Where We Call HOME

IMG_6617I tried this once in 2008, and again in 2010.  These were previous attempts to start a “viral” trend or “tradition” using the (self admittedly) VERY cheesy titles of “Cribs” and/or “Blogger Cribs”.

These embarrassing titles were loosely based (and a play on) the title of a then popular MTV television series called “MTV Cribs”.  The premise of this show was to feature televised tours of the (quite outlandish, and often exaggerated and sometimes discovered to be fabricated) homes of celebrities, musicians, actors, and athletes.  

(As I reflect upon my choice of using “Cribs” as a title,
I shudder…  Ugh.  What was I thinking?

Both attempts had limited (and arguably… “VERY limited at best) success.  A few in my “blogger circle” commented and I did get a couple of others to actually follow through with their own version, and asking those in THEIR circles to do the same.  I tried hard to follow, but the whole premise quickly 20151110_130102fizzled out. 

                         ** Fast forward five years **

This year (as with every year) it came time to “winterize” our property.  Where I live we have to blow out the sprinkler systems, put away patio furniture, pack, tuck and store anything not bolted down,  rake up the last of the fall leaves, mow the lawn one last time, and generally prepare the house, garage, patio, deck and yard for no (or very limited) human contact for the next six months.  This process usually takes a few days.

While I was in the process of completing these “winterizing” projects, I had a discussion with fellow blogger, good buddy, and all around nice fella Backside-of-Forty (link).  We were discussing how good it feels (despite the looming winter weather) to have our yards cleaned up and things tucked away all nice and tidy.  We talked about how “minimalistic” everything seemed, and how nice it feels IMG_6620to have it that way from time to time.

On (what I hope to be) my final day of exterior winter preparation, and a long day of raking and mowing the lawn one last time, I paused a moment to take in the fruits of my labor.  With everything “buttoned up” for the winter, the leaves all down (and raked up) and the lawn cut one last time – I really LOOKED at our home.


Reflecting on how nice my house looked, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of gratitude.  Ours is a modest home.  It’s not big, but it’s not small.  It’s what I would call “well lived in”.  It is messy at times, but not unsanitary (hey, there are six of us, three (yes, three) cats, and two guinea pigs all living under the same roof – things tend to clutter). 

IMG_4364Looking at my house, and feeling both happy and grateful for what we have – I was reminded of the previous attempts to interact with my friends. 

So, I broke out the camera and snapped a few photos with the intent of another shot at sharing one of the things I am proud of, and grateful for – and request that others do the same! 

So, no matter where you live - be it a multi-million dollar mansion, a large beautiful house, a modest and well lived in home, a town house, an apartment, your car, a cardboard box, or that niche in the concrete under the bridge – I would really like to see it!

Please, join me in this year.  Peek over some photos of what “home” looks like to me, then take a moment to share what YOUR place looks like!  


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The St. John’s Guardian Angel

As I walked into church to attend school mass with #5 of 5 this morning, it occurred to me that I have neglected a SERIOUSLY past due topic that I wanted to share here on Father of Five

The subject?  St. John the Baptist School’s Guardian Angel.

(optional, but interesting reading – I am intrigued by all things historical)

From what I have been able to piece together from the web, and some historical books on our town, St. John the Baptist was first envisioned in the fall of 1855 when fifteen Catholic families living in “Holmes Mill” (which is now known as the City of Jordan, MN) began gathering in the home of William Nashbar to discuss the establishment of a formal church.  After a few meetings, a location was selected and work began on a log cabin church about five miles outside of town.  That log cabin was never completed and the group split due to geographic challenges.  The original planned location (five miles outside of town) became the future site of St. Benedict (which sadly has now closed it’s doors).  

The second group sought to establish a church closer to what is now downtown Jordan.  In 1858, this second group completed construction on the first St. John the Baptist church.  This was a log cabin built high upon the hill where Calvary Cemetery is now located.  Parishioners had to hand carve log stairs, and dig them into the hillside to aid in accessibility.  By 1866 the St. John the Baptist log cabin Church was too small for the number of parishioners and by 1867 the first brick building was built on the site of the current church.  In 1875 the order of the Bishop, the operation of St. John’s (along with several other neighboring Catholic Churches) were given to the Order of the Franciscan Fathers.  There were 110 families registered with St. John the Baptist by this point and in 1877 the first official parish school was built.  The following year (1878) the parish put together a proposal to have the Order of the School Sisters of Notre Dame operate the parish school, and they arrived in August of 1878 to begin operations.

