A Heavenly Birthday

I have been using some "down time" lately, and working on, updating, and filling in some of the blanks and gaps I have in my ancestry research. It was while working on some research last night, I was reminded that today would have been my Pépère's 112th birthday.

For those who have not been lingering on The Life of a Father of Five very long, you may not know the story of the nick-names we used for our grandparents.

 We called our maternal grandparents Mémère and Pépère.

These are French / French-Canadian affectionate names for Grandmother and Grandfather. Their first grandchildren were my cousins Janice and Cindy. They live in northern Maine right on the Canadian Border where many people (including my Uncle's wife, and their mother) spoke a version of French Canadian as well as English.  Their children (my cousins) "J" and "C" started calling our grandparents Mémère and Pépère before I was born, and (at least for my sister and I) those affectionate terms seem to have stuck.  We used them throughout my grandparents lives.  I still refer to them by these terms more than 37 years after their passing.

Having lost my paternal grandfather at the age of five, my "Pep" (a shortened version of  Pépère) and I became very close.

In the photo to the right, is my Uncle "G" in the Navy Uniform, Pep in his University of Minnesota Police Officer's Class A Uniform, and my Uncle "D" in the Air Force uniform.

It was Uncle D who eventually moved to Maine, and who's kids started the somewhat unique nick-naming of my grandparents. (Well, unique to the Midwest were we don't see a lot of French Canadian culture.)

Now that I am thinking about Pep, and seeing as it is his birthday - I want to give you a shout-out!  HAPPY 112th BIRTHDAY PEP!!  Thank you for all the years we had together here, and thank you for all the years you have looked out for me since.  I have never gone more than a few days without feeling your presence one way or another.

You have been, and will forever remain in my heart!!

(One of the Many) Tastes of my Childhood

It is commonly said that smells trigger memories of people, places, and things past.  I certainly can confirm this phenomenon, but I’d like to add (at least for me) that certain TASTES also trigger some of my oldest (and often fondest) memories.

Case in point…   Butter Rum Life Savers.

This year, on my annual road trip to duck hunting camp, I stopped to gas up and grab a bag of Wintergreen Lifesavers.  They are my “go-to” hard candy (especially when you know you are going to do some drinking and cigar smoking).  The convenience store I stopped at had a sale price if you bought two bags.  Not really needing TWO bags, I was going to pass - but out of the corner of my eye I noticed a different flavor (that I normally do not see) – Butter Rum.  On a whim (and a nostalgic impulse), I grabbed a bag of each and headed out.

I don’t eat them often (in fact, it’s been YEARS since I last had one) – but I find that when I pop one of those Butter Rum Lifesavers, I am immediately taken back to my youth.  As a very young child (around five or so years old) my dad would often take me with him while he was out running weekend errands.  

Not always, but just often enough to make it special, he would buy a roll of Butter Rum Life Savers. 

At that very young age Butter Rum Life Savers always made me feel so “grown up”.  Kids (as well as myself as a child) typically tend to steer towards the sweet and simple traditional “five flavors” (lemon, lime, orange, cherry, and pineapple).  On the other hand, Butter Rum seemed so…  I don’t know, sophisticated (?), adult (?), mature (?) - Or maybe a blend of all those things??  

I suspect another part of this is also about the name itself.   Butter RUM.   I knew rum was considered a “grown up drink”, so a candy flavored after a grown up drink must be… grown up.  

Finally, I can and will also confirm that the fond memories may also be taking me back to spending time with my dad.  I really liked hanging out with him while running weekend errands.  The surprise Butter Rums tapered off as I approached my early teens, but dad and I ran our weekend errands up until I started workin' for a livin' (which was frequently on the weekends since I worked in a local neighborhood hardware store).    

Butter rum is and will always be (to me) the flavor of innocence of youth, of hanging out and spending time with my dad, of getting to sit in the front seat of the car next to him (we used to be able to do that back in the day), of being only five years old yet feeling oh so “grown up”.  

It is a taste of so many fond memories of a much simpler time of life.

For the record…  My dad still does this to this day – but not with Butter Rum, and not with me but with my kiddos (and they will confirm).  I suspect that the taste of Butter SCOTCH will forever associated to their grandpa in the same way Butter RUM does for me.

Crib… 2019

I have not done a “crib” shot (at least hear on The Life of a Father of Five) since 2008.

