Fifty Years

FIFTY years ago today, two people (who would later become the best Mom and Dad in the world) got married. This set in motion the events that later would result in a wonderful childhood filled with extraordinary parents (and role models), an amazing sibling, an understanding of unconditional love, a meaningful appreciation of faith, many tremendous opportunities, continued support, unforgettable memories, and the foundation of what has become a life that I have NOTHING but gratitude and appreciation for - a life that includes an amazing wife (and a cast of equally amazing in-laws, siblings, and nephews), five of my own kids that truly amaze me every single day of my life, a brother-in-law (and his supporting cast and crew) who's faith and devotion to God and family inspires me to be a better man every day, and their sons who fill my life with laughter and hopefulness.

Thank you mom. Thank you dad.

Words alone cannot begin to express the level of gratitude I have for everything you have done.



FOF Observation #33

The "FOF Observations" are a series of "Perpetual Posts" where I will share with you, my readers, short little "one line" observations that I have made (or will be making) on being the father of a large family. You will be able to access each of the posts in a cohesive list by clicking on the "FOF Observations" link in the "Perpetual Posts" group on the sidebar.
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I wonder if folks who don't have five kids (four at home and three of those four having their own cars and one additional work van (full sized)) can fully appreciate this scene.

This scene is hardly recognizable to me at this point.



World Radio Day - 2018

This was my first year knowing about, and therefore celebrating "World Radio Day".  It came across my Facebook feed from one of the many radio groups I belong to... (Shortwave, Antennas, Antique Radios, Old Time Radio Programs).  What is "World Radio Day" you ask??

According to Wikipedia...
"World Radio Day is an observance day held annually on February 13th. World Radio Day is about celebrating radio, why we love it and why we need it today more than ever. A day to remember the unique power of radio to touch lives and bring people together across every corner of the globe."
So, I devised a plan to send out a few "World Radio Day" posts throughout the day.  I started off with making a "cover photo" (the wider photo across the top of your Facebook feed...  I scoured the web and found this photo.  It fit the space nicely,  and highlighted a couple of my favorite things about radios.. An antique (pre-television) radio, and it's usage for family entertainment during the "Golden Age of Radio".   I added a little "watermark" text over the photo to highlight what it was all about, then posted it with a description / explanation...

Next, I set up my shortwave radios on the table, and started scanning the bands for transmissions.   Daytime is typically not very friendly to the shortwave bands - as reception is at it's worst.  I was able to find several - but not from very far away.  Most of them were along the eastern seaboard of the United Sates.

I also posted a "radio themed" update about my work, since after all, a big chunk of my job is as a "broadcaster" on the Public Safety Radio band!

And finally, I posted an update with some photos and descriptions of the antique radios in my collection.    Afterwards, while scrolling my Facebook feed - I thought it would be a fun update here on FOF too.

So, without further adieu, I present to you, the four Facebook status updates strung together. 

Enjoy (or for my Amateur Radio friends... 73's)



First update: 12:57am


Happy "World Radio Day".

I am convinced, now more than ever, that I was born in the wrong generation. I'd give up all things digital and video, to go back and enjoy the GOLDEN AGE OF RADIO. #WorldRadioDay

Find out more...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Radio_Day


2nd update: 5:00pm

A quick hour of doing some informal SWL DX'ing with the full collection for #WorldRadioDay... Operating 2130-2230 UTC.

Left to right...
Eton Mini
Eton 550 BT Field Radio
Radio Shack DX-375
Degen DE1103
Degen DE31 - indoor active loop antenna
I had the WRTH handbook out for reference.
In the one hour of operation I found the following stations.
9265 kHz - WINB (World International Broadcasters Station) - Red Lion, Pennsylvania
9565 kHz - International Broadcasting Bureau - Greenville, NC
9690 kHz - Radio Exterior de Espana - Noblejas, Spain (at least as best as I could tell)
9980 kHz - WWCR (World Wide Christian Radio) - Nashville, TN
11930 kHz - Radio Martí - Greenville, NC
12050 kHz - WEWN - Birmingham, Alabama, USA





3rd update: 8:00pm

Who knew??

