Happy Belated Birthday to “Billie” – (a.k.a. Emily Date)

Emily Date had one of those “significant” birthdays on Sunday.

It’s a little-known fact (unless you read last year’s birthday blog), but “Billie” was Emily’s nickname for her first few years. We had to take her in for Bilirubin tests for a couple of weeks after she was born due to the yellow hue of her skin. I guess “Billie” was a better nickname than “Jaundice”.

Emily was a happy kid -- and fashion conscious from the get-go.

She provided us with a lot of excitement in her younger years, like when she sustained a bad cut on her head when she was a year old. It was after that when she started to spend time sitting out by the garage smoking pot (see joint in her hand in photo below).

"Go sit by the garage, Emily. We're not going to allow you to do that stuff in this house!" - That's definitely a stoner stare.

Emily was a great kid — always funny and a sometimes a little unpredictable. Some of the personality traits from her childhood remain, while others have faded — such as a penchant for pretending to be famous statues.

Emily lights the way with her ice cream torch.

Emily always had a few little irrational fears growing up. She’s doing pretty well these days with balloons and clowns, but we didn’t know until fairly recently that she used to be afraid to be in the house alone.

Emily is ready to jump behind the couch after seeing a clown on TV.


Quite a shiner for the star of the Lynnhurst Park softball team.

Emily has always been very athletic and liked sports and exercise. I still remember those first soccer practices when she was 6 years old, gymnastics, softball, and later on, track.

I was so proud of her when she stuck with soccer even when it became apparent that she wasn’t going to be a starter in her senior year. She played for the love of playing and was a well-liked team leader.

She’s tried a lot of sports over the years and loves being active. She’s completed two marathons as well as a couple of half-marathons — the most recent being the Med City half-marathon in Rochester on Sunday.

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Here’s one of my favorite photos of her. She was (I think) 14 or 15 and starting to look like the mature Emily we know and love today. The print has a nasty wrinkle running across it. I hope to find a better print or the negative some day.

I think Emily told me once that she doesn't like this photo, but I do like it and that's all that matters.

In 1999 she went off to college in Virginia and life was never the same again — for us or for her. But it was a great experience for her and I’m so glad she was able to do that. She made some good friends at UVA — not to mention meeting a young Mr. Cedermark from New Jersey — even though that friendship didn’t take off until a few years after graduation.

Emily worked as a tour guide during college at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Well, one thing led to another, as they say, and soon Emily and the Cedermark lad were wed and lived in Jersey City. They moved to Rochester, Minnesota almost a year ago to start the next chapter of their lives together.

Emily with Andrew and Craig - the two Cedermark boys she DIDN'T marry.


She married well. As we like to say in Minnesota - Ya, they clean up pretty good, don't they?

Emily has grown up to be a beautiful woman and genuinely good person. She’s got a good head on her shoulders and her heart is in the right place. What a wonderful feeling it is to be her Dad.

She recently contributed to my 5th grade team’s trip to Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center in northern Minnesota — both financially and by volunteering to come with us as a chaperone. It was great for my students to be able to spend some time with her. They loved her and she pitched in and worked hard at making sure my girls were on top of things. I and my students can’t thank her enough for spending those 3 days with us.

Emily, Ajoyia and Josh at Wolf Ridge

On Emily’s birthday the other day, I got to run a half-marathon with her, her sister Lauren, Kyle’s brother Andrew and his friend Carianne in Rochester. It was a wonderful time. I’m so lucky to be able to do things like this with my kids and I’ll never forget how great it feels.

Med City Half-Marathon - only 13.1 miles to go! (photo by Kyle Cedermark)

Emily, you’re 30. Wow, that’s amazing to think about — not in a way that you’re getting old, but to think about all you’ve accomplished and experienced already, the places you’ve been — and you’re only 30!

You’ve come so far from little (yellowish) baby “Billie”.

Thanks for being such a wonderful daughter.

Love you,
Dad

Target Field makes me happy.

Last year the upper midwest emerged from a 3-decade funk of watching baseball indoors in the world’s worst stadium. Yes, the Twins won two World Series at the Metrodome and created great excitement and community spirit in 1987 and 1991. But that was because of the teams, not the venue.

A few nights ago I went to a game by myself at our year-old ballpark, courtesy of a last minute cancellation and discount price offer of a friend with season tickets. (Thanks Rita!) I took the opportunity to just wander around for the whole game, sit in different sections all over the ballpark, take some pictures, and just let the sights, sounds and smells waft.

