Less Than Three Months.

Yup... Less than three months...
Three months since what FOF??
It's been three months since THIS POST. That was the "Perseverance through Catharsis" post.

A post that I may surprised a few people with.

A post that found me questioning why a five month old baby would have died, while a lifelong criminal gets to continue it's vile existence...

I had many nice comments from all of you, and yes - they all make sense...

They all make sense until... You come home with a stomach so tied in knots it physically hurts. My stomach feels like it is filled with acid, and all the tums in the world would not do a thing.

They all make sense until... You pick up the ringing 911 line, and are face to face (or more like mouth to ear) with a screaming day care provider... A screaming day care provider who just found one of the children she cares for not breathing anymore... This time it is a two year old...
Oh, dont get me wrong. I get calls all the time where the caller says "I dont think they are breathing, but I am not sure". I have learned to not get worked up with that phrase... You'd be AMAZED how many people who are "not breathing" really are...

But, when the first arriving officer says "Dispatch, we have a full arrest" instead of "Dispatch, subject is breathing and conscious" - then the call hits home a little more.
So you stay strong... You hang in there... You wait.. The silence on the other side of the radio lasts FOREVER.
Waiting. Hoping. Praying.
Until a frantic officer asks for a team of detectives, (standard protocol for a call of this nature - a call of this nature that will likely not end happily).
Still hoping and praying that there may be a chance... even a little bit of a chance...
You follow the call as best as you can... Then a glimmer of hope shines through! A report from the officer at the hospital that the baby has a pulse, and can even maintain it's own blood pressure...
Ahhh.. Relief... The prayers worked! Perhaps I DID make a difference today.
Until... On the way out the door you run into the lead detective, and you find out that the baby was likely "down" for close to 20 minutes... And (without having to be told) you know what that means...

Persevere FOF... Persevere...
Persevere
Against all opposition
Crushing all limitations
Pure strength through solitude
Discipline and determination
Even though things still don't make sense... I still have to get up and do it all over again tomorrow.

Let the Protests Begin

Well, I am here...

For someone who usually rambles on with nothing substantiative to say, you may have observed that I have been noticeably absent here on FOF.

My "oh-so-busy" schedule has prevented me from a.) Physically being able to post and b.) Mentally being able compose a post, although I am grateful for the distraction of reading other's blogs... Since I could not post, your blogs have helped to keep me grounded and not get TOTALLY consumed by my impending assignment - So, thank you for helpin' a fella out that way... You know who you all are!
But FOF, I see that your GeoCaching page has been updated. How could you possibly have time to GeoCache if you are as "oh-so-busy" as you proclaim?
Good question. Let me explain. You see due to my recent assignment at work, I have had to attend more meetings and "brain storming sessions" that you can possibly imagine. Many of these sessions run after hours, in fact sometimes they do not start for several hours after I get off duty. Rather than drive home and then drive back again (60 minutes / 2 gallons of gas for both trips) - I needed to find something to keep me busy. It was either "Asian Buffet" or GeoCaching. For both my health and my wallet's sake, I chose GeoCaching. I located a couple of caches that were close to work - and I tried my hand at these.

The last couple of post here have dealt with GeoCaching. Since I have a separate blog set up to cover that topic - I will start to keep that activity to it's own blog. That way - if you are interested, you can click the link and check it out - and if you are not interested - you do not have to be bothered with it.

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As I sit in front of my computer, I am spending my last few leisure hours at home.
I begin my RNC assignment on Friday morning at 10am. Given my commute time, and travel time (oh, did I mention that the venue of my assignment has been moved 30 miles (45 minutes through traffic) further away?) Between the extra drive time and the remote parking and bus shuttle to where the dispatch center is - I have added another 90 minutes (each way) or 3 hours total to my day.
Eight straight 16(+) hours work days.
The eight shifts fall in the middle of a stretch of 27 days where I will have a grand total of two days off... Yup, two days out of 27.

Had I any choice in this matter - as honored as I am to have been chosen for this selection - I would NOT have volunteered. My wife, kids, and family have been very patient and tolerant of all the extra work involved in this assignment.

I have made arraignments to crash at (my) Mom & Dad's place. They are a mile from my workplace, which will shave a hour (and 2 gallons of gas) off of each day. The kids have their first day of School on Tuesday, so I will have to be home on Monday night. The other nights will be determined on a case by case basis. We will just have to see how I feel each day.

This is not all bad news because two days ago my car's transmission started failing (no reverse). This is not surprising to me, nor all that upsetting. I bought the car knowing the transmission had some problems, and that I would at some point have to address these issues. The car held up for a year now - and it's time has come. It is a fairly common problem with Saturn, and since (while I am on RNC assignment) my Dad will be in New York helping my sister move into her new house, I will be able to stay there AND use his car while mine is in the shop! It's a win-win! The only thing that would make this any easier, would be if the transmission shop told me the repair would be "on the house"...
Keep wishin' there big boy!
Dang transmissions... Thankfully all this overtime will (more than) cover the cost of the repair - and it will not be a financial burden what-so-ever.... (My guardian angel is watching out for me!)

