FATHERS | MR. FULL-TIME DAD
Five Stages of Toddler Sleep
WRITTEN BY: BEN HANSON
It’s 8:02 p.m. Macklin’s mama and I exchange knowing
looks, reluctantly nod our heads and announce to our
audience of one that it’s time for bed. Our nightly dance is
about to begin, and we wonder, as we start the chase, what
new moves may be introduced into the well-worn routine.
Three seconds later, the sounds of
three-year-old fists banging down
doors made clear we hadn’t yet made
Some nights, with naive optimism, I think back to the
days when Mack was an infant and wanted nothing more
than a quick night time bottle before being left alone to
fall quickly asleep in his crib. There wasn’t much cuddling
or soothing required in those early days. If you wanted to
sneak a snuggle, you had to risk waking him up by taking
him out of his crib mid-slumber.
It was well worth it — and still is to steal those precious
moments of silent bonding — but lately, we’ve been getting
our fill during the hour-plus emotional extravaganza that is
My wife, Emily, is a highly experienced and sought after
child and adolescent therapist. A real pro, in other words.
I do my best to follow her lead and pick up on the lessons
she teaches through her interactions with Mack. Her
patience rarely expires, but some nights the challenge of
getting Mack into bed (and keeping him there) can push
even her to the limit.
In the middle of one recent bout with an especially tired
boy, she walked out of Mack’s room and announced, “This
is like grief therapy … hoping we hit acceptance here soon.”
2 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com
Emily nailed it. Like I said, she’s a pro. Mack’s bedtime
has evolved into what we now call the five stages of
toddler sleep grief. Our goal is to navigate our way
through as quickly and as quietly as possible.
It’s now 8:02 p.m. … and ten seconds. The proclamation
of bedtime has been made, and Mack — right on cue —
issues his retort: “No it’s not.” He’s in full-on denial, often
going even further. “I want to wind up!’ he shouts before
turning his back to make his escape. Next to acceptance,
denial is the easiest stage to get past … I simply catch
him, throw him over my shoulder and march him up to
8:05 p.m. Time for some old fashioned kicking and
screaming. It’s best to just keep your distance for a few
minutes and let the little guy wear himself down on his
own. It’s not a fool-proof strategy, but it’s better than
catching an errant kick to the shorts. At some point,
we do have to jump in and pry him out of his clothes
before steering him into the bathroom to pee and brush
teeth … and yes, cry-brushing is a common occurrence,
ut we gotta get those sugar bugs out! Anger is the
least enjoyable stage for obvious reasons. Our secret
weapon is Mack’s low tickle threshold. He loves it, and
uncontrollable giggles always help the transition into
stage three … my favorite of the five.
8:20 p.m. A slightly more tired Macklin turns on his
charm and proceeds with his attempt to disarm us with
an onslaught of surprisingly witty compromises he
hopes will score him a few more minutes of playtime.
The most common bargains are “just one more story,
please Daddy?” or “how about some nighttime music, is
that a good idea?” or “will you send Mama in?” Lately,
he’s been very concerned about our new robot vacuum
and requests to double-check that it’s safely “at its home”
before he can really feel settled.
8:50 p.m. After a good 20-30 minutes of stories, more
bargaining and more tickling, Macklin resigns to the fact
that there is no escaping the inevitable. He’s not getting
out of his room until morning, and the revelation crushes
him. Regardless of who does the reading and the initial
tuck-in, the other parent is consistently called in to
replace the starter mid-way through stage four … and the
back-up always gets the best snuggles. A sad toddler is
sad but oh so loveable. Plus, the second parent gets the
win … ushering Mack calmly into stage five.
9:05 p.m. After fifteen minutes or so of soothing Mack
out of his nightly depression, he rolls over, turning his
back to me and says, “Goodnight, Daddy, you can go
now.” Stage five comes and goes in an instant, and it’s as
comforting to me as it is to him. Once stage five hits, we
rarely hear another sound coming from his room, aside
from perhaps one last visit to the bathroom.
Do I miss infant Mack and his astonishingly easy tuckins?
Absolutely. Do I wish Emily and I would have more
time to ourselves before we crash exhaustedly into our
own bed? Yep. Would I give up his
brilliant bargaining and adorable
acceptance stages to avoid the
other three? Nope. Some day,
not too far out, I’m sure I’ll
miss our nightly sleep grief
therapy sessions every bit
as much as I miss the
other struggles that
seemed so endless
… until they were
urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 3
VOLUME 7 • ISSUE 2
FATHERS - MR. FULL-TIME DAD
FIVE STAGES OF TODDLER SLEEP
FLY LIKE AN EAGLE
AERIAL SPRAYER ERIC KLINDT REACHES
RUSTICA - SIMPLICITY AT ITS FINEST
BACK IN BUSINESS: RUSTICA'S OWNERS
CARRY ON TRADITION
HAVING A BEER WITH - JEFF CULHANE
"VOICE OF THE BISON" AND PROGRAM
DIRECTOR FOR BISON 1660
4 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com
ON THE COVER - FIX IT FORWARD
THE MECHANICS OF FAITH
FIX IT FORWARD'S IMPACT ON THE
LOCAL BAND - THE HUMAN ELEMENT
ASK 30 WOMEN
WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU WISH ALL
MEN WOULD KNOW?
