Super random updates

Every time I come here to write about a particular topic, I run into the fact that I haven’t blogged here in a while and that I can’t just talk about one topic when you have no context around that topic so then I end up writing posts that are really just life and “what I’m doing now” kinds of updates which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but just letting you know that that’s why I’m always writing “update” posts as of late.

(And yes that was the most ridiculous run-on sentence ever.)

So anyway – here is another round of updates. One of these days I’ll get around to actually writing in depth on a topic.

Jackson’s birthday – he’s 5!

Little man has been waiting FOREVER (his emphasis) to turn 5 and it has finally arrived. Well, to be clear, the day he turned 5 was full of fevers and puking causing us to cancel his birthday party in the Milwaukee area. But alas, he got better and the next weekend when we were heading back from Duluth after the half marathon (see next topic below), we stopped in the Hudson/New Richmond area and had a proper birthday party for him complete with cousins, outdoor games, presents and cake. This year’s theme was PJ Masks. Finally, a party without Ninja Turtles! 😉

Half marathon = SUCCESS

In mid-June my friends and I ran a half marathon along Lake Superior and through the streets of downtown Duluth in support of the Leukemia and Lymphoma society. We were able to do this by being a part of Team in Training. The weekend, overall, was a success. Lots of family time and friendship love before, during and after the half marathon. We stayed in a great AirBNB on a beautiful lot overlooking a gorgeous lake (one slight con was that it was 40 minutes away from Duluth where our race was taking place, but other than that it was awesome), and we got to hear the stories of other LLS survivors and see how much money we had all collectively raised for the organization. It was GREAT!

The half marathon part of it? The optimist in me wants to say it was nothing short of amazing given where I was at this time last year. But the realist in me wants you to know that it wasn’t all hearts and flowers for me, personally. The run, itself, got REALLY hard after about 6 miles because I have some lingering nerve damage in my toes – a nasty side effect from one of the chemo drugs I was on during treatment. In the grand scheme of side effects, it’s SUPER minor. But when you run 13.1 miles, that minor side effect turned into something pretty nasty feeling when I was trying my hardest to run the entire course…only stopping for water breaks. I was kind of a Debbie downer at some points farther along the course when coaches would run up and ask us, “How are you all feeling?” Lindsay and Sarah had jubilant “EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!” answers (okay, they didn’t say that, but that was basically the tone…which IS awesome). My typical response was, “Well I feel like I’m running on glass…but there’s nothing to be done about it, so I’m just going to keep going.” The coach would give a weird look and respond with, “Are you sure?” and I’d just nod and manage through gritted teeth a, “I’m fine. Really, it’s fine. It’ll get better when I’m done.”

And it did get better when we were done. My toes forgave me once I wasn’t pounding them against pavement continuously and I savored the moment with friends of accomplishing my first half marathon and my first race since before treatment.

And to all those who donated to the cause, thank you for your contributions!

Kitchen remodel is nearing the finish line

This one is short because I’m not showing the good pictures because I want it to be a surprise, but we are less than two weeks away from finishing our kitchen. THANK GOODNESS. Living through a remodel of this scale is not easy, and our patience has been tested many times, but we’re getting there and soon I’ll be able to show the before and after pictures. And you are gonna be floored. Stay tuned!

So I built a chatbot. Go try it out!

Okay – this is where things get a bit random. I built a chatbot! You may be thinking, “Cool! Wait, what’s a chatbot?” And that’s a great question. In the most general sense, it’s like chatting with a computer program instead of chatting with an actual human.

There are a lot of different levels of chatbots. At one end of the spectrum the chatbot can process anything you say and give you a response. Think – IBM’s Watson that has built up an extensive knowledge base and can even best human’s on Jeopardy. That is NOT what I built.

On the other end of the spectrum you have chatbots that can handle simple inputs from the user (you) and give you a pre-programmed response that has been built into the system. That’s more like what I built.

But me explaining it is probably not going to paint the best picture so go try it out. You can either use this link to get started and a new window will open up with a chat screen (that’s where you interact with the chatbot), or you can go check out the website I built for it to live on – and click on “SET REMINDER” to get it going through there.

