Place Your Bets..

I am thinking of starting a pool (or poll for you non-gambling types, like me).

Take your guesses at what time this "chronically overtired" and "stressed out" Father-of-Five will finally collapse while waiting for the new year to arrive.

Hint... I can guarantee it will be before midnight.

I'll allow for fifteen minute windows.. and overlapping and duplicates are just fine...

My guess.... 10:45 - 11:00 pm (Central).

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New Year's Day Morning Update...

Wii until 10:15
Settlers of Catan until 12:30
Clean up, etc...

Final bed time... 2:00 am!

Surprized the heck outta me!

I just may need an "old man's nap" today...

Preparation

In preparation for tomorrow night's (New Years Eve) celebration, #2 and #3 of 5 and I started a game of "Settlers of Catan" (one of my Christmas Gifts this year).

catan-1 catan-2

Little known fact about the Father of Five.... He LOVES board games!!
(Foreshadowing for a future post..)

The Spirit of Christmas

Today, a received an email from Best Buddy Ed.... 

Since he does not have a blog of his own (yet...), it is with his kind permission that his email has been converted into a "guest post" here on FOF.  Folks, this is a PERFECT EXAMPLE of what makes Ed the kind, and generous person he (and his whole family for that matter) is. 

Be sure to send him your thoughts through the Comments link....  I'll "make sure" he sees them.  (I'm bigger and older than him....)  He'll get them... You can bet on it!

Enjoy.

-------------------------------------------------------------

Merry Christmas!

I just thought I'd share a story with you.

This story began 8 months ago when I had a tree felled in my front yard.  It was a very large White Poplar with a diameter of about 42" at the base.  Unfortunately, when Poplar trees get so large they begin to rot from the inside out.  Over the years the tree slowly got worse and worse, to the point that 65-70% of the upper branches had no leaves.  I had to have it felled professionally due to power lines on two sides and rows of cedar trees on the other sides.

Once the tree was on the ground, it was my job to clean up.  As I was cleaning up, I noticed my next door neighbor, B____, sitting on her front stoop.  I decided this was a good time to take a break and walked across the street to say "Hi".  During our conversation, I noticed she had a somber face.  Then she mentioned the tree.  I found out that tree was the last tree her dad had planted before he passed away.

I knew I had to do something special.

I went back to the task of cleaning up.  Looking for an opportunity to come up with something creative for her, I noticed a large branch that was a near perfect circle (13" diameter).  I knew right then what I had to do.  I cut a couple disks off the branch with my chainsaw, and stored them in the corner of my storage shed to dry.....hoping they would not split.

Fast forward 8 months...the disks did not split and were nice and dry.  Whew!!  I planed down the disks to 1-1/4" thickness...  Applied a satin oil finish to make the grain "come alive".....

DSC00131I assembled a few hands here, a couple numbers there....

and ......

I had made a beautiful clock for my neighbor!

Christmas Eve I called my neighbor up to see if she would be home for a few minutes.  J____ and I walked over to B____'s house and she invited us in.  I had the clock hidden inside a paper bag so she would not see what I had for her.  We sat at her kitchen table and began to tell her about the day on her front stoop when she told me about the tree.  I told her I noticed she was upset about the tree.  I then let her know she would always have a part of that tree as I pulled the clock out of the bag.....

As you can imagine, her eyes did not stay dry very long.  She didn't say much for a few minutes but she didn't have to.

The Spirit of Christmas is about giving...

Ed

A Different Title

I was going to use "Wii Wish You A Merry Christmas" as the title for this post until I noticed that DadStuff beat me to the punch.  I then felt I needed to come up with "A Different Title".
 
Much like the Stuff in My Brain's Christmas, Nintendo made their presence known in our house, with the arrival of our new Wii.   In fact - our stories are SO similar that one only needs to change the names, and it would be a nearly identical experience!   
 
IMG_0169The kids have been all but BEGGING for a Wii for months, and since I do not respond to begging - one never showed up.  After the kids came to the realization that begging does not work and figured that I am too much of a cheapskate to buy a new gaming system (we have an older XBox (not the 360)), they sort of "gave up" trying. 
 
A couple of months ago (while the units were still in stock) - we made the plunge, and purchased one.  It has been kept hidden since. 
 
As Christmas drew closer, the kids started "hinting" about a Wii again - but every time we went to the stores they were out of stock.  A fact that I "pointed out" each and every time we were at the store.  I reassured them that even if I wanted to buy them a Wii, there was no way it could happen.
 
Well, Christmas came - and so did the annual "ravaging of the gifts under the tree".  When it was all said and done, nary a Wii was to be found.  As the kids attention was drawn away (busy with the gifts that they did receive), Mother of Five and I snuck downstairs, and hauled up the pile of similarly wrapped (but disguised in a different sized boxes) gifts. 
 
We distributed the packages evenly, and had #3 of 5 open the first box (the Wii unit).  It was not until it was completely unwrapped that they figured out what it was...
And it was all over...
#2 of 5 was Gasping for breath...  Speechless....  Just "Ooh", "Ahh", and "Umm"...  He started bouncing around like a circus chimpanzee.  When he finally got his breath back, #2 and #3 of 5 were INSTANTLY all "I know what's in THAT one" (while pointing to the Guitar Hero). 
 
IMG_0181The whirlwind opening of the Wii (and related accessories) was followed up with "This is the best Christmas I EVER had", and MANY "ThankYouThankyouThankYou's".
 
Since we celebrate on Christmas Eve, and the Wii was the last to arrive, there was only a small window of time to set the Wii up, and "test it out" with a whirlwind crash course of Guitar Hero (Only to find that one of the guitars had a defect in it) before we had to call it a night.  I let the boys and #4 of 5 play with the other guitar (and maybe a Father of Five had to "test it out" once or twice too) before I had to pack all the pieces and parts back up to exchange it on Friday... 
 
Since I had to work on Christmas day, the kid's Wii time was spent sans me...  But from the looks of the aftermath, it appears they enjoyed themselves (at least until they had to leave for Grandma and Grandpa's house).  I met them after work, and did not get home until after 10pm.
 
Friday is another work-day (with a forced hold over until 7pm) for me - so my hope is that the kids will help mom clean the house up, and I can exchange the Guitar Hero (on the way home) and we can have a little Guitar Hero family jam session.
 
We are TRYING (trying being the key word) to hold them off just a bit.  New Years Eve / Day are days off for me - and we want to have a family Wii-fest that night.
 
We picked up the Wii (with Wii Sport), Wii Play (with the extra Wiimote), one extra nunchuk (for the extra Wiimote), DDR (Dance Dance Revolution) with an extra Dance Mat, Guitar Hero Aerosmith (the set with two guitars), and Guitar Hero Legends of Rock (just the game - the boys like classic rock)...  I would have liked to have picked up MarioKart, but...  a.) when I looked I could not find one, and... b.) it's a pretty expensive game.  We will get one in due time I am sure.
 
On a related note, I just found out that my nephews (The Two Texas Twins - now living in New York) also got a Wii for Christmas...  Yikes, it has been a Wii Christmas for sure!
 