LOCAL HERO - MIKE GRUCHALLA
FROM THE MIDWEST TO VIETNAM AND
BACK, MIKE GRUCHALLA'S FOCUS HAS
ALWAYS BEEN DOING HIS JOB WELL
AND FIERCELY SERVING OTHERS
Urban Toad Media LLP
OWNER / PHOTOGRAPHER
OWNER / GRAPHIC DESIGNER
READ A PAST ISSUE
FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK
FOLLOW US ON TWITTER
FOLLOW US ON INSTAGRAM
The Good Life Men’s Magazine is distributed six times
a year by Urban Toad Media LLP. Material may not be
reproduced without permission. The Good Life Men’s
Magazine accepts no liability for reader dissatisfaction
arising from content in this publication. The opinions
expressed, or advice given, are the views of individual
writers or advertisers and do not necessarily represent
the views or policies of The Good Life Men’s Magazine.
urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 5
LIKE AN EAGLE
Aerial Sprayer Eric Klindt Reaches New Heights
6 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com
Of all the dangers
that are in a job, with all
the training you do, it just
becomes normal work that
I don’t really think of as
WRITTEN BY: JESSICA KUEHN
PHOTOS BY: URBAN TOAD MEDIA
Even though many people head to the lakes
in the summertime, you’ll often find Eric
Klindt flying in the sky. As an ag pilot with
Wilbur-Ellis Agribusiness in Wahpeton,
N.D., Klindt is putting his more than 20
years of experience in aerial spraying to
The late David Yaggie from Breckenridge,
Minn., first got Klindt involved with aerial
spraying. Klindt had always wanted to
farm, so he helped Yaggie and his son both
in a tractor on their farm and in a plane
with aerial spraying. Later, he attended
The University of Minnesota Crookston,
where he received his commercial pilot’s
license and aerial applicator training.
Even though he really enjoys flying itself
and how every day is different, there’s
something else he loves more than
“The best part is that you get paid to do a
job that you love to do,” he said.
urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 7
Eric also uses his plane
to assist in putting out fires
in the community.
Aerial spraying can be dangerous
work, especially when it comes to
the first initial pass with a heavy load
or when you’re taking off a shorter
strip with a full load, but Klindt said
he doesn’t worry about any of that
“Of all the dangers that are in a job,
with all the training you do, it just
becomes normal work that I don’t
really think of as dangerous anymore,”
The biggest thing he wants people
to know about aerial spraying is
how much the sprayers care for the
ground, the farmer’s crops and the
“Some can say that we’re not very
good to the environment by spraying
pesticides, but it’s those pesticides
that help the environment in
controlling weeds and bugs that can
overtake your field,” he said.
One of the most memorable
experiences in his career so far
includes being honored for the
work he’s done in the industry from
the National Agricultural Aviation
Association (NAAA). Another
memorable, albeit sadder, moment
includes doing flyovers at burials
after losing a pilot.
“Those are quite memorable,” he
said. “I mean, that’s something you’ll
never forget for the rest of your life.
There’s probably a lot more I could go
into, but it’s just the fact that you can
do this for a job and basically have
the winters off, even though I find
a lot of stuff to do, that’s rewarding
According to his bio on Wilbur-Ellis’
website, his motto is “go big or go
home,” which is a message he said he
can’t help but live by, especially when
flying around in his Air Tractor AT-
“I guess there’s nothing I do that’s
little,” he said. “Now in this industry,
it just so happens that I’m flying the
biggest ag plane there is to spray with
in the world, basically, so I can get
a lot done with it, which ultimately
helps the customers and the farmers
that I’m working for.”
With bigger equipment and planes,
more work is being accomplished
more quickly than it used to be,
making the process much more
efficient over time.
“If you go back 20 or 30 years, there
were almost twice as many airplanes
that did our work, but yet the number
of acres that were covered are about
the same, so we cut the planes in half
but we’re still doing the same amount
of work,” he said.
Klindt knows that some people aren’t
fans of the aerial spraying industry,
but he said most of their unhappiness
could be solved with more knowledge
about what they really do.
“Usually the people who don’t like
what we do are just quite ignorant
on what we do,” he said. “I always
say that people claim this stuff is so
Whether it’s cleaning out your toilet or cleaning the countertops, those
chemicals are way more toxic than the stuff that we put in our planes.”
8 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com
horrible. The stuff under your kitchen sink is way more
toxic than most of the stuff we put out of our airplane, but
you don’t think twice about that. Whether it’s cleaning out
your toilet or cleaning the countertops, those chemicals
are way more toxic than the stuff that we put in our planes.”
He said that they do use toxic chemicals at times, but that
isn’t all that they do, so he wants to help educate more
people about it.
Another aspect that’s important for people to know about
the industry is the importance of family support due to the
long hours that can often vary due to weather.
“If [the family] doesn’t understand the roles and the
sacrifices that they have to give in the summer when
they’re aerial spraying, that makes it very difficult,” he said.
For example, Klindt was in Iowa during this phone
interview, and then he was going to head to Illinois next. He
said that wouldn’t be possible without an understanding
family since he has to be gone often in the summertime
and work long hours, which causes him to miss family
outings and other events.
“If you don’t have a supportive family, it makes it difficult,
and I’m fortunate that I have a wife and kids that
understand that,” he said.
When asked what the good life means to him, he
responded: “To me, the good life is to be able to live in
a faith community, have a decent job, be able to do the
things you want to do and spend time with your family.” •
urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 9
Simplicity at Its Finest
Back to Business: Rustica’s New Owners Carry on Tradition
WRITTEN BY: MEGHAN FEIR • PHOTOS BY: URBAN TOAD MEDIA
Rustica Eatery & Tavern, one of Moorhead’s favorite restaurants,
closed its doors earlier this summer for two weeks. Panic ensued
in the hearts of their patrons. Once they were informed it would be
under new management, a second round of panic took place. This
time, it was concern over potential menu changes. Would people still
be able to get their “burrata fix”? Would the fried chicken and pizzas
still be available? Would those items taste just as good, if they were?