You can also launch it in Facebook Messenger if you’re really savvy. When you’re in the Messenger app, click on the “Discover” button in the lower right-hand area of the app and then search for “Air Filter Reminder” and you should see the bot come up. There’s also a lot of other bots in there from other companies. Try them out! You’ll get to see the new wave of conversational commerce that will likely be a part of your world in the near future.

One thing to keep in mind is that this bot is in testing which means any feedback you have would be much appreciated in order to make it better in the future. The site is also pretty fresh too so there’s not a lot of content on there yet. But that will be coming in the future also.

So that’s it.

That concludes a month’s list of random updates. Hope your summer is going well!


I’m writing…I’m just not writing here.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on here. It’s certainly not because I don’t have anything to say. I’ve always got something to say. But right now a lot of the things I want to say are either too personal and go into a journal or have to do with things that may be outside the audience I’ve built here. Which, to be honest, it’s hard for me to pinpoint who exactly my audience is at current and that’s why I find it harder to write things on here. Are you reading because…

  • You’re interested in writing or content strategy?
  • You know me personally?
  • You’re following along with experiences I’ve had throughout my cancer treatment and now post cancer?
  • We work together or used to work together?

It really could be any of those things and that’s why I’m struggling with what to write because whatever I write may only interest a small subset of my audience.

So while I figure out what this site is and what I want it to continue to be, I thought I’d at least point you to some other things I recently wrote…like within the last 24 hours (sometimes I just have a lot of thoughts and they need to come out one on top of the other). Maybe they’ll interest you. Maybe they won’t. But I’ll let you decide that.

Thanks for checking in!

My recent articles…

LinkedIn article on the book “Deep Work” and how I’ve used it to progress my career

Medium article on how to build a product even if you don’t know how to code 

Life check in

I have a couple posts in the works, but I just haven’t had the time to sit down and complete the thoughts I have, so those will be another time. This is yet another “life check in.” …i.e. pictures of me and the fam. Enjoy!

A couple weeks ago when the weather was unseasonably warm (thank you global warming…sorry polar bears), we went for a hike at the local nature center that’s next to Lake Michigan.


This look? It’s not a happy look. My scalp was burning. Ahh, the price you pay to color your hair.

The finished product…lavender hair! Hey-o!

Better picture so you can see that it was actually purple…for a total of four days. Seriously. It was all washed out before the next weekend rolled around (more proof below).

I just had to take a picture of this place – it’s where we had our reception for our wedding, but it’s got new owners and the banquet hall part is now this AMAZING restaurant complete with a polka band and servers in leiderhosen. So cool! If you were there, hopefully you realize that it looks NOTHING like it used to.

He’s breaking all the rules when it comes to couches. He might even be part cat. The jury is still out on that one.

Told ya! This is literally five days after it was lavender. Now it’s platinum, and I’m embracing my inner disney villain some days.

Same picture, but this is just to prove to “some people” (cough, Jake, cough) that my hair IS growing and it does NOT look the same as it did in November.

I just want to take a moment to admire this woman’s dress…puffy sleeves and all.

Do they know dentistry? Sure. Is English their first language? Maybe…maybe not. (This was a coloring book my son got when a dentist came in to talk to their class).

Practicing with his new toothbrush. Sure, he has to open the cupboard doors and stand on the ledge to see what he’s doing, but he’s resourceful like that.



FYI…You’re supposed to read that in a tone of disbelief.


[I basically emailed this story to my friend and she thought this was blog worthy. So here it is…as it was emailed to my friend.]

Got home from my work thing, had some thawed out sloppy joes ready to go for dinner (easy peezy). And this is an important detail for later on. But back to the evening. The dog had been in the crate all day so when the neighbors were outside and had their dog on the loose, I was like, “Be free! Burn off some puppy energy cause we have dog training tonight and I don’t want you to be a spazoid!” So he did. He ran. Hard. And fast. And so far. I mean, they stayed in the cul de sac, but like he probably ran two miles doing circles around the houses with the neighbor dog. And then they both drank a gallon of water from the small stream running through the cul de sac. Jake and I took turns hanging with the neighbors and keeping an eye on Max. At around 6:45, I let him in the house so I could wipe him down and get him to chill a bit before dog training at 7:30 (god, it’s such a late time to be doing anything, but whatever).