 
 

FOF Observation #11

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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On any given day, you do not want to run out of toilet paper in a house with seven people. 
It is bad...  Trust me.

But you
REALLY DO NOT
want to run out of toilet paper with a house of seven people ON CHRISTMAS DAY
It is
REALLY BAD...  Trust me. 
Paper Towels just 'aint the same folks... (If ya know what I mean.)
First on the list of "after Christmas shopping" today...  Toilet Paper.
(Maybe I can find some "Christmas theme" T.P. at a significantly discounted rate!)

An Open Letter to a Dear Old Friend.

Dear Santa.

It has been many years since you last received a letter from me. But after last night - I felt the need to share a frustration I have, so that nothing comes between a couple of life-long buddies such as ourselves...

First off, I must acknowledge a couple of things about you...
Your eyes -- how they twinkle, and your dimples how merry!
Your cheeks are like roses, and your nose like a cherry!

Your droll little mouth is drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of your chin is as white as the snow;

The stump of your pipe is held tight in your teeth,
And the smoke from it encircled your head like a wreath;

You have a broad face and a little round belly,
That shakes, when you laugh like a bowlful of jelly.

You are both chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I realize that many laugh when they see you,
in spite of themselves.
...but

All that does not change the fact that I spent two hours (two hours of my life that I will NEVER get back) helping you out, by pre-assembling a "certain gift" for a "certain little four-year-old-girl", that will (when she sees IMG_0049that gift) undoubtedly provide many fond memories of you for her. Her eyes will light up, and oooo, that smile... She will be so excited, and she will talk about the gift you are bringing for many years to come...

Despite all this, I get BUPKIS for the work I put in "helping you" !

While it is true that I enjoy assembling items, I have been on a bit of a time crunch the past few days. Assembling this particular gift for you was a bit of an inconvenience, and cut into my already inadequate sleep time.

So Santa, my dear old friend, I could not (in good faith) let this frustration just sit and fester between us without sharing it with you. I'd hate to see such a simple thing come between a lifelong friendship, like the one you and I share.

Maybe next year, you could have a couple of the elves help a Father of Five out...
What do you say?

Your dear old friend...
David

P.S. I hope this letter does not end up putting me on your "Naughty List".

When I Am Not At Home

I was going through my 2008 photos, and came across this picture (that I had forgotten that I had taken).
It was supposed to be a follow up to THIS POST by Postulates and Pasttimes.

When I am not at home, this is where I can usually be found.
(One of the 4 main consoles at work.)

BLTN_PSAP

A Few of My Favorite Things

One of the best things about living in a rural town is pulling into the gas station to gas up my car right next to a fella on a SNOWMOBILE, gassing his snowmobile right at the pump like a car!

I'll see if I can snap a photo in the next day or two... It's really a wonderful site!

I love "Trifecta Friday"

When "my Friday" (the last day of my work-week) ends on a true calendar Friday, and that happens to fall on a payday Friday - we call them "Trifecta Fridays".

This happens once every six weeks.

Trifecta Friday is followed with four (well needed) days off!

Since I am on the topic of "work"... Check out THIS LINK!
That made for an exciting morning!

A Christmas Treasure part 2

As a Follow up to A Christmas Treasure, I could not (in good faith) let it be unsaid that besides the Lionel Barrymore recording of A Christmas Carol (in all it's audio glory) there exists a VIDEO version of A Christmas Carol that holds a place my heart almost as big as the audio version.

Alistair SimGrowing up, another one of the Christmas Treasures I most looked forward to (in addition to listening to the LP of A Christmas Carol), was our family's tradition of taking in a theater screening of "Scrooge". 

Scrooge is the 1951 (originally black and white) film version of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol staring Alistair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge.

I have seen (and heard) many different versions of A Christmas Carol over the years, yet I can (without hesitation) state that I have seen, NONE (and by NONE - I mean Not. Even. One.) version that comes CLOSE to providing the joy in my heart that Alistair Sim's 1951 version does.

Much like the Lionel Barrymore LP version, the sentiment I feel for "Scrooge" (the film) runs much deeper than the dynamics of the movie itself.  You see, as very young children, "Scrooge" also became a part of our family's Christmas traditions when my parents brought us to the annual screening of "Scrooge" held at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts theater each year.  It was one of my favorite parts of Christmas, and something I looked forward to each and every year.  Seeing Scrooge as a boy with my family still remains one of my fondest childhood memories.

With the advent of VCR's and now DVD's - came the ability to see the movie in the comfort of my own home (which I do).  As convenient as this is, there is something lost in the meaningfulness of watching the movie as I did when I was a child.  We make an evening of it.  We curl up on the couch with blankets as a family, and turn the lights down.  It is still a lot of fun, and one of my favorite traditions - only it has changed slightly over the years, and become something slightly different.

I have often asked myself how much would I be willing to pay to have the opportunity go back in time (just for one day) and be that little boy - in all his innocence - going to see "Scrooge" at the Art Institute, holding hands with his mom and dad and little sister just one more time. 

Folks, please... Treasure the Christmas traditions you share with your kids.  They mean more than you can possibly imagine.

One of Life's Simple Pleasures #2

Simple Pleasures:

A series of posts where I share some of the little things that make a HUGE (positive) difference in the Life of a Father of Five!

= = = = = = = = = = = = =

I got ready for work early - anticipating a car that would not start.

I was pleased to discover that unlike yesterday (when my car almost did not start) - today - it started right up!

Man, as I get older - it get's easier and easier to make me happy.

Dangerous Nights

Temps tonight in the -16 to -20 degree range - with winds from the SE 5-10 miles per hour.

That gives us wind chill temps between -25 and -41 degrees..

Anyone up for some ice fishing?

My Christmas Gift to You!

Folks, it was not that long ago that I wrote about my favorite Christmas Tradition - Lionel Barrymore's "A Christmas Carol" on a 33 1/3 LP that I had converted over to CD a few years ago.

Well, thanks to my Best Bud Ed, he located a link to the audio on the net... and the best part?? It's FREE!!

The audio is considered "Open Source" and therefore available for EVERYONE to enjoy!

So, with many thanks to Ed, I would like to present each of you the link to download your own personal copy of my all time favorite version of A Christmas Carol!

The file is a 2.7mb mp3 file - and plays in 16kbps.

Here is a link to the Internet Archives web page. It has a built in player on the page, so if you choose not to download it, you can stream it - and listen to it right off the webpage. (There are a number of different versions listed - The version in question is #13 on that page).

http://www.archive.org/details/achristmascarolotr

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

And, for those of you who want to get right to it, here is the direct download link.

http://www.archive.org/download/achristmascarolotr/HallmarkHallOfFame541219AChristmasCarol.mp3

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

On a side note, another version (my second favorite) was also listed on that page. #1 - #6 is the Ronald Coleman version (another LP we used to own) of the same story. While I enjoyed that version as well, it does not hold the same place in my heart as the Lionel Barrymore version does.

Again, I can not thank Ed enough for finding (and sharing) these links... You are the greatest friend a guy could ask for!