Last time I did a “crib” shot – it was a photo of my house just before winter.  After all the “fall clean up” is done and I am just waiting for the long Minnesota hibernation to begin.

Today, while cleaning up for the winter, I reminisced about the good old days when I used to blog, and how I did the “crib” post.   Well, I decided to do it again.  11 years later.  But, hereto fro I will not be referring to our home as a "crib" anymore.  Seems like that pop culture reference did not pass the test of time as well as some may have hoped.     

Not much has changed really (from the outside) – but man, the inside is so much different than it was in 2008.  #1 of 5 and #3 of 5 are not living at home. #2 of 5 is in his final year of college.  #4 of 5 is away at college.  #5 of 5 is really the last kiddo still lingering around here on a regular basis – and she is a sophomore in high school already!   

Well, here is the OUTSIDE of the FOF compound – 2019.



First day at our house - Aug 20, 2006 (photos).
Last day at our house - Oct 24, 2019
Rest peacefully Meemers... And thanks for the good years.
July 7, 2006 - Oct 23, 2019

Is it AUGUST already?

To say that my motivation for blogging has been "compromised" (?) over the past few years is truly an understatement.   I look back on the stats, and going from a high of 183 in one single year, to having posted – um, let's see here…   Well, ZERO posts from January through August in 2019 means I was well on my way to a zero posting year.

Some of the "gimmies" that I obviously missed include the very simple and very easy "Blogiversary" back in April.  (This would have been is my thirteenth year of keeping "The Life of a Father of Five" alive – even if it is on life support and seemingly taking its last few breaths) through the very important and potentially photo intensive post documenting #4 of 5's high school graduation of (especially since I have previously documented #1 of 5's, #2 of 5's, and #3 of 5's).  Actually, one of the things that is prompting me to write THIS post is our preparation for dropping #4 of 5 off at her new college campus as she begins the next chapter in her life.  I even missed the opportunity to post about my 26th wedding anniversary with The Mother of Five.  We took a short trip along the North Shore of Lake Superior.

So clearly there were some pretty memorable opportunities to further document my "life of chaos" as a father of five that got neglected.  What can I say?

Family life –
Work – (Yes, that one gets a double check.  Some of you know why.)
Facebook and other social media outlets –
Stress (see work and family life above) –
Long neglected home improvement projects that take time –
Much of what I would blog about has already been covered (ad nauseam) –
A different blogging outlet (which is also admittedly neglected) –

The list above is far from being what I consider a comprehensive list of my "excuses".  I also acknowledge that (yet again) I am making a blog post about not making blog posts.  I promise, I am really not trying to make any excuses...   Oh, who I am kidding (not myself, and CERTAINLY not you – my few but loyal readers) – this really is one lengthy excuse.  I need to stop making them, and get back to this "hobby" that I do (or, at least once) enjoyed.  Hey, I got enough material to start playing "catch up" a little bit – so I DON'T have "Lack of material" to put one of those "check marks" () behind. 

I do also know (or have been told) that I have a bit of a "fan base" among #4 of 5's friends.  It's kind of funny actually – From time to time I hear "Hey there Father of Five!" shouted out at me as I am out and about  – the park, the county fairgrounds, the grocery store, and even from cars driving down my street. 

Well, friends of #4 of 5 (and FOF fans) – stay tuned!  I have a couple of posts in the queue just for you guys!    


Observation #34

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.


Today's observation comes to you after being awoke in the wee hours of the morning by the indisputable sounds of one of the (now, but only recently) adult children of our brood bounding up the staircase from their basement bedroom in the middle of the night - followed by the familiar yet unmistakable sounds of  "sickness".

This can mean only one thing...

The flu season has officially landed in the "Life of a Father of Five's" home..
Time to batten down the hatches and begin the quarantine process.  

(Yes, that IS a photo of the FOF commode, and yes, that IS a photo of #4 of 5 sprawled out on the couch after a long night of time spent with the aforementioned FOF commode.)  


Tonight, a chapter of The Life of a Father of Five has closed.  

I have not been regularly posting for a number of years now.  One of the reasons I have not been blogging is because of how “busy” our lives have been.  Ironically, the “closing chapter” I am blogging about tonight is one of the things that has kept me busy enough to keep me from blogging about it.


Tonight, #4 of 5’s eight year run as a volleyball player concluded.  What started eight years ago as a little girl playing volleyball for St John the Baptist School, then Jordan Middle School, and finally Jordan high School came to a conclusion tonight.  There were a few tears, but a lot of smiles and a number of congratulations at the conclusion of tonight’s Sub-Section Semi-Finals.


(Above) We were not sure at the time of the photo, but tonight turned out to be #4 of 5’s final Volleyball Game
(Left) #4 of 5 on her second year of playing volleyball as a St. John the Baptist Saint
(Right) #4 of 5 on her final year as a varsity Jordan Jaguar

1                       2a   

I can’t explain how much I have enjoyed watching her play.  I am not a “sports” kind of guy – but for some reason, Volleyball had me hook, line, and sinker.  It was the only sport any of my kids participated in that had me whooping and hollering from the stands.  I am not going to lie.  I will miss seeing my St. John’s Saint / Jordan Jaguar playing volleyball.

(Left) #4 of 5 and The Mother of Five at the conclusion of her final game.
(Right) #4 of 5 and The Father of Five at the conclusion of her final game.

Screenshot_2018-10-30-21-47-03-1                       Screenshot_2018-10-30-21-44-04-1

This is the first of several “lasts” for us with this one this year. 
Yet, we couldn’t be more proud of her accomplishments both on and off the court.

CONGRATULATIONS on an SPECTACULAR run #4 of 5, it’s been nothing but AMAZING to watch you grow!  

Thank you to St. John the Baptist, Jordan Middle School, Jordan Hight School, a number of coaches, and assistant coaches, and truly great group of girls that we have been lucky enough to have got to spend time with over the past eight years.

Open Letter - Political Advertising

This is an “open letter” to all the politicians across the nation. This open letter applies to all Republicans, Democrats, (capitol I) Independents, (lowercase i) independents, or candidates from any party not previously mentioned who are running for a national, state, regional, county, or local political office and are buying advertising on television, radio, print, internet or any other method of delivering you campaign messages.

When I see a political add that actually speaks about YOU as a candidate and about the merits of YOUR platform, I'd likely pay a lot more attention to your add. I say “likely” because for the life of me, I can’t remember the last time I saw one.

If on the other hand, you use your time (and to be quite honest, it’s really MY time we are talking about here - as your add is an unwanted intrusion into my word) steering around facts, putting up smoke and mirror screens, belittling your opponent, and trying to convince me why I SHOULDN’T vote for the “other candidate” instead of voting FOR YOU – I simply tune out.

Well, that’s not completely true. I pay just enough attention to remember who you so when I am alone in that booth, exercising the right that many people gave their lives to obtain and defend, I will know which box(es) to leave BLANK.

For the record this applies to the “I’m [candidate’s name] and I approve this message.” as much as the “This add paid for by the [political action committee’s name].”


In seven of the past thirteen years that The Life of a Father of Five has existed, I have made an acknowledgement of my anniversary to the woman who makes my life, our family, (and by default, this blog) all possible.  The Mother of Five!  

Previous Anniversary Posts:

, Nothing for fourteenth (it was spent up at Tomahawk Scout Camp with my boys), fifteenth (and a bonus “how we met” post for fifteenth), nothing for sixteenth, seventeenth, nothing for eighteenth, nineteenth, twentieth, nothing for twenty-first, twenty-second, nothing for twenty-third, and nothing for twenty-fourth.  

Having missed the past two years consecutively (previously unprecedented) I am feeling a little embarrassed.  My embarrassment, my parent’s 50th Anniversary, and this being a major landmark anniversary for us has motivated me to make sure it is acknowledged, and to write something for our TWENTY-FIFTH wedding anniversary here on the blog!! 

So, here goes.

Twenty five years.

I can not even wrap my head around that number.

Twenty-five years ago today we stood before God, family, and friends – and we promised to love, honor, and cherish each other all the days of our lives. Twenty-five years ago today we started a journey that we are still traveling along today – and doing it together.

Just like they say, there has been (and will be) better and worse, richer and poorer, sickness and health – but I could not have found a better partner to travel with! While twenty-five years sure sounds like a long time (and, honestly it is), these first twenty-five years feel like they have almost flown by.

Together we have raised (well, still raising) five AMAZING children that I have previously said truly amaze me and fill me with wonder and hope EVERY SINGLE DAY OF MY LIFE - they give me strength beyond comprehension.

I cannot begin to thank you for being the amazing wife, partner, and mother you are. Your strength, fortitude, patience, and understanding inspire me to strive to be a better husband and father - and to help me keep me focused on what the TRULY the important things are.

Happy Anniversary MoF. I don’t know how I got so lucky, but I do truly thank God in my prayers that he allowed our paths to cross, and that our individual journeys turned and allowed us to take this path together. I am confident that the next twenty-five will be as amazing as the first twenty-five – and I am looking OH SO forward to the rest of our lives together! —

Twenty-fifth wedding anniversary

The Old School – St. John the Baptist Jordan, MN

The St. John the Baptist School has stood as an iconic structure in the historic downtown area and a landmark in the city of Jordan Minnesota.  It is difficult to fathom just how many students have come and gone, and how many memories have been made behind it's doors (some of mine included). 

It started in 1860’s when the Pioneers who settled this area opened a Catholic School.  When the church build the stone structure church in 1868 (that still stands today and can be seen in some of the photos below) the old church structure was converted to a school.  Then, in 1877 a new school was built.  It was a two-story, 30’ x 50’ one-room-classroom brick building with living space fin the lower level for the teacher and family.    

That school must have thrived.  The single classroom was split into two, and at some point the two classrooms were no longer sufficient because the church began construction on a new (and much larger) school.  The cornerstone of the new school (seen in the photos below) was laid in place June 24 and the school was blessed and opened for students November 26, 1908.  The school remained in operation until February 14, 2004 when St. John the Baptist opened their new Education Center.  So, in 2004, everything was moved over to the new Education Center and the old school was closed up. 

Since 2004, the old school has been used for some storage for the church and the school.  Originally, the church and school maintained the building with minimum heating (to keep piles from bursting) and insurance.  The costs exceeded 23 thousand dollars a year. 

Between 2004 and 2007 many options were sought to repurpose the building.  Considerations of a charter school (1.7 million dollars), condominiums (3 million dollars), and tearing it down (150 thousand dollars) were among some of the possibilities.  Ultimately no one decided to invest in the old school.

In 2007 a cost cutting committee formed to look at the church’s options with the old school building.  By this time, the cost to rehab the building to make it habitable had risen to a minimum of 4 million dollars.  With the costs rising and the possibility that anyone would want to purchase the property to rehab the structure, the decision was made to remove all plumbing from the building, stop heating the structure, and drop the insurance to the bare minimum.  This was still costing over one thousand dollars a year.

One last attempt to save the structure happened in 2017.  Church trustees along with staff from the City of Jordan met with several property developers at the feasibly of converting the structure to senior citizen apartments.  All agreed that that cost for rehabbing the building would make the rent that would have be charged too high.  Affordable rent could not support the cost to remodel the building.

Then, when a fire broke out inside the building in the early hours of November 14, 2017, the necessity of church's need to finally do something with the building became evident.       

I learned a few days ago that it was scheduled to be brought down.  The asbestos in the building is being abated, and demotion is scheduled to begin on Monday, August 6th 2018.  I took an opportunity to take some last photos of the historic old building that has been such a big part of my (and so many other’s) families.

Good friend and fellow Blogger “Just Getting Warmed Up” wrote up an AMAZING reflection on the experience of actually having attended the school.  It’s very nostalgic.  Please, be sure to check out his work HERE

St. John the Baptist Jordan, MN  St. John the Baptist Jordan, MN  St. John the Baptist Jordan, MNSt. John the Baptist Jordan, MN  St. John the Baptist Jordan, MN  St. John the Baptist Jordan, MNSt. John the Baptist Jordan, MN  St. John the Baptist Jordan, MN  St. John the Baptist Jordan, MNSt. John the Baptist Jordan, MN  St. John the Baptist Jordan, MN  St. John the Baptist Jordan, MN

St. John the Baptist Jordan, MN  St. John the Baptist Jordan, MN  St. John the Baptist Jordan, MNSt. John the Baptist Jordan, MN  St. John the Baptist Jordan, MN  St. John the Baptist Jordan, MN

St. John the Baptist Jordan, MN

St. John the Baptist Jordan, MN  St. John the Baptist Jordan, MN  St. John the Baptist Jordan, MN  St. John the Baptist Jordan, MNSt. John the Baptist Jordan, MN  St. John the Baptist Jordan, MN  St. John the Baptist Jordan, MN

Did you reach the Bottom of this blog?

If you have read down to here and are interested in reading more, be sure to click here, click on the "Older Posts" link to your right, or use the "Archive" tool on the right sidebar. Thanks for visiting!