Well, I have to start packing... Packing clothes, packing resources, and (lets be honest here folks) the all important snacks. After all, the RNC is providing me a meal during my shift. One meal in 16 hours is not going to work...

I'll try and check in at least once (and maybe a couple of times) over the next eight days. I'll do my best to keep up with your blogs, but I make no promise...

See you on the other side of an 84 overtime hour paycheck!
Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! (wicked laugh)
See, he is going crazy already... Tisk, Tisk, Tisk... That is so sad...
That's all folks...

Our First Cache!

I took #1 and #3 of 5 with me after Boy Scouts - and located our first cache!

Very exciting stuff!

Check it out HERE

Where have I been?

Just a couple of quick notes here...

#1 - Since putting all the work into the Porta-Potty Series I needed a little break... I spent a lot of time and effort getting those posts finished, and frankly I was a little burned out... I do not want the blog to be a "chore", so when I am feeling a little burned out, I just take a break.. Just to ease your minds though... I wont ever take THIS LONG of a break...
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#2 - I had a great time lunching with Lisa (from Many Things Do Not Fly) and Don (from the defunct www.offthedeepend.org) (still hoping he gets that up and running again sometime soon... Don?). We tried (what appeared to be) a trendy little place in St. Paul called Mango Thai... Lisa had been there just the week before (scoping it out I think....) and wrote a review on her experience.

Having eaten there myself, I can say Wow! It was some of the freshest tasting Cashew Chicken I have EVER had.... I'd go back again without giving it a second thought!
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#3 - Birthdays, birthdays! Last week we celebrated #4 of 5's eight birthday, and then four days later we celebrated #2 of 5's thirteenth birthday... Yup... thirteenth... Yikes I feel old...

#4 of 5 asked for Taco Salad night on her birthday (we let the kids choose what ever they want for dinner on their birthdays) and she enjoyed some time on a new set of roller blades, while #2 of 5 had a hard time deciding between Hong Kong Buffet or the Old Country Buffet... (OCB won out in the end -and not by my choice.)

The rest of the evening was spent emptying my checkbook having loads of fun at a place called Triple Play Sports. We went with the family package (which is priced for a family of four, not seven... The other three are "add on's") - but in the end - we had a lot of fun... We even got #1 of 5 involved (a feat in of itself) with a little two-on-two basketball in the open gym... There was 18 holes of mini-golf, basketball, bouncers for the girls, an arcade, batting-cages, and even pizza and a pitcher of soda!
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#4 - A warning... My assignment for the upcoming Republican National Convention is quickly approaching. Today was my first day in a LONG stretch that allow me only two days off out of the next 25 days. I have an EXTRA 64 hours scheduled between today and the end of this assignment... Thats "extra" folks... as in 64 more hours over and above the regularly scheduled 80... I make not promises about blogging updates, or my psyche during this time period...

In fact... Let me preempt the next two weeks with an early apology for any bitterness, resentment, ugliness, or crabbiness that may find it's way here... I'll do my best to "not say anything if I can't say something nice"....
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#5 - If the emails I have been getting are correct, my new toy er... TOOL should be here TOMORROW! Just in time to have no time to have any fun with it... (Although you can bet I'll "squeeze" a practice run or two in....) Also, on a side note.. I bought this thing just in time... It has gone up forty dollars since I bought it, which pushed it up and out of my price range....
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What's New FOF?

For about a year now, I have had a faint interest in a new activity, but because I could not justify the "start up costs", I have put it on the back burner...

I have been reading up, joining some forums, and checking out the options....

Recently (with all the overtime I have worked, an "extra check" (3 checks in one month) and an overwhelming wave of overtime just on the horizion), this Father of Five did something that he does not normally do..

He bought himself a "toy".

Well, it's more than just a toy - it's a way to spend some time with the kids (more than just sitting around watching movies), and a means to try and get a little (well needed) exercise... (or at least that is how I justify it....(Blush))
Ok, so get to it already you rambling oaf..... What could it be???
Well, to help explain it, I have changed the "trifecta" just a bit...

I replaced the never used "Unattainable Dreams" blog with THIS ONE!

Some Good News

Some good news came today, in the form of a job offer and start date for the wayward and prodigal #1 of 5.

His three month stint of being a (by choice) unemployed, uninsured, have-nothing-to-do, have-nowhere-to-go, have-no-money-to-do-it-with, video-game-playing, tv-watching, food-eating, couch-potato of a parasite on my (over sized) bottom side has now come to a (hopefully permanent) end.
Hmmm... Do I seem a little... Frustrated??

Yeah, ok... That was a bit harsh on my part... But I have such a hard time understanding why a 20 year old able-bodied man would choose to try not to have a full time job - and (literally) lay around the house doing nothing. Especially when that 20-year-old has drive and
ambition (when he wants to), and endless possibilities ahead of him...
Now that my rant is over, it's time for some good news! #1 of 5 rejoins the "real world" on Wednesday as a meat-cutter for a local "Club-Style" retail warehouse giant (a local "Club-Style" retail warehouse that DOES NOT rhyme with "Blostco").

He has some pretty significant bills to pay off (that he has been blowing off), before he can evem START to think about a car again...