By 1878, the first stone church had become too small to accommodate the needs of the parish, and on April 22, 1889, the cornerstone for the church that still stands today (and I attend now) was laid.  Much like it was with the church, St. John the Baptist School thrived and quickly outgrew the building they were operating from, and finally in 1908 St. John the Baptist School opened the brick building that still stands across the street from the church.  The brick schoolhouse built in 1908 was in use but very inadequate, inefficient, antiquated, and non-complaint with many modern building codes.  

So, in 2004 St. John the Baptist built the new “Education center” connected to the church.  

Photo – 1911
     St. John’s Church seen upper right corner of photo.
     St. John’s School seen across the street – face to face with the church.

Photo – 2015 – Credit John Chvatal of Gazing Skyward.  (Permission requested / pending)
     St. John the Baptist Church and connected Education center along the top.
     The former St. John the Baptist School used from 1908-2004 (the red brick building) across the street.
     (You can also see in this photo the hill that leads up to Calvary Cemetery.)

NOVEMBER 1999 – MAY 2015
(and beyond)

When we moved to Jordan we enrolled our children at St. John the Baptist School. 

Back then, #1 of 5 was just finishing his sixth grade.  Since St. John’s only goes to sixth grade – we elected to enroll him into the Jordan public school instead of attending 5 months at one school, and have to start over again in the fall in a different school. 

#2 of 5 on the other-hand was just beginning his academic career – and he was enrolled in Wee Angels (their preschool program, which is now called “Littlest Angels).   Back then, the K-6 grades were held in what is now called the “old” school.

Since then #2, #3, and #4 of 5 have attended St. John’s School for two years of pre-school, then K-6th grades.
(That’s nine years per kid)  

This year is #5 of 5’s sixth grade and her final year at St. Johns.  It is the end of an era for our family. 
She will be the last of our children to attend. 

It is proving to be an emotional year for us because of this. 
(More on that in future Father of Five posts…)

IMG_0484[5]SPRING 2015

From all accounts I have been able to find - St. John’s brick schoolhouse was built with was was affectionately referred to as a “Guardian Angel”. 

When the school was constructed, an alcove was build above the door to the school.  It was situated such that once the “Guardian Angel” statue was placed in it, she would be overlooking the parking lot and playground where the children played.  The Guardian angel was put in place when the school was built in 1908 and there she stood guard over the children that attended that school, and even beyond.  The “Guardian Angel’s” alcove also faced the parking lot and playground for the new Education center built across the street.  

The Guardian Angel statute is plainly seen in this photo taken in 2012 for the post I wrote about opening the 1991 Time Capsule.  This photo was taken from the parking lot / playground area of the new Education center built in 2004.  You can see how she still watched over the students of St. John the Baptist from her home in the “old” school. 

In the spring of 2015 (107 years after the school was built) some routine maintenance uncovered the fact that the Guardian Angel’s anchor (the apparatus that held her to the building) was failing – and that she (and anyone below her) could be at risk. 

St. John’s hired a construction crew to carefully remove the Guardian Angel – and bring her safely back to the ground.

I had wanted to generate a post here on the The Life of a Father of Five to document the move, but alas – I was busy, unavailable, and/or both.  Then, life got busy and I never got around to it. 

Thankfully, the removal was documented by our local paper – the Jordan Independent

In the first of two articles, the J.I. (as it is called around town) documents the removal of the Guardian Angel, and then later in a second article about a week later they delve in the history of the school and the Guardian Angel – and discuss options for her new home.

The photos below are from the articles and document the removal of the Guardian Angel.
(Photos used with permission from the Editing Staff at the Jordan Independent – Thank you!