So he peed at the house, we left, got to dog training and I meant to make him pee again before we went in but got distracted talking to another woman in my class about how the prong collar has changed her life. So we walked down the stairs together (it’s in the basement of the place where we bring him for doggy daycare). And then like two minutes later he just starts peeing like crazy! Like the pee where he’s like walking and peeing and has no clue what to do. And we’ve seen this before. It happens when he drinks way too much water and basically his kidneys are still not fully developed so they can’t hold it all in and he just starts flushing all the water cause his bladder can’t handle it. We talked to the vet about it, she asked us to try rationing his water throughout the day…like a cup of water here and there, not a full bowl of water all the time, and ever since we started doing that we’ve had no accidents in the  house. But then I realized, oh yeah, he drank a ton of water outside. So I ran him up the stairs to go potty outside again…embarrassed that I’d have a pile of pee to cleanup and class hadn’t even started yet. I get him to pee.  He pees a ton. We go back downstairs and the teacher was there now and she had started to put paper towels on the pee spots (it was everywhere). And she said she would hold Max while I cleaned it all up and sprayed it with bleach cleaner. Fair enough. She was kind and was like, “Accidents happen. Just make sure they go potty before they get here.” So, a bit embarrassed, but whatever. He’s a dog. And we’re in a puppy training class. Like, he’s not the only puppy. It’s fine.

Then…10 minutes later it’s our turn to show off what we’d been practicing the last week. And wouldn’t you know it, he peed again in front of everyone. I was super apologetic. And she was like, “He’s probably done now. You can just continue and then wipe it up.” But I knew he would probably pee some more if I took him outside, so I said, “I don’t think he’s done, I’ll be right back.” So I took him out…again he peed a ton. I got back down. Gave her his leash and then proceeded to get on my hands and knees and clean up the second spot. This time, in front of the whole class. Embarrassed? Oh very much so. I was contemplating calling it a night after that and leaving but even I was like, he’s probably peed out that gallon by now. I’m sure he’s fine.

So then we continue. And about five minutes later HE PEES AGAIN. And this time, the teacher goes, “Ugh, he’s peeing again! What is wrong with your dog??!?! Is he even potty trained? Does he do this at home???!” Like, she was legit yelling at me in front of the class. And I tried to explain that he is potty trained, he doesn’t do this at home, he just had a lot of water and it was my fault, I should have kept an eye on him, and as I’m about to bring him upstairs again she goes, “Well you’re going to have to start bringing your own paper towels then, I can’t just keep supplying these. I mean, it’s not a rule I’ve ever enforced, but I guess I’ll have to if this is going to keep happening.” So I was shaking at this point. I brought him upstairs, he peed again…a ton more. I went back down stairs. Didn’t even have her hold him, just kept my foot on his leash while I got on my hands and knees again, and cleaned up the mess. I put the supplies back, grabbed my purse and ran out of there before they could see me cry. UGH. I was so upset and pissed! Like at first I was upset that he peed, but then I was moreso pissed that she would choose to humiliate me in front of the whole class for something I have very little control over. And also – I paid $175 for this class and you’re going on about how I have to supply my own paper towels? What in the holy hell are you on, lady? UGHHHH! I was so pissed.

Who could possibly be upset with this face?

Who could possibly be upset with this face?


Then I got home and just could not stop thinking about how pissed I was and how she just called me out in front of all those people. Like, I will never go back there and I will never show my face again, and also…my dog isn’t broken, okay? So he can’t hold water like other dogs, he’s still a puppy and he deserves the same respect you’d give other dogs, you massive tool! I called to talk to the manager today about getting a full refund and couldn’t even stop myself from crying then. Like, they need to know how unprofessional this woman was. There are so many other ways she could have dealt with that. I wouldn’t have even been upset if she was like, “it looks like maybe this isn’t a good night for you two. What if we try this again next week. Maybe try limiting his water intake a bit more next week and we’ll see if that helps.” Like…there are ways you could have handled this that still address this issue and not make it seem like I’m this incompetent owner. Mother f’er.

