Butt Paste. Sophie the Giraffe. The NoseFrida SNOTSUCKER.
I had never heard of these things before July 27, 2022.
Then again, a lot changed the day Calvin James entered our world.
For one, his mommy and daddy were now just that — Mommy and Daddy — titles that had formerly existed in a faraway state, now realized in an instant.
“It’s a little boy,” I told Sarah after her final push that Wednesday morning. His head popped out, his boy parts exposed, and a scream escaped. I had the honor of seeing him first, slightly purple and covered in some sort of mucus — our little boy, Calvin James Klongerbo (8lb, 12oz, 11:27am).
He’s been the center of our world.
I often tell Sarah, “It was always Calvin. It was always him in there.” After months of wondering who he was — or whether he was even a “he” — it was fun to finally find out.
Today, he goes by Baby Calvin. At least, that’s what Dad calls him. Primarily because someday he’ll become Cal, a strong, confident, God-fearing young man. He’ll have his group of friends who are cooler than us, and he’ll want to run off.
But for today, he’s small enough to fit in both of my hands and puke on my business vest. He’s just Baby Calvin, and I’ll call him that until it no longer fits.
By the way, it’s Dad writing this year’s Christmas letter. Hi there, and merry Christmas. I know I also wrote last year’s letter. Maybe this will become a permanent tradition.
Anyway, when reflecting on the year, I’m finding it tricky to strike the balance between keeping the letter on message and not omitting key details that our little family will find hilarious reading 22 years from now.
The obvious news in our world was the addition of Calvin, our boy. I tell Sarah we should call him our eldest son.
Parenting has been amazing and challenging and overwhelming and fulfilling, all in the same breath. Those of you who are blessed enough to be parents know the feeling.
Surprisingly, considering our shared affinity for a good night’s rest, things have actually gone much better than expected for us.
Maybe it’s because we were building up parenthood in our heads to be so horribly grueling that when the difficult moments are just regular grueling, they seem a bit more bearable.
I also think it matters being surrounded by incredible community.
Grandmas and grandpas, aunties and uncles, friends who are basically aunties and uncles — we’re blessed beyond measure. If you’ve drawn close to us, you now know, reading in this Christmas letter, how crucial your role has been. Thank you, thank you.
As for the rest of the year, it’s been pretty eventful in the Klongerbo household.
To create some level of structure, I’ll go month by month with a high-level rundown. The year truly was a blur.
A forgotten month. I had to literally scroll through my Google Calendar and the photos on my iPhone just to see what happened in January. It doesn’t seem much!
We settled into work rhythms and were probably doing a lot of baby planning. It looks like we had dinner with friends a few times. Januarys are boring.
We were able to jet away for short weekend with the Klongerbo family (minus Mike) in the Wisconsin Dells. My folks still have their timeshare there, so we were able to burn up some of their points.
It was a quick trip, but the five of us — Troy, Sarah, Sean, Bekah, and Amy — had a great three days enjoying winter in central Wisconsin.
Our biggest trip of the year. I think Sarah has been calling this our “babymoon.” (I’m finding it amazing, all the different words for all the trips you’re supposed to take in life. I never knew.)
We did a Wisconsin road trip. We’ve grown quite familiar with Wisconsin over the years, but this time we made an impromptu turn north and checked out some never-before-seen ground: the Door County region.
Our original goal was to hit a concert, Greta Van Fleet, in Madison, but once we got there, we found out it was canceled because the drummer got sick.
We’d had a five-day week carved out already and still wanted to do something fun, so we pivoted. I am usually a guy who appreciates known quantities, but making a decision on the fly to drive the three hours north through Green Bay to check out Door County and book a short-order hotel was a pretty fun pivot.
If you’ve never been to Door County, put it on your list. A beautiful little place with towns speckled throughout. We loved it and want to go back.
On our way back through Milwaukee, we saw Christoine “Kingfish” Ingram rip his guitar at the Pabst Theatre. Absolutely amazing talent.
It was a great road trip, full of both adventure and quiet.
April looked like another quiet month, but judging by my photos, my wife was in heavy nesting mode.
We ripped out carpet from both upstairs bedrooms (with the help of a friend, Ryan) and refinished the hardwood floors. One thing I’ll never understand about the baby boomers is how many of them decided to take natural hardwood floors and crank about 3,500 staples into them with carpet pads and textured carpet. Those poor, beautiful floors. Thankfully, there are enterprising young people willing to bring them back to their glory!
Anyway, we were able to do that and some other kitchen projects.
Sarah was past the halfway mark of her pregnancy, and as I said to her all summer, this momma was “flying around gathering her sticks and straw from the nearabouts and bringing them back to the nest.”
I also made a quick trip out to the family cabin in the Black Hills, where we broke our backs trying to help restore the aging cabin.
Sarah cashed in her Christmas present from 2021 when we went to Come From Away, a Broadway musical that came to the Washington Pavilion in Sioux Falls. It was a good show with strong music and a great storyline. We both enjoyed it. Do some Googling if you’re curious.