So much of my "leisure" is spent on the radio - that in one way or another, I should have expected that I would end up working in "radio" (Public Safety Radio) in my professional life as well.  #WorldRadioDay



4th and final update: 10:00pm

It's drawing to an end, but World Radio Day would not be complete if I did not also include one of my biggest radio passions - some of the Antique (vacuum tube) radios I have collected.

All of these radios are "project radios" of one sort or another at this point.  They are just waiting for me to have some free time (ha!) to be able to commit to "re-capping" them. Recapping a radio means Restoration of the electronic components inside the radio which degrade over time.  Typically, the capacitors, resistors, and much of the wiring.  But, as you can see in the photos - it also means refinishing some cabinet woodworking - and the "grill cloth".

Left to right Top row, then bottom row...
Silvertone Floor - Unknown model / year (Possibly a Model 1729 from 1934)
Delco R-1243 (1947)
E.H. Scott Allwave 23 (1937)
Philco 37-84 (1937)
Coronado Floor - Unknown model / year
Zenith 5R-312 (1939)


FOF Observation #32

The "FOF Observations" are a series of "Perpetual Posts" where I will share with you, my readers, short little "one line" observations that I have made (or will be making) on being the father of a large family. You will be able to access each of the posts in a cohesive list by clicking on the "FOF Observations" link in the "Perpetual Posts" group on the sidebar.
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A 13-year-old-girl slumber party at our house means that dad has to construct a “pyramid of breakfast sausages”
while mom does a “massive mound of pancakes”!

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Once its all on the table, ill be seeking concealment and cover!

Alert the seismologists - the "thundering heard of girls will be racing up the steps shortly!

P.S.  Yes, THESE SHOES belong to the same group of “über cool” girls!

Honora and Her Irish Spinning Wheel

Since I was a young lad I have been what you may call an "ancestry nerd".  I have fond memories of my first “family tree project” in junior high school, and even fonder memories of spending time with my Mémère (my grandmother) walking through some old family cemeteries, and recalling stories of relatives long past.  Currently, my family tree contains 522 people, and I have successfully traced my family’s origins back to the mid 1700’s.     

Yesterday, a new (well, new to me) photo of my Great-Grandmother popped up on Facebook.  When I saw it, and read the story behind it, I could hardly contain my nostalgic excitement!



This photo is of my Great-Grandmother.  My mother’s grandmother.  My Mémère’s mother.

Her name was Honora.  She also went by Nora, or her nickname “Guppy”.  Unfortunately, I never had the pleasure of meeting her as she passed some 14 years before I came along.  From the stories I have heard about my Great-Grandmother from my mom, my Mémère, and other family members – I have no doubts she would have gotten along famously!!   

The photo was posted on Facebook by one of my mother’s cousins in celebration of what would have been my great-grandmother’s 150th birthday on January 1st.   I was told that my Great-Grandmother was about 88 years old when this photograph was taken (circa 1955-1956 - some 62 years ago) and likely taken inside her home in Finlayson, Minnesota.

The tale behind the photo goes a little something like this...

The Minneapolis Star or The Minneapolis Tribune (I am not certain which local paper it was, but they merged in 1982 and the combined papers are now known as the Minneapolis StarTribune) was going to run a piece about Honora and her Irish spinning wheel.  This photo was taken for that article.  Unfortunately, shortly before the story was completed and published my Great-Grandmother passed away.  I was told that because she passed away prior to the story’s completion, the article was never printed.  Family members expressed their disappointment in this fact.  Sixty-two years later, the disappointment continues.  I would have LOVED to have been able to read the article.     

The Facebook status update with the photo opened some further dialogue with extended family members that included memories of Honora and of the spinning wheel.  I learned that Honora’s oldest living grand-daughter still has the spinning wheel displayed in her living room!  (I have asked for photos – and if they come, I will be sure to update this blogpost!)  This also led to some discussion about the original “draft” of the story for the newspaper.  I learned that it may have been saved after all and  (fingers crossed) that there is a possibility it could be retrieved.  That will also surly guarantee an update – and a very happy Father of Five!



Oh, and as a BONUS - I also received a copy of a photo of of my Great-Grandmother with a number of HER grandchildren (which includes my mother, two of her three brothers (my uncles), and their cousins).  My mother and her brothers highlighted with yellow arrows.  I would guess my mother looks about three years old in this photo (and appears to be pouting).

