Matt Knutson: How do you intend to spend your weekend?

Published 9:39 am Friday, March 17, 2017

Matt Knutson is a communications specialist in Rochester.

“We really had good intentions with how we were going to spend this weekend,” I told my wife after reflecting upon all that we didn’t do. Occasionally we stumble upon these free weekends with very little planned, and it often results in us attempting to take advantage of the free time by checking things off our to-do lists. Sometimes we’re incredibly productive, and other times we’re accidentally lounging around the house with every intention of increasing productivity in an hour or two.

Our main goals last weekend were a bit more troublesome, in that they all had deadlines that are still weeks away from needing to be completed, and they will all likely cost us money. First thing on this list was to research flights to Arizona. Later this spring I’ll be heading down south for a few days for work, and my wife and daughter plan to tag along and turn it into a family vacation. They’ve never been to that part of the country before, so it should be a pretty exciting time for us all. I’m also excited about the concept of our first real family vacation. Last year we went to my parent’s cabin and Duluth, and it was a blast, but traveling to a whole new state by plane really takes it to another level. Granted, that level is a bit scary. We’ve flown with Gracelyn before, but that was before she was mobile. Now that she thinks everyone is her best friend, I’m not sure how she’ll resist roaming the plane’s aisle.

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We had also hoped to file our taxes last weekend. It turns out filing on your own is harder with a little one constantly tugging on your pant leg for attention. In a made-for-TV moment, I imagined us hiring a babysitter for Sera and I to file our taxes instead of going on a date night. I’m pretty sure this happened on the television show, “Fresh Off the Boat,” so maybe it’s not all that bad of an idea. I’m guessing when we do end up filing, it will be after Gracelyn has gone to bed and there won’t be quite so many interruptions. That’s not the tax strategy I ever thought I’d be thinking about. It will be the first year we are filing as parents, so maybe a magical tax credit will equate to us not having to pay this year. I can always dream, right? Speaking of taxes and dreams-come-true, if you made under $64,000 in 2016, you can always file for free at It’s one the great resources United Way provides to ensure families remain financially stable. Even if you don’t qualify, you should check it out and share with others.

The other project we had hoped to accomplish was filing the paperwork for Sera to officially become a U.S. citizen. The 20-page form is all pretty now when you look at all the other paperwork we’ve had to complete up to this point, but it is a bit daunting of a task. If you happen to answer incorrectly, the whole application could be thrown out. Did I mention that the 20-page form comes with an 18-page instruction booklet? It looks like we’ll need to dedicate some serious reading time to this application. We’ll also have to make photocopies of several additional documents and other evidence to provide to the government (again, as we’ve submitted most of this stuff many times by now), and write our hopefully last check to complete the naturalization process. The deadline we’re working toward here is more of us applying as soon as we possibly can instead of waiting the many years we have to apply with my wife’s permanent residency status. With potential travel bans and visa restrictions (none of which have impacted my wife directly so far), it will feel good to be on the other side of this journey.

Sometimes the biggest tasks don’t quite get done when you had initially planned, but there’s always the next weekend. Sometimes, we all need the time to rest and live in a moment where we’ve decided to cast away the tasks, worries and challenges of life. None of that ever fully disappears, but an unexpected deviation from our plans was just what we needed this weekend. Hopefully you’ll be able to step away this weekend to experience that same escape.