Would people’s taste buds ever dance again?
These and other questions bounced in the minds of many, but
thankfully for these loyal customers, the new management team
happened to be equally loyal employees of Eric and Sara Watson,
the previous owners. Executive chef Micah Leitel has worked at the
restaurant and tavern nearly four years, and Anna Weisenburger took
on her role as front house manager in March.
A month after Weisenburger started, the Watsons approached the
two employees, encouraging them to take over the business. It didn’t
take much convincing. Both Leitel and Weisenburger knew they each
wanted their own restaurant someday. “Someday” just came a lot
sooner than they had imagined.
While it’s inevitable the two will gradually make their mark on the
place, they want to keep Rustica customers happy and satisfied by
keeping staples on the menu and the restaurant vibes the same. The
homey environment, comforting food and occasional twists regulars
have grown to love will continue being a fixture of Rustica.
Read on to learn more about the new owners and
their unique approach toward working in the
10 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com
Good Life: Are there any drastic changes you two have
in the works for this place?
Micah Leitel: Our main goal is consistency. We want to
provide the same experience to the guests they’ve come
to expect. For now, we already have an existing clientele
that love the place, so why mess with that? Give them
what they want in the way they want it. Will it be exactly
the same this time next year? I highly doubt it. It will
Anna Weisenburger: We didn’t
want to rip the rug out
There are some things that just won’t change because
they’re not broken, but we definitely will slowly put
our mark on things.
GL: What’s something unique about how Rustica
ML: Our kitchen team is pretty awesome. They’re
very dedicated and disciplined, and that’s kind of rare.
Usually, kitchens are very chaotic places, but ours is
serene. Even on a wild Saturday night, nobody’s fighting
with each other. I can’t recall the last argument that was
in the kitchen. That’s something special.
AW: There’s not a lot of drama. Everybody jives together
really well. Another unique thing about our operation
is that we don’t have a specific dishwasher. Everybody
washes dishes back there. If someone isn’t as busy, they
go wash dishes. It is complete teamwork all across the
board. Nobody is too good for anything.
We didn’t want to rip the rug out from anybody.
There are some things that just won’t change
because they’re not broken, but we definitely will
slowly put our mark on things.”
— Anna Weisenburger
urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 11
GL: Did circumstances or a driving passion lead you
two to where you are now?
ML: I never set out to be a chef, but I’ve worked toward
where I’ve gotten. You experience things and look for
new challenges, and I found a lot of those here. If you
can survive everything, you move on to the
next station or role. I’ve always found that to
be exciting. Then you just keep moving and,
eventually, we got to buy the place. That’s
12 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com
AW: I think for people who take this seriously
and make it their career path, the goal is to
eventually own something. It’s often in the far-off
distance, and a lot of us never get to do it, but once you
reach a management role, what else is there, besides
having your own place?
GL: What makes Rustica so special in town?
AW: I think what makes it unique is that it’s so sought
after. It’s the best of the best. It’s comfort food that’s
done really well and we offer really great service.
ML: Simplicity takes a certain amount of confidence
because you don’t have much to hide behind. The
technique is very apparent right away. That’s the way
I go at it.
AW: I think the space we’re in also contributes to how
unique we are, as well. This is the oldest bar in town.
Guests can walk in and choose if they want to be in
the tavern or the dining room. You get to pick your
ML: We occupy that odd middle ground between fastcasual
and fine dining, so guests can really choose
their own adventure when they walk in the door.
GL: What does living “the good life” mean to you?
ML: I’d say it’s being satisfied with what you do.
Whatever it is you’re interested in, if you can turn that
into a career, why not? You don’t need to be rich, just
enjoy what you do. If you’re going to spend 13 hours a
day doing something, you should at least like it and
be able to look back on what you did that day with a
measure of pride.
AW: In the same sense, I feel pretty good about
watching the hard work you’ve put into something
make a difference, like turning a negative situation
into a good one with a guest and just seeing results.
We come in here every day and work really hard. If our
guests are happy with what they get from us, that’s a
day that’s been done well.
ML: I think owning this place would be a very poor
idea if we didn’t absolutely love what we do. I love
Rustica. I have so many good memories, and we’re
making more. •
Simplicity takes a certain
amount of confidence
because you don’t have
much to hide behind.
The technique is very
apparent right away.
That’s the way I go at it.”
— Micah Leitel
urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 13
HAVING A BEER WITH | JEFF CULHANE
I think I’ve learned that
time and place are very
important when you have
an opinion. To a certain
extent, you may be right
about something, but it
might not be the right
time to share it.”
14 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com
HAVING A BEER WITH
"Voice of the Bison" and Program Director for Bison 1660
WRITTEN BY: MEGHAN FEIR • PHOTOS BY: URBAN TOAD MEDIA
Jeff Culhane’s family has a history — of being in broadcasting,
I mean. His dad and uncle used their voices as announcers for
sporting events on and off the radio. That drew Culhane in.
While his friends would be playing video games, he would be
announcing play-by-plays for them as a kid.
By the time he was 14, Culhane was already working parttime
at a radio station.