  

The Birdhouse

This is not just an ordinary birdhouse. 

This was a birdhouse that was handmade by my paternal grandfather for me.

It is at least 43 years old.

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slabs2While my grandfather was still alive he made a set of these birdhouses for his children and grandchildren.  He made them by hand from left over lumber “slabs”. 

(Slabs are the rounded sides, along with other parts of a log, not usable as lumber.)  

A few years ago, while cleaning his garage, my dad dug up the birdhouses my grandfather had made for my sister and myself.  My dad stored them away many years ago, safe-keeping them for us as adults.  When I was given mine, I decided to keep mine inside as a decorative item vs putting it outside in the elements. 

It sits in a prominent place above the cabinets in our kitchen.



My grandpa was the subject of a previous post here on The Life of a Father of Five titled Grandpa’s Tackle Box
There, you can read a little bit more about him.  


A couple of days ago the Mother of Five and I decided it was high time we conducted a “deep clean” of our kitchen.  One of the tasks we undertake when we “deep clean” the kitchen is the removal of all our “tchotchke” and “bric-a-brac” that decorates and adorns the tops of our kitchen cabinets.  We have several silk plants, a couple of decorative plates, some “country theme” figurines, and some antiques / family heirlooms.  One of the heirloom items that lives above our kitchen cabinets is my birdhouse.

When we pulled my birdhouse down from above the cabinet, I could not help but notice how “lackluster” it had become.  It was looking very dull, covered with dust and general kitchen “grime”, and had lost it’s radiance.  I was feeling disappointed with how my birdhouse was beginning to look, so I took a little bit of time from the “deep clean” to really bring my birdhouse “back to life”.  When I was finished I was shocked by the reminder of the beauty of my birdhouse – and the feeling of connection with my grandfather it gave me again. 

My grandfather (the one who built this birdhouse) passed away when I was very young (5 years old).  My memories of him are limited and any connection I have to him are deeply meaningful to me (again, I will reference back to “Grandpa’s Tackle Box” above.

This birdhouse tops my list. 

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Seven Days, Seven Photos.

My sister-in-law tagged me in social media to take part in the “Seven day, seven photo" challenge.  Normally, I do not partake in these – but it was a short challenge (only 7 days) and had minimal “requirements” – so I decided to partake.

The rules were simple.

Seven days.
Seven black and white photos of your life.
No humans.
No explanation.

I enjoyed it so much, and one of my friends (also a blogger) who also completed the challenge put the idea in my head that the culmination of the photos would make a great blog post.  I agreed.  So, I am posting the seven photos here too!
I will follow the same rules with only one modification.  I will post all seven simultaneously. 

Seven black and white photos of your life.
No humans.
No explanation.

Enjoy.



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2017-10-18 16.54.30


2017-10-19 05.33.53


2017-10-20 06.37.59


2017-10-21


2017-10-22 09.42.55


2017-10-23 17.13.43a

FOF Observation #31

The "FOF Observations" are a series of "Perpetual Posts" where I will share with you, my readers, short little "one line" observations that I have made (or will be making) on being the father of a large family. You will be able to access each of the posts in a cohesive list by clicking on the "FOF Observations" link in the "Perpetual Posts" group on the sidebar.
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Well, it’s been almost two and a half years since my last observation (and almost two months since my last post of any kind).  This observation is more of a “continuation” of Observation #22 – but it applies to a different one of my “brood”. 

Observation 22 was about #4 of 5Observation 31 is about #5 of 5 – well, more accurately, about her friends.


My daughter and her friends are the coolest!
Wanna know how how I know?

She had a sleepover a couple of nights ago and this is the pile of shoes I found in our entryway the morning!!


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Days I wished would pass, but now I long for.

Lately, I have been inspired by friend and fellow Blogger “Backside of Forty” who has been “purging” clutter around his house.  We have been in our home for eighteen years now.  Eighteen years, and five kids.  We too suffer from a lot of “clutter” taking up space.

Unused AppliancesCase in point.  A “repairable” front load washer.  A number of years ago we bought a front load washer and dryer set.  Since then, we have discovered how much we DISLIKE a front load washers…   So when the time came to replace the “dampers” (like little shock absorbers) YET AGAIN, we replaced the set, and moved the front loader set aside to “repair and sell” at a later date.  They have been taking up space in our laundry room ever since.  Add to that a large upright freezer that we no longer use, and you have a laundry room stuffed with unused appliances.