Please, everyone.. For the sake of my sanity - say a prayer, send some good karma, or think of a happy little thought ("any happy little thought") his way. He will need all that he can get... (And I need him to get all that he can get)...

Porta-Potty Pressure Cooker - Part 4 - #3 of 5

This post (the fourth in a four part series) is a month late. I started writing it, and it kept growing. The more I sat down and wrote on it, the more I wanted to say, and the longer it got. Since it was (collectively) a HUGE post, it got put on the back burner.
If you are just joining in for the first time, may I suggest you catch up by reading...
Part 1 - I opened up with a little "personal information" that may shed some light on this topic...
Part 2 - My journey into bathroom hell begins.
Part 3 - Waiting in line to get one step closer to a meltdown
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Porta-Potty Pressure Cooker - Part 4 - #3 of 5 - The Final Chapter

It was while we were sitting in the car waiting for #1 of 5 to get through the line at the bathroom (the bathroom he could not wait to get to, yet ended up waiting in a long line anyway) that my frustration level was close to bubbling over. Thank goodness #1 of 5 is old enough that he does not need adult supervision... That was the only thing that kept me from "losing it".

That was until #3 of 5 said (while the rest of us were waiting in the car) that he too needed to use the bathroom...

(stunned silence....)

(more stunned science...)

(crickets chirping...)

You have GOT to be kidding me?? He didn't just say what I think he did, did he? For the love of.... Oh, come on now...

Almost in tears at this point, I turned to #3 of 5 and pleadingly tried to convince him that he could hold it.... I begged him... I reminded him he was going to have to wait in a line that was so long that he may as well just wait until we got to Grandma's house (our destination)... I was actually convincing him into believing he could make it.

Waving my hand across my field of vision - in my best "Jedi Mind Trick imitation"...

"These are not the droids you are looking for"... "These are not the droids we are looking for"

"You do not have to go to the bathroom as badly as you think"... "I do not have to go to the bathroom as badly as I think"

He agreed that he did not have to go "that bad", and once #1 of 5 made it back to the van, we hurried on our way.

Things were going well until we reached the highway. Once we were on the highway, and the "light at the end of the tunnel" was not far off, #3 of 5 started his "pee-pee squirm".

I started the "cheerleader" technique...

"Come on man, you can do it... Cross those legs, we'll get through it"!

...nearly ever quarter mile.

It would come and go in waves. I did not want to stop and use another public restroom... This time, I WOULD have to go in. We were less than fifteen minutes from Grandma's when #3 of 5 started whimpering... Less... than... 15... mintues...

Around the "10 more minutes" mark the whimpering had become increasingly intense, and frequent. By this time, my frustration level had not only bubbled over, but was popping and hissing on the stove top. I felt he was not going to be able to "make it".

I know what you are all thinking at this point. I am a bad Dad for letting it go this long. You don't have to pretend that you are not thinking this, I was thinking it myself. What a mean and cruel thing to do. Now, not only was I dealing with frustration, but I was dealing with HUGE amounts of guilt... The turmoil inside me was overwhelming...

It was at this point that I snapped... Yup, folks... I admit it... I snapped. While driving down the highway, took the next possible opportunity to swerve the van off the highway onto a residential side street. MOF yelled "What are you doing"? I just kept driving.

It was dark. Very dark. It was residential.

MOF (again) asked me what I was doing. I told her that I had not found a "secluded" enough spot for #3 of 5 to "take care of business" yet, but I would.... House after house... Nothing suitable could be found.

Wait... What was that? An unusually dark area... No houses... and a parking lot too!! I made a quick turn into the lot, and was face to face with a empty, unlit baseball field.

"Get out... Hurry!!" I told #3 of 5 in the best "non threatening" voice I could muster... (Trying in vain to ease my own guilt for letting things get this far...)

"What do you want me to do here" he asked..

My inner-most sarcastic voice wanted me to tell him to "Catch the next pop-fly" or other such nonsensical, smart-alecky comment, but my conscience would not allow it.... (Thank you God....)

"Quick, run out to the middle of that field, and "water the grass" I told him... (allowing myself to use a smart-alecky comment, but not using one directed TOWARDS him...) "I'll turn off the headlights. Make it quick so no one will see you!! Hurry!!" <strike>so I don't have to smell the pee in your pants from "not making it" all the way home.</strike>

He ran out into the field, bounding like non-pop-able (yet filled beyond capacity) water balloon.

#3 of 5 made it to somewhere in the "shortstop" range, when I noticed he was "watering the lawn". I quickly turned off the lights. If anyone saw this late night - unauthorized act of defiling the baseball field, surely I would loose my children to Child Protective Services... Especially when the kids told CPS the story of how I was using bladder torture techniques on them during the interviews...

I sighed (again)... A broken man. Look what I have done...

Between my anger for having to stop a THIRD time to use a (public) bathroom, and my guilt for making my son suffer for my hang-up - I was beyond composure. I was going to need to distance myself from this whole experience so as to not <strike>say</strike> <strike>yell</strike> scream something I should not.

Hold you tough FOF... Hold it... You can hold other things (like your bladder) well... Hold back the inevitable temper tantrum you are about to have... Hold it... H..O..L..D.. I..T..

