If it's true that we are what we eat, then this is why I am.
In reverse chronology.

[Updated: 19-January-18]

This year will be our grandest adventure. Ready, set, go!

Xavier didn't like getting his hands dirty. He was a little out of place outdoors. I knew I wanted to give him a cabin / lake experience, but I can't afford, nor do I want to keep up, a second property. Inspired by Shelly and Brent, I started looking into pop-up campers. I started looking at inexpensive ones on Craigslist. The profile was perfect, but the amount of effort to put-up/tear-down was prohibitive. And then I found Aliner. I looked at a 4 year old one and saw our future in it immediately! The price tag though, was only a few thousand less than new. And you know me, right? We nestled into an Expedition with toilet (thank God I did not stick to the "we don't need a toilet" notion. We so need a toilet! It is so convenient, easy and not even that gross to empty LOL if you knew the younger me, you're probably double-checking to see if you have the wrong person's blog. I wondered if I'd have buyer's remorse. I paid close attention to this the first few trips. And then it happened. We were up at Itasca State Park. Xavier was frolicking in the Headwaters of the Mississippi catching frogs, showing them to new friends, chasing snakes and climbing slick rocks scaring his mom senseless. THIS. This is why I did this! It is worth every single penny! I found a little slick of land on Gull Lake and we can do this lake life thing affordably, without upkeep and on our own! My little boy is growing through nature, fishing for hours, baiting his own hooks and at least trying to get fish off :). He's helping me grill, enjoys hiking and hanging out at the beach. We're also lucky to have a few friends with cabins within 15 minutes. My heart is full and I'm so grateful to be able to provide this experience for my little boy.

I began thinking about dating after my divorce. At the encouragement of a friend, I signed onto Tinder. 4 days later, I met Mark. It was magical, wonderful. He pursued me as I'd never been pursued. He sent me a song after a few days which made me think maybe it was going too fast, but I consciously decided to give it to the wind because it felt right. I wanted this. Over time, I started to see some signs that he wasn't who I thought he was. But I was in love, truly in love. Our kids were buddies and I was committed even if he wasn't in the same way. Ultimately, thank God he broke up with me. I've always had an instinct about not dating men who have a thing for Asian women. Seems creepy to me. Found out about him after I'd already fallen in love. Funny how it took me so long to fall victim to a man with yellow fever! I'm often asked if I'd like some type of revenge and while there were some months I wasn't exactly wishing him happiness and fortune, I don't wish him pain. In fact, I hope it works with the next girl because I hope mine is the last heart he breaks. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger and beating cancer while taking my life back certainly did make me fierce. More on that in 2017.

Oh Xavier. All of your firsts. I cherished every single one of them! There was not, and has never been, a millisecond, where I wasn't grateful beyond belief that I get to be your mommy. Even the first 20 months when you wouldn't sleep more than a few hours at a time. Or when you wouldn't take a bottle. Ever. And when you dropped the pacifier at 4 months. On the flip side, you dropped the pacifier at 4 months. You may have really needed your mommy when you were a baby, but your independence came on fierce and you potty trained, day and night, in 3 days. It was no effort at all! A few things about you: Your first tooth came at almost 4 months. You walked just in time for your 2nd Halloween! I made you a duck costume - your waddle was so perfect! When you started talking, it was basically in full sentences. Pterodactyl may have been your 3rd word.

I threw the first pregnancy test in the garbage thinking it was negative. It was an old lonely pregnancy test from months ago when we were trying to conceive (TTC). A few minutes later, I thought to myself, there's no way they'd make it that difficult! So I fished it out of the trash and looked up the instructions online. Clear as day, I was pregnant!!!! I'm not sure who was more excited... me or my Mom! I loved being pregnant and other than gestational diabetes (controlled with diet and exercise), things went very well. Until he was still breech at 32 weeks. I started doing everything I could to turn him through body work and found the best breech OB in the nation in WI. Scheduled an appointment (couldn't get in for almost 4 weeks!). Met with him, scheduled an external version and went into labor 3 hours later. 4am? Well, hello doctor! Bet you didn't think you'd be seeing me so soon... sorry... I feel lucky to have been able to labor for 12 hours even though I was probably not thinking so at about hour 8. Xavier was born by Cesarean a very healthy beautiful baby with a very full head of thick hair! My life has never been so full of joy.