Yesterday (with the MUCH NEEDED aid of #3 of 5 and #4 of 5) I removed the aforementioned appliances from the laundry room, and set them up in the garage for cleaning and (God willing) a future re-homing.      

When I removed the freezer – a large number of odd items appeared.  (A few lone socks, several pens, miscellaneous screws / nails / and assorted hardware items, and…  A small green object that has not been seen “loose” in our house in a very long time was also in the mix.) 

DUPLO

Yup.  That’s a DUPLO.

With five kids in this house – DUPLOS (then later – LEGOS) were a mainstay toy in our home.  They were almost always “present” in one form or another.  Either built sets, homebrew / handcrafted creations, piles of them left out to play with, or (as every single parent can attest to) the ever-present “errant” (or loose / lost) LEGO that will inevitably be stepped on in the dark! 

DUPLOS were intended for children ages 1 1/2 to 5 years old – where they (kids) typically transition off into the world of LEGOS.  Given that estimate – and the fact that #5 of 5 is now 13 years old – it’s fair for me to say that I don’t think I have seen an errant DUPLO around here for the better part of seven or eight years now.  Other than a set of Christmas LEGOS that we have – I don't think I have seen regular LEGOS out for two or three years now.

The thing about LEGOS though… They are sort of “ageless”.  I remember having TONS of fun putting LEGO sets together with my kiddos.  Heck even Dr. Laura Schlessinger (70 year old talk radio host) admits to building LEGO sets for fun!  I think I could sit down and start digging through the bin and start building with LEGOS again.

#5 of 5 playing with LEGOSSo, when I dug out the storage bin we have for our DUPLOS (to put the errant long lost green DUPLO back with it’s own kind), I had to remove the large storage bin of regular LEGOS to gain access. 

That’s when it happened.

#5 of 5 heard that unmistakable sound of LEGOS
and came a-runnin’. 

“Is that the LEGO bin?” she asked. 
“Yes.  Yes it is.” the Mother of Five replied. 
“Can I play with them?” #5 of 5 inquired. 

A few minutes later, I was whisked backed to days of old. 

Days that I couldn’t wait to move past (back then), but days I long for again (now).

Facebook killed the Blogger Star?

Just like how The Buggles proclaimed back in 1978 how “Video Killed the Radio Star” many (most?  all?) of the blogs I once followed with frequent (and enjoyable) content (and this includes The Life of a Father of Five) have fallen prey to the wildly popular and quite addictive call of the Facebook Siren.  Yup.  Facebook Killed the Blogger Star. 

siren3“Facebook Siren” - Dangerous creatures from Greek’ish Mythology who lured unsuspecting bloggers in with their enchanting content, quick and easy posting, and immediate feedback (with notifications) to shipwreck on the rocky coast of the internet.  Not a loud acoustic alarm used to alert people to emergencies (although I think a compelling argument could be made for the need of the latter).

I joined Facebook to keep up with friends and family.  I wanted to know about what they are up to.  What their kids / grandkids are up to.  I wanted to see what ever became of some of my old friends.  I wanted to interact (even if it is just a quick “like” or a short “good job”).  I wanted to connect and to reconnect.  Facebook allows me to keep up with, and even interact with folks I would not have normally been able to do so.  The connections I have made and have re-established through Facebook ARE important to me.  Yet, lately with the volatility of everything going on around the world, and the polarity that society has moved towards (racially, politically, religiously, fundamentally) – people have found the need to share their racial, political, religious and fundamental values (while (arguably) refusing to even acknowledge anyone else’s racial, political, religious and fundamental values) on Facebook.  So much so that I often hear (and can see) just how toxic Facebook has become. 

It saddens me.  When people mention to me how they can’t stand being on Facebook any more, and ask me how I can tolerate it – my answer(s) are pretty simple.  I only share things that I would like to know about from others.  I only engage in things that I would share.  And if I see something posted that I strongly agree or disagree with (or my opinion falls anywhere in-between) racially, politically, religiously, or fundamentally I scroll past it.  I seek out and find the next update of what your kid accomplished, or who’s become a new parent / grandparent, who is going through a rough time, or who adopted a new “fur friend”. 