A Christmas Treasure

We all have family traditions, or family memories that hold an undeniably special place in our hearts. It may be an ornament, a decoration, a special food item, or (in my case) a Christmas Recording.

For me, Christmas would not be Christmas without listening (at least once) to this recording.

Come on FOF, get to it already - what is this "recording" that holds so much meaning to you?

The recording that I am talking about is a vinyl LP (any one actually remember these things?) of "A Christmas Carol". It stars Lionel Barrymore as Ebenezer Scrooge, and is narrated by Richard Hale. This LP is one that my father purchased as a young adult when he bought his first "Hi-Fi" set.

AChristmasCarolFor as far back as I can remember (since I was maybe four or five years old) we have listened to this record. It holds so many memories, both fond and "frightening"

"Frightening" in that I lost my first Grandfather at age 5. (Thus confirming I must have been listening to this recording before I was five years old) because I have memories of being scared that my grandfather would return and visit with me (Much like Jacob Marley did.)

I would (at a young age) get so frightened while listening to this record - that there were times I would close my eyes, and cover my ears, and talk to myself so I did not have to hear Jacob Marley's voice. Yet, as frightened as I was by those portions of the story, I could not resist listening to it, and even asked to "play it again".

That LP became as much a part of my Christmas as our tree, eggnog, and Santa Claus was. I would (often) listen to that LP several times a day. I am (still to this day) able to recite the script, with matching vocal expressions, word for word.

Sadly, the day came when there was no longer a record player in my or my parents house. Thankfully, my father had a friend make a copy of the LP on cassette - and that took the place of the record for many years.

Close to ten years ago, (when eBay was still "fun" to shop) out of curiosity, I ran a search - and found another copy of the record. Wanting a "back up" copy, I IMMEDIATELY put a high bid on it - and won the auction. When it arrived home - I was delighted to find that it was the EXACT same recording, in the EXACT same cover, but with a different Label and Record company.

I started getting curious, and so I started my own little "History's Mysteries" surrounding this wonderful recording. Here is what I found.

Original Record - Lion Records - L70124 - A Christmas Carol - Lionel Barrymore [1959]

eBay purchase - MGM Records - E3222 - A Christmas Carol - Lionel Barrymore [1955-1956]

The MGM recording (eBay purchase) was the original recording of this version of "A Christmas Carol". It was sold as an MGM Labeled Record in their "E series" records.

The Lion Records version of the record was released in 1959. Lion Records was a subsidiary label of MGM Records that produced 12-inch vinyl LP's between 1958 and 1960 when it went defunct.

So, while my dad has (what is in my mind) the "original" LP, I discovered that the copy I own (the eBay purchase) is technically the "original" copy, and the LP I grew up listening to was, in reality, a re-issue.

Around that same time, I paid a co-worker (who was/is big into computers and electronic gadgets) to take my beloved LP, and make a CD version of it as a Christmas gift to my father (and as a back up copy for myself). He did an outstanding job of it - having to make several scans of the LP cover (due to it's size) and pieced them together to make a single color photo for the CD cover. It turned out BEAUTIFULLY!

My CD of "A Christmas Carol" continues to be one of my most prized possessions, and an important part of my Christmas each year!

Does my love affair with "A Christmas Carol" end there? No... No it does not. Stay tuned.

A First...

polish Today, I share with you a first in my life - courtesy of #5 of 5.

With the Mother of Five serving hot lunch - then going on a field trip with #4 of 5's class, I get some home-alone time with #5 of 5.

What was the first thing we did??

After we got home from preschool, she came running up to me with four little tiny bottles in her hand, and asked me to paint her fingernails...
PAINT HER FINGERNAILS?? I've mixed and sold paint. I have painted houses, walls, boats, and even cars (Tony, have you seen the "Pizza man"??)... But fingernails?? TINY HUMAN FINGERNAILS??
She chose two colors (one for each hand), and reminded me that I am to navigate around the one finger with a band-aid on it.

In the end, I was successfully able to paint her nails - without any previous training or experiences!

Father of Five in the news!

Well, more specifically, the "Father of Five" BLOG was recently in the news. 
 
I was contacted by Justin Piehowski a couple of days ago.  Mr. Piehowski is starting a new column on a local news website called MinnPost - A Thoughtful Approach to the News.
 
The Column is called the Minnesota Blog Cabin, (get it... A play on "Log Cabin") and today's inaugural post "Keeping an eye on the state's blogosphere" discusses what Mr. Piehowski is planning on doing in the future with, and what we can expect from his new column.  Mr. Piehowski writes...
"So, what can you expect to read about in my posts?

Stories of real Minnesotans who aren't afraid to use this new technology in an interesting and personal way.

You'll meet Minnesotans who are joining the global conversation, simply because they can. Should a Minnesota angle crop up on a national blog, we'll try point you there as well."
He goes on to list a few examples of what types of blogs he is talking about, and there...  Low and behold... lies the mention of The Life of a Father of Five!
 
I am both honored and humbled to be included in this list, and would like to personally thank Mr. Piehowski, and MinnPost for the mention.
 
If you landed here because of the article, I'd like to invite you to hang out for a wee bit.  There is nearly three years with of material (some good, some bad, and some ugly) here for you to peruse..  If you like what you see, leave me a comment(s) - and feel free to come on back anytime. 
 
If, on the other hand, you find FOF boring and monotonous (which is more likely the scenario) - I thank you.  I enjoy a life of (and wish I could have more) boredom and monotony.  That is who I am.  If that's not for you - I'm A.O.K. with that.  No hard feelings, I promise!  Thanks for stopping by, and may I suggest that you keep checking the Minnesota Blog Cabin for something that does tickle your fancy!  I feel Mr. Piehowski is onto something interesting here!

1,000 Socks

#4 of 5's "Multi-age Classroom" (2nd and 3rd grades were combined as a cost savings measure... Which, by the way, I am VERY pleased with the results of...) decided to do a service project for Christmas.
They chose the Sharing and Caring Hands organization, operated by Mary Jo Copeland.
For those of you who live in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area, you are very likely to know who Mary Jo Copeland is. For those of you who do not, (in a nut shell) she is considered a "Street Mother", a "Extraordinary Leader" and an "Urban Saint" for the poverty stricken and homeless of our community.
Back to #4 of 5's classroom. They chose to support Mary Jo Copeland's Caring and Sharing hands organization. The Sharing and Caring Hands Center provides for the needs of the homeless in our community. One of the needs that is provided, is clothing. They provides clothing (including shoes and socks) to those that are in need.
The Multi-Age classroom decided to start a "Sock Drive" for Caring and Sharing Hands. They set a goal of 1,000 pairs of socks by today.
I know they not only reached, but have exceeded their goal, and as of the last count that I heard, they were over 1,050.
But when you include our (yet to be delivered) contribution of 90 pairs... (30 from Grandma, 30 from Aunt Mary, and 30 from us) the total will be 1,140.
Nothing like waiting till the last minute, huh FOF? Well, that's what comes with trying to keep up with a herd like ours... Once and a while things get done at the last minute...
I say "better late than never"
Well, since I am confident that we were not the only "last minute" contributors (collections continued throughout mass this weekend) I am very anxious to find out what the total number socks collected will be.
I'm going to guess somewhere in the 1,400 range... But maybe I'm being optimistic...
I'll be sure to let you know when the final count comes in!