You can almost see the Metrodome from here - but who wants to? (photo by Steve Date)

I went to 3 games last year and fell in love with Target Field like just about everyone else. But last year the place was new — unfamiliar and unexplored. Monday night I felt like I spent some quality time with a new friend.

I’d never gone to a ballgame alone before and I enjoyed the experience in a whole new way. Not that I don’t like good conversation (because I do) but it was a chance to just look around and get to know the place. The baseball game seemed like a backdrop for the real event, which was the ballpark itself, and seeing how the people interact with it and with each other.

There were a lot of "#3s" on this night. Everyone who passed by paid their respects at the Harmon Killebrew statue. (photo by Steve Date)


Two young fans are thrilled to talk with Twins pregame co-host Anthony LaPanta. (photo by Steve Date)


I'm not sure if I wish I could be the kid or the dad. (photo by Steve Date)

The evening began with a tribute to Twins great Harmon Killebrew, who recently died of cancer (see previous post). There was a video and a moving moment when the entire Twins team surrounded the big #3 etched in the infield dirt as manager Ron Gardenhire gave a short speech about his hero and held Harmon’s jersey in the air.

Gardy and the current Twins team remember their mentor and friend, Harmon Killebrew. (photo by Steve Date)


She's too young to appreciate the importance of Harmon Killebrew to Twins fans, but when she's older, she'll remember being here on this night. (photo by Steve Date)


Everybody is #3 this week. (photo by Steve Date)

Right field (photo by Steve Date)

I think my favorite part of Target Field is the outfield — asymetrical, quirky and visually interesting from every angle. Little flower beds, an overhanging home run porch in right field, the iconic Twins-shaking-hands sign in center, the steep angular lines of the seats, the view of the Minneapolis skyline to the east — I can go on and on.

On this night, slugger Jim Thome returned from the disabled list with a vengeance and hit two homers – one a 465 foot monster that landed almost at Gate 34 in the right field plaza.

(photo by Steve Date)


Target Field gets even more beautiful as night falls. (photo by Steve Date)

The Twins were great last year, winning the division and providing us with a lot of excitement. This year they’re off to a slow start, to say the least. As I write this, the Twins have the worst winning percentage in major league baseball and are 14.5 games out of first place. But people are filling the ballpark every night and having a good time anyway. Why? Because they’re spending time together outdoors, in a place that is better than they had hoped for and which has quickly become much more than just a place to watch a baseball game.

My daughter Emily's long-time friend Kelsey Boesch (center) happened to be on the Kiss-Cam that night. You'll have to guess who she just kissed. (photo by Steve Date)


This night was all about Harmon Killebrew (photo by Steve Date)

Tomorrow night I’ll be back at Target Field with my daughter Lauren — Chicago’s biggest Twins fan and lover of Target Field. I can’t wait.

Lauren with her first Target Field Kramarczuk's brat last July. There will be more.

But in the longer term, I’m also looking forward to growing old together with my new friend — this wonderful place.

(To see more photos from this game, go to my Flickr set here.)

(photo by Steve Date)

Harmon Killebrew

The Minnesota Twins’ inaugural season began a few days after my 8th birthday. I knew nothing about baseball and neither did any of my friends, but we all signed up to play little league that spring. I still remember going to the registration night with my dad, new glove on my hand, as if we were going to hit the field right after we filled out the form.

I also brought my baseball glove on my first visit to Metropolitan Stadium a couple of months later. My memory tells me that the Twins beat the Kansas City Athletics 4-3 and Harmon Killebrew hit a home run. We sat in the 2nd deck on the first base side. You can probably look it up and prove me wrong, but it’s my memory and I’m sticking to it.

The Twins were Minnesota’s only major league team at the time — the Minneapolis Lakers had left for L.A two years earlier, and the Vikings wouldn’t arrive until September. We 8-year olds didn’t know squat about playing baseball, but we knew we had a big league ball club and the bonus was that it came with an established star player — Harmon Killebrew.

Harmon was never flashy, never cocky, never sexy. He and Minnesota were a perfect fit.

He was also not particularly large in stature, although he seemed like it to us kids. At 5’11”, and a bit over 200 lbs, other big hitters tower over him in old photos. But his stocky frame and muscular legs, coupled with that memorable extension when he swung the bat, turned out to be a perfect combination for hitting a baseball a long distance. He was a power hitter — period. He even later admitted that he never paid much attention to his batting average. He drew a lot of walks and also struck out a lot, but he also gave us plenty of thrills.

Possibly the oddest tribute in all of sports is the red stadium seat that hangs high on a wall above the “Log Chute” ride inside the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. The mall was built over the old Met Stadium site. The lone seat marks the approximate landing spot of Harmon’s longest home run at the Met, estimated at 522 feet.