A congratulatory “like”, a complement, a kind word, or a supportive sentiment is what I like to get, and like to give.   

I have STRIVED to make Facebook a POSTIVE thing in my life – and ya know what?  It has worked for me for the most part.  Oh, sure – it can be “addictive” and sucks up a lot of time.  It has also been the cause (and effect) of my lack of blogging (which I enjoy). 

Screenshot_2017-07-01-07-20-40I suppose an argument could be made that by ignoring all things racial, political, religious, and fundamental that I am burying my head in the sand.  I have also been personally accused of supporting “one side” of the spectrum by not supporting the “other side” (and that comes from both sides of whatever the argument de’jour happens to be).  Maybe my critics are right.  I don’t know.  If they are, ignorance is bliss, and bliss keeps me pretty happy.  It has worked for me so far – so I am sticking with it.  Go ahead and think less of me. 

What inspired me to BLOG today was one of those “Facebook” memes.  The one where you log in to a website, and the site scours your FB posts, and comes up with an infographic of the words you use most on Facebook.  Normally, these are also status updates I scroll past – but this morning I succumbed to my personal curiosity and requested one be created for me. 

THIS was the result.

I started to post about it on FB, when all of a sudden it occured to me that this would make a really nice post here on The Life of a Father of Five! 

With a few minor exceptions, virtually everything in the infographic is positive – and relates to family, friends, hometowns, kids activities, and things that bring joy into my life.

THIS is still why I still enjoy Facebook. 

THIS is why I don’t care that there are folks who accuse me of being ignorant, oblivious, or accuse me of being “part of the problem” for not engaging in all the negativity.

Today, BLOGGING KILLED THE FACEBOOK STAR and to be honest…
It feels pretty good!



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It Was a Beautiful Evening

It was a beautiful evening.  I had just finished two extended overtime shifts, and the Mother of Five was going to be attending one of #4 of 5’s out of town softball games.    

Since I had about an hour or so to spare (which is pretty unusual) I emailed my parents and asked them if they were going to be home that evening.  I mentioned that it had been a while since I had been over to see them and wanted to just stop by and shoot the breeze for a bit.  They replied that they were going to be home.

So, I stopped by. 

There was no plan, no agenda, and no script.
I simply enjoyed a cold beer, a cigar, and the company of my parents on their deck.
It was delightful! 
Best leisure hour I have had in a while!  

Thanks mom and dad!

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What Will the Future Hold?

I’m not a big “resolution maker”.

Despite this little factoid, for the past few years I have attempted to make a small personal resolution to spend a little bit of time and attempt to blog at least once a month. Looking over the statistics from past three years I do believe a shifty enough high price attorney could almost argue that I have kept my “resolution”.

The truth of the matter is I “used to” enjoy blogging. Well, perhaps that statement came out the wrong way – I think I still like blogging, but if I am to be completely honest - I’m not sure if I still do because it is a struggle to find the time to blog more than half a dozen times a year.

I often ask myself why I struggle at this if I enjoy it so much. I can come up with several reasons. One of the reasons that keeps reoccurring has to do with the theme of the blog. “Life as a father of five”. Let’s just look at the five for a moment here. #1 of 5 is 28 years old. TWENTY EIGHT YEARS OLD!! (When and how did that happen??) #2 of 5 is 21 years old, and #3 of 5 is 20 years old. These three have crossed over the threshold, and is (in at least one case) well into their “adult” years. (Yes, the word “adult” is in quotation marks. I’ll leave that sitting there, and let you decipher the symbolism and implication behind that all on your own! Bwa ha ha ha!!)    #4 of 5 and #5 of 5 are still “dependents” (at least for the purposes of tax preparation), being 16 and 12 years old, respectively. Over the ten(+) years of “life as a father of five”, there is so very little that has not already been addressed, or that either I, the Mother of Five, or one of the miscellaneous five kids do not want publicly discussed. Coming up with new content, or content that I find motivational is challenging.

I’m not sure what this all means. I miss blogging as a creative outlet. Goodness knows, when it comes to the “creativity” genes – my very talented, artistic, and musical gifted sister was the lucky recipient. Still, I crave a creative outlet. I probably should not give up on blogging. I have enjoyed it, and often times found it quite therapeutic. I have made numerous friends. There is a bunch of family history here (much of which puts a smile upon my face).