UPDATE: As of 12-09-08, #4 of 5's class raised a total of 1,222 pairs of socks!! WAY TO GO!!

After Reading My Last Post..

After reading my last post, I am afraid I may have left folks with the impression that the Father of Five's real IMGA0145identity is "Ebenezer Scrooge".  Well, I say Bah-Humbug to that... 

(* More on Ebenezer Scrooge in an upcoming post...) 

To prove to all my friends that I am indeed not Ebenezer Scrooge, I have a couple of quick photos I took today that I wanted to share with you.

First photo...  (The first two may not help my cause)

I am not a big Holiday Home Decorator.  I have rarely put more than a single string of lights up on my gutter. 

Once and a while I get my lighted deer out, but I am always afraid of what local hoodlums will do. 

A few years back I found my lighted deer put into a....

(ahem... Cough... Cough...) 

..."Compromising position".  

First thing we did this year, was to buy a evergreen swag from our local Boy Scout Troop (Yeah, ok... From our own boys...)  and for the first time since we have lived here, I decorated the front entrance.

It does not look all that bad, and I am sort of glad I did it.  I am pretty sure that this spot on the house needs "seasonal" decoration, and will continue to receive some attention in the future.

.

IMGA0146

Second Photo...

Well, in the past few nights, as I drive down my block, I notice that my house is one of the few void of ANY sort of decoration, so in a moment of guilt, I broke down and bought some lights for the outside of the house. 

It's not much, but remember folks - between the lights and the swag - I have already DOUBLED my holiday decorating efforts!

I am even considering a few more lights - but don't hold your breath.

.

Third Photo...

And now, as a last ditch effort to prove that no matter how stingy my holiday decorating may be, I am capable of bolstering the Christmas Spirit - I have to post a photo that I could not resist taking.

While at the store picking up some parts to hang the lights, and the swag - I noticed a scene that kicked the Christmas Season into gear for me.

Our local "small town" grocery store / hardware store (Separate, but attached and owned by the same family) had their Christmas Tree and wreath display out.  With last night's snow still lingering on the trees - all standing at attention between the front entrances of the two stores - I HAD TO go home, grab the camera, and return to the store to snap a couple of photos. 

IMGA0140

The photo does not do the scene justice.  You can not (for example) smell the trees / wreaths - or feel / hear the crunching of the snow under your feet.  You'll have to trust me here when I say - in real life - the scene was reminiscent of a Norman Rockwell photo for the Saturday Evening Post. 

The nostalgic images and experiences of Christmas are second to none.  No amount of "Black Friday" shopping or "Door Buster Sales" with even the most unbelievable prices can beat walking past a small town grocer / hardware store and seeing something like this. 

I'll have more on Christmas Nostalgia coming soon to a Father of Five blog post near you!  Stay tuned my friends!

Black Friday...

I'm a spiritual fella. I have pretty strong faith, and a belief in God. As such, I try (stressing "try") to live my life in such a way that I feel is good, kind, and (for the most part) as I think God would want me to. My faith teaches the doctrine of the Seven Cardinal Sins.
Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, and Pride.
I'm not big on the formal aspects of the doctrine. So, please don't ask me to get all scholarly about the history of, implementation of, or formality surrounding these sins. What I am good at is the interpretation of these sins (or at least my OWN PERSONAL interpretation of these sins).. Heck, even take the religious aspects out of the equasion... In a nutshell, one needs to avoid these things to be a good person.

Black Friday (in my mind) repents all that is evil in this world. In my mind, in my observations, and in my life, I can associate most (if not all) of the seven deadly sins to "Black Friday".

Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy are easily associated, and I think I could make an argument for Gluttony and Pride too. Truthfully if you remove the "sexual" connotations of "Lust" and look at Lust in it's most basic form, it is "to have a passionate desire for something" (taken from the Oxford English Dictionary) - I can make that fit too.
In my opinion, Black Friday is nothing more than a greed (or any of the other cardinal sin(s) listed above) induced frenzy, fueled by the media and the retail giants of this world. It is a free for all that we allow ourselves to fall victim to.

"We are
like lambs leading themselves to slaughter." *
*(Credit for this accurate "sumeration" goes to Many Things Do Not Fly)
Why else would a group of shoppers not have enough control to keep from trampling a Walmart employee to death in what can only be described as a mass human stampeed.

Where was the common sense? Where was the self control? Where was the calm? Where was the little voice in everyone's head telling them that this is going to turn out bad?

I'll tell you where..

It was still there with almost everyone there, only it was drowned out by the voices of lust, glutton, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride - that is where it was.

Shame on us.

Now that my "televangical" rant is over, we will return to our regular schedule of inane rambling about nothingness. (Wink)

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm leaving for work here in a moment, but I wanted to be sure to wish everyone (at least the ones in the U.S. of A) a Happy Thanksgiving Day!

For those of you outside the US, have a Happy Thursday!

Me? Like I said - off to work to help keep the folks who are going to choke on their Thanksgiving feast live to see another one.

- - - - - - - - - -

Remember folks. This is a day to be thankful for the things we have.

A friend of mine made a recent observation - which I am going to "steal" (and then add a bit more).

On this Thanksgiving Day - you find this Father of Five thankful that I have everything I could ever want, and even more.

Happy Thanksgiving Day EVERYONE!

An Epiphany

Epiphany - The sudden realization or comprehension of the (larger) essence or meaning of something. It is a term is used in either a philosophical or literal sense to signify that the claimant (or "I" in this case) has found the last "piece of the puzzle" and now can see the whole picture."

- - - - - - - - - - -

I am tired...

I am tired almost all the time... no... Strike that. I AM tired ALL the time.

I start my day feeling unrefreshed. Many nights, I go to bed much later than I should, and get SIGNIFICANTLY less sleep that what I am told is "healthy". Even on the nights I do make it to bed on time, I still feel as if I am starting my day off behind on sleep.

I live life behind a veil of fatigue.

I sit down at the end of the day with the Mother of Five to discuss whatever needs to be discussed, and before long, my eyes start rolling back, and my head starts a-bobbin'.

I am unable to just sit, relax and listen to some Old Time Radio, or the previous day's episode of the Ron & Fez Show without falling asleep within the first few minutes.

I can no longer just sit and enjoy music without falling asleep. Oh, and the genre of music... It does not matter. I will fall asleep listening to Death Metal as quickly as I would to New Age relaxation music.
Don't even bother asking me about how long I am awake when I lay down to sleep and put in some music to fall asleep to (intentionally)... I can not remember the last time I remember the second song on the album.
I nod off reading stories to the girls at night, that's a nap waiting to happen FOR SURE. I "rest my eyes" while surfing Facebook, or sitting here writing this post. I have counted (no less than) three instances where my head started bobbing.

Needless to say - this year while enjoying the peace, quiet, and solitude of the duck and deer blinds, I slept.

