Why I Go(pher) 2.0

Before the 2012 season, I wrote Why I Go(pher). The Gopher football team would finish that season 6-7. And under that coaching staff and administration, it never felt like they would be more than a middle-of-the-road Big Ten team.

Yesterday, 7 years later, we turned the corner I wrote about. And as I predicted, I was there.

At the time that I wrote those words, I had no clue that I would have a 3-year-old son and a 9-month-old daughter sitting next to me. Long gone are the days of drinking as much as I want because I had nothing to do on Sunday.

Our Gopher gamedays are decidedly different. In this special edition of TimTalks, I am going to hand the mic over to my lovely wife to give you a gameday-in-the-life as the wife of a Gopher fan:


It’s 5:30 am on a Saturday. Warm in my bed, I’m awakened by my husband’s alarm. I keep my eyes closed for a few minutes, considering trying to catch a little more sleep. I decide against it. Time to move. My husband looks up, surprised, as I walk into the bathroom. “I understand. I know this is the biggest game in decades. I’m up.”

Two hours later the car is packed, the kids are dressed, the baby’s been fed, and we are ready to go.

For the first time in years, I have convinced my husband we don’t need to make it in time for the open of the tailgate lots. Lots open six hours before game time or 7:00 am for an 11:00 game. On our drive in, at 7:45, we hear from my brother who has beaten us there. I can tell instantly my husband is disappointed at our late arrival. We pull up at 8:07 am. Three hours until game time. Our shortest tailgate of the season.

Growing up with three brothers, I spent my fair share of time at football games. However, I was more interested in talking with my friends than staying up to speed on the play by play. My first Gopher football game, in 2001, my future husband and I sat in the Metrodome as he tried to explain the basics of the game. I listened, not realizing as a 16-year-old girl that this would become a staple of my life.

Gopher football as a college student and twenty-something without children was A LOT of fun. I loved the social aspect. The chants, the traditions, and the beers. I cheered loud for the big plays but didn’t lose sleep over a bad game. But it got a lot tougher with one and now two kids. And I’ll admit, some days I get a bit salty.

Making it to a tailgate lot at 8:30 am with a three-year-old and an infant requires a lot of work. Arriving home a solid twelve hours later makes for some tired kids, and parents too. And some days I just wondered, could we maybe go at 9:30, or 10:00? Is it absolutely pivotal to the success of the team that we arrive for six full hours of tailgating? And the answer is, yes.

Yes, it does matter. Because it matters to my favorite human on this earth. It matters to him to show up for his team, week after week, some years loss after loss. And this moment, this day, was to date, the most important day in his lifelong journey as a Gopher fan. My husband has never missed a game in TCF Bank Stadium. His three-year-old son and 9-month-old daughter haven’t missed a home game in their lives. He’s been there for the electrifying wins and the heartbreaking losses. He always shows up.

So I show up. I nurse a baby in the sleet under a Gopher blanket to watch the team beat Nebraska. I stand in the pouring rain in Evanston to see the team suffer a truly unwatchable defeat by Northwestern. I’ve never been to Hawaii or Palm Springs, but I’ve been to Ohio State and Maryland.

But some days, like this beautiful November morning, I sit in the sunshine holding a sleeping baby, my hooligan three-year-old being a perfect angel, and watch the Gophers lead a top-five ranked Penn State team through not one, two, or three, but four full quarters of play to maintain their perfect season.

We lovingly refer to my husband as “Timmy Baby Pants.” It’s a lot of fun. On cue, Baby Pants shed a tear in the stands as “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” played and fans rushed the field. Honestly, I shed a tear too. I’m so grateful for the husband and father that he is. And seeing the joy on his face while he hugged our three-year-old in the final minutes of the game, I’ll get up at 5:30 on a Saturday for that. I’ll stand in the snow and the rain to see those smiles on my two favorite boys’ faces.

And I know it’s only going to get easier, and better, as my kids grow up. I can already see the excitement and joy on my son’s face when he talks about “Minnesota.”

We are laying the foundation for a lifetime of tradition.

I’m a big Fleck fan. I love his energy and enthusiasm, and he’s easy on the eyes. Some people roll their eyes at the catch phrases and mantras, but I love them.

FAMILY. Forget About Me, I Love You.

It perfectly encompasses my Gopher experience. I love the energy and the party and the celebrations, sure. But I can’t tell you the score or even who we played in the opening game of the 2018 season. What I can tell you is what the face of a father looks like when his 2-year-old son walks into the stadium for a new season, looks out over the field with eyes full of wonderment, and unprovoked exclaims “row the boat.”

I can tell you about the pride on a first-time father’s face as he walks into the stadium with his son strapped to his chest for his son’s first game.