Currently, there is no means to forecast what the future holds for me either. My life as a father (of five), and Father of Five (the “dot com”) are both still a work in progress. There will (undoubtedly) be more stories to share, more thoughts to expound, and more updates to share as “The Father of Five” – but given the parameters I have painted myself into, I find the ease at which I have been able to “create” is becoming ever more elusive.

I will continue upon my “resolution quest” to keep breathing bits of life into the Father of Five. Updates will (in all likelihood) be sporadic, but hopefully enough to keep me interested (aka “once a month”?). In the meantime I will also be contemplating a “secondary” (or, maybe it would be better to consider it “primary”) blog… Something less about fatherhood and my family (specifically) and, broaden my horizons a little. Something that I can “identify” with (much like the “FOF” persona has been for me over the past 10 years) - and (as a bonus) something that I could incorporate with FOF.

I’m in no rush though… I have (at least) a year to think about it again before I have to worry about pondering new year resolutions all over again.

And Again...

First, it was #1 of 5.  --  LINK

Then, it was #2 of 5.  --  LINK

|Followed by #3 of 5.  --  LINK

And now….  #4 of 5.

Unlike #1, #2, and #3’s post – this is not just #4 of 5’s LERNER’S PERMIT…
This is #4 of 5 getting her MINNESOTA DRIVER’S LICENSE.

The story started three days ago.
 
The Mother of Five took #4 of 5 to take her road test – only, #4 of 5 forgot some important paperwork.  Since the testing station was 45 minutes away, she was allowed to take the test, but not allowed to leave as a licensed Minnesota Driver – which then required me (on my day off) to drive her back down to the testing station, and complete all the necessary details (like paperwork, and getting her Driver’s License photo taken)
 
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Capture  IMG_20161107_100932
 
 
The test having been successfully completed, #4 of 5 (and her friend) left the Driver’s License Station and made a quick stop at our “insurance guy’s” office (which just happens to be in the same town as the driver’s testing station).  Then we headed home.

I don’t think I made it fully in the house before #4 of 5 meekly asked if she and her friend could use the car to drive to the nearest Target store (the same one that employs #2 of 5).  Reluctantly, I gave in, and allowed her to drive off with my car…


Well, that’s four down, and only one more to go…

Saint John the Baptist School – Jordan, MN.

Today, for the first time since 1999 (when I was still considered “The Father of Three”) our family does not have a student attending what we have come to affectionately refer to as “our school” - Saint John the Baptist School in Jordan, MN. 

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Back when we moved to Jordan (late November of 1999) #1 of 5 was half way through fifth grade.  Since St. John’s (then, and currently) is only K-6, we decided to enroll #1 of 5 in the public school to finish out the remainder of his fifth and sixth grade, therefore he is our only child to have never attended St. John’s.  (He did attend Blessed Trinity in Richfield, MN though.)  

#2 of 5 was actually our first student enrolled at St. John’s – starting with preschool.  His Lead Teacher was Mrs. Hanek (and I am pretty sure the Assistant Teacher was Mrs. Colling – but she may not have been around until #3 of 5 started preschool…  It’s hard to remember SO FAR BACK!)**  Mrs. Hanek and Mrs. Colling were our first true “ambassadors” to St. John’s (more on them later).  Back then the preschool was held in the old convent building (which has subsequently been demolished) and located adjacent to the actual school.  I remember feeling a little intimidated by the big old school located next door to the little intimate preschool. 

** This info was confirmed.

Below, you can see the location of the old Preschool in the former convent (yellow circle), the rectory where the preschool was moved to (orange circle), the old school building (red circle), and the parking lot which would later become the future new school (blue circle).

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I remember the transition from the preschool to the regular school very distinctly!  #2 of 5 preformed as an “elf” in the Christmas Program during his second year of preschool, the Kindergarten teacher (Mrs. Langsweirdt – the long time and much respected Kindergarten teacher at that time) approached us and inquired if she was going to have him in her classroom next year.  She seemed thrilled because his performance was so “animated” during the program!  We were filled with pride to have this pillar in our community specifically notice our son! 