© 2015 - Jordan Independent © 2015 - Jordan Independent

© 2015 - Jordan Independent © 2015 - Jordan Independent
Top Left: Michael Bechner and Dennis Harrison of Diverse Instruction moving towards the Guardian Angel.
Photo by Rachel Wittlock – Kind permission for use from the staff at Jordan Independent

Top Right: Michael Bechner and Dennis Harrison of Diverse Instruction carefully removing the Guardian Angel.
Photo by Rachel Wittlock – Kind permission for use from the staff at Jordan Independent

Bottom Left: Michael Bechner and Dennis Harrison of Diverse Instruction back on the ground with the Guardian Angel.
Photo by Rachel Wittlock – Kind permission for use from the staff at Jordan Independent

Bottom Right: The (broken) anchor necessitating the remove of the Guardian Angel.
Photo by Rachel Wittlock – Kind permission for use from the staff at Jordan Independent

Now, let’s fast forward six months and tie all this “history” all together!


CaptureEach Wednesday, the students of St. John the Baptist school attend mass.  The Mother of Five or myself (sometimes when we are lucky it’s both of us) make a point to attend mass with our kids.  Being a social media user junkie (ahem… Blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc) – I often enjoy “checking in” on these morning masses – I usually do so with a fun photo from somewhere on the school or church grounds. 

This morning, as I made my way from the school to the church entrance through the gathering space – I walked up on what I thought was a fantastic photo opportunity for this morning’s check in. 


You see, here in the gathering space of the church and school, the Guardian Angel has found her new home.  She is in a place where she can welcome students and parishioners alike, and continue her century old vigil of watching over St. John the Baptist.

That is when I was reminded that I had never really taken the time to tell (share, document) her story as I had planned to do earlier this year.  Here are a few more photos of our Guardian Angel in her new home!

In this first photo, you can even see her original home – the (now empty) alcove in the “old school” across the street can be seen (pointed out by yellow arrow).    

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Seeing the old school and the empty alcove still saddens me, but I quickly remember my gratitude for the new school my children have attended (with one still attending), and how absolutely delighted I am that the Guardian Angel who has done so well watching over my children will continue to do so from her new home! 

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Thanks to St. John’s, and the St. John’s Guardian Angel!

Rancid Brownies and Rice Krispy Bars!

The Mother of Five was at work, #2 and #3 of 5 had their girlfriends over, and #4 of 5 was at a volleyball game so that left #5 of 5 and myself for dinner.

I let it be “daughter’s choice” night – allowing her to select where we went for dinner.  She decided upon Subway

#5 of 5 had a 6” toasted Black Forest Ham on Italian Herb and Cheese bread, with shredded cheddar cheese,  lettuce, cucumbers, pickles, ranch and Mayo.  This was washed down with a Dr. Pepper.

I had a 6” toasted oven roasted chicken on Monterrey cheddar bread, with pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, heavy green pepper and light southwest chipotle.  This was washed down with a fresh brewed Fuze half and half (iced tea and lemonade)

While enjoying dinner with my daughter, I had a brilliant notion!  Let’s go home and bake cookies!!

We stopped at the grocery store on the way home, and picked up a premixed “Cheesecake Swirl” brownie mix, and the fixins for Rice Krispy Bars. 

Somewhere between dinner, and the grocery store – an “ear worm” made it’s way into my head.  I started singing it on the way home – and once we got set up for baking in the kitchen, I connected my phone to our under cabinet radio and turned it up!

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Once the brownies were in the oven and the Rice Krispy bars were cooling, we really got into the music!

What was the “ear worm”??    Rancid’s Ruby Soho!





A Special Happy Birthday!

Seventy-two years ago this very day - a little girl was born to two people - two very special people who meant the world to me.

These two raised this little baby girl. They shaped who she was to become as she transitioned from a delightful little girl, into an enchanting young lady.
She continued on to became an amazing mother & grandmother!!

This little girl has had SO MUCH influence on my life. There is no possible way for me to thank this woman for all she has done for me - all she has been to, and for me, and the things she will continue to do for me - until the day I die.

I am proud to proclaim to the world that this little baby girl I am speaking of, is MY MOTHER!!!!

The "Mother-of-the-Father-of-Five"!

Happy Birthday Mom!! You are beyond the best ever!! You are an INSPIRATION!

I love you beyond words!

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.


There is something special (as a parent) watching your child and their "significant other" sitting on the deck, during a beautiful summer evening, simply enjoying each other's company.

Life (as a Father-of-five) is grand!

(Forgive me #2 (and 2.5) of 5 for the “stalker” photo… But it sure was cute!)

Stronger Every Year!