#3 of 5 made his way back to the van. My hands gripped "white knuckle style" around the steering wheel as #3 of 5 crawled back into his seat. You could cut the tension in the air with a dull knife, and you could hear a pin drop. Yeah, it was that quiet. They all knew that now was not the time to say anything, lest cause me to go completely off my rocker...

I started backing out of the lot, when I heard (in a small timid voice from the back of the van) "... Um, Dad..." - and as I turned to see which one of the five was going to get the brunt of my fury, when The Mother of Five started to giggle. First the MOF, then another one of the kids.. It was not long before everyone (except me) was giggling. This is NOT what I needed right now. As I turned my head so as to address the whole lot of 'em (to receive equal portions of my rage), I spotted it in the corner of my eye...

I had not noticed it when we pulled in because the direction the headlights were facing, but as I backed out and swung the headlights around the opposite direction... There it stood... In all it's glory...

A Porta-Potty. Lit up by my headlights... Standing there mocking me...

I had all I could stand. This was the straw that broke the camel's back... My emotions were going Kilauea on me. It was out of my control at this point... Look out everyone, because there was no stopping it...

When all of a sudden, (and VERY unexpectedly) I started laughing... It was as if the floodgates burst, and instead of erupting in a fit of anger and rage, it all came out as laughter. Not "crazy guy" laughter either... Real, true, "I can not believe the irony in all this" gut busting laughter...

The more I laughed, the more the kids and my wife laughed... Then, the more they laughed, the more it caused me to, and so on... I bet we sat for five full minutes, all laughing at how this all worked out...

It was the best possible outcome that could have happened.... It broke any and all tension I was feeling... The stress was gone... We were in tears from all the laughing... All seven of us... It was a memory that wont leave me for a very long time.

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I think it's fair to say that I learned a lot about myself that day - about my shortcomings, about things I need to worry a little bit less about, and things I need to worry a little bit more about. I learned some meaningful lessons (through trial, error, and failure) about what being a dad... about what being a GOOD dad... is really all about.

We still get a chuckle of this story. I guess it's only fitting (and well deserved) that I have had to relive this story many times by sharing the story with family and friends. The kids can't wait to tell the next person (who has not heard the story). "Tell _(name)_ the story about the bathrooms Daddy"!

But, let's get one thing straight... I STILL HATE (and will avoid at all costs) public restrooms...

Porta-Potty Pressure Cooker - Part 3 - #1 of 5

This post (the third in a four part series) is a month late. I started writing it, and it kept growing. The more I sat down and wrote on it, the more I wanted to say, and the longer it got. Since it was (collectively) a HUGE post, it got put on the back burner.

If you are just joining in for the first time, may I suggest you catch up by reading...
Part 1 - I open up with a little "personal information" that may shed some light on this topic...

Part 2 - where my journey into bathroom hell begins...
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Porta-Potty Pressure Cooker - Part 3 - #1 of 5

Once the fireworks were completed, it was time for the mass exodus of people. We had set up not too far from the parking lot so we could make our hasty retreat when the time came, and that time was NOW...

There was a tsunami wave of people (literally in the thousands) walking down the path that led to the porta-potties - only they were heading out towards us - and away from the porta-potties.. This WAS NOT the best of moments for #1 of 5 (a twenty year old) to announce that he now had to use the bathroom...

Given the number and volume of people, and the fact that #1 of 5 would have had to go against pedestrian traffic patterns, I estimated we would have had to wait for him for well over 45 minutes before he would be back to where we were... And then, we would have to fight the traffic exiting the ramps...

Both the Mother of Five and I urged him to "hold it" untill we got to the car - and then we would (quickly) find a nearby filling station where he could "un-fill".

Reluctantly, he agreed.

#1 of 5 made it to the car. Once we got situated in the car, and his having to "sit still" (which he has problems with even when he does NOT have to use the bathroom) only made things worse... He was bouncing in the car, and threatened that if we did not get to a bathroom soon, he was not going to make it. (but he was much more crude with the description of what was going to happen...)

This got me aggravated again... A bit because he could have gone earlier (before the fireworks), a bit because he should be able to "hold it" and a bit because we were going to have to stop and find him a "public restroom"...

Sigh...
"TMI WARNING": I am able to (easily) "hold it" for a whole day...
Why #1 of 5 could not hold it for another 30 minutes is beyond my ability to comprehend...

Being familiar with the area, I drove to the nearest gas station so he could "go".

So the rest of us sat in the van waiting for #1 of 5 to use the bathroom. It started becoming a "noticeably long wait" when we finally spotted through the window #1 of 5 was (still) standing in a long line of people...

He would have been better off letting me drive a few more miles and found the third or fourth closest gas station, because (since this was the closest) it was very busy. He ended up waiting in a line long enough that we could have been half way home...

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Could this be it? Could things possibly get worse? If you have spent any time here on The Life of a Father of Five, then you will know that it undoubtedly will...

Trust me, you've come this far already... You wont be disappointed... Stay tuned for the fourth and final chapter...

Porta-Potty Pressure Cooker - Part 2 - #5 of 5

This post (the second in a four part series) is a month late. I started writing it, and it kept growing. The more I sat down and wrote on it, the more I wanted to say, and the longer it got. Since it was (collectively) a HUGE post, it got put on the back burner.