I can tell you about the sparkle in a father’s eye as he watches his wife unwrap his daughter’s first pink Gopher shirt.

I can tell you what a father and son sing on Fridays before gameday. (Les Mis  – “One Day More”)

I can tell you about the grin on a toddler’s face as he signals for another “Golden Gopher First Down!”

I can tell you how a tailgate lot full of strangers become friends (it takes a village.)

At the end of the game, win or lose, I can tell you about my husband and the amazing bond that he will forever share with our children over this team called the Gophers.

It’s why I Go(pher).

The Mountain

Two decades. 

Twenty years. 

7,300 days. 175,200 hours. 10,512,000 minutes. 

Time is great at playing this terrible trick on us. When you start counting minutes in the tens of millions, time seems to drag. 

When you count it in decades, saying “time flies” seems like a comical understatement. 

After two children, it feels like time is an icy mountain face that I am sliding down making futile attempts to slow myself. 

Looking back up the mountain, shrinking in the distance is me awkwardly asking my wife to “go out” with me and her saying yes, not knowing that she was grabbing my hand and jumping off the side of the mountain with me. 

We have been through it all. Junior high, high school, college, our 20’s, two kids, and half of our thirties. 

What the hell happened? 

Just yesterday we were sneaking kisses in the hallway and talking on the phone until one of us fell asleep. We woke up married in a house with two kids that we are scrambling to get ready for daycare. 

The most brutal truth that I have come to know in this life is that the days are long and the years are short. 

My birthday has become so important to me over these two decades. Today it reached a pinnacle when I heard my 3-year-old run into the bedroom, climb into bed, and burrow into me as though it was impossible for him to get close enough to me.

“Daddy, I had a bad dream…”

My gorgeous wife got up and made me a cinnamon roll and orange juice that I shared with my son at the counter.

I walked into the nursery to find my 8-month-old girl standing and smiling at me. 

I felt a strong pang in my chest.

Long gone are the days of wondering what I will get for my birthday, today I realized that all I need to do is open my eyes.

I’m going to do my best to keep them open because I know the next time I blink another two decades will have passed me by.  

Happy birthday to me but, more importantly, thank you to my wife for jumping off the mountain with me October 8, 1999 at 8:05 AM. 



An Open Letter to My Son

Dear Jude,

I write this letter with a heavy heart. Last night, Donald Trump was elected as the 45th President of the United States. You, of course, slept peacefully as the results came in across the country, incapable of understanding what was taking place.

This morning, you woke up smiling as I pulled you from your crib. Blissfully ignorant to the divide in our country. I have never been so jealous.

Despite telling myself that I need to stay off of social media, I could not help myself. Reactions of people all over the world range from shock and fear to elation and pride.

I started  on the shock and fear side.

See, for me, this election was about so much more than Republican versus Democrat. Conservative versus Liberal. Right versus Left.

With you in my life, this is the first election where I felt the pressure of your generation weighing down on me. I had an honest concern for the world that you will grow up in. It is not because of conservative policy or what is best for our country’s economy. It is not about trade agreements and foreign policy.

It is something far more simple and basic.

I don’t want you to grow up thinking that there are human beings that are worth less than others. I don’t want you to think Muslim = Terrorist. Black = Criminal. Woman = Object. Gay = Wrong.

What happened here is that people got sick of “the establishment” and the status quo. They wanted an outsider that wasn’t a politician (although, I would argue that when one runs for political office they then inherently become a politician). These people put their blinders on to the xenophobic, racist, bigoted, and misogynistic ideals that Mr. Trump stands for.

Let me be clear, a vote for Donald Trump does not mean that those people share the same views of other human beings (some of them do). But, they did choose to ignore those views.

Only time will tell if that ends up being worse than sharing those views.

I woke up with fear but that subsided quickly. For one simple reason.

No matter how bad things may seem, there is always love. When people attempt to spew hate, spread more love. Love will always win.

So, I promise you this today.

I will not allow the hate that exists today in.

Together, we will move forward.

I will teach you to love and respect all people regardless of their religion.

I will teach you that love is love, whether it is straight, gay or lesbian.

I will teach you that you respect the women in your life. No exceptions.

I will teach you that what a woman does with her body is her business. No exceptions.

I will teach you that even though people have different ideas on how our country will be run best (even if those ideas cause them to vote for a person such as Mr. Trump) that you respect and love them.

We will move forward. We will fight to ensure our country is not set back. We will create a bright future for you. And, I will rest easy knowing that you understand that hate and fear mongering are no way to get ahead.

I only hope that when you are old enough to read this that irreparable damage has not been done. Because even if Mr. Trump’s policies mean good things for the economy, it will be worthless if there are people who are marginalized, oppressed, or discriminated against.