We're getting married! <-- This was the last post to my lifeline. It's so odd to read in hindsight. So much has changed. Yep, we got married! And divorced. The most significant of thing missing here is who's missing specifically. Mike. He was tragically killed in a hit and run accident on March 20th. Time stopped, life stopped and nobody will ever be the same. The show went on and Heather and the girls were so strong and even now, nearly 8 years later, the pain is just beneath the surface. The woman who killed him has never shown remorse and served mere months in jail even after violating felony probation by driving without a license and getting yet another DWI. The Minnesota judge decided instead of the stayed 48-month prison sentence, she deserved 13 months of treatment. You know, since that was so successful the other time it was court mandated. Pathetic. So yeah, 2010. Highs, lows, joy and pain. Next.
Weddings planned for 2010: Jennifer and Rick (February), Ours! (August), Chrissy and Keith (September), Amanda (September), Becka and Ryan (December), Mike and Aimee (December)
Babies announced: Rowan (Amy and Phil), Charlotte (Josh and Kelly)

I learned you can’t trust the weather or those who predict it. I attended my first and last WE Fest in Detroit Lakes, MN. I learned badges don’t make you good, honorable, or prevent you from being a predator yourself. Watch yourself in Becker County and travel in groups at WE Fest at all times. On a positive note, the action of the first half of 2009 was answered with an equal and opposite reaction. The State of MN got involved and things went my way. And it turns out the strife gave someone very special the vehicle by which to show me what I was looking for. And it really was right in front of me the whole time. Josh and I got back together. His Mom was the first to know. And united we stand... 2009 engagements: Sara and Mitch, Becka and Perdue, and Us. Strangely, unpredictably, this was my luckiest year. And I flew my lucky number 37 thousand miles on NWA.
Weddings in 2009: Shana and John (August), Jolynn and Tim (September), Sarah and Logan (October)
Babies announced: Nolan (Missy and Matt)

I started to feel better after the accident and reengaged in my sports. I was both encouraged by progress and frustrated by setbacks. I became a chiropractor believer. I met Jared Allen shortly after he moved to Minnesota. I went on his brand new boat to protect a star-struck youngster who had no idea what she was getting into (or perhaps she actually did). The boat broke down. In October, I had arthroscopic wrist surgery to repair torn ligaments caused by the Hollywood-style hood roll I performed on the blind eye doctor’s car. Ultimately my wrist bones shredded ligaments and pushed my spine out of place actually stealing an inch off my height. Luckily – I regained said inch after 18 months. An excellent way to end 2008 :) I tried an eHarmony trial. I met a few sports-minded good-on-paper available men. I don’t regret it, but I learned it wasn’t for me. Although, on one of the dates I was asked out by Adrian Peterson so it wasn’t all bad either. I flew a meager 29,086 miles on NWA.
Weddings in 2008: Jill and Kevin (April), Adam and Sunny (July), Sean and Adri (August)
Babies announced:

I managed to survive 2006 without any notable dating catastrophes. I was, however, struck by a car while jogging to my health club. (That’s what I get for working out?!) I was in the crosswalk and suddenly in the middle of the intersection. A man is coming towards me apologizing and explaining he didn’t see me. Another man approaches and says he saw everything and knows exactly what to do. They both give me their business cards as they help me to the curb. I was hit by an eye doctor. That didn’t see me. My witness is an attorney. You know how they say your life flashes before your eyes? Jerry Seinfeld’s life flashed before my eyes. It’s hard to argue this isn’t terrible luck. But if it’s going to happen, you might as well be hit by a doctor and have a barrister witness. The rest of the year was spent recovering. Slowly. I earned my way to NWA elite status for real this time. With 36,280 NWA miles.
Weddings in 2007:
Babies announced: Madelyn (Becky and Karl)