Harmon’s greatest attribute was not his ability to play baseball, however. When you listen to all the tributes to him over the coming days, I guarantee you will not hear a single one that doesn’t mention his character — who he was as a person. Of course it was a different era, and sports stars hadn’t yet become the rich, ungrateful, “don’t-give-crap-about-being-a-role-model”, jerks that seem all too prevalent today. But even in those innocent early ’60s, we all knew Harmon was someone special, someone we could look up to, to emulate. He might strike out with the bases loaded now and then, but he would never let us down. And he never did.

Twins baseball was a big part of my life in elementary school and Harmon was the biggest Twins’ star. To be honest, I had a lot of “favorite players” in those early years – Tony Oliva, Bob Allison, Zoilo Versailles and a little later, Rod Carew. I remember trying to start a Lennie Green fan club during that first season. But Harmon was who I imagined I was when I was at the plate.

In recent years, Harmon showed us all how to grow older. He did it by staying busy, making himself useful, caring about others and teaching younger people to appreciate the sport he loved so much. He mentored many of the current Twins players, too young to remember his playing days — and became their hero, too.

I watched the sports on a local news channel this evening and they showed a press conference with a bunch of former ballplayers. Teary-eyed Hall of Famer Paul Molitor said, “I picked the right guy to be my hero”. Jack Morris was completely choked up and said that it was Harmon’s quiet strength and kindness that he will remember. The TV sports reporter, who is about my age, concluded with, “He was my childhood. He was our superstar.”

In the past few weeks and months, Harmon also showed us how to die. His straightforward, 3-paragraph statement just last week began with this sentence, “It is with profound sadness that I share with you that my continued battle with esophageal cancer is coming to an end.” No sugar coating, no false hope, just the truth.

Let the tributes roll in. Harmon deserves all of them.

An aging Mickey Mantle once said something like, “Ah, to be 25 again and the star of the Yankees”. I say, “Ah, to be 8 again and pretending to be Harmon Killebrew”.

We have grandchickens!

One of the great joys of parenthood is being lucky enough to be around to see your children have young ones of their own. I experienced that recently and it was quite an emotional day. The fact that Emily and Kyle’s new arrivals aren’t human did nothing to diminish the exhilaration I felt when meeting them for the first time.

Lady Gaga, City Girl and Chicky Baby were born on April 5th, so they were already a little over a month old by the time we saw them. Emily described their arrival in her blog, “Love from Minnesota”. Here are a couple of photos shot by proud Papa Kyle during their first few days.

Left to Right, Chicky Baby, City Girl, Lady Gaga (photo by Kyle Cedermark)


Chicky Baby and City Girl try on Emily's shoes (photo by Kyle Cedermark)

Lady Gaga is a Silver-Laced Wyandotte, City Girl is an Americana and Chicky Baby (remember PeeWee’s Playhouse?) is a Buff Orpington. When we visited them in Rochester a week ago, they seemed to be getting along well, although Emily says they each has a distinct personality. Here’s what they look like now.

All the single ladies. The girls like to stick together (photo by Steve Date)

Emily and Kyle are great parents. They’re nurturing, but want the kids to grow up and learn to fly on their own. Dad takes the flying a bit too literally, however.

City Girl looked good on take-off, but the next few seconds were not impressive. (photo by Steve Date)

Of course the girls aren’t our first grandanimals. Peet’s been around for 3 years now. At 21 dog years, he’s a mature, loving big brother.

Peet gives Chicky Baby a little brotherly peck. (photo by Steve Date)


Peet gives lil' sis Lady Gaga a pony ride. What a good brother. (photo by Steve Date)

They’ll be old enough to start laying in a few months. Can’t wait to have my first grandchicken omelet.

Wait a second — that’s a little creepy, isn’t it? But if the eggs aren’t fertilized, they’re not really potential great-grandchicks, right? Oh well, I’ll figure that out later.

"Who's my pretty girl?"


"Say Mama -- MA . . . MA"

MinnPost Minnesota Rural Youth Project

I do occasional video reports for MinnPost.com, an online news website here in the Twin Cities. This year MinnPost received a grant from the Otto Bremer Foundation to do reporting about young people in small towns and rural areas of Minnesota.

Rural Minnesota: A Generation at the Crossroads is being structured in 6 parts. Former Minneapolis StarTribune reporter Sharon Schmickle is writing stories for each section. Crowd-sourcing expert Jeff Severns Guntzel is working with groups of young people do do reports. He’s also using Social media such as Facebook and Twitter to keep an ongoing dialogue going throughout the year.