After a few years in South Dakota, six years at Husker Sports
Network in Lincoln, Neb., and a stint in Morgantown, W. Va.,
he landed his current role as the official “Voice of the Bison”
for NDSU and the program director for Bison 1660, positions
he’s held for three years. At Bison 1660, Culhane has daily
talk shows and covers football, men’s basketball, baseball
and more. He, along with his team members, tries to cover as
many men’s and women’s sporting events and conferences
As we sat in Brewhalla for — what else — a brew and a holla
(sorry), I had the privilege of learning more about the guy
behind the Bison mic.
urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 15
HAVING A BEER WITH | JEFF CULHANE
Good Life: Jeff, you’re from Mitchell,
Jeff Culhane: Yes. They’re famous for the
GL: Is Mitchell also famous for other corn
things, like corn hot dishes, corn drinks
and corn candy?
JC: Not really. The Corn Palace gift shop has a
lot of candy corn stuff and corncob heads and
who knows what else. My parents actually
own a sports bar right across the street from
the Corn Palace, so corn chowder is on the
GL: It better be.
GL: Did you have to do some vocal
coaching to get your radio voice, or
did all your practice in elementary school
JC: I like to say I have a face for radio and a
voice for newspaper. Not really. I have noticed
through the years how certain things affect it,
like if I drink a sugary drink. On a football game
day, which is long and energetic, I’ll stay away
from any pop and ice-cold water. That sounds
weird, but I know how it makes me feel. I can’t
eat close to or during a broadcast. My wife
Sarah and I have a tradition called Game
Day Breakfast. It’s usually a combination of
eggs, bacon, pancakes or waffles. But, yeah;
no schooling or coaching for the voice. I just
have a feel for what makes my voice strong
GL: Did you ever have to work on getting rid of an accent?
Like me — I obviously have a very strong accent of sorts.
Some people think I’m Canadian. I’m not. Some people think I’m
from Alabama. I don’t know. Did you have to work on getting rid
JC: Not really. When I get into the broadcast mode, I don’t have the
upper Midwest sound. It’s not too over the top either way.
GL: Yeah, you have a very neutral voice.
JC: I was actually told from a southern school I applied for at one point
that I sounded too northern.
GL: Oh, my goodness. “The confederacy can’t handle it.”
JC: That was a legit response from the school. So it’s real. Call it
whatever you want to call it, but you have to sound like the locals to a
GL: Vocal prejudice.
JC: There you go. In this day and age, get outraged.
GL: That’s right. Get upset.
GL: What’s one of your hobbies outside of work?
JC: I like to play golf. I recently told my wife that if we’re ever lucky
enough to retire, a goal would be to play a golf course in every state of
the Union. That would be fun. I’m not very good, but I like to play and I
like to hang out with the guys or Sarah. We just had our first child five
weeks ago, so I would say he’s my number one hobby now.
GL: Congrats! Whoa, that’s a fresh baby.
JC: Thank you. Yes, he’s fresh, in more ways than one. He’s taken
things over, certainly for the better.
GL: What’s your favorite movie?
JC: Saving Private Ryan. I was in high school when it came out, and
I went there with a friend. Of course, when you’re 15 or 16 years old
16 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com
— or guys at any age — crying or
showing any emotion is just not
something you’re quite expected
to do. I remember we sat there
after it ended and we just kind of
looked at each other like, “Who’s
going to say something first?”
It was just such an amazing
account of D-Day, Normandy and
GL: What’s one of your
biggest personality traits
that have changed since you
were in your early 20s.
JC: I’m quieter than I was then. I
think I’ve learned that time and
place are very important when
you have an opinion. To a certain
extent, you may be right about
something, but it might not be
the right time to share it. I don’t
think there’s anything wrong
about saying what you feel, but
I definitely do think that if you’re
looking to continue improving
relationships and connect with
people, or you’re looking to
improve your career, it’s okay
to not say something from time
to time. That doesn’t mean you
can’t say it at some point.
GL: What’s one thing
you’re really into, almost
like an obsession — besides
JC: I would probably now say,
my son. As every parent that will
read this knows, it’s just different.
He and Sarah have been
constantly on my mind as she’s
still on maternity leave. I’ve been
thinking about the future and
how to do what’s best and how to
provide, protect and guide, stuff
that was as far away as you could
think it would be a year ago.
GL: What does living the
good life mean to you?
JC: What I’m doing right now. •
urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 17
ON THE COVER | FIX IT FORWARD
THE MECHANICS OF FAITH
FIX IT FORWARD'S IMPACT ON THE COMMUNITY
WRITTEN BY: MEGHAN FEIR • PHOTOS BY: URBAN TOAD MEDIA
Auto mechanics. They’re often met with mistrust.
Women, specifically, have been told to watch out for
mechanics that take advantage of the fact that many
girls (myself included) don’t know a whole lot about cars,
although, let’s be honest; many guys don’t either.
Throw that stereotype out the window and imagine what
a car obsession and philanthropy could accomplish
when joined forces.
Matt Carlson and Jeremy Jensen have been car hobbyists
for years. They’re probably the type of guys who tried to
soup up their Hot Wheels as kids, but starting an auto
care shop was never a bucket list item — for either of
Carlson and Jensen met when they attended Moorhead
High School in the ’90s. Years later, they both wound up
at Microsoft and reconnected. It was there where they
creatively merged their passion for cars with their desire
to help others.
Four years ago, their dream became a humble reality
with the beginnings of what is now known as Fix It
A Life of Service
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but
to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.
After 15 years of working a stable, well-paying job,
Carlson took the leap and began working for Jeremy’s
and his brainchild, Fix It Forward Ministry.