It was while I was sitting in the duck blind this year that I REALLY STARTED THINKING about my sleep, my lack of sleep, and my ability to fall asleep pretty much anywhere and anytime I let myself...
That was the key!!
Anytime I let myself... Only it was not quite the key either, after all - I did not "let myself" fall asleep while reading, or talking to the Mother of Five... (That always resulted in some "damage control" later on too!)

My epiphany occurred when I realized that I am at a point now that unless I am in a state of actively reminding myself to stay awake, I will start to fall asleep.

I know, I know... This can not be healthy physically, mentally, or emotionally, but a guy's gotta do what a guy's gotta do to get by. I'll just have to pay for it later on down the road (only it will be with interest).

Like the overused cliche goes... "I'll sleep when I'm dead".

This Little Light of Mine...

I have been told, that in many ways our #4 of 5 (8 year old daughter) is a lot like her Aunt Mary (my wife's sister). This is a good thing, as Aunt Mary is a wonderful, caring, and intelligent person.

One thing to know about Aunt Mary is that she is a vivacious reader. She has (full) bookcases in her home, and has always been encouraging when it comes to our kid's reading...
Hey Mary, we still owe you that copy of Harry Potter... I have not forgotten!

My wife has told me about how as a girl growing up, Aunt Mary would get a book as a birthday, or Christmas gift, and (with a flashlight) read through the wee hours of the night under the covers of her bed. She would often finish a book the day she received it.

#4 of 5 has also been a pretty strong reader. She LOVES reading, and is often reading above her "grade level" (as opposed to our boys - who for the most part, struggle with reading). This is one of #4 of 5's strong similarities to her Aunt Mary. She has asked (and we have allowed her) to read in bed after "lights out" with a flashlight. So far, so good. She turns the flashlight off before she falls asleep.

Recently, #4 of 5 has finished reading several of the Junie B Jones.. First Grader series of books, and has been looking at finding "the next thing" to read.

Growing up, my wife was a big fan of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, and "Little House on the Prarie" television show (Let's be honest here... I think she STILL IS a fan of the books and the show.) When it's on, and #4 of 5 is home, they will sit down together and watch "Little House". My wife still has her original set of Laura Ingalls books that she received when she was a young girl, but they are in such a fragile state - that if #4 of 5 were to try and read them, but they would fall apart.

Sometime in the past couple of days, #4 of 5 came home from school with a library copy of the first book. She started reading it last night before bed, and was proudly announcing which page she was on each time she moved on to the next page.

When it came time for bed, (as I expected) she asked to read in bed - to which I agreed.

IMGA0136When I woke this morning, and was getting ready for work (5:30 am), I noticed a small little light coming from under #4 of 5's bed covers.

Dang nabbit, she left the flashlight on (and I did not catch that before I went to bed).

Reminder to self... Buy more batteries.

I was sure that she had left the light on all night, and so when I went in to her room to turn the light off and save what was left of the batteries - I discovered one little eight year old girl - Just like her Aunt Mary - under the covers, with the flashlight, reading her book.



"Just could not put the book down, eh?" I asked.

She looked up at me in silence (and with a big ol' "got her daddy wrapped around her finger" grin on her face, and raising her eyebrows just a bit) she shook her head "no".

This little light of mine,
I'm going to let it shine.
Let it shine, Let it shine, Let it shine!
P.S. She was not up all night reading... I think I may have woke her while getting ready for work, and she was so into her book that, instead of going back to sleep, she resumed her reading...

Apologies.

I am still alive...

But day -to- day life is keeping me unusually busy...

Lots going on at home, lots going on at work, and now I have AT LEAST three unfinished posts I need to get done...

Another week or so, and life should mellow out just a wee bit...

Pride...

The kind of pride that brings a man to tears... Literally... It's that kind of pride that comes as a reward for all the hard work it takes to "raise 'em right".

As you may remember, I took #2 of 5 through Firearms Safety Classes, and then he was invited to join Ed and I for our annual Duck hunting trip (Dad's Outdoor Journal Post Pending... 2/3 finished) . This was his first hunting trip with the guys.

Without getting into too much detail (and thus spoiling the Outdoor Journal post that is still pending), while we were up at the cabin, Ed's Dad spent some time "supplementing" his firearms safety information.

My dad is not a hunter, and so what I have learned about hunting, and gun safety came directly from Ed's Dad, and Ed. (This was before Firearms Safety Classes were mandatory for all hunters).

It has been almost a month now since we got home, but when I got to work this morning, I discovered an email in my inbox. This email was Ed's Dad.
I frequently get jokes, funny pictures, and what-not sent from him. We have recently been sending a couple of emails back and forth about the 8 year old who died when his father let him use a fully automatic "Uzi" at a Machine Gun Shooting event - and about responsible gun handling and ownership. My comments back to him opened up the conversation...

Today's email from Ed's Dad was... well... I'll let you judge for yourself.

Hi Dave ---

Meant to e-mail you before this but time flies.

I wanted to tell you that I really enjoyed your bringing Johnathan up to the cabin with you. It's good for him to be with the guys and also receive some competent instruction in handling firearms.

I was, by the way, an instructor for the Colt .45 when I was in Germany. I would drive from my station in Schweinfurt to Frankfurt to instruct new Military Police replacements in the use and application of firearms.

Jonathan is a delightful kid and he does you proud. Bring him up again next year.

Take care. John

P.S. Maybe you could arrange a trip up to the cabin next summer for a couple of days or so of shooting, fishing and great eating. Sound like fun?
Very few of you (if any) know Ed's Dad. Ed's Dad is of the ol' timers. When I say he is one of the ol' timers I mean that with the utmost respect. Guys like Ed's Dad are few and far between. He and Ed's mom have been my secondary parents since I first met them. I have learned a lot from him over the years, and I have great respect for him.

I returned his email with this...
John,

You have no idea how it makes me feel to hear this from you. It is truly a "reward" for all the work that we have put into raising him right.

Weather you know this or not, YOU have been one the mentors in MY life. You have taught me a lot about many things. Some of what you see in my Jonathan, is in direct relation to some of the things I picked up from you along the road of life.

You and Jan have been like a second set of parents to me. I will never be able to thank you guys for that... Ever.

If anything, I need to be thanking you - for opening your lives, family, home, cabin, knowledge, etc. to me, and for raising such a great kid yourself (in Ed). Ed has been, and continues to be a once-in-a-lifetime friend to me.

A couple of days of shooting, fishing, and hangin' out at the cabin sounds GREAT!

Take care John!

IMGA0935David.
It's one thing to hear these things from his teacher, or from his grandparents, or our neighbors... It is something completely different, when it comes from someone you consider a mentor.

It REALLY hits home.

This may embarrass him just a little bit, and I am sorry if it does. My intention was to thank him for all he has done for me over the years.

Thank you John... It means more to me than you will ever understand.

Veteran's Day

I just wanted to send my unending gratitude out to all veterans.

It is the sacrifice that the veterans, and the families of all veterans that have allowed me to enjoy the freedoms and liberties that we enjoy.
MinIraq 
On a related note. Last night, I received an alert from Google (Google alerts are GREAT!) that the Battalion a childhood friend of mine is assigned to, came home last night after a year in Iraq.