Welcome, Minnesota (pop. 721) is one of the towns I visited for the MinnPost Minnesota Rural Youth Project (photo by Steve Date)

I wasn’t available to be part of the first group of reports in April, but I made two videos that ran in MinnPost this week. Each group of reports has a theme. The second go-round was about technology and connectivity.

One video features Jayden Grupe, a 25-year old business executive in the small town of Welcome, Minnesota, near the Iowa border. You can see that video here.

Jayden Grupe is the Operations Manager for Easy Energy Systems, which manufactures modular ethanol-making systems (photo by Steve Date)

The second video is about four high-school student who attended the state FFA convention at the University of Minnesota a couple of weeks ago. Click here to see that video.

18-year old Jaclyn Dingels from Redwood Falls raises ewes. Jaclyn is one of the subjects of my FFA video. (photo courtesy of Jaclyn Dingels)

If you know of a young person (14-25 years old) living in a small town or rural area of Minnesota who might be a good subject for a future report, please let me know. We have four more rounds of reports this year and we’d like to feature young people from all over the state of Minnesota.

You can email me at steven.date@yahoo.com

It’s Lauren Date’s birthday!

“BabyDate” has been a part of my life for 26 years now — even longer if you count the rolling around and kicking for a while before that.

It’s been 8 years since she’s lived here – 3 in Madison, 1 in Spain and now 4 in Chicago. Everybody talks about how fast time flies by, but I have to be honest — sometimes it works both ways. When she does come back to Minneapolis for a few days, it’s now as a visitor, and it sometimes seems like a long time since she was a kid.

Memories are only fragments. And they fade, they change. I want them to be complete. I want to be able to conjure up whole scenes, but quite often all I have are little bits and pieces. I want to put her on my shoulders again and hear her giggle when we play “where’s baby bear?”

The photos help. Sometimes I find one I haven’t seen for awhile I can actually revive a forgotten memory. I love looking at pictures of Lauren when she was a kid. If you’ve only known her as an adult, you only know part who she is.

The photos are triggers. A photo can be a “play” button to a mental video of a certain day. This next one, for instance. Lauren’s always liked baseball for some reason. I love this one where’s she’s got catcher’s gear on. When I think of her love for the Minnesota Twins today, I think of this picture and this kid and this day. It’s an ordinary picture of an ordinary ballgame at Lynnhurst Park, but it’s much more than that now.

When does a person move out of childhood? Of course, it’s not a certain day or even year. But there’s one photograph that captures Lauren’s transformation in my mind’s eye. I’m not even sure how old she was in this one, but for me it’s the earliest one that shows her the way she looks now. I like the fake contemplative look and imagine her breaking into a laugh a second later.

It’s funny how you can never imagine letting go of your kids when they’re little. Then all of a sudden it’s been 8 years since you did have to let go — that’s the cruel paradox of the passage of time. It passes both quickly and slowly, and as a parent, it’s never in your favor.

She doesn’t like it when I post picture of her as an adult, but here’s one anyway — collapsed on the ground after completing the Twin Cities Marathon last October.

Lauren has grown into an amazing young woman. She’s made her way in the big city for 4 years now. When I say I’m proud of who she’s become, I don’t mean to imply that I think I had a lot to do with it (those kudos go to her mother). Lauren has become who she is mainly because of her own thoughtfulness, curiosity, hard work, sense of humor and moral integrity.

Lauren was a great kid and now when I see her or talk with her, I feel so fortunate.

Happy birthday Lauren! I love you.

See you in a few weeks at Target Field. Go Twins!

(To see a bunch more photos of Lauren, you can time-travel back a year by clicking HERE for last year’s birthday)

I told myself I wasn’t going to whine about the weather . . .

. . . but COME ON — it’s May!

I went out for a run today and froze my butt off. There were snowflakes in the air. I got home at noon and looked at a weather website. WeatherUnderground confirmed my suspicions. It was 34.7 degrees at noon! On May 1st! With lots of wind! Even in Minnesota this is stupid.

This is what my yard looked like last year — A WEEK BEFORE THIS.

Lush . . . green . . . tulips blooming . . . actual spring.

This is what it looks like today.

Tough to find flowers today

Need more evidence?

April 24, 2010


The same shot today. I rest my case.

In case you’re planning on coming to Minneapolis this week for a vacation (just a joke) I suggest you wait a few weeks. Spring probably will eventually come and colorful things will grow.

I’m thinking maybe by Memorial Day.

Sorry about the whining. But I think it was minimal and evidence-based.

There were snowflakes in the air.

I’m done now.