Over the next seventeen years our family grew.  Not only did our family grow, but St. John’s changed.  The preschool from the cloister to the Rectory.  The cloister was torn down.  Finally, the new school was built, and all St. John’s students (preschool and K-6) were put together in the same building. 

Oh, and who could forget the story of the Guardian Angel??  (click through)


For those keeping score…

#2 of 5 attended preschool in the convent.
#3 of 5 attended preschool in the rectory.
#4 and #5 of 5 both attended preschool in the new school building. 

I guess you can say we have experienced most all of the pre-school transformations!


In the two photos below, you can see the current layout of the Church and school properties…

Left:  The “old school” (red brick building in the top left portion of the photo) and the location of the old convent building (the empty gravel overflow parking lot in the bottom center of the photo)

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Right:  The whole campus!  Left to right – the gravel overflow parking lot, the “old School” and the “new” school attached to the church and rectory.

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The past seventeen years, St. John’s has been a significant part of our life, and a significant part of our family. 
St. John’s has been “OUR” school.  We are truly vested (and have invested) in our school

When we moved to Jordan, we were strangers in a strange land.  We knew no one.  Both The Mother of Five and I worked out of town, we played out of town, we did not know anyone from town.  Our first real “roots’' in Jordan originated with St. John’s the Church, but so much more so – with St. John’s SCHOOL

St. John’s School is not just a school, it is a FAMILY.  It’s a small school.  Class sizes average (in my personal experience) right around 12-18 students.  When we dropped off our kids for preschool for the first few days, we looked around at the parents doing the same thing.  We looked around and saw the teachers our children were going to be spending their day with.  We looked around and noticed all the other wee-little-ones that would become a second family to our kids.  Little did we understand at that time just how important these people would become to us.

To speak to just how much these kids will end up meaning to each other – look no further than my own personal experience growing up in a smaller private school.  A number of years ago, I wrote about my own experiences having a second “FAMILY” (QUOTATION MARKS INTENDED).  Go ahead.  Click through.  See this phenomenon through the eyes of adult. 

Remember Mrs. Hanek and Mrs. Colling (our “ambassadors” referenced above)?  Over the years each of these two teachers have taught our children in many capacities.  They have taught as primary teachers, assistant teachers, combined classroom (multi-year classroom) teachers, Computer Lab teacher, and Librarian.  They have seen our kids at their best, and at their worst.  They instructed, inspired, comforted and corrected our children.  They also had children of their own – around the same ages.  Their children and our children interacted, and became friends. 

13177118_10209235563946120_363370728533095043_nSixteen years of involvement at St. John’s has left most of the staff members of St. John’s not only our children’s former teachers, but they have become our FRIENDS.  It’s not just Mrs. Hanek and Mrs. Colling.  No, it’s the ENTIRE staff St. John’s (past and present) – the administration, the teachers, and the support staff.  Principals, Secretaries, Teachers, Custodial, and Parish support.  There are so many names to drop – I am certain I won’t get them all – so please forgive me.  I am not going to try.  Named or not, their influence helped mold our children into the young men and women they are today in so many ways. 

Beyond the staff – The parents of fellow classmates became the parents of our children’s friends.  Together, we shared so many experiences.  So many firsts.  So many lasts.  So many in-betweens.  We sat next to each other for weekly mass, concerts, and programs, and author’s teas, and science fairs – and that’s just AT SCHOOL.  There were birthday parties, and sleepovers, and playdates.  These amazing people also helped influence our children.  While there certainly is diversity in the ranks, there is also a commonality.  Each and everyone we met through St. John’s displayed an incredible involvement in their children, in the school, and in the (or their) church / faith.

Neither the Mother of Five, or I could be any more grateful for what St. John’s was, is, and (with all hope) continues to be for so many families for years to come. 

I know what many people are wondering about… Tuition. 

St. John’s is a private school, and operates on tuition and some support from the parish.  I am not going to lie.  Over the years, tuition has been a sacrifice for our family.  We have had anywhere from one student enrolled (when we started and when we ended) to having four students enrolled at the same time.  All added up, we paid for a total of 36 years of (cumulative) tuition.  (Four students x Nine years each student (two years preschool plus K-6)).

Having had children enrolled in a couple of different schools over the years (Blessed Trinity and St. John’s) – I can tell you that in my experience St. John’s tuition is less costly than most.  Even so - all added up, we spent more investing in our children, and the St. John’s family than we paid for our first home.