201508060401_0001“Of all God’s miracles large and small, the most miraculous one of all is the one I thought could never be…  God has given you to me”       

(Lyrics from “Miracle of Miracles” – Soundtrack of Fiddler on the Roof )

Twenty Two years ago today was a pivotal moment in my life.  This is the day the Mother of Five became my wife.

Since that fateful day so much has happened and so much has changed.  There is far too much to actually list here.  Let’s just say most of it for the better, some of it for the worse.  We have seen richer, poorer, sickness, health, good times, and bad times.  Through it all, the Mother of Five has stood by me (and I have done my best to stand by her).  She is my rock, my island, my reason, my strength (and weakness),my focus, and so many other things.   

Without her - I am only “me”.
With her - I am “we”.

We have now been married for 22 years.  TWENTYTWOYEARS.  As I contemplated that number, It occurred to me that the Mother of Five has now been a part of my life more than she hasn’t…  (We first met when I was twenty years old.) I know it’s cliché to say, but you will have to trust and believe me when I say that as the years have passed, each has been better than the year before.  Each year I feel as if our relationship has strengthened somehow.

I do not know how to express the gratitude I have for all she has been and all she has done for me.  I don’t think I even can.

FOF Observation #30

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.


What's it like being a dad??


Imagine you are going on a camping / hiking / fishing / GeoCaching trip and you budget a little "tackle fund" to grab some new stuff for yourself.

On the day you are going to run to the store, you decide to take along your youngest. Suddenly, you remember that she still doesn't have any fishng tackle of her own, and that you and her mother have been talking about doing so for the past couple of years.

Being a dad means that you end up buying yourself the bare minimum from your list, and that the rest is spend on your daughter.

Her pile on the left, mine on the right.

Graduation 2015 – #3 of 5

#3 of 5A few weeks back, #3 of 5 graduated high school!

In all likelihood, this post will be very similar to last year’s Graduation 2014 - #2 of 5 (that’s what happens when you have back to back children as we did with #2 of 5 and #3 of 5) – and not all that different from Graduation 2007 – #1 of 5 for that matter…

Yet, it’s still a noteworthy event, and a transition for one of our children, for us as parents, and for our family as a whole.
And we could not be prouder!


First, a little background on #3 of 5.

Father of five and #3 of 5#3 of 5 is our middle child.  He is also our youngest son.  He was and always will be my “little man”.  #1 of 5 and #2 of 5 were quite attached to their mom.  As a result, #3 of 5 often spent a lot of time with me. 
I liked this.  A lot.     

#3 of 5 attended St. John the Baptist School from Kindergarten through sixth grade (including two years of “Wee-Angels” preschool), then attended Jordan Middle School for seventh and eighth grade.  He moved on and completed his secondary education at Jordan High School for ninth through twelfth grades.  He is enrolled, and begins his post-secondary education at Hennepin Technical College in the Fall.  He is enrolling in the HVAC two year Degree program!  I could not be more excited or proud of his choice!  Quite literally – I am a little jealous and eager to hear what he is learning – and maybe learn a little from him along the way!

#3 of 5 often reminds me of the Tortoise in the story of the Tortoise and the Hare.  He is not as outgoing (aka “theatrical”) as his brother, but don’t let that fool you.  He can be and quite often is very determined.  He sees what he wants, or knows what he is supposed to do and just keeps working towards that goal quietly and steadfastly.  There is little “glitz and glam” about him.  I am proud of his quiet, stoic and productive nature.  I have also been told by numerous sources (many which knew me at his age) that of all the kids, he reminds them of me at that age – in looks and in mannerisms.  This, I also like!

Be sure to visit #3 of 5’s dedicated page here on FOF.  You will be certain to find out a lot more about this fine young man (well, once I get the page complete.  It’s still “under construction”)

Like last year, St. John the Baptist Church’s Graduation send off mass was held prior to the graduation ceremony.

The send off mass is the regularly scheduled Saturday evening mass (the time coincides well with the graduation ceremony), where graduating seniors join the entry procession, receive a special blessing by the congregation, follow the exit procession, and are provided a light lunch after mass in Louis Hall (the Church basement and kitchen area). 

#3 of 5 - entry processionFr Yanta blessing the graduates#3 of 5 - exit procession 

One other special thing St. John’s does for the graduation mass is to break out the class’s First Communion Alter Cloth. 