What a delta year. I made new and vibrant friends through broomball; one in particular I knew would be my best friend until we’re old, wrinkly and in denial. Our birthdays are only 2 days apart so Ronda and I went out to celebrate the in between day and I met Sarah. It was the Lake Minnetonka year. Ronda introduced me to water volleyball; Sarah and I extended our network to a super fun group and we basically lived on the lake/at Fletchers. But that’s not how I met your Father. I moved from Guidant to NACR in June 2006. I love my new PM job and am enjoying the travel. I finally did breathe, focus, and enjoy the single life all summer. NWA made an error in my favor by crediting 10,000 re-deposited miles as flight miles earning me elite status for the first time.
Weddings in 2006: Scott and Lisa (February), Shannon and Matt (September), Amy and Phil (October)
Babies announced: Kendall (Josh and Becky), Austin (Missy and Matt)

I realized recently that I attended my first college course 13 years ago. I'm slated to graduate on my 30th birthday. I think that's utterly appropriate! Speaking of birthdays, 28 is just around the corner. I have the best rock star friends who find excuses to celebrate the occasion for 2 whole weeks. Great fun, not great for the liver. I thought I would mind getting older, but I don't. I feel like I'm in a great place. Old enough to accomplish career goals and young enough to have the kind of fun that I'm into having. Now if only I could meet a boy...er, man over 22 :). I love my new job I started rightfully on Valentine's Day. I have the most talented boss and co-workers not to mention what a great environment it is. They support their employees and make good on their promises. They sponsor countless events and really make you feel valued. I feel very lucky. Project Management is always something I've wanted to get into but never thought I'd be doing it this young. Other than adjusting to the new digs and looking for a house, I've been slowly ramping up the mileage I'm running each week. I've got to be up to 20 by June so I can start training for the Twin Cities Marathon. Yes, I've completely lost it.
UPDATE - January 2006: Hmph, the above was written May 7th ’05 just before my Gasthof's Maifest Birthday Party. I'm hoping there's a balance in the cards this year. No more far right, far left. Just about centered would be fantastic. 2006 is about correcting, not overcorrecting. So what the hell happened post-May 7 '05? In my endeavor to avoid falling into a semi-permanent place with the next guy I started dating, I made a very conscious decision not to let the water boil too quickly. Enter Russ and his volleyball team. (ahem - no pattern there with the volleyball teams). We had a great time playing all summer and into fall. The weather was great, the beer was cold, we played well most of the time. But there was this weird uncertainty. It was the perfect situation to implement the new Berger Dating Paradigm. I was careful not to want or expect too much and well, it worked. Until I became less like myself. Because I tried denying what I really felt because it was going over the limits of what I was trying to hold myself to. It was an entirely different and more dangerous means of self-sacrifice. A drug addiction. And I didn't have the wherewithal to rehab myself. Even now, I know my limitations, my weakness(es), my propensity for toxicity. It really all boils down to the same issue - not understanding nor asking for exactly what I want. I'll get there. In my own time and vehicle. For now, I'm coming up on my 1-year anniversary at the job I still love, am enjoying the wonderful home I bought in October '05, adore my new G35 coupe, and have found another true-love sport in broomball. I've made a lot of great (complete understatement) new friends in the past year, but have also lost touch with others. That makes me sad, but as always, true friends will make their way back to each other sooner than later. And I'll keep on keeping on. With all the right supporting cast.
And no, I didn't end up running the marathon. I was too busy chasing all the wrong guys :) But seriously, a dive-off-the-volleyball-court/4-foot-retaining-wall injury 3 weeks pre-race kept me out of running shoes and training too long to make a go for it. I'd say "better luck next time", but I'd have to sacrifice my team sports to do it and that's just like shutting down my dating pool in one swoop. Haha - just kidding. Sort of.
Weddings in 2005: Emily and Luke (June), Russ and Michelle (July)
Babies announced: Kennedy (Susie and Keith), Isaiah (Debby and Johnny), Ianna (PT), Finn (Kari and Erik), Avery (Adam and Sheila), Kevin (Becky and Karl), Owen (Mandy and Scot)