In the first episode, I talked about how this post came to be, then went into a little bit of background into my personal "bathroom issues". If you have not yet read Part 1 then click HERE before reading any more.

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Porta-Potty Pressure Cooker - Part 2 - #5 of 5

So, there we were at this year's Summerfete. Since the Mother of Five had taken the kids on the "half mile each way" jaunt to the Porta-potties a couple of times already, I had high hopes that their need to "go" had been satisfied. I also understood that if they did need to "go" again, I would very likely be called into service.

Alas, just as the fireworks were to begin, #5 of 5 started her "pee-pee dance", and told Mom that she had to "go"...

Nervously I looked away - pretending I had NOT heard nor seen her, but MOF turned to me and reminded me how many times she has made the trek to the porta-potties already...

Reluctantly, I broke down, and in a bit of a "huff", we headed out.

Of course when we arrived (after worming our way through the crowds) I was face to face with my idea of a nightmare a bank of twenty porta-potties all lined up in a neat little row - and LOTS of people all around...
Sigh...
We found an open unit, and I took her inside.. So far things were going smoothly... That was until I could hear (from the end of the row of porta-potties) a couple of teenagers, snickering with that distinctive "Marijuana Laugh" as they ran down the row of potties beating on the backs of each potty as they ran past.
I have to admit here, had I SEEN this as a "spectator" rather than EXPERIENCE it as a "participant" (from inside the potty), I would have gotten quite a chuckle out of it.. But, I was inside... And I have "porta-potty-issues"...

Sigh.... Darn kids...
When she finally finished, we headed back towards the rest of the family, and arrived at our blanket just as the fireworks began... And I began mellowing back out a wee bit.

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If you thought that ending sounded WAY too good to be true... You'd be correct! Hang in there, and see where Part 3 takes us!

Porta-Potty Pressure Cooker - Part 1 - The Introduction

This post (the first in a four part series) is a month late. I started writing it, and it kept growing. The more I sat down and wrote on it, the more I wanted to say, and the longer it got. Since it was (collectively) a HUGE post, it got put on the back burner.

I recently read a post by My Family and Other Animals titled Pioneer of Blogging. Towards the end of the post she talked about her husband and (I think) teased him a bit about having to take one of their children to a public restroom. Upon reading this, I was inspired to finish the yet-unfinished post with some similar content...

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Porta-Potty Pressure Cooker - Part 1 - The Introduction

Before I head any further into this story, I need to explain something to any new readers. I HATE PUBLIC BATHROOMS... Hate 'em. Can't stand 'em. Having to choose between messing myself and using a public restroom... I'd have to seriously consider my options.. SERIOUSLY... CONSIDER... THEM...

Many of you know (and for the sake of those that do not), I suffer with a pretty significant case of Paruresis / Parcopresis. Some times it's a "germ thing" (have you seen the inside of a men's restroom?), but most of the time it's about it being a "Public Restroom Thing". Not until many years later, while reading the Strategies listed on the Wikipedia Page that I realized (without knowing it) that I utilize 14 of the 19 listed strategies. (That's a whopping 74%)

Add to this, a God (with what I believe may be a wild sense of humor) who would team me up with children that (much like wild animals) have a natural instinct to "mark their territory"... EVERYWHERE... You are left with the fact that we are unable to go anywhere, and I... MEAN... ANYWHERE... without having to use the bathroom - and often, several times.
Does it matter that they "just went" at the last store? No... They have to go here too.

Does it matter that the next stop (in a mere 15 minutes) is our home? No... They can't "hold it" for another few minutes..
So, more often than I care to think about, (and against every fiber of my being) I find myself inside a public restroom.
Now you know more about me that you EVER cared to...
While at this years Summerfete celebration, my children were unable (like they always are) to maintain composure of their bladders and / or bowels. My wife (bless her public-restroom-loving-heart) knows to what extent I will go, in order to "not go", or even "enter" a public restroom.
I think there have been a couple of times that I have successfully shocked her with how far I will go in order to "not go"...
Again, blessing her (public-restroom-loving) heart - she will almost always take the kids to the bathroom... almost... And as much as I appreciate this (which is more than she will ever realize), she too has her limits.

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Hmmm... That sounds like some "foreshadowing", and perhaps a little "segue" into Part 2!

Stay tuned...

What's Got Me Feeling A Little Bitter

sunburn

In my LAST POST I made subtle references to something that was really getting under my skin, and got me felling a little bitter.

Vent away FOF... Purge... Get the poison out...

So, I had plans to spend time with my boys at Tomahawk Scout Camp since LAST FRIGGIN' YEAR.  I picked my days on / days off rotation based on having days off so that I could go to Tomahawk without having to worry about a denied vacation request (over four months ago).  I committed to the Troop to be a chaperone, and plans were laid for me to be there.

Without going into any details here, I have been assigned to play a roll in the police staffing of the Republican National Convention held in Minneapolis / St. Paul later this year.  Without going into any details (jeopardizing the integrity of what we are doing) - I will be working with a multi-jurisdictional Mobile Field Force helping to ensure order be kept throughout the metro area during the RNC.