The Alter Cloth is a quilt of “squares” made by these students as a project for their First Communion.  Each student is to use felt, cloth, fabric paint, and the like to craft an image related to first communion.   Then, each of the quilt squares are sewn together to make the Alter Cloth.
This Alter Cloth is used on their First Communion (in second grade), their graduation from St. John’s (in sixth grade), their Confirmation (in tenth grade) and their high school graduation send off mass (in twelfth grade).

Here is a collection of photos taken with #3 of 5 and his First Communion Quilt Square throughout the years!

First Comunion Quilt Square through the years.

The mass was held by Fr. Timothy Yanta (our beloved Parish Priest) which was followed by the enjoyable Luncheon in Louis Hall.  The idea of the luncheon is perfect (and I could not be more grateful for the Church doing it).  There is only a short window of time between the end of the mass and the beginning of the graduation ceremony.  Trying to coordinate a meal for our family between the two would have been difficult (at best).  The ladies of the church did a GREAT job, and lunch was delicious!  Their meal went a long way towards us being able to enjoy the graduation without the distraction of hunger!

Jordan Minnesota High School Graduation CeremonyWith all the festivities at St. John’s complete, it was time to head to the High School and get this kid graduated!

The ceremony itself was very nice.   The festivities kicked off with the VFW holding a “posting of the colors” (displaying the United States flag) ceremony.  This was followed with the opening remarks and a congratulatory address.

Both the band and the choir preformed throughout the ceremony.  (There was one choir member who seemed particularly happy!)

Jordan Minnesota High School Choir Jordan Minnesota High School Choir

Throughout the ceremony, numerous students were called out for many wonderful achievements!  Honors, High Honors, Special Athletic achievements, and even a couple of Eagle Scouts were honored.  Those joining the military service were honored too.  Once the notable achievements were acknowledged the moment finally arrived.  The graduates were called out one by one. 

#3 of 5’s name was called, and he began his walk to the podium to receive his diploma.  

#3 of 5 walking the stage to get his diploma.

#3 of 5 walking the stage to get his diploma.

#3 of 5 walking the stage to get his diploma.

#3 of 5 walking the stage to get his diploma.

There is a video of the moment as well. 
(If you listen closely, you will hear an enthusiastic choir member share her “exuberance” for #3 of 5.)

Soon thereafter, the end of the list of graduates was reached. 
The ceremony wrapped up and the newly graduated Seniors processed out.
There were many smiles!

#3 of 5 - graduation exit procession

The gathering area was quite crowded, but we were able to find a less chaotic corner for a post-graduation photo session. – Just as we did last year! 

Mother of five / #3 of 5 / Father of five 

The Mother of Five and I could not have been prouder of our youngest son on this, his special day!  He has come a long way, has overcome many obstacles and has accomplished many great things!  He has a great plan in place, and is heading down the road to success and happiness!  
The ceremony was over. 

#3 of 5 turned his gown in.  He received his “official” diploma (they hand out blank display books and the graduates get their diploma once the gown is turned in).  #3 of 5 choose not to attend the all night party, but had been (inadvertently) scheduled for work.  His employer understood the importance of the date and gave him an “open ended” start time – so after graduation, #3 of 5 wrapped up his special day by working an overnight shift.

#3 of 5 and his exuberant choir member 

Oh, and would you look at that! 

This young lady giving #3 of 5 a big hug just so happens to be wearing a choir uniform.  

Hmmm… I wonder if SHE knows who the exuberant choir member who cheered on #3 of 5 with such enthusiasm could be?!?! 

I bet she has a good idea!

#2 of 5 with #2.5 of 5As a BONUS to this year’s graduation celebration, we were fortunate enough to celebrate #2 of 5’s girlfriend’s graduation too!  She and #3 of 5 were in the same graduating class! 

If you remember last year’s post about #2 of 5’s graduation – you will recall that #2 of 5 reserved the third flower from his graduation bouquet for someone very special.  The young lady pictured here (with her permission) is the one and only “flower recipient”!  The tables have turned, the graduate becomes the observer and the observer becomes the graduate! 

Since this is also her first “official” introduction here on FOF - I am considering giving her the moniker of
#2.5 of 5” for all things Father of Five

Congratulations #2.5 of 5!! 

Just like last year, I have another follow up post to this one – it’s become a bit of a family tradition.

I will update THIS LINK once the post is complete.

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