about my daughters since the original purpose of this blog was to talk about parenthood. So here's the deal: Natalie and Paisley are the best daughters a dad could have. They have been my mushroom hunting assistants, sous chefs, artist collaborators, co-conspirators, and video game apprentices. I love being their father and I love them more than anything in the world.

Dream come true

I was reading through some old blog posts I wrote back when Natalie was the age that Paisley is now. This gem is from Father's Day 2011, three months before Paisley's debut:
All I know is if I can come home from work in a few years and have two little girls shouting "daddy!" and running into my arms... I will be a very happy man.
Well. That's exactly what happened, and I was right, it's the best. In fact Paisley now tells me often, "you're the best, daddy!" Which makes me feel pretty darn good, but also challenges me to actually be the best dad I can be.

2014 Craft'za

Craft'za was a thing that happened! I didn't get a single good photo the whole time I was there, but we packed the building again and had another terrific show. We got some new vendors that I was super excited about, and I bought some fun stuff, like always.

Check out this amazing test print from Burlesque! Richey Beckett's work is insane and I love the colors on this poster so much, I had to pick it up even though I already have way too many prints. I also got some laser-cut wood pendants from Isette that have got me cross-stitching again.

We tried a Black Friday event for the first time this year and really, the less said about that, the better. But I'm proud of the poster I made for it, and we had a special celebrity guest shopper: former Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak!

"How to Approach Galleries" Panel

NEMAA invited me to speak on a panel about selling to art galleries and fairs, which was fun. I posted my side of the conversation on episode 18 of the podcast, if you're interested in hearing what I had to say. I discussed the application and jury selection process for our craft shows, plus some behind-the-scenes stories and insider advice for aspiring crafters.

Tenth Anniversary

Where it all began... the WalMart liquor department
This August Jenna and I celebrated our tenth year of marriage together. We did a lot of fun things but the main one was spending two full days without the kids, the longest we've ever been away together since Natalie was born! The celebration started with Jenna picking me up from work on August 19, a walk around Northeast, and dinner at Ginger Hop.

We stayed at the Nicollet Island Inn, "Minneapolis' Most Romantic Hotel and Getaway," and had breakfast there in the morning. Then we returned to the place where we met and fell in love: beautiful Eau Claire, Wisconsin. We revisited all the historic landmarks of our relationship, starting with Mancino's for lunch. We also got to visit with some old friends, which was very nice!

We spent the night at Fanny Hill, a Victorian B&B (with a hot tub in the room--fancy). Next morning we went back to Mancino's for lunch and drove home after a quick stop at the Minneapolis farmer's market. A great vacation with a terrific lady! Here's to ten more years! 

Running Man

I completed my 8-week Couch-to-5k running plan. Last Thursday I ran my first 3.1 miles since 2011. Then on Saturday (since I'm training for a trail race series) I did another 5k in the Minnesota Wildlife Refuge and somehow was much faster!
I'd like to beat my time from the only 5k I ever ran (31:09), and I think I'm on pace to do it. More importanty I'm having a lot of fun running and have managed not to hurt myself so far. Now that I've started again it would be great to keep it up for a few years. 

Weekly Planner Podcast

Hello friends. I'm excited to announce that after months of planning and prep, I have officially started a podcast! The first episode is up and available for your listening pleasure right over here.

Weekly Planner is about events in the Twin Cities and the people who make them happen. In episode one I talked with Adam Turman, and I think most future episodes will be a similar one-on-one interview format. In fact I already have a few like that recorded and scheduled to post in upcoming weeks.

I would love to hear what you think! Please drop me a note especially if there's anything in particular that you loved, hated, or want to hear in future episodes. Help me make a good show for you!

Back in the Running

I started running again! I started for real the first time in 2011 then I quit again shortly after Paisley was born in September of that year. Two and a half years later, it felt like time to hit the trails again.

Way back in the dark ages I got my training plan from a book. Of course there's an app for that now, so my smartphone has replaced the stopwatch as my primary tool for tracking runs. I just completed the third week of the C25K plan, which means I'm already a third of the way through. I'm on track to begin racing again in August.

Best of all, I got new shoes! I realized belatedly that I never wrote about my old shoes, which seems... disrespectful. Those grey Asics carried me through hundreds of miles and four races, and now they're in the garbage. But check out the new hotness!


It was good! I guess I forgot to blog about it until now? But I did document it on Instagram, including some of the times when I was on TV (three days this year!) and even made a few Vines. Of course I live-tweeted too. Social media is fun! We also remembered to spend money and got some cool toys.

My first event that someone else paid me to manage! GrillFest was fun, and stressful, and extremely educational. Somehow I also managed to go the entire weekend without eating a burger. I remedied that with my brunch on Monday and it was the perfect way to cap off the weekend.

Luxury Home Tour
We're in the second week of this three-weekend show now. I've never even been on a home tour before now, so so running this one was another great learning experience. I expected that visiting these million-dollar-plus homes would make me feel bad about myself, but not one has a master bedroom the size of ours!