It was both an honor and a privilege to be asked to join the task force, and I accepted my assignment with the understanding that it comes some extra training.  (Which I expected.)

What I did not expect though was with LESS THAN TWO WEEKS NOTICE I am told that I am REQUIRED to report to a MANDITORY training day...  That any previous plans MUST be dropped. 

This  REQUIRED and MANDITORY training day and  training day just so happened to fall on one of my days off that I was committed to being at Tomahawk Scout Camp.

Don't get me wrong.  I do like my job, and am very thankful for the job I have...  But there are times that I really have a problem dealing with the costs associated with my job.

This one is not going to heal easy...  This is a pretty deep cut for me.

Then, as if frosting on the cake, my REQUIRED and MANDITORY training was spent outside.

Eleven hours in the sun, with little or no shade.

In the haste of getting home (upset that my days off (with plans) were canceled, and stuck in an hour long traffic jam, getting home at midnight (in bed between 0030 and 0100 hours) with an alarm set for 0500 (4 hours of sleep) - I forgot sun block, and sunglasses...

I pretty much cooked my face but good.  (This photo does not do it justice)

I woke today with my face all puffy and swollen... and painful.  It hurts to even blink...  

Ouch...    Ouch.... Ouch.... 

See!?!?!

I am confident I'll get over all this... but it's just another straw on the camel's back...  Just how much more is this camel expected to carry before his back is broken?

Then, I read a post like THIS....  And it makes me even more jealous....  Sigh...

I'm Back

tomahawk1But not by choice... More on that later.

Tomahawk 2008 (at least for the two days I was there) was a complete success! We left Saturday morning, and (as with most scout activities) we left a "bit late"... Hey.. Just try and organize a group of eighteen "tweenaged" boys amped up on sugar, and the excitement to start a week-long camping adventure...

It was not all that bad actually - we left just over 30 minutes late...

After a three and a half hour drive (with one "sugar / bathroom stop" and a lunch at Perkins), we arrived at Tomahawk Scout Reservation. We ended up waiting in a line of cars to be checked in.

tomahawk6Upon arrival, the kids were all anxious to get to the campsite and set up base-camp. The leaders loaded everything they could in, on, and around the trailer, and off we went.

Roughly a quarter mile down from the lot, we arrived at our assigned campsite - Oak. It was the same campsite we were at last year. The "2nd year" and older kids settled in easily.

I grabbed a tent that I thought was unoccupied (later to find out that a scout had laid claim to that one just prior to my arrival, but had not stayed with the tent). I went to find another tent, and quickly discovered that I had the last available tent!

I got to work helping the "first year" boys setting up their cots, mosquito netting, etc (#3 of 5 included). It went pretty easy - the first year scouts this year are a pretty good group of boys!

tomahawk2

About the time I finished helping all the "1st years", I went back to set up my tent, and ran into another chaperone who drove up on her own. Yup... "HER own"..

She was not the only mom up there, and I have NO PROBLEMS WHATSOEVER with moms up there. But when this mom arrived - it meant that one of the male chaperones would have to give up their tent and bunk together so that she could have a private tent... (The other mom up there was part of a Mother/Father team...) So, being the gentleman that I am - I offered her my tent, and moved in with the Scoutmaster (who, by the way, is a great guy - but snores!)

So, after a little shuffling, and setting up my bunk, we got to setting up the campsite. Tomahawk is in "bear country", and so anything that is considered "smellable" (snacks, toothpaste, cool-aid packets, bug spray, cameras, film, batteries, etc) needs to be placed in something known as a "BEAR BOX". (see photo to your left) Each of the kids put their "smellables" in a plastic container, and all the containers go into a large metal box in the middle of the campsite.

No, it is not a refrigerator. It's actually an old MnDot electrical control box. It is very sturdy, and has a locking handle - just right to keep the bears out!

Frankly, I am not sure why all these little rugrats scouts are not kept in the Bear box... After just a couple of days with them I would place them in the "Smellable" category!

After setting up camp, and a health check-in with the staff, the 2nd year and older kids were given free time, while the "1st year" scouts along with any parents who had never been to camp before, were given a tour of camp.

tomahawk4tomahawk3

Last year the "scout built playground" called "Scoutcraft" (ropes, boards, swinging ropes, tires, nets, etc...) was aptly nick-named "slip-n-bleed" after one of our scouts sprained his wrist, and a scout from another troop broke BOTH of his arms while playing amongst it's tempting snarls...

After #3 of 5 and I returned from the tour, we arrived back at the campsite. True to form, #2 of 5 came running up to me, proudly shouting (so that he could be heard across the lake) that Scoutcraft is going to again be called "Slip-n-bleed" as he was the first kid this year with an injury, and it happened at Scoutcraft. He proudly showed off his bandaged shin, and described how he fell and took major amounts of skin off the front of his leg.

That night, the temperature got pretty cold.. Cold enough that my uber-cold-rated sleeping bag, and my "built in insulation" did not keep me warm-enough. I was FREEZING... We later found out from another troop (that had a thermometer with them), that it dropped to 47 degrees overnight... By breakfast, it had risen to a whopping 54 degrees!! Perfect for shorts and a tee-shirt (thanks to my bad planning - and a missplaced faith that in August the air temps would not drop below the 60's....)