We have emailed back and forth a few times while he was overseas. He sent me some photos of his adventures in Iraq. Last night, I heard that he was back in the Twin Cities!

LINK

So, on this Veterans day, additionally I would like to send a special thanks to my friend Mike from the 407th Civil Affairs Battalion - on this - his first day home!
 
Mike - the first couple of beers are on me!

A New Hobby

1bNo, not for me... 

#1 of 5 had some previous experience with archery - not much, but enough to "wet his whistle". 

A few weeks ago, he came to me and started asking questions about archery and bow hunting.

Having never bow hunted (or even shot a bow before) I told him to find a few books, web sites, and magazines about the subject. 

While he did some checking, I did some checking on my own. (wink)

Thanks to Craigslist, I located an inexpensive starter compound bow that he could EASLILY afford.  It really was a pretty good deal! 

He has been out to the archery range a couple of times now, and (I have to admit) he is doing pretty good for having just started out.

What is nice is that many cities have Archery Ranges, and they are a NO COST activity! 

I am finding myself  "slightly" interested.  But since he is right handed and I am wrong handed er... Left Handed (ahem.... AtHomeDaddy, you catch that one?)  I will have to wait before I can give archery a try.  

Maybe I need to start watching craigslist for a "too good to be true" deal of my own! 

 

 

1a

Christmas Shopping (early)

Christmas Shopping today...  (blech)

Our family schedule is (as you may imagine) busy.  It's hard enough to get the day-t0-day stuff done, but when you add in some of the extra-curricular family stuff (like Christmas Shopping), it is easier to get an act passed into law through Congress (a bi-partisan congress at that!) than to fit everything in.

Today, we both have some time off, and the Mémère-to-seven (my mom) is able to spend the day with the kiddos. 

Since the moon, stars, and planets have aligned (meaning we found a time that works for EVERYONE) The Mother-of-five and I are going to head out to get some (early) Christmas shopping done.

What I will do is share a couple of photos from my first (and unproductive) deer hunting trip this year.  Not much to say except COLD, windy, and quiet... 

I did not even see a squirrel or two for some Gray Squirrel Cobbler...

blzorange   gunagainsttree

 

See you on the other side of emptying my bank account...

P.S.  The "Blech" mentioned above is not just for Christmas shopping...  It's for SHOPPING IN GENERAL!!  Blech!  If it was for Christmas Shopping, I would have said "Humbug"...

Headin' Out

Tomorrow is Minnesota's 2008 Deer Hunting Opener
 
Last year (as you may or may not remember) - I bowed out of deer hunting, with both my father-in-law / brother-in-law, and with best bud Ed. 
 
Life was too crazy.  My head was spinning, and I was going "koo-koo-bananas" just trying to keep track of everything going on.  My planned weekend for deer hunting was my only set of days without significant family obligations both prior to, and for several weeks after. 
 
As I drove home from work on the afternoon I was supposed to leave, I made the decision... 
 
I pulled the plug on ALL of it. 
 
I wanted a weekend home, with my family.  Going deer hunting would have not been enjoyable.  I called everyone up from my planned trip(s), and canceled.  
 
I still have no regrets over that decision.
 
This year, while still "busy", life is not as hair-pulling-busy as it was last year.  I am looking forward to a couple of quick deer hunting trips this fall.
 
Trip #1 will be a "one day hunt".  My F.I.L, B.I.L, and I are going to my Uncle's place and spending the whole day in the woods.  This should prove to be a pretty good time. 
 
Opening day is my LEAST favorite day to hunt.  My concern is the concentration of hunters in the field that first weekend.  So, I am not too optimistic.
 
I am leaving at 0300 hours Saturday morning, riding up, hunting the day-a-way, then  returning some time after sun-down.
 
Maybe I'll have a story to share.
 
P.S.  Duck hunting 2008 is close to being finished...
  

An Award

I was recently awarded the "Charming Blog Award" by Dad's Workbench.

What is "The Charming Blog Award"?

"These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award."

propagating-friendship1Thank you very much Dad's Workbench! I am both flattered and humbled!

Since I have started blogging, I have met some pretty great "virtual" friends, which is great because (as unfortunate as it is) as a father of five, I have very little spare time to spend hanging out with friends. Most (if not all) of the "real" friends I have, I keep in touch with over email... Just like I do with my "virtual" friends. In fact, with the exception of one or two, I have more contact with my "virtual" friends, then I do most of my "real" friends...

Since this award is about bloggers who "aim to find and to be friends", I want to acknowledge a core group of bloggers that I have really connected with. These are guys that live all over the country, but through their blogs, comments, and exchanged emails, I consider them as "real" as a friend can get.

Yeah, yeah... I know, I know... I keep mentioning some of these same blogs over and over, but these are some real "stand up" fellas in my book! (In alphabetical order... (So, no fightin' guys...))

At Home Daddy
It's Not About the Badge
Postulates and Pasttimes
Stuff in My Brain
The Ethereal Garage
The Life and Thoughts of a Midwest Geek

Thanks guys! Thanks for sharing, for helping me feel as if I am not alone, for having similar thoughts, worries, concerns, and viewpoints, for the laughs, and the tears, and the inspiration that each of you provide!

To mix it all up a bit.... I'm going to throw a newer blog that I have been reading lately into this mix!

Daddy Daze (Dad's Workbench would have been here also, but instead HE awarded ME, so it would be pointless.)

As you can see I've got a number of Dad Blogs up there. In the interest of a little "equal opportunity" ('cuz after all, us dad's could not be who we are if it were not for the moms out there), I am going to break the rules just a smidge. I am going to award a couple of extras.

Viewing the criteria for this award... ("kind bloggers who aims to find and be friends", "not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement", and "exceedingly charming" blogs) I am immediately reminded of three mom blogs that meet and/or exceed that criteria! I would be remiss by not acknowledging them

My Family and Other Animals
Mother of 8
World of Weasels

Unfortunately, there are a number of other blogs that I could have EASILY (and should have) been mentioned here...

Some of them, I KNOW FOR A FACT, do not like to be named in memes and / or awards, so they remain unlisted... (Yeah, I cheated... So sue me...) If you are interested, you can find many similar blogs (just as deserving) on MY BLOGROLL.

"Rescue Me" said the kitty cat!

I forgot ALL about this, so I had to make a quick post before I forgot (again) - it's too funny to let pass.

I have been working as a 911 dispatcher for over thirteen years now, and after thirteen years it's pretty rare, but I took a "first" call a few days ago. ("First" as in I had never taken a call like this before.)

Now remember folks... I DO NOT work for Sheriff Taylor of Mayberry RFD.

It's the proverbial Fire Department "Joke" call.. I actually sent the fire department out on a "Cat Rescue"!

Ok... This cat was not "stuck in a tree"... No, this cat was stuck on a sign. This cat somehow gained access to the roof of a business. Once on the roof (in what I can only imagine was an attempt at a bird nest on the sign) the cat jumped from the roof, to the ledge created from the sign sticking out from the building. This cat could not make it back up to the roof, and it was too far for it to "fall" (without subtracting one if it's nine lives)...