18 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com
“It was a difficult leap,” Carlson said, “but it was a good
time for me to move on, and things fell into place. I felt
like I was called to do this. We really felt like God led us.”
Carlson and Jensen first ran the ministry on a private
property out of town, but the limitations and location
made it difficult. Their shop, while sizable for a residence,
wasn’t large enough to service and store many vehicles.
They also lacked a fenced-in space that could house
donated cars. Despite these frustrations, they still knew
this was what they were supposed to do.
— the perfect spot to start their next idea — an auto care
shop to support the ministry.
“We came up with the idea of just creating the shop and
have it pay for the heat, electricity and the rent. We were
able to get this big building that has enough room for
everyone to work, and by having a regular automotive
shop, we were able to get insurance,” Carlson said. “The
more we can grow the auto shop, the more we can grow
the ministry because all the equipment is used for both.”
“We found out that if you give away your services,
it’s going to grow quickly,” Carlson said. “We started
by working with the YWCA, and then we went to the
Rape and Abuse Crisis Center. Lots of people have
transportation issues, but if you’re a single mom with five
kids, transporting is really difficult, so we thought we’d
focus on that area. Then we went to the homeless shelters
and 40 other organizations in the F-M community.”
As Fix It Forward swiftly grew, they acquired their 501(c)
(3) as a nonprofit and began giving away donated cars
they repaired. Soon a shop with 6,000 square feet,
private offices and a fenced-in area went on the market
urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 19
ON THE COVER | FIX IT FORWARD
Throughout this process, God’s impeccable timing and
creative way of providing for every need have reassured
and encouraged Carlson and Jensen.
“Before we changed our name and realized we needed
to start a shop, someone at Jeremy’s church wanted to
help with graphic design. We said, ‘That’s great, but
we don’t really need anything.’ Two months later, we
decided to start the shop and didn’t have a name, a logo
or anything,” Carlson said.
“He saw what we needed before we realized we needed
it,” Jensen said. “By the time we had the building, he had
everything laid out. He was like, ‘Here’s the logo, here’s
the name, here are the colors.’ God put Stephen Dorsey
in our path and knew the exact time we needed him, even
though we had no clue we would. The whole ministry
has been one thing like that after another.”
The people that have stepped up to the plate to help
the Fix It Forward journey take off have a wide array of
skill sets that are necessary for the mission’s success.
Carlson and Jensen stay in their lane and allow other
experts to assist them as they help those in need to gain
independence and safety. This is one reason they rely on
the organizations to provide the donees.
“It comes back to being good stewards,” Jensen said.
“We want to take the resources God’s given us, whether
it’s financial or people’s time, and apply those in the most
efficient ways possible. Part of that process is making
sure we’re not trying to do those things we’re not called
to do and avren’t skilled to do — letting the organizations
do their work so we’re efficient on our end.”
“We want to give cars to people so they can get that job and
get out of the shelter or away from that abusive person —
whatever it takes so they can be self-sufficient,” Carlson
said. “These case managers are great at identifying the
people who are in that spot. We’re not. We fix the cars.”
Sticking to their interest in fixing cars for a purpose and
allowing others to help them along the way has been
the most efficient way of growing their business and
20 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com
We attract people who are
really excited about our
mission, so it’s not just that
they want to turn a wrench;
they want to give back.”
— Matt Carlson, President
ministry. Both Carlson and Jensen encourage
others to use their interests to help others in
unique and practical ways.
“Take the skills God has given you and help
others,” Jensen said. “Take that gift, that passion
and focus it on something bigger than you.”
For too many people, work is a source of,
well, very little, besides earning income and,
hopefully, benefits. Sure, you may have a friend
or two at your job, one you can share memes
with for an occasional laugh, but it might be
hard to feel that sense of meaning.
It’s for this very reason that people have
sought out work at Fix It Forward Auto Care.
Carlson and Jensen have never had to post
job advertisements because the reward of the
purpose is so palpable.
“We have six employees here now. We haven’t
ever put an ad out to hire someone,” Carlson
said. “God keeps dropping the right people
in place for us. That’s kind of unique in this
As with many blue-collar jobs, there has been
a national shortage of auto mechanics, and the
turnover rate can be high. For Fix It Forward
employees and volunteers, the impact their
work makes in the lives of others keeps them
urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 21
“We attract people who are really excited about our
mission, so it’s not just that they want to turn a wrench;
they want to give back,” Carlson said.
“It’s a job with a big bonus,” Jensen said. “It’s very hard
to find a career or a paying job in this industry that has
that purpose or mission tied to it where you can go to
work not only to achieve wages but to give back to the
Fix It Forward Auto Care opened 16 months ago and
continues to grow alongside the ministry. They currently
have six employees and had over 75 volunteers involved
with the mission in 2018. They’ve also been able to fix
up and give away 178 cars to those in need. That number
continues to grow because of the generosity of others.
Many of Fix It Forward’s volunteers are a part of Carlson
and Jensen’s church families. It’s been a well-received
opportunity, especially for the men of their congregations.
“One of the struggles of the church is to get men
involved. Statistically, if a man is involved in his faith,
the family follows, but how do you get men involved in
the churches? Most men don’t want to serve cupcakes
at funerals. That’s not our calling, and nobody wants
Jeremy singing in the choir,” Carlson said. “So you have
to provide opportunities for these guys. For a percentage
of the population of the congregation, this gets them
Living the Good Life
When asked how they would describe what “living the
good life” means to them, the friends’ answers were as
meaningful as their mission.