Get Smart

I have officially joined the 21st century. Last month I became the last person under the age of 40 to finally get a smartphone. I'm on Instagram now. Also my wife got me a new iPad as an early Father's Day present because she is the BEST WIFE and I love her.

From i to R

If I were superstitious or fatalistic I'd say that after my last post praising the glories of downtown Minneapolis, it was inevitable that something bad would happen to restore the balance. Turns out everything was waiting for me--including a bold thief who stole my iPad from my 10th floor cubicle while there were people working in the office, and I was downstairs getting a haircut.

I was sad. But it felt wrong to dwell on my loss. It's just an iPad after all--it's not like someone died. And I really did love that iPad, but my life revolved around it to perhaps an unhealthy extent. Maybe it's for the best.

Anyway forget that old thing because a week after the robbery I got a new toy! The Roland R-05 portable audio recorder is my new digital friend, and it is going to help me make podcasts. More to follow!

Where all the lights are bright

Even though I'm pleased as punch about my new job, one thing I was not excited about--at least at first--was working in downtown Minneapolis. It's just so far. Turns out, I've been having a lot of fun!

I park in Chaska and ride the Southwest Metro Transit express bus. These buses have wifi, comfy seats, even overhead compartments. I can nap. I can check emails. I can even read a book! It's half an hour to do whatever I want, which is an almost unimaginable luxury.

Before lunch I take a short walk around the skyways. It's fun to explore and it smells great. I realized during one of these walks that a lot of things I loved about living in Japan weren't magical and unique (although some of them were); they were just standard features of a vibrant, active city. I can't do anything about the commute time, but working downtown is now one of my favorite perks.

Everything's waiting for you

How I Got the Job

Hi everybody! I was laid off in January, so I've been busy figuring out what to do with my life. This week I started my new job as an Event Manager! And it's all thanks to the 6 step program at Wooddale Church (plus a lot of hard work and a little luck).

I started with cold calls off their networking list, just contacting everybody with events in their past, present, or future. That led me to a meeting with the Events Director at Target Field.* He mentioned an event was coming up there that weekend, and introduced me to my new boss. I volunteered to help and worked with the team all weekend. On Sunday night they invited me for an interview and two weeks later they offered me the job!

The key is that the position was never posted publicly, so if I hadn't done all of those steps (calling, networking, volunteering) at the right time, then not only would I not have gotten the job... I wouldn't have even known that the opportunity existed. That's 21st century job hunting in a nutshell.

*(plus dozens of other face-to-face meetings)

Pratfalls of Parenting, the podcast

I was on another podcast this month! Pratfalls of Parenting episode 83 is now available for your listening pleasure. I enjoyed speaking with Levi about the pressures, anxieties, and joys of parenting while doing creative work.

Please have a listen and let me know what you think!

Hourly Comics Day

The official Hourly Comics Day is on February 1. That worked out nicely for my resolution to illustrate one day per month throughout 2014. Here's my day in comics!
Natalie made her own comics with a little help from me. We sat side by side on the couch with our sketchbooks and worked together for about an hour, and that was the best part of my day (even though somehow it didn't show up in my comics).
It was fun to see her get so excited about drawing and telling stories with pictures. If she keeps it up, she could be a better artist than me in a few years!

Two Years of Hourly Comics

I took the end of the year off from work to spend time with my family and also, as is traditional, to play a lot of video games. I greatly enjoyed playing X-Com every morning and Fire Emblem: Awakening... pretty much all the rest of the time (except when I was playing SolForge).

But even I have my limits and after consuming media non-stop for ten days I needed to create something before returning to work. So I used the last two days of vacation to draw hourly comics. That's one comic strip, per hour, all day long. Now you can vicariously experience a day in my life.

Well, to be precise, two days. New Year's Eve 2013 and New Year's Day 2014.

Natalie kept asking me to read the strips back to her throughout the day, and Jenna grabbed my sketchbook whenever I completed a few more hours. It was a collaborative process. Natalie even illustrated one hour on her own! I'm posting it here as bonus content since I hit Flickr's image limit.

"try to catch me"

2013 Postmortem

Let's put this one to bed.
2013 was a huge year. I continued my MBA studies, our craft fair business, and working at ReconRobotics. There were opportunities to take another crack at things I love, like public speaking. It was also a year for trying new things, like getting my art into a gallery show and judging a cooking competition. I hurt my back real bad. And of course the days are just packed with little adventures like mushroom hunting, catching bugs, and spotting wild animals in our yard.

Here are the highlights:
Random notes and trends: 2013 was my least-bloggingest year so far at Dad by Dawn. I only posted 50 times, down from a career high of 121 in 2011. But I also started a Tumblr (technically two, but only one is still active) so if you include that activity then I'm still sharing a lot online. 
I made a goal to pursue opportunities that came my way, especially artistically. I was already tracking on events and open calls for art via Twitter, so I had plenty to choose from. This paid off in free food, an Ignite speaking gig, and my first acceptance in a juried exhibition.
Mostly in 2014 I want to keep making connections and exploring new possibilities. Who knows what exciting opportunities the new year will bring?