So yeah, I talked to the owner’s daughter…and the trainer is just someone that works there part time. She told me getting a full refund wouldn’t be a problem, but that she wanted me to talk to the owner and tell her what happened so that they can deal with this appropriately. I still haven’t told them the full story, but I will definitely let them know this woman maybe needs some lessons in how to treat paying customers. I’m not asking for her to be a meek and mild woman when it comes to the actual teaching. Like, if you want to be the Gordon Ramsey of dog trainers, that’s fine! But…just for things that are in my control. My dog’s bladder? So very much not in my control. Well, I mean, limiting water is in my control but what’s not in my control is I can’t actually tell him how to hold it better. You get what I’m saying.

So then, I’m lying in bed, still rattled by all this. And all of a sudden I get massive heartburn and an upset stomach. Cue the sloppy joes coming back in the picture to make my sleep all the more awful. UGH!!!

Fun, right?



Life as I know it (February edition)

I haven’t posted in a while, and that’s because life is just go, go, go right now. Which is totally fine with me. So here are some pics from the last couple weeks.


Me and half of my “market” ladies at a winery tour in LaCrosse. Needless to say, it was amazing.



I swear I didn’t do this. It was all Max. But doesn’t he look like some little old Russian grandma?



Me trying out a new lipstick I got in the latest birchbox. It’s…bold. Not something I’d wear to work, but maybe I can find a fancy occassion to wear it. Also – so many dark roots and scraggly eyebrows (I refuse to pluck them).



Jackson when he’s actually enjoying his swim lessons. Which is a rare sight, some weeks.



Captain Jake and mini captain Jake. This boy loves his costumes.



I call this the “puppy ball.” It’s where the pup usually resides while I’m working from home.



It’s been years, but we started a new puzzle. This one is 1,000 pieces. Wait, 999 because Max ate one.



Jackson helped with valentine’s day gifts this year. Getting pretty good at writing his name. Had about 16 chances…so the “n” got less squished the more he wrote it.


So that’s it. Happy Friday!

World Cancer Day

Saturday was World Cancer Day. I know this because I follow a lot of cancer survivors/fighters on Instagram. I didn’t make a fuss of it on Saturday, but I did just see a really great video on the Today Show that gave me a little hope for the future for others that have to deal with these life-threatening diseases.

Click the image to go to the video…



Gene therapy may still be a ways off for all cancer fighters, but it’s getting closer and closer, and that’s my feel good story of the day.

Happy Monday all!

#leroyremodel is a go. Again!


Well it’s that time of the year. The time where Jake and I plot out what we’re going to remodel in our house. We got the bug way back in the summer of 2015 when we renovated a large majority right when we moved in. But we had a couple big areas we held off on for financial reasons. Then as we renovated each area I took before and after pics and documented those areas on instagram with the hashtag “#leroyremodel” (I kept all those pics and write ups even after I deleted my instagram – see examples at the bottom of this post).

Last year, in the spring of 2016, we renovated our master bathroom.

This year? Going big.

Go big or go home, right? We’re remodeling our kitchen and getting all new floors throughout the first floor…with the exception of the family room that faces the backyard. That will stay as is for the foreseeable future.

We’re gonna tear down walls.

We’re gonna have an island.

We’re gonna have all new cupboards and counter tops and appliances.

We’re gonna spend a BOAT LOAD of money. Oh yeah. Lots of money being dropped on this.

But we won’t get into that now. Let’s just focus on the transformation.

No more three different types of flooring.

No more dining room that gets used only 2 times a year.

No more being separated by silly things like walls.

No more lusting after HGTV’s latest dream kitchen CAUSE IT WILL BE OURS!

So yeah, that’s what is happening. Not yet, but soon. Right now we just finalized the contractor we’ll be going with. Next up – the design phase.