“I think as I grow and, hopefully, become wiser, living
the good life is following the pattern that Jesus laid out,”
Jensen said. “Living the good life is doing the best I can
to take what God has given me and do good for others on
the path he has for me. It really comes down to that —
that giving back and living a life of service.”
“My thought is basically living out your faith,” Carlson
said. “Jeremy and I are both doers. One of my favorite
mottos is ‘Less talk. More do,’ so living out the faith is
going out there and doing those things that your faith
talks about, which is serving others. It’s a different way
of saying the exact same thing that Jeremy said, but that’s
22 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com
probably why we work on so much
together. I think most of the people
working with us would answer in
the same way. They feel that need
If you would like to get involved
with the ministry, here are a
number of ways you can help their
1 Volunteer. Help fix cars during
the evenings or weekends, or offer
to visit with clients as they wait for
2 Donate your car, if your car is
3 Give a gift. Cash donations help
pay for the car parts.
4 Get your car fixed at Fix It
Forward Auto Care. This is how
they keep the heat and lights on
and how the ministry stays afloat.
In order to receive help from
Fix It Forward, each individual
must have a referral from a case
manager connected to the YWCA,
Rape and Abuse Crisis Center, or
one of the 40 organizations Fix It
Forward Ministry works with on a
case-by-case scenario. •
Living the good life is
doing the best I can to
take what God has given
me and do good for
others on the path he
has for me. It really comes
down to that — that
giving back and living a
life of service.”
— Jeremy Jensen, Vice
urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 23
THE HUMAN ELEMENT
WRITTEN BY: KRISSY NESS
PHOTOS BY: URBAN TOAD MEDIA
Interviewing local Fargo-
Moorhead bands has
become the highlight of
my life these days. From
meeting new people and
listening to music I know
or I am hearing for the
first time is such a rush
and always a treat.
For this article, I had the
pleasure of interviewing
the members of The
Human Element. Seth
Holden is on drums and
is the resident comedian
(although they are all
hilarious), Matt Johnson
is their lead guitarist and
sings vocals, Brant Niemi
is their bass player and
bookkeeper, and Kari
Marie plays they keyboard
and sings vocals.
“We’ve been playing since
2015 as a band - Seth,
Kari, and myself and
Brant came aboard in
2018,” Said Matt. With
that being said they have
been playing music for
many years, whether it’s in
other bands like O’Fosho,
Sovereign Sect, Living In
Tent City, or just jamming -
these four have talent like
Before adding Brant to the
band they group can agree
there was something
missing. “Brant was like
the Ironman that put the
ship back together,” said
Kari Marie. “He is our
magical unicorn,” added
Although his band mates
are singing his praise, the
love they all have for each
other is admirable. Our
interview was a mere 35
minutes, definitely one of
the shortest interviews
24 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com
When we were
talking about what
we should call
ourselves once we
decided this was
a cohesive unit,”
said Kari Marie,
“one of the things I
thought was quite
prevalent is that
regardless if we
have original music
or if we are playing
cover tunes is that
we each bring our
own element or we
each bring our own
humanity to the
urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 25
LOCAL BAND | THE HUMAN ELEMENT
I’ve ever conducted, but it was filled with so
much laughter, knowledge, and love that I felt
like I’d been friends with them for years.
What does The Human Element mean, you
might be asking yourself?
“When we were talking about what we should
call ourselves once we decided this was a
cohesive unit,” said Kari Marie, “one of the
things I thought was quite prevalent is that
regardless if we have original music or if we
are playing cover tunes is that we each bring
our own element or we each bring our own
humanity to the songs.”
No matter how hard you try you can never
recreate what the original artist made, but you
can bring your own element to that cover.
The Human Element describes their sound as a
mix of funk and singer-songwriter. It is definitely
music you want to get up and move to and you
really feel connected to the band when they play.
“The music is so much better when you love
who you play it with and love what you do,” said
Seth. “It has got to be fun” added Matt.
26 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com
As a group, The Human Element doesn’t take their
music lightly but they approach it with a lighthearted
attitude and correct their errors with little
to no confrontation.
“We never dwell on mistakes we’ve made while
were playing or after,” said Seth. “ We may chuckle
about it after the show, but then (that mistake) will
never happen again.”
It is easy to tell by talking with one or all the
members, attending a show, or listening along in
your car that they really love what they do when
they are playing together in this band.
“We never obsess over how we played in the show,
we obsess over how fun it was to play the show,”
Matt. “There is always musicians to play with, but
there is not always musicians to play together,”
There is more to just music when it comes to
shows though, “The sound and light crew are just
as equally important as we are,” said Kari Marie.
“It’s not always just that the songs were good, it’s
how does the audience look, how crisp was the
kick drum, can I hear Matt’s guitar or Kari’s Keys?”
Everyone brings their own special part to a band
whether it is songwriting, composing, or making
sure the sound quality is the best it can be.
“We’ve been elevated to another level of magical
playing since we’ve had Brant,” said Kari Marie.
The Human Element is in the process of recording
a live album along with their third studio album,
the date is not set yet, but you can find their music
on iTunes, Spotify, Orange Records in downtown
Fargo or at any one of their shows.
For all upcoming shows check out their Facebook
page and check out some of their live shows on
YouTube, you won't be disappointed. •
urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 27
ASK 30 WOMEN
WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU WISH ALL MEN
“Yeah, I know.” “I knew that already.” “I know everything.”… False! You know some things, but not
everything, about the important ladies in your life. You really don’t, and we can prove it. We asked 30
women “What is something you wish all men would know?”