Remember folks... The scouting motto: Be Prepared.

We had breakfast, and the kids went right into the merit badge classes...

#2 of 5 has Climbing, First-aid, Nature Science, and _______________.

#3 of 5 has BrownSea, Woodworking, and Leathercraft.

Since I had spent four days with #2 of 5 last year, and I was going to be limited to only two days this year (is my resentment showing through yet?) I spent the whole day shadowing #3 of 5 in his classes (the same classes that #2 of 5 took last year).

tomahawk7After classes, #3 of 5 spent quite a while at the Slip-n-bleed (see above photos) - I am glad to report that he was able to escape without injuries!

On our way back to camp, #3 of 5 noticed that the "t\Trading Post" was open, and took a couple of minutes for a "sugary recharge" (Blue Raspberry Laffy-Taffy - blech!)

Just as we exited the trading post, we ran into several kids from our troop headed to a "troop event" at the rifle range...

Talk about keeping these guys busy!

We joined in, and spent the next hour acclimating the boys to the art of shooting a .22 caliber rifle! #2 of 5 had a blast doing this last year (and again this year), and #3 of 5 was eagerly anticipating it.

Overall, for being the first time he shot a .22 - he did not do too bad. His first round, only 3 of the 10 shots hit the paper target.

The target from his second round had all 10 shots on it, and in a significantly smaller pattern that the 3 shots from the first round!

tomahawk8Looks like it may be time for some Dad /#3 of 5 squirrel hunting!

(Hey... Don't knock it unless you have tried it... Squirrel is pretty good!)

After a hard afternoon at the rifle range, almost all the scouts headed down to the beach for a little "cooling off"... It was just what the doctor ordered... Since getting them in the showers is as difficult as an "act of congress", the next best thing is tricking them into getting them swimming.

The beach closed in time to get everyone back to camp, cleaned, dressed, and into their "Class A's" so we could head up to the dining shelter.

Before eating, the scouts perform a flag lowering ceremony (VERY official) and "grace" before the STAMPEED to the dining hall.

This point, is where I started getting all nostalgic, and frustrated. I had to be home in time to get some sleep, because in the middle of my days off (not vacation mind you.. my DAYS OFF) my empl0yer canceled one of my days off, and required me to be at work for a training session for an upcoming assignment...

tomahawk5After dinner, as we walked back to the campsite, I had an opportunity to visit a little bit with my boys. I told them how proud I was of the way they were behaving, and how they are becoming a shining example of what a good Scout, and what a good man was all about.

I was feeling pretty bad about having to leave.... probably worse than they felt... after all, they were going to be kept busy all week! They would hardly miss me at all...

Just before we arrived at camp, we stopped at the troop trailer for a quick photo... It turned out pretty good - I get a bit misty eyed when I look at at, thinking that I should still be up there with them... My boys are growing up so too fast.

I said my goodbye's to everyone as they prepared to head out for the opening ceremony and bonfire. I watched as they all left for the the bonfire together, leaving me alone at the campsite.

I packed up my belonging, and started off on one of the loneliest hikes I have ever made.

That walk back to my car was the longest, and most depressing walks I have had in a long time. I have never resented my employer (no one person specifically, just my "employer" in general) more than I did for that walk, and as I drove out of the campgrounds two days before I should have had to.

On the way home, I was stuck in stopped (not just slowed, but stopped) in traffic just as I was going to cross back over into Minnesota. It seems a tanker truck carrying Hazardous Materials rolled over about 30 minutes before I got to the bridge. I sat in traffic for over 45 minutes - and at many times in the jam - cars were all shut off, and people got out of their cars to wait. (Thank goodness for XM Radio and the replay of the Ron & Fez show!! Thanks Buddays, you are the greatest!)

I had intended to arrive home around 10pm. By the time I left (late) I would have arrived home between 10:30 and 10:45. With the accident, I did not arrive home until after midnight... Then also had to be up at 5am for a mandatory time-with-my-boys-at-scout-camp-killing training session. (Is my bitterness coming through YET?)

Overall, the two days were great (albeit a little cold during the night), and for the time I was there, a great time was had by all!

Thanks for putting up with such a long post!

I'm headin' out

I am going to be out of town for a couple of days - this time with BOTH #2 and #3 of 5..
It's time again for Camp Tomahawk.

Read about last year's adventure, HERE.

In Honor of our 15th Anniversary

In honor of our 15th Wedding Anniversary (which was on Wed.) I am going to write up a little post on a topic I have always wanted to write about...


How I met my wife...


It's not all that exciting really...


After high school, I attended Normandale Community College. As part of the graduation requirements for my degree, I needed to take a few Physical Education courses... Not being a big "sports fan", I tend to find interest in the less "physical" aspects of Physical Education.


The first course I took? (Remember folks... This is a COLLEGE LEVEL COURSE)

EXSC1153 - In which I got a 4.0 - "A" (link)


The second course I took? (Remember folks... This is also a COLLEGE LEVEL COURSE)

EXSC1103 - To which I got a 4.0 - "A" (link)


(Yup, a couple of GPA boosters there.... huh?)