Examples of #leroyremodel…



Back at it…


Well, to be honest I’m back at a lot of things. Back at work. Back to daycare pick ups.  Back to bedtime routines. Back to having to shave armpit hair. What? It wouldn’t grow when I was going through chemo. And also back to working out.

But today, most importantly, I’m back at it with Team in Training and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I ran my first half marathon with them in 2004, and look at me now…training with them once again.

Today was our kick off call and it got me pumped. So I made some updates to my fundraising page from the standard template they give you and I’m ready to do this!

Jamie’s fundraising page >

I’ll save you “the story” here and let you go read it on that page, but if you’ve been following me for any amount of time, you probably know the story already. So here are details about what’s going on.

What am I doing? Raising funds ($1,600) for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and training for Grandma’s half marathon through Team in Training.

Why am I doing it? Well, for one, because I just survived a lymphoma disease and also because I like to train for events.

Where is the race? Duluth, MN.

Why is it called Grandma’s? I don’t know. I’m sure there’s a good story behind it, though.

What do you have to do (you, the reader, that is)? It’s really up to you. You can just keep reading. You can donate. You can not donate. You can throw some water in my face when I’m running. You can NOT throw scalding hot coffee in my face when I’m running.

Have I started training yet? No, but I’m on week 3 of this couch to 5k program. It’s going as good as can be expected (which is basically awful until you build up some endurance)

When is the race? June 17, 2017.

More details will be forthcoming in the next weeks/months. In other news, though…

Suck it cancer!

…That was the name of the party we threw on Saturday. It was attended by so many loved friends and family and neighbors. It was a blast and I was more than slightly hungover on Sunday. It was one of those parties where I didn’t even have time to think about grabbing my phone to take some fun pics with friends because I was too busy talking to people…which is a great thing, really. But I do wish I had a couple more pics. Oh well, I’ll always have the memories…unless chemo brain takes those. 😉

That’s all I got and it’s a school night (work night), ya’ll so I’m going to bed now. Later!

A few good books from 2016

I was hoping to put together a list of my favorite reads from 2016, but sadly I didn’t do a great job of keeping track of all of these – and I get them in all different formats – through Amazon, Audible, library, Overdrive (electronic library), borrowing from friends and now Kindle, and so with my brain being mush, these are the favorites of the ones I can remember from 2016. So take it with a grain of salt.

Note: Each title is a link to the book’s Amazon listing, but I promise I’m not making money off of this (cause I’m too lazy to figure out how to do that right now). 

When Breath Becomes Air

(by Paul Kalanithi)


I actually wrote about this extensively a couple months ago. I remember reading it in April when I still hadn’t been diagnosed with cancer, and although it was sad, it was incredibly eye opening. To sum it up here, it’s basically a memoir told by a guy who is a doctor that deals with cancer patients every day, and then he himself finds out he has cancer and he talks through his differing perspectives and how actually living through the process has opened his eyes. The spoiler is in the previous blog post if you really want to know, but it’s an amazing book and definitely worth the read. For me, it was really interesting hearing the perspective from the doctor’s point of view.


(by Marissa Meyer)


This was the last book I read in 2016 and definitely one of my favorites. I was first alerted to Marissa’s Meyers works with her Lunar Chronicles. If I had read the Lunar Chronicles in 2016, I would have put them on this list, but those were at the end of 2015. But to give some background, the Lunar Chronicle books detailed the lives of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Snow White in a futuristic, dystopian retelling of these classic tales. I LOVE classic fairytales (I’m also one of those people that watches “Once Upon a Time” so stop judging) and any retelling of those stories. Heartless continues in this way by taking a classic villain – the Queen of Hearts from the Alice and Wonderland tales – and details how she came to be the way she is. It’s a great origin story and I really hope Marissa does more like this.

Southern Reach trilogy: Annihilation, Authority, Acceptance

(by Jeff Vandermeer)


Hmmm. How to explain this one. You know that feeling you get when you’re about to pass out – you’re seeing stars, you’re getting tunnel vision, your mouth starts over producing saliva and you feel like you might puke? That’s kind of how I would explain this series. You’re in this perpetual state of WHAT IS HAPPENING? If you’re looking for books grounded in reality and tangible concepts…this is not for you. It was this trippiness that appealed to me, though. It was one of those book series where I thought, “I didn’t even know books like this existed.” It gave me this feeling like I could write anything, no matter how weird or crazy and it could become an actual book. That was refreshing. Reading this book? Not so refreshing, but super interesting and it might induce some paranoia. I’m really selling this, right? Well, check it out if you’re into weird things.