1. Don’t try to fix it - just listen!
2. Chivalry is not dead. We
always appreciate when you
hold open doors, or offer to carry
3. Women are like cats. We
want attention when we want
attention. But too much and we
4. Reaching to hold hands in the
car or in public actually means
5. It’s not always about the
big extravagant things. Little
gestures like doing laundry and
dishes are appreciated.
6. When you leave the toilet seat
up, we fall in. It’s not fun getting
7. It’s the little
mean a lot.
8. There is
11. When we are venting, a
great question to ask is, “Are
you just venting or do you want
me to help you solve this issue?”
Because sometimes we just
need to get it out but we will
handle it on our own.
12. Even strong and
independent women appreciate
hugs, hand holding, and kisses
on the forehead.
13. Women like to be told they
look nice. Everyone likes to be
14. “You look fine” is not an
15. How lucky you are to not
have to sit on a toilet in a public
women are the
19. They could avoid two
hour long conversations by
communicating well for five
20. We always notice when you
check out another woman. No
matter how hard you try to hide
it - we know.
21. We love any romantic
22. How much cramps hurt.
23. No matter what we say,
we always appreciate things
like unexpected flowers or
compliments or just coming up
behind us for a hug that isn’t
attached to any expectations.
IT'S NOT EVEN
24. We like Star
25. We shave
our legs for
26. A man
who cooks is a
dream come true.
27. We take so long getting
ready to look good for you.
9. We know
they’re not gonna
understand us, but
at least try.
28 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com
17. How to put the lid
18. We need
to hear “I love
you” even if
you are out
with your guy
28. I need to hear how you feel
about me often.
29. Stop competing and start
listening. It's a team project, not
30. My mood swings are
hormonal, not personal.
urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 29
LOCAL HERO | MIKE GRUCHALLA
WRITTEN BY: ALEXIS SWENSON
PHOTOS BY: URBAN TOAD MEDIA
When Mike Gruchalla arrived in
Saigon, Vietnam on January 11, 1970,
he hit the ground rolling - literally.
“As soon as we touched down at the
airport base ... the Viet Cong started
mortaring us. The airplane got to the
end of the runway, started taxiing
back, lowered the back ramp on
the airplane ... we exited while the
airplane was still taxiing ready to
take off. So, I hit the ground rolling,”
Merely seven months prior the
19-year-old had been drafted to serve
in the Vietnam War.
“I drafted and then I enlisted [in the
Army] because my older brother had
gone AWOL. I figured that if I enlisted
and volunteered to be a medic and
got sent to Vietnam, it would keep
my brother out of Vietnam,” said
30 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com
Gruchalla volunteered to be a medic
simply because he knew they were
needed and assumed it would send
him to Vietnam.
In August 1969, Gruchalla left for
Fort Lewis, Washington to complete
basic training followed by Advanced
Individual Training (Gruchalla’s
medic training) in Fort Sam Houston,
Texas. After the abbreviated training,
Gruchalla went home for Christmas
leave and arrived in Vietnam on
January 11, 1970.
Life in Vietnam
Gruchalla felt life at base camp was far
less appealing than getting out in the
field and often volunteered for patrol
with any group that wanted a medic.
“I didn’t like being at base camp
where I had to have spit-shine shoes,
a pressed uniform; I wanted to do my
job,” said Gruchalla.
This willingness to go out with anyone
— Koreans or other allies — exposed
Gruchalla to extremely dangerous
situations. In the course of nearly 2
years, Gruchalla found himself in 15
different tunnels, being shot, surviving
four helicopter crashes, and being run
over by a tank.
Earning the Combat Medical
Most memorably, Gruchalla cites the
event that earned him the Combat
Medical Badge Medal, because,
“there were only 2,231 combat medic
badges awarded in Vietnam.”
“On July 2nd, I was sent out to a
firebase ... The night of the 2nd, we
got attacked. When the attack started
the enemy was playing Johnny Cash,
Charlie Pride, and other country
songs over loudspeakers in the jungle.
Over a period of five or six hours, we
threw everything at them we had.
That badge says I did
my job. I think I did
it well. I wish I could
have saved more,
but there’s only so
much you can do.”
– Mike Gruchalla
urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 31
LOCAL HERO | MIKE GRUCHALLA
We even lowered the guns and fired
beehive rounds (155 howitzer with
seal darts), said Gruchalla.
“... I was dragging a wounded soldier
into the command bunker with the
help of another guy. A satchel charge
went off in front of us, blew me into
the tunnel, and as soon as I got into
that tunnel, they blew it. That sealed
“There were 38 of us in the bunker
and we called in an A-B52 strike on
our position. When it was all done,
63 GI’s died. 38 of us got off. I was
“When we got dug out, it was my job
to tag and bag the 63 guys. The first
guy that I tagged and bagged was
the guy that was helping me with the
wounded man. He had the flag from
that firebase inside his shirt. And, I
32 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com
have that flag today,” said Gruchalla.
According to the American War
Library, the Combat Medical Badge
Medal was established to recognize
medical personnel who experienced
combat while providing medical
assistance to wounded personnel.
“That badge says I did my job. I think
I did it well. I wish I could have saved
more, but there’s only so much you
can do,” said Gruchalla.
Gruchalla also received a Purple
Heart Medal, a Bronze Star Medal,
and a Silver Star Medal, but the only
paperwork he has is for the Combat
Medical Badge Medal.