I'm the happiest I've ever been! Jill and I had the most fun last summer. Spent lots of time at Fletchers, Maynards and Baysides in Minnetonka. We were inseparable. I played on 3 softball leagues and 2 volleyball leagues. Hyser and I love the riverfront and can't wait for summer! As usual, the summer flew by. Played volleyball at Fletchers and softball in Lakeville. Made lots of new friends playing Kickball in Bloomington one of which prompted me to launch CittiDesigns. My first website was for Cory - the DJ that kept us entertained at the Sports Page. The Refuge is where Jill and Jill and I start most of our nights out. "My name is Cari, this is my friend Jill and this is my other friend Jill." We are Charlie's Angels.
Weddings in 2004: Chad and Wendy (May), Jennell and John (May), Nick and Gina (May), Laura and Darren (June), Mandy and Scot (June), Sara and Tim (September)
Babies announced: Albin (Julian and Annelie), Jazzlyn (Steph and Martos)

I'm officially addicted to bowling. I earned "Most Improved Bowler" in the Monday league by improving my average by 18. Ending a 3+ year relationship isn't easy, but I feel like I've regained valuable perspective and for perhaps the first time in my life I'm really appreciating being single. I'm happy. And that's what really matters. I'm also really excited that Jill & I are moving in together. We found a brand new place on the riverfront. It's gorgeous and in a prime location. Plus, I think we're going to have a great time being roommates. She's such a great person to have as a best friend. I am so lucky.
Weddings in 2003: Danielle and Ben (February), Debby and Johnny (September)
Babies announced: Jayden (Stephanie & Martos), Jameson (Becky & Karl)

Still bowling - my average is now 134. We have team bowling shirts and bowl twice a week now. We have learned to appreciate how much fun our original league is. Braved the fishing opener which was freakishly cold and fell on my birthday weekend. Had fun even though we were all but skunked! On Lake Vermilion, I caught the only fish - a 3+ lb. northern who was mighty tasty. I was honored to be a bridesmaid in Shelly & Brent's wedding. I became an adoring Godmother on December 6th upon the arrival of Heather & Mike's littlest angel Claudia.
Weddings in 2002: Stephanie & Martos (February), Adam & Heather (March), Shelly & Brent (September), Amy & Jesse (September)
Babies announced: Jack (Katie & Dustin), Cross (Andy & Tiffany), Jeremy (Rachel & Jason),
Claudia (Heather & Mike)

This year was full of firsts and lasts. Started bowling on a league - my average was 84. Broke down and learned how to play the corporate game (golf), although not very well... if golf had averages, my average would be 84 here as well... on 9 holes. I bought a '69 Ford T-bird with suicide doors. I rekindled my love for fishing. I quit smoking.
Weddings in 2001: Becky & Karl (June), Tim & Stacy (July), Rachel & Jason (September), Rob & Heather (November)
Babies announced: Jayden (Shawn & Tonya), Jaylen (Marlene & Bill's Grandson)

Life in Dallas got a little large for me. I moved back to Minneapolis in July. It was both the toughest and the most necessary thing I've ever done in my life. I was hired by Syntegra (USA) and sent to Boston for training. I suffered through a kidney stone, the operation to remove it, and the worst part, the removal of the stent. The nurses compared this pain to childbirth. I made a mental note not to have children :). Proof it is a small world: Shelly's roommate, who I hadn't met yet, was one of my nurses. When I moved apartments in November, I was very sick. I fell asleep watching Murder in the First in the living room on a make shift bed amongst the boxes. I woke up at 3am breathless and ended up in ICU for a week. Seems the kidney stone left a kidney infection. It was truly the gift that kept on giving.
Weddings in 2000: Andy and Tiffany (July), Lisa and Gary (November)