We will continue to fight to make sure that doesn’t happen.

With Love,

Your Father



What’s in the box?

This is a story by request. So, before I get started I wanted to let you know that if you remember something particularly embarrassing that I may have buried somewhere deep in my subconscious, you can remind me and I will most likely post it for others enjoyment…. maybe.

December 2007. A stressful month for me. I had finals for my second to last semester of college, Christmas was coming and this was the month that I going to propose to my wife. But, something else happened this month that would change my life forever (ooh, now I have your attention). Continue reading

A Deal is a Deal

Hopefully the last few days were enjoyable to read. Hopefully you have been enjoying laughing at my childhood adventures as much as I have enjoyed writing about them. Today I have a specific story from around the same period of the last few stories but I can’t remember exactly when the events occurred. Today is the anniversary of my grandmothers death 14 years ago and this is one of my favorites.

First of all, just a little background on my grandmother to help paint the picture a little bit. She was the mother of 13 children (of which my dad is the eldest)… she would always say, “I was never good at adding and subtracting, but I was always good at multiplying.” (I did not get that joke for a long time). She was the closest to thing to a saint that I have ever met (or will ever meet). She was extremely active in the community and in the church, she was the most kind woman who I have had the privilege of knowing. She would spoil me when I went to visit (with food of course, usually trips to DQ or Dunkin Donuts) and she would sit and watch me perform what ever new impression or singing routine I had picked up since our last visit (I used to love attention, funny how things change, right?). She was the definition of a grandma to me, she was wonderful.

Like I said, I don’t remember exactly when these events took place but I was around 11 or 12 years old and it was summer. I had already been through the accidents that I have described in previous stories but I have failed to mention this little nugget about my childhood self. I had warts. I had a lot of warts (and you thought it couldn’t be any worse).

They were all up my right leg, from my ankle to my knee cap (that is all the higher they went, I swear). If I remember correctly there were 13 all together, capped off with the biggest one right on the top of my knee cap. That was a resilient wart, it would get ripped off every time I skinned my knee and it would just come back stronger and stronger. They were disgusting and just added to my complete lack of allure.

Luckily, my dad is a pediatrician so I had access to all sorts of wart cures. The stuff that you painted on the warts to make them fall off, didn’t work. Pills (that I think my dad told me were new pills that made warts go away, but they might have just been a placebo), didn’t work. I was convinced that I was going to live the rest of my life with a right leg that blind people could read.

Just to recap, in my childhood I was a tall, chubby, buck toothed, freckle faced, accident prone cry baby with warts… jealous?

One summer day, my mom and I were in Shakopee for one reason or another (I can’t remember why ). But, we never went to Shakopee without stopping to see my grandparents and that is exactly what we did. I had finally had it with the warts and needed them gone, I was growing up enough to start becoming self-conscious about my appearance and the warts were public enemy number one.

I explained to my grandma that the drugs that my dad was prescribing were not working and that I was convinced that they would never go away, then she said something that I can remember so vividly that it could have happened yesterday.

She said, “Well, you are lucky, I wish I had warts like that?”

Oh no, grandma has gone off the deep end, I thought but maybe I heard wrong, so I asked, “What?!”

She said, “If you don’t want the warts, I will take them. Can I buy them from you for $10?”

When you are that young $10 is a lot of money. I could buy so much candy, I thought. But, I felt bad because these warts were so irritating to me that I didn’t want to give this burden to my grandma. I was conflicted, should I take the deal or not?

In the end I decided that a sucker is sucker, grandma or no grandma if somebody was offering me a deal this sweet I was taking it.

She said, “Ok, but a deal is a deal and I expect to get these warts soon or you have to pay me back.”

I said, “Ok!” (sucker). As we left I was feeling a little bad but decided it was just a creative reason to give her grandson some money and shortly after forgot about it.

A week went by and the warts were still there. Figures, I thought, but at least I got $10.

I couldn’t tell you what I spent the money on, but one night about two weeks later as I was watching TV I starting scratching a mosquito bite on my right leg… something was different. Normally my fingernails would catch on the mine field of warts, this wasn’t happening today. I rubbed my hand up and down the familiar path of disgusting warts but my leg was smooth. I looked down, they were gone, they were all gone.

The feeling of happiness was chased by a feeling that I can’t really describe… it was like seeing a magic trick for the first time and truly believing in magic. My grandmother was magic. I haven’t had a wart since and I never have stopped believing in my grandmother’s magic to this day. Looking back I probably should have gone back and asked her to buy my extra weight, freckles and buck teeth…

I would ask her frequently like anyone who has seen a magic trick before, “how did you do it?”

With a smile she would respond by simply stating, “A deal is a deal.”