Anyway, it was in the EXSC1103 classroom that I first noticed a very pretty gal in class. When we moved from the "classroom" setting to the "bowling alley" setting, I eagerly awaited for the chance that our teams were to play each other. The time came that we did actually play each other's teams, and I started getting too nervous to say anything to her. Thankfully, at one point during the game, she sat down next to me at the scoring table (this was before electronic scoreboards), turned to me and said... "I like your class ring."


Yup folks... SHE noticed MY class ring! SHE broke the ice (thank goodness, because I was a bit to nervous, and was not sure how or if I would)

(The "Class ring" link above takes you to a story about my class ring... Just think.. Had that not turned out the way it did, MOF may have never said anything to me, and my life could have ended up as swinging single millionaire bachelor sipping drinks on the beaches of Maui, or living a life of solitude in the northern Alaska interior!)

Now, you may be asking why in the world would she notice my class ring... Well, she noticed my class ring, because she had one FROM THE SAME SCHOOL!


Yup, folks... My freshman year was her senior year. Our school is not a HUGE school by any means (about 100 in graduating class), and I knew most of the other students in a grade above, and a grade below me... But I had never (that I can remember) actually met my future wife while we went to school together (at least for the 1 year that we were there).


So, from the "I like your class ring" comment, we instantly had some thing in common, and hit it off. We made an immediate connection! I spent the rest of that class talking with her.


Over the next several weeks (EXSC1103 was a "once a week" class) I tried to spend as much time as I could with my new "friend" - but since our teams always played against a new team each week, our contact was limited. The chances we did have, I felt like we hit it off pretty well.


Somewhere along the line while visiting, she mentioned having a son. YIKES!! A single mom?!?! That changes things... So, in my mind, this new friend would be my new friend... and nothing more. Heck... I was only 19 years old... In no way ready for that.


So, the story continued... I did enjoy spending time with her, so I continued to do so... as friends. And the more time I spent with her, the less "shocked" I was, and the more my interest grew.


It was not long before I found myself hanging around with her while NOT in bowling class... In some of the student lounges, or down in the cafeteria.


Somewhere along the line, after discussing this with a couple of friends - I was convinced to not worry about it... After all - I wasn't going to marry her... What would be wrong with a few dates??


Our first real "outside of school" date was in March (I think....) of 1990. We were married in August of 1993, 3 1/2 years later. Now, five kids (well, actually four since one was already "present"), two houses, and way too many diapers to count, we just celebrated our 15th year of being married, and 18 1/2 years of sharing our lives together.


I wouldn't think about changing a thing! The Mother of Five has been a perfect partner in my life. We work very well together, and I truly love her each day more than the day before.


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


Ok fellow Dad-bloggers... How did you meet your other better halves?

Happy Anniversary


I am just waking up from a whopping 7 hours of sleep - and since she is still sleeping - I thought I would wish her a happy Anniversary.

Sometimes she checks out the blog... Maybe I'll leave it up on the screen so she can see it (hopefully before one of the kids "X's" out of it in a hurry to play Rollercoaster Tycoon or some such thing..) because she will be off to work before I get home tonight..

Happy 15th Michele...

I am the luckiest and happiest husband and father a guy could ever want to be.

Here's to the next 15...

Jake vs.The Skunk

Today, I am featuring another guest post by my all-time-favorite-good-buddy Ed, and the exploits of his faithful and trusted companion Jake. Jake was the subject of the most recent post over on Dad's Outdoor Journal, titled The Unexpected Slumber Party.

This actually came to me as an e-mail... Since Ed does not have a blog of his own (yet), it is with his kind permission that I am posting his little story for the world wide web's consumption here on The Life of a Father of Five.

Our story begins with Ed and family sitting outside around their campfire ring.

If you like this story, and / or if you liked "The Unexpected Slumber Party" - Leave Ed a comment here... Tell him how much he should have a blog of his own!!

Anyway.. Enough of the cyber-harassment... Take it away Ed...
Well, so much for an evening next to the fire.

A couple hours ago Jake decided to rid the earth of one less skunk. Yep, you guessed it. Directly under the deck and patio door, Jake killed it deader than a door nail. Shook the living daylights right out of 'em 5 feet from where we were sitting.

Now to make matters worse, I have an industrial fan set up in front of the patio door to bring cool air into the house. When Jake killed the skunk, I thought he got off lucky and did not get sprayed. I couldn't smell anything.......yet.

It just so happens that industrial fan was doing a swell job of pulling the smell...........right into the house.

So far we have gone through 2 cans of air freshener and have lit enough scented candles in the house to keep the Duluth Fire Department on standby.

As for Jake...he got a bath and a dog bone.
There you have it folks... Short, sweet, and to the point!
I hope you enjoyed!

The "Finish These Five" Meme

This blog was started as a means for my children to someday look into to the past, and see who their Dad was, what made him tick, and why he did (or did not do) the things he did do (or did not do). Whenever I am asked to complete a meme, I check to see if it falls under "My Meme Guidelines"...
My Meme Guidelines
I ask myself if the meme I was "tagged" with will this tell my children more about their dad after he is dead