“When I came home from Vietnam, it
took me 4 months to get my things …
They were going through and taking
things out ... because they made
references to where I was,” explained
Gruchalla reasons that the paperwork
was confiscated because he carried
out some of his work in Cambodia
and Laos – a direct violation of
“We weren’t supposed to be there,”
Per military rules, an individual is
allowed to wear their medals if they
have paperwork to verify earning
them. As such, Gruchalla continues
to be denied from wearing the
medals. Initially frustrated, he has
now reached a resolve of sorts.
“It hurt at first, but it doesn’t matter
now. My dad saw my medals and
that’s all that counts,” said Gruchalla.
It hurt at first, but it
doesn’t matter now. My
dad saw my medals and
that’s all that counts.”
– Mike Gruchalla
Despite diligently doing his job to help fellow soldiers,
Specialist Spc. 4 Gruchalla’s homecoming was
characterized by a negative public perception of
“... On the flight from Minneapolis to Fargo, the only
seat that was available was first class. There was a guy
sitting in the window seat next to me. As soon as the
plane took off, he went and sat with the stewardesses;
he didn’t want to sit by a Vietnam vet. When we landed
in Fargo, nobody got off the plane until I did. They all
waited at the back of the baggage claim area until I got
my bag and walked out the door,” said Gruchalla.
In the following weeks, Gruchalla determinedly
attempted to register for college.
“I dressed the part – bell-bottoms, shirt with puffy
sleeves, the beads, the whole thing. But, I went up to
the registrar's office and pretty much got chased off of
urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 33
LOCAL HERO | MIKE GRUCHALLA
Moorhead State. I had short hair,
I was a Vietnam vet, I was a ‘baby
killer’, said Gruchalla.
“I went home. I spent four months
in my folks’ basement growing out
my hair. I didn’t go out for anything
because I didn’t know if I would be
accepted for having medium length
hair,” said Gruchalla.
A Continued Medical Career
Eventually, Gruchalla acquired a
job in the medical field, continuing
to care for hurting people. For 10
years, he worked at Dakota Hospital
for orthopedic surgeons. Then,
he spent the next 27 years at the
Fargo VA Hospital working in the
Gruchalla saw firsthand how much
of what the medics learned in
Vietnam was put into practice on
“It was a slow process, but it went
from ambulances basically being
34 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com
a meat wagon ... to someone riding
in the ambulance able to initiate
medical treatment. And, with that,
the use of helicopters to transport
because we found out in Vietnam
that we only had basically an hour
before things would permanently
die,” said Gruchalla.
“My Lives as a Medic”
At the consistent urging of a VA doctor
and Gruchalla’s now-wife, Gruchalla
authored a book outlining the stories
he carries from the Vietnam War. He
was reluctant at first, in part due to
his dyslexia which made the writing
process challenging, though he’s glad
now that he wrote it.
“My Lives as a Medic: A Soldier’s
Journal in Vietnam” provides a
raw, honest memoir of Gruchalla’s
experience in the Vietnam War.
Giving Back Today
Gruchalla wasn’t always involved - or
invited - into veterans organizations.
“When I first came home, the VFWs
and the American Legions called me
... they both told me they didn’t want
me. ‘Vietnam was not a war ... we
don’t want the Vietnam vets’,” said
Many years later, prompted by the
positive change in the public’s view
of Vietnam veterans, Gruchalla
joined the VFW, AM Vets, Disabled
American Veterans, and Vietnam
Veterans of America.
Gruchalla helps the Vietnam
Veterans of America with their 5K
and 10K races as a crossing guard
and is involved with the Fargo
Moorhead Vietnam Veterans Week
Furthermore, for the past four years,
Gruchalla has volunteered with
the Veterans Honor Flight of ND/
MN, a nonprofit created solely to
honor America’s veterans for their
sacrifices. He assists in Honor Flight
fundraising events and has been the
cook for the past 2 years.
Helping with the Honor Flight is a rewarding
experience for Gruchalla, and his favorite part is “just
seeing the veterans as they see the memorials.”
The Good Life
“In spite of being diagnosed with cancer and having
a stroke, I’ve had a good life. And, most people would
say a good life ... with friends and family. ... I have
associations and acquaintances because in Vietnam
I learned that you don’t want to be friends with
anybody because when friends die, it hurts. When we
acquaintances die, it’s not as bad,” said Gruchalla.
Undoubtedly, the Vietnam War played a large role in
Gruchalla’s life although he’s not solely defined by his
years serving. Rather, his life in whole is a greater
representation of his values.
When looking at Gruchalla’s experiences, it is evident
that in enlisting to protect his brother, working as a
Combat Medic, 37 years in the medical field, writing
a book, and volunteering with veterans organizations,
his primary focus has always been caring for others.
“... I wouldn’t change a thing. It was meant to be. And,
like I said, it’s been a good life,” said Gruchalla. •
... I wouldn’t change a thing.
It was meant to be. And, like I
said, it’s been a good life.”
– Mike Gruchalla
“My Lives a Medic: A Soldier’s Journal in Vietnam”
can be purchased by emailing:
urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 35
5¢ PER BOTTLE
for MILLER HIGH LIFE
and MILLER HIGH
Empty and unbroken
MILLER HIGH LIFE and
MILLER HIGH LIFE LIGHT bottles only.
Return in recyclable original carriers,
cartons or boxes.
Donations go to:
Fargo/Moorhead, Detroit Lakes
CASS/CLAY VETERANS ASSISTANCE FUND
and VFW COLOR GUARD FUND
or any of the other registered organizations at:
You can also donate the value
of aluminum cans, magazines,
newspapers and #1 and #2