At the end of May, we made it to the Grand View Lodge near Brainerd, Minnesota, for a Schock family vacation. Pretty much every single grandma, grandpa, aunt, uncle, and cousin were able to make it. Three days at the lake offered good family time. Uncle Troy promised candy to all the kids, so down we went to the candy shop for Uncle Troy to pay up on his tab.
We were even there for one of the biggest storms in the history of the property — quite the memory to see 80-mile-an-hour winds tear through the resort!
June was another blur. I got to play more golf in June than any other month of the year. It seems like I was cramming for something to come…
Kyle (Sarah’s brother) and I played in the SDGA Two-Man in Aberdeen and were among the only teams to finish in the top 10 who weren’t active collegiate golfers. We felt good about that achievement for two men in their 30s who had not managed a single driving range session all spring to that point. We love competing in amateur golf tournaments, and it’s fun to dream about “what could be” for our golf games.
A bunch of buddies also put on a diaper keg for me, which was thoughtful. We finished woefully short of our goal of 50,000 diapers, but anything helps.
Calvin was born. I wrote the entire birth story in my Notes app, so if you care for a play-by-play, don’t be shy to ask.
I’ll take this section to answer a question many of you do ask. We named him Calvin for a few reasons. One, it’s a bit of an homage to a family name. Sarah’s paternal grandpa was Alvin (Schock); my paternal grandpa was also Allen (Klongerbo); and both of our fathers, oddly enough, have the middle names of Alan (Paul) and Allen (Mike).
(Fun fact: both of our mothers, Amy and Julie — as well as Sarah herself — also share a middle name, Lynn.)
Anyway — Alvin, Allen, Alan, Allen… there’s an “Al” thread there.
Also, with a last name like Klongerbo, he needed a layup of a first name. Cal (or Calvin) — easy enough to spell. Calvin also means “little bald one”… which did not factor into our naming decision, but turned out to be pretty accurate.
Calvin is amazing. Meeting him was a treasured pinnacle moment of life.
Lots of walks and settling into life as new parents.
Calvin attended his first concert at the Levitt Pavilion in downtown Sioux Falls; our neighbor Pat’s band, Janitor Bob and the Armchair Cowboys, performed. Calvin also caddied his first ever round of golf. He didn’t do remarkably well during either event… although he didn’t scream and stayed relatively quiet, so maybe he did well after all.
August was a month of reorienting.
It was a big month, September!
Sean and Bekah tied the knot at the Sag Lodge, where Bekah worked, way up in northern Minnesota (basically Canada). It was an amazing event; the Lord clearly had his hands on their special day.
Calvin attended his first wedding, Dad (that’s me) gave a best man speech, and we were all so blessed by the friends and family who made the trek to the end of the Gunflint Trail to celebrate my brother and his new wife.
So, so many answered prayers on that day.
Sarah and I took Calvin for his first trips to The Prairie Club and then to the Schock family cabin in the Black Hills for a week. He even got to see Crazy Horse.
The highlight of the month was Grandma June’s surprise 90th birthday in the Twin Cities. That woman is such an incredible blessing to so many, and it was special to celebrate her.
The Klongerbos here in Sioux Falls hosted Thanksgiving. I learned I need to work on my proportions for sides in future years.
I probably could have fed the community of Baltic, South Dakota (population 1,265), with how much food we made. I even made two turkeys. Whoops. But hey, we served 11 people, and everyone loves leftover Thanksgiving turkey.
Prior to that, Calvin took his first plane ride when we took a work trip to Phoenix, Arizona, so Sarah could attend a marketing conference for her work. She enjoyed an incredible conference, and I polished up my skills in daddy daycare.
Thanksgiving was only a few weeks ago, and we haven’t had time yet to live out December. Stay tuned.
As for other news, Sarah is still working part time for a marketing agency called Till, where she works remotely, helping them with copywriting needs (think Facebook ads, email messages, etc). She does incredible work for them.
She’s also working her freelance business of website design and copywriting (you’re on the website for it now), and she’s absolutely killing it. After taking three months of maternity leave, she’s excited to get back to growing her business.
As for me, the professional world of business is a wild ride in the best way possible, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
This spring, I transitioned Fisheye Marketing, the agency I started in 2016, into a holding company with a group out of the Minneapolis area called Mount Haley. I’ve spent the second half of the year integrating into this new firm as a partner myself.
I was introduced to the group through my cousin Jenna’s husband Paul, who is a partner at the firm. I’ve known Paul for over 15 years, and I’ve now known the rest of the group for over a year, so the transition has been easy.
Basically, Mount Haley is a nontraditional private equity firm where we start, run, and own businesses (Fisheye now being one of them, which I still operate). I look forward to making a more complete announcement of my work transition before the end of 2022.
I know it’s a bit confusing. But know this — I’m blessed with an incredibly awesome team at Mount Haley, and I am really excited about the work we’re doing together.
The Klongerbo family is wishing you the Lord’s warmest during this season of remembrance and delivered promises. God promised a Son would come for generations, and He fulfilled that promise during this season, exactly as He said it would happen.
Merry Christmas with love from the Klongerbos.