What a whirlwind. IEX had just moved me to Dallas away from everything I knew as safe. I knew no-one and was armed with only a smile and a streetmap. Just after my move, I went to take out a wine glass. As I pulled it out of the cupboard, a coffee mug tumbled, hitting the goblet and shattering it instantly; shooting a piece of glass into the inside of my elbow. Instead of 911, I called my Dad 1,000 miles away. He instructed me to call the police which I promptly did. By this time I'd removed the glass from my arm even though I remembered my high school health teacher warning us never to remove an item that was imbedded... the sight of it was putting me into a panic. I then realized why that health teacher was right... not only did I now know how big the piece of glass was, but I also had old faithful in my left arm. By the sound of my voice the dispatcher must have thought I was near death. A firetruck and an ambulance arrived along with 8 firemen and EMTs. By this time the bleeding had pretty much stopped and all that was necessary was the complicated medical procedure referred to as "butterflying the wound." I was embarrassed and they were hot. Do you think they'd be suspicious if they got a 9-1-1 call every Friday night? I played softball on 2 leagues. The last game of the first season, I severely sprained my left foot and then had to drive my 5-speed 20 miles to the hospital. The best part is that I showed up to my next team's first practice on crutches. I learned the 2-step and to appreciate some country music. It just sort of happens when you're dating a cowboy. I will never forget it - the softball team invited me out after our first game. It was ladies night and later, I learned the name of the bar was "Cowboys at Red River". Tony caught my perplexed look and set me straight, "Girl, don't you know we're cowboys?" I traveled home to Minneapolis 4 times.

I went to Spain with my friend Stephanie for 2 weeks. I knew no Spanish. I met no-one in Toledo who spoke English until the last night we were there. I learned enough Spanish to be dangerous. I accepted a position at IEX Corporation which would move me to Dallas. I felt it was the opportunity of a lifetime and I was at perhaps the only point of my life where I could dare take this risk. I went and never looked back. Well, OK, maybe I looked back once or twice...

February 7th I was on my way to Andy Gibson's house, armed with tequila. A truck driven by a 66 year old man ran a stop sign and I t-boned him... in my prelude. I did not win that battle. Luckily, I didn't get in trouble for the bottle. I was out of work for 3 days. I was late for work on Valentine's Day. My boss fired me for missing work. A week later I bought a 1994 eagle talon, v-nice. I signed the papers, drove off the lot, got onto the freeway, was rearended and spun down the entrance ramp. Owned car for 4 minutes. I began working for Norwest Mortgage. I spent all of my time with Tim. We traveled to Germany, France, Czech Republic (Prague), Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, and Duluth. My Mom and I went to St. Maartin for a week in November. She met Marlene and made fast friends. In fact, they still write back-and-forth and send each other Birthday and Christmas presents. It's a beautiful friendship. Memories: Tom & Peg from Statin Island, Francis the Medicine Man, Jose the bartender, Jimmy the cabbie and who can forget Alan like he could forget to pick us up at the pier?!?

Employed by Green Tree. I discovered I do not like mornings... or bureaucracy. My parents' divorce became final.

High school graduating class 1995. Employed by Damark International. Began climbing the corporate ladder.

This year completes the Cher era. I learned a lot about myself. I was an impressionable wide-eyed kid who was excited about this new thing called a life. I looked up to everything. I learned about music, that I could only drink 1/2 a beer, about boyfriends and what boys expected, finances and the art of balancing them, and most of all, I learned that I was naive and that big bad world out there isn't. This notion didn't quite sink in until 2001. Continued coursework at the University of MN (ITT).

Sweet Sixteen... world, watch out! Began working at Wal-Mart which would prove to be both educational and anti-educational. Cher was 18. She just moved to Osseo from Maple Lake. She started working at Wal-Mart. We were instant best friends. During the summer, we were resting after playing volleyball and this boy came running up to us. In his 'meanest' voice he said, "I am 8 years old. I'm like a dinosaur. Even my left arm is like a dinosaur." He curled his left arm in as if a t-rex. He continued, "If I eat cereal and act like a boy, it only lasts a minute. But! If I eat cereal and act like a dinosaur, it lasts for days!!" At this, he proceeded to run full force into the chain link fence and bit a link and shook his head all the while roaring with all his might. We decided we would see him again on America's Most Wanted someday.