All the light we cannot see

(by Anthony Doerr)


This is one of those books that falls out of my typical list of genres, but I’d been seeing it on a lot of book lists and decided to give it a try. It’s historical fiction and takes place in the time of Nazi Germany, but is actually based in varying parts of France. The two main characters have very different stories and very different lives. One is a blind girl that lives with her father and they flee Paris to go live with her father’s reclusive uncle as Nazis invade their city. The other is an orphan boy that has special technical skills and is enlisted by the Hitler Youth to employ his skills to seek out the resistance. Eventually the stories collide in a heart-wrenching fashion, but all along the way the author builds this imagery of life in this time and how it’s experienced completely differently by these two protagonists. I read…or really, had this read to me…through audio books and it was so enjoyable that I completely got lost in time on my way to and from work. It’s a long book, but it’s entrancing. I highly suggest reading…or listening to it when you can.

Special shoutouts

These were solid books that I read in 2016. Maybe they didn’t make the list as “favorite” but they are definitely still worth checking out.

The Road (by Cormac McCarthy)

Chilling tale of a father and son wondering down a road in post apocalyptic setting where there are cannibals and it’s every man for himself. This is right in my wheelhouse.

Heart and Brain (by Nick Seluk)

Irreverent comic series about Heart and Brain…and later the other organs that I follow on a daily basis and finally got this series of comics in book form for Christmas.

People Who Knew Me (by Kim Hooper)

A tale of a woman that lives one life before 9/11 and a completely different life after 9/11. You’ll hate/love her. Or just hate her. Or just mildly tolerate her. But everything feels too real, like this could happen to any of us. As Kim’s first book, I think it’s a wonderful story.

The City of Mirrors (by Justin Cronin)

This is actually book 3 of The Passage trilogy so I don’t suggest reading this first, but I do suggest reading this trilogy, in general. Usually the third book is okay, but this one is exceptional. It’s not as great as the first book (I heart the first book of this series), but it was good enough to get a special shoutout because it wrapped up the series beautifully.


What are some books you’ve read that you think I should read in 2017? I’m taking recommendations, so let me know!

Oh and happy 2017!



Three quick things

Ackward Yeti: My new favorite comic.

My new favorite comic.


I’ve been meaning to write something for a bit. I’ve got one post in the works, but for now, I’ll just do a quick post with some updates. Super interesting, right? Well I told you it might get boring around here. 😉


First thing: Going back to work tomorrow.

Woohoo! I’m way more excited than anyone should be about dealing with content problems and being in meetings all day. But I am. Super pumped! I’ll be for most of tomorrow so I can get some face time with my peers, but then I’ll be mostly working from home for the next couple months while I’m still “Immune suppressed.”

Second thing: Max is getting snipped.

On Wednesday, Max is getting snipped. Good news for puppy overpopulation. Bad news for us for the next week or two as he’ll need to lay low. Have you tried not exercising your puppy? Well, it might drive us all mad, but it’s just a short term thing.

Also, he’s getting his dew claws on his back feet removed. It’s rare for dogs to have dew claws on their back legs. Think arctic breeds like Mastiffs and Saint Bernards and Anatolian Shepherds (that last one is what our vet suspects might be what he’s mixed with). If your dog is primarily an outdoor working dog, those dew claws aren’t a deal breaker. If your dog is a house dog…like most dogs in this country, those little guys have to go. They get caught on everything and it can be super painful if they get ripped off.

And finally he’ll be microchipped. Big, big day.

Third thing: There is no third thing.

I guess there were just two things. But I try to adhere to the rule of threes whenever possible. So here’s another Awkward Yeti comic in  lieu of a third thing.


Enjoy the last day of your holiday break!