Thursday, December 1, 2011

Today, Dec. 1, would have been Henry's third birthday


Today we remember our precious Henry Blaise in a special way, as December 1st is the anniversary of his birth. This previous post has our remembrance video of Henry and the image I created for his grave marker. We love you so very much Henry! Please pray for us!

On December 12, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, mass is being offered at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in LaCrosse, WI for Henry and his siblings by Cardinal Raymund Burke. This was a wonderful gift from my parents.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Design for a storage shed


I was hoping never to need a storage shed, but one will definitely be needed. The real reason is that it's also become clear that getting a riding lawn mower would be money well-spent (I've spent an inordinate amount of time mowing the lawn this year, and it's just too much time away from the family). Our hydroseeded lawn has grown in nicely, and with all the rain this year it's needed mowing every 4-5 days, and it takes about 2 hours to mow with a walk-behind mower. We'll likely have enough money to buy a riding lawn tractor in next Spring, and it's just not going to fit on our two-car garage. So, a storage shed will be needed. 

I'll admit, I wasn't too excited about a shed once I realized I needed one. Lots of sheds are eye-sores, and I'd want something that goes well with our house. But, after finishing the design, now I am excited about it. I think we'll end up with a shed that goes nicely with our house and will solve our storage problems in the garage. 

I'm planning to build the shed myself, and in order to do it right, minimize cost, and have a cool design, I've designed it ahead of time on Google Sketch-Up (the freely available CAD software from Google). Designing the shed in Sketch-Up allows me to actually go through the entire assembly process and solve any problems along the way. I also can figure out exactly how much lumber and siding I'll need so that when I order it, I won't order any excess.

Here's a pic of the design (click any picture to enlarge):

And here it is with some dimensions:

It's a little on the small side, but the City of Ham Lake allows sheds to be built up to 10'x12' without a permit, so that's what I went with. 

The siding and roof is galvanized corrugated steel, and the windows are corrugated translucent plastic that fits with the steel siding. I've sourced all the materials from local hardware stores. All the wood, whether board lumber or flooring or OSB, is to be treated wood. In case you are wondering, there will be a gravel path to the shed with an incline to the bottom of the door so the mower can be driven in.

I've chosen to build the shed on concrete footings, partly to give it a solid foundation, and partly to avoid having any wood touching the ground in order to prevent premature rotting. In Minnesota footings have to go down at least 48" in order to be below the frost line in winter.

Here's a view with the doors removed:

The interior:


And here's what the framing looks like, with the metal siding, windows, and OSB on the walls removed.

A view of the floor framing:

And here's how the wood posts interface with the concrete footings:

I think the best place for the shed is the wooded area to the southeast of the home; here a quick sketch of location:

Sketch-Up has some fun styles you can apply to your model to make it look kind of sketchy. Here's a few of my favorite styles.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Pioneer School


In early June, Clara and Aidan had an opportunity to participate in a pioneer school experience at the West Riverside Museum School through the Isanti County Historical Society in Cambridge, Minnesota.  For one week, they toted their tin pails filled with old-fashioned lunches, delved into their textbooks from the early 1900's, and enjoyed schooling in a one-room school house.  There were about twenty-five students in grades one through eight taught by a volunteer schoolmarm.

The kids especially enjoyed spending their recess time playing "Red Rover" and "Annie, Annie Over".  The first day home, Aidan said, "There's this thing called 'recess'."  I had to laugh at the fact that my home-schooled son had never heard of recess even though he's sent outdoors every day!  At the end of the week, families were invited for a presentation of poetry and other selections followed by a picnic...cold fried chicken, biscuits, watermelon, and lemonade prepared by Mom.  

Outside the Historic Schoolhouse

 A schoolboy at his desk

The "Annie, Annie Over" Shed 

A cabin on the historical site.  The kids made pancakes here for breakfast one morning. 