Inevitably, people ask me how I justified the cost.  It was very simple.  When I look back I am unable to put a price on the education my children received. 

But wait… That’s not all! (as they say in the infomercials

Beyond the invaluable education – I would not know where to begin to value the feeling of family and involvement St. John’s provided us.  The friendships that were made (both for our children and for us), the influence that the staff and the extended family have had on our children, and on the roots that St. John’s provided our family – socially, educationally, and faithfully.   

I can think of no better way to share with you just how much our time at St. John’s meant to us (regardless of the cost of tuition) than to sum it all up by saying… “We have NO REGRETS.”  Not only do we have no regrets, we both agree that we would do it all over again if we had to!     

My experience with St. John the Baptist School in Jordan, Minnesota – has been one of complete satisfaction.

ScreenshotLast spring, as #5 of 5 graduated from St. John’s, I really struggled to write a “goodbye” to our little school.  I knew my time (as a parent with a student at St. John’s) had ended, but it didn’t feel real.  During the graduation ceremony I heard our name called out as parents who’s youngest child completed their time at St. John’s and would join the ranks of families not returning in the fall.  It was just a little too surreal.  How could this be??  St. John’s has been part of our family since we moved here.  St. John’s was part of the beginning of each and every school year for the past 16 years.  St. John’s is part of our family. 

St. John’s is (was?) OUR school. 

I spent the better part of the summer trying to decide how to write a goodbye to St. John’s here on FOF.  Try as I might, the words just never came.  Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months, and before I knew it, the new school years was starting, and St. John’s was not part of it for or family.  I think the absence of St. John’s this morning was my inspiration and my motivation. 

After dropping Melissa off for her first day of Middle School, I had to drive by St. John’s.  I drove by and said a short prayer for the school, for the staff, and for the parents – and I thanked God for having put St. John the Baptist School in our back yard, for having made it part of our family for the past seventeen years.

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I doubt that as long as we are living in Jordan, Minnesota we won’t have something to do with St. John’s.  We just need to find our way through the transition from DIRECT involvement to INDRECT involvement.  I am confident that over the next few years that The Mother of Five and I will find a way to continue supporting the school, the staff, the students, and the family that is St. John the Baptist School.  Fundraisers, volunteer work, Cadillac Dinner, the Marathon, and whatever comes along.  I don’t think I could every really say good-bye. 

Thanks St. John’s.  You have been the best!

A Snapchat Storyboard

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For years, I have suffered through one of my own “pet-peeves”…  Dull kitchen knives. 

Having spent years and years associated with the Boy Scouts – one lesson I learned, and resonates with me still is that “a dull knife is your worst enemy”.

Despite my “pet-Peeve” the fact remained that for years and years, we have had a house FULL of little kids.  (Ahem… FIVE=”full”.  Doubt me?  I’ll drop a few off at YOUR place and ask you again in a week).

A house full of little kids and a kitchen full of sharp knives is a recipe for disaster.  I wasn’t even willing to try.

But, the kids are all older now.  Old enough that I feel comfortable undertaking a personal mission.  The mission I have chosen to accept is to keep our kitchen knives sharp

 

 

 

 

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Virtually every time I go to prepare a meal that uses a kitchen knife, I sharpen it before use.  For those of you who do not know, sharp knives tend to handle differently - especially when one is accustomed to not-so-sharp knives.

Yesterday was a perfect example.  I prepared my dinner before heading out to work.  I cleaned my mess and put everything away.  Shortly thereafter #4 of 5 and #5 of 5 decided they were going to make their dinner – which required them to open a bag.  #4 of 5 used the knife I just sharpened, not expecting it to glide so easily through the material she was cutting.

The Mother of Five and I were catching up before I left for work (it’s been an incredibly busy week) when I hear a scream from the kitchen, and #4 of 5 began  frantically running around before she ran for the bathroom.

 

 

 

 

0605Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I’ll let you put the rest of the story together.  You can use the same “SnapChat” photos that #5 of 5 was sending me as updates on my way to – and once I arrived at work to put it all together.

Officially (for the record) – #4 of 5 will live to see another day.  The injury looked much worse than it was in reality.

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