Seventeen minutes later, "Engine 1" cleared the call with a loud and clear "Cat Rescued" over the air!

It was the first (and most likely the last) time in my career I SENT the Fire Department out on a cat rescue.

What made me think of this tonight?? A 911 call about the cat trapped on top of a telephone pole...

Cribs...

And since my blog is primarily considered a "daddy-blog", with "daddy-blogger" and "mommy-blogger" readers, when I say "crib", the first thing that comes to mind is the small prison cell bed that we detain screaming children lay our infants to sleep in.  Many of us have passed the same crib down from infant to infant...

Today, I am going to deviate, and break out of my "mold".  I'm going to jump back a generation (or maybe even two) and define "crib" as a house, home, abode, domicile, the roof over your head.

Today, as I made the final preparations for the onslaught of winter in Minnesota, I took a moment and looked at my "crib". 

The yard was clean, the trees were trimmed, the front patio was cleaned off, the lawn was mowed and the leaves were all up from the yard.  It felt good to see my "crib" looking so "fly" (OK.. Now I am REALLY in character!). 

I ran inside and took a few pics of the front of my house.

As I was viewing the photos, I realized that I have made many friends here on FOF.  Many of these friends are Dad's and Mom's living all over the country, often if different style "cribs".  It occurred to me that I have seen bits and pieces of their "cribs" from photos of their kids, their chickens, their patio, or any other photos in and around their "cribs" - But I have never really seen photos of any of their "cribs"...

So, I'll start....

house1

house2

house3

That, my friends, is the FOF CRIB!

So, how about you all you Dad Bloggers, Mom Bloggers, or FOF Readers out there...  Let's see a recent front-on photo (or two) of YOUR CRIB!  (Be it a house, town-home, apartment, mobile home, camper... Heck... Even your car if that is what you call home.. )  I would really like to see some of that "curb appeal"!

Leave me a link in the comments to a blog post of your crib!

It's that time again.

Since he did such a nice job with it last year AND he is such an infrequent poster, I am going to again post the NaBloPoMo challenge to my friend and co-worker JDZ Photography.
 
What is NaBloPoMo?  NaBloPoMo is National Blog Posting Month.  It is a challenge to write at least one post a day for a month.
 
Since Jeff has written a whopping four posts (yup... 4) since last NaBloPoMo... I think he may ready for the inspiration!  
 
JDZ, how about it, will you show the world that you are a "can-do" sort of guy, or will you show the world that.... ??

Happy Boo-Day!

pumpkins 

 

Happy Halloween from our family to yours!

(top to bottom, left to right)

#3 - Skeleton, #2 - Zombie

#4 - Ninja-clown, #5 - Dorothy (without Toto)

 halloween

 

halloween4halloween3   

 

 

 

The girls quit a little earlier than the boys did, but they still came home with a tooth-rotting amount of loot!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

halloween2

 

 

 

 

Even Dad got a "treat" for Halloween!!

The Best News Out of This Election?

I was in the car with #1 of 5, when I first heard the commercial that made my "next four years"! The commercial was for "Election Night Thunderdome '08 - Two men enter, one man leaves..."

Ron_and_FezWhat is Election Night Thunderdome '08??

Election Night Thunderdome '08 is the LIVE radio broadcast from my radio buddays Ron & Fex (Noon to three (eastern)) on... You guessed it!

Election Night!

The funniest guys on radio, with the best darn radio show on the planet (in my humble opinion), will be coming in off hours, and doing LIVE election coverage..

CNN? Go away.

FOX News? Leave me alone.

Local Coverage? Ack....Gag...

I plan on spending the night, getting my election updates from Ron & Fez - It's about the only thing that will make that night tolerable! Had it not been for Ron& Fez, I WOULD NOT have watched or listened to ANY election coverage. I would have waited until the next morning to hear... BUT NOT ANYMORE!!

Election Night Thunderdome '08 - Two men enter, one man leaves...
XM Radio 202 - The Virus - 7:00 pm - 12:00 (eastern) - 6:00pm - 11:00pm (central).

Ron, Fez, Dave and Earl... Thank you!

Need I Say More?

IMGA0041

 

 

 

 

Found written on my driveway (in chalk) by #4 of 5.

Reason #4,632

Reason #4,632 why we choose to send our kids to the private school.

The Mother of Five volunteers to help serve hot lunch at our kids school (the private school). Today, one of the other volunteers (our next door neighbor) was going to be unable to make it, and asked the Mother of Five to pass the word along.

After the other mother left, the Mother of Five cornered me, guilted me, convinced me to join her since it was my day off.

I was primarily the "baked potato guy", but I also filled in as "bread guy", and the "would you like mixed fruit or pineapple cup guy"... At times being all three-in-one!

We teach our kids to say please and thank you when people help, or serve them (restaurants, etc). I also know that not every parent instills this value in their children.

It was so impressive to see (and I am not exaggerating one bit when I say) that EACH AND EVERY ONE of the kids coming though the line, after being asked if they want a _________, they would say "yes, please", or "no, thank you" - then followed up with another "thank you" when their tray was handed to them...
EACH AND EVERY ONE.
It became almost surreal to see..

After my sentence was served I finished helping serve the meal, I pointed this observation out to the Mother of Five. She simply said... "Yeah.. They do." like it was no big deal...

And that is how I know that my money is being well spent. It is that type of environment that you can not put a price on.

Thanks St. John's!

(NOTE - I am not trying to say that kids who go to public schools are not capable of such acts... They are... I imagine many of the kids would do the same... It really has to do with parenting, and less with the school... I thank St. John's for providing a place where these ideals can be and are nurtured to the extent that they are.

A thank you also goes out to ALL the the parents who, even though they do not send their kids to St. John's (or a private school), spend their time teaching their kids how to live their life with dignity and respect! You all know who you are!)

Squash Bowl

Last night was #2 of 5's last football game of the season. It was the 1st Annual "Middle School Squash Bowl" (something new they are starting). The middle school 7th and 8th grade football teams were combined and then split into two teams who then played against each other.

It was a "charity bowl game". The proceeds from the ticket sales, concessions, and the 50/50 game were donated to the American Cancer Association.

The Mother of Five had to work, and given the later start time, and the cool weather (especially after the sun went down), we opted to leave #3 of 5 home to watch #4 and #5 of 5 while I went to the game.

I arrived about five minutes late, and so when I arrived there was no line at the entrance. There was a group (of apx 6-8) girls from the 7th and 8th grade (none of which I recognized) still selling the tickets.

IMGA0837As I approached the group, one of the asked me if I was #2 of 5's dad. After confirming my identity and association with #2 of 5, she turned to the others, whispering "See, I told you so", and they all started snickering in a "Tee-he-he" sort of way. (A way that only 7th and 8th grade girls can do...)

I am not used to this. This is #2 of 5's first year outside the confines of the small private school setting where we know all kids (and the parents) in our kids' classes.