The beginning of the high school years. Most of my friends went too Park Center HS, I went to Osseo. We had open enrollment and so this was a difficult decision for me. I thought it'd be a great opportunity to meet new people. I had no idea how brave this was at the time. Despite being one of the North View castaways, I made the cheerleading squad and was voted captain. Began making friends and attended HS accelerated classes and the U.

Remember those notebooks that we used to decorate with magazine clippings and pass around between classes? I still have 3 of them. Proof that we were crazy and lost. I'd get rid of them but they make me laugh too hard!

More school boundary changes. Stephanie Jones and I became fast friends. Her Dad coached softball and she enlisted me! I was terrible but I loved it! I started playing with a right-handed glove - I'd catch, remove the glove and throw with my left-hand. It was time to get a "real" glove. The first fly ball that came my way, I stuck my left hand out forgetting that my glove was on my other hand. I never made that mistake again. I was speedy.

The awkward Jr. High years. I loved North View. I made friends quickly and did well in school. I started playing volleyball, basketball and track. I was completely boy crazy.

Boundaries changed splitting up our 6th grade class. I now went to Edgewood instead of Fair Oaks. My hair had always been waist length. Just before school started, I cut 14" off and permed it. My Mom and I cried.

I'd been teased nearly all my life up to this point, and in time, I had learned to ignore the words and not take them personally. It was never easy and I did shed my share of tears, but in the end I can't regret any of it because thankfully, I was able to redirect it in a positive way. I realized that I was my own person and I was fine with that and it didn't matter that other kids weren't.

January 28th the Challenger lifted off which was to bring the first Teacher in Space. 37 seconds in the air, the shuttle exploded, killing the crew and the teacher, Christa McAuliffe, instantly. I remember as we watched the events unfold in the classroom. I decided that when I grow up, instead of an astronaut, I'd be a doctor.



In Mr. Hainlen's first grade class, we had library time every week. I remember distinctly being outraged one day when we learned that in order to be the president of the United States, you had to be born in the US.

Kindergarten! I remember asking Miss Johnson how old she was in front of my Mom and not understanding why I was in trouble. Looking back on it, Miss Johnson was probably all of 23. To me, she was 50.

Shelly and I loved having lemonade stands. One very hot day in July, the garbage men were nice enough to buy 2 glasses and gave us 50 cents. We were so thankful we doused them with the remaining lemonade. I think we thought this would cool them off. We weren't thinking about the stickiness... My Mom made us go apologize to them. By then they were at the end of the block. It was a very long walk. I wanted to have everything that Jeremy Anderson had. This included a skateboard. I stunk. I was afraid of the curb. He laughed at me.

Moved to Brooklyn Park. This is when I met my "bestest friend" Shelly. We were inseparable from the very beginning. One of my earliest memories is of Shelly and I in my backyard. There was a swingset with 2 swings. One of the swings was higher than the other. I think we used to race for it. Anyway one afternoon, I got to the highest swing but Shelly said "I'm your guest, so I should get that swing." I said, "It's my house!" One thing led to another and we both bit each other at the same time... on the lip. Yes, one got the top lip the other got the bottom lip. The funny thing, is we both ran to Shelly's mom Susie to tell. I can only imagine what went through her mind at the sight of us!

Possible reason for malfunction: My parents had tile floor in their bedroom. My Dad used to hold my hands while I jumped on the bed and then he'd hold his arms out and I'd jump to him and he'd catch me. One time when he went out of town, my Mom came to check on me because she heard me bouncing on the bed. Just as the bed came into her vision, *boom* there goes Cari head first into the tile. I believe this was my first visit to the ER. X-rays said I was OK, but possibly it was the radiation??? ;-)

Arrived in Minnesota to loving parents on March 17th. I slept most of the 30 hour flight. At 10 months, I weighed 13 lbs and couldn't hold up my head. I slept during the day and was awake at night for the first few days. I started walking in September.

Found in South Korea, abandoned on the city hall steps of Pusan. Was placed in an orphanage in Seoul for 5 months. Estimated birth weight: 4 lbs. Orphanage gave me birthdate of May 10th. mark carlson ............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ llc 4329 7th st ne columbia heights mn 55421 612-239-5873 6122395873 mrcarlson018@comcast.net


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