A class photo

With the schoolmarm

 Enjoying the water pump

This is the kind of experience I would have loved as a child, so I admit to living vicariously through my children that week.  Rather than make the trek back and forth the other kids and I spent lots of time at parks, the local library, and yes, Caribou Coffee.  Eleanor looks forward to joining them at pioneer school next year!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Giving Twitter a try


As you can tell, posting on this blog has been a difficult task for quite some time. Neither myself or Molly has enough time to post much, and it's not a priority now that the house (phase 1) is finished. God calls us to more immediate and spiritually-important ways of spending our time right now. However, because I do occasionally have something to share, some news or little tidbit, I've decided to give Twitter a try. I'm not a Facebook guy, and likely never will be. Twitter, on the other hand, makes some sense to me as a micro-blogging site. With Twitter I am released from my perfectionism; I can't format text in certain ways or get picture widths just right or do other things exactly the way I want them. And I can't write a long novel. It's just text (pics and videos are options but more like an attachment), and it's only 140 characters per tweet. So everything on this blog that causes me to take a long time to author a post that meets my standards, well... it's not available on Twitter. So, it's very little effort and it's very fast, which means I'll actually use it instead of waiting until I have perfection to do a blog post. That's not to say I won't be doing blog posts in the future, I will, but tweets are a good way to keep things moving in between. And there's also the advantage that I can use Twitter easily on-the-go using my phone, which I wouldn't do with the blog.

One question might be, why am I such a perfectionist on blog posts? The truth is, I am a perfectionist (for certain things, though Molly would point out that cleanliness of my car is not one of them). But also, throughout this whole period of blogging I've known that eventually we would want to gather all of the posts we've done and put them into a book, just for the sake of family history and posterity. So little updates and trivial subject matter just haven't made the cut for blog posts. I am in fact currently working on putting our blog posts, from start to finish, into book format in order to self-publish it using It's an exciting endeavor; we've spent so much time writing on this blog, I don't want it to go to waste, and it will be great to have a hard-copy for posterity and for our kids.

But, for the foreseeable future, I'll also be on Twitter at @BrendanKoop. I've set up a widget on the right-hand sidebar of the blog that will pick up my tweets, and you can always look me up on Twitter itself to see what's going on.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Drawing of St. Dominic


Recently our newest godson, Dominic, was baptized and Molly and I thought it would be a great gift to do a drawing for him. It was also a great opportunity to get back to doing some drawing; it always helps me to have a goal and a deadline :-) 

I wanted to draw a picture of St. Dominic, founder of the Dominican order and our godson's patron saint, so I found an image of a painting of the saint and looked at that image while completing the drawing (altering a few things to keep it simple).

At any rate, here's how it turned out (click any to enlarge)...

The drawing is graphite pencil and white charcoal on light brown Canson drawing paper.

God bless you Dominic!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Evan's ordination to the diaconate!


Earlier this month we had the joyous occasion of attending the ordination of my brother, Evan, as a transitional deacon of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Evan is a seminarian at the St. Paul Seminary and, God-willing, will be a ordained a priest in May of 2012. But prior to that is his ordination as a deacon, and what a wonderful day it was! Praise God!

(Click any pics to enlarge)

The Koop clan arrives at the Basilica of St. Mary, in Minneapolis.

Evan with the kids prior to the ordination. 

Some of my pics are fuzzy (sorry, took them with my phone) but this gives an idea of the inside of the Basilica of St. Mary for those who haven't been there.

This photo was taken by The Catholic Spirit, our Archdiocesan newspaper (see here).

Evan and his fellow seminarians give their lives to the Lord in the service of the Church.

Evan is ordained a deacon by Archbishop John Nienstedt.

In a very special moment, my father, who is ordained as a permanent deacon, was able to help Evan don his vestments and greet him along with other clergy of the Archdiocese during the liturgy. Awesome!

A group photo after mass.

After mass, Molly and I pray with Evan and...

...receive one of his first blessings as a deacon.

At an open house later in the day, the kids get a blessing from Evan.

What a special blessing it is to have two deacons in our immediate family! We are so looking forward to Evan's ordination to the priesthood next year!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Henry's marker stone completed


You might remember that I designed a grave marker for our son Henry late last year (see this post). Since then the marker has been created by a company near St. Cloud, MN, with Minnesota granite, and now that the ground has completely thawed the marker has recently been installed. We hadn't been able to see the completed marker until the first time we went to see it at the cemetery, but praise God it turned out just like we had thought it should.

Here was my original design...

Here's a close-up of the left-hand side...

And here are some pictures of the finished marker in place (click any to enlarge)...

(It was raining and cold, so Aidan, Max, and Francis were in the van when I took the pic above)

It is a great relief to finally have this marker in place and to know it will always be there from now on.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Great video about the Twin Cities


I saw this on the Star Tribune web site and thought I'd post a link here, enjoy! It's all very true, though I'd rather not get the word out so that we don't have lots of people move here :-)