So, I settle into a seat in the bleachers. It's not long before I notice another group of five girls who have made their way down to the field, and with cellular phones up to their ears, and digital cameras in their hands. They follow the players, pointing, snickering, giggling, taking photos, and making various phone calls to... well... I'm not sure who they were calling, because they were all there! (rolling my eyes).

It was almost as if they were a bunch of football player groupies... Yikes...

As I watched the game, taking it all in... Watching #2 of 5 play, watching the gaggle of groupies, watching the other kids from his class all hanging around (and some of the younger High School kids - who may have had siblings or friends playing) - it really started sinking in with me that #2 of 5 is in Junior High... And that I am not sure if I am ready for all this quite yet...

Shesh... I'm getting old.

My One and ONLY Election Post

(Warning - Long and disjointed post ahead. This post has been "in the works" for over a week now, and each time I try to "improve" it - It tends to get worse. So as to not "bore" you by making the post any longer, or to make it any more confusing - I'm going with it "as-is". Thank you for your understanding, and patience. Please forgive me.)

First, and foremost - I am NOT in any way going to try and influence anyone into voting one way or another. I am not trying to change anyone's mind about their candidate, their political party, or their vote. That is what the nauseating, disgusting, and child-like behavior of the slanderous campaign ads are for.

I will also NOT be spouting off in an uneducated, uninformed , an fanatical tirade for or against any candidate or their political party. That is what covertly slanted and biased news reporting is best at.

Yesterday, I discovered that on election day I am being forced to work an extra half shift - which puts me out of my voting district, at work, and unable to attend my polling place during it's hours of operation. My vote is important to me. It is not only my right, it is my DUTY. Many parents lost their sons, children lost their fathers, wives lost their husbands, and children lost their brothers (over 200 years ago) so that we could be (today) stand proud as a sovereign nation. They were the ones who fought, and died to provide us the rights and freedoms that this country was founded upon, and that we enjoy (or try to enjoy) today - INCLUDING THE RIGHT TO VOTE! I am unable (in good conscious) to not exercise my right (duty) to vote. I have already started the process for absentee voting.

I am not a huge "political" sort of guy. I want to live my life, and be left alone. In return, I will let you live your life, and I will leave you alone. I view MOST of our Federal, SOME of our Sate, and VERY FEW of our local laws as beneficial - I find laws beneficial when they are founded in the most basic and commonly shared worldwide morals (such as murder, theft, and laws protecting children).
On an related note... In a movie I recently watched "The Kite Runner" (which I am sorry to have seen the movie before reading the book), the main character's father, Baba, was talking to his son Amir about right and wrong. He told his son ...

"Now, no matter what the mullah teaches, there is only one sin, only one. And that is theft. Every other sin is a variation of theft... When you kill a man, you steal a life. You steal his wife's right to a husband, rob his children of a father. When you tell a lie, you steal someone's right to the truth. When you cheat, you steal the right to fairness... There is no act more wretched than stealing, Amir."

I actually paused the movie to reflect on this quote. I found it very poignant, inspirational, and accurate. I have since told my sons this very same thing.
While some laws are important to an orderly society, I do not believe we need laws dictating every little aspect of living our life. Aspects like how long grass should be kept, how many cars you can have parked in your driveway, what hours you can "legally" have a back-yard recreational campfire, and what not. Most of the ridiculous and "liberty killing" laws come from the lower levels of government.
You can call it what you want, but I maintain a certain level of (perhaps misplaced) "pride" (?) when I commit an act of "civil disobedience". It's nothing significant. Like I said... I keep my backyard rec fire burning "after hours", let my garbage cans sit at the curbside an extra day, I store grass clippings until the quarterly "compost" pick up comes around. I just don't sweat the "small stuff".
I consider myself fiscally conservative, and socially moderate (maybe even just a "wee bit" liberal). I subscribe to the "Give a man a fish, and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime" viewpoint - but I also understand that there are members of our society that (for a number of different reasons) are unable to "fish" even if they are taught. These are the folks that we should (morally) provide for.

Our "two-major-party" system inherently causes us to polarize ourselves to one extreme or the other. You have to choose between "A" or "B". Liberal or Conservative, Left-wing or Right-wing, Democrat or Republican, RIGHT or WRONG. You're either WITH US, or your AGAINST US. (In my book) this is a truly scary way to think. In this day and age, a candidate will not receive a party's endorsement - unless they FULLY subscribe to the party rhetoric.

Given these circumstances, I am unable to (in good conscious) cast a vote toward either of the two major candidates this election. I believe neither candidate (or party) has earned (and therefore do not deserve) my vote.
If you are not going to vote Republican or Democrat, where are you going to vote FOF?
Before I answer that, permit me (if you will) to ask a couple of questions...
- Are you fiscally conservative, and socially liberal?
- Are you socially conservative, but fiscally liberal?
- Do you plan on not voting because neither of the candidate has earned your trust?
- Do you find yourself voting "against" a candidate (as opposed to voting "for" a candidate)?
- Have you ever said (or thought) something like - Why vote? It's not going to make a difference.
- Are you a single topic voter, disagreeing with some significant views of a candidate, but feel like you have to vote for them because you feel strongly about a single viewpoint (like National Healthcare, The War in Iraq, or Roe v. Wade?)
If any of these sound familiar, or maybe you are still "undecided" (as I am) on this year's presidential candidates - perhaps it is time to consider, and educate yourself (as I do) with some of the "Third Party" candidate options!
Some people have told me that by voting "third party" I am "wasting my vote", or that if I vote "third party" it means I am voting for ___________. (The blank space is filled with the candidate for whom I am talking to is NOT voting for... )

It's funny... I have Democrats saying that my third party vote is the equivalent to a vote for McCain, as it is one less vote for Obama, and Republicans saying that my third party vote is the equivalent to a vote for Obama, as it is one less vote for McCain... It all seems so... I dunno... Biased? Which is it? A vote for Obama or McCain.))
Not one single candidate (from ANY party) will match up with my viewpoint 100% of the time. My job (as an educated voter) is to find the candidate (and party) that I feel best represents what is the best for not just me, BUT FOR THIS COUNTRY AS A WHOLE.

To be honest... It is the basics... It is our basic rights, liberties, and freedoms that are at the very core of our beliefs that I feel has made this country so great, and that are in jeopardy. My vote will be cast to the candidate (and party) who I feel will best protect these most basic fundamental rights, liberties and freedoms that this great nation was founded upon.
For those of you who are interested... I am (and will be) spending time between now and the election (or when I absentee vote) checking into both the Libertarian Party, and the Constitution Party. Fundamentally, I consider myself a "Libertarian" - but there are some significant and interesting similarities between the two parties - certainly worth checking into. We shall see...
Wanting to be part of the solution (and not part of the problem), I have put together a list of some of the more noticeable third parties, their candidates (along few independent candidates), and some links you can use to "investigate" their views.

Although I have an interest in two or three candidates, I am in no way endorsing any of these groups (at least at this time).

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Socialist Party - (Also affiliated with the Vermont Liberty Union Party)
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I hope you have found this list to be helpful, or at the very least - interesting. Thanks for hanging in there with me.

I'll be stepping down from my soapbox now, returning to my regularly bland observations of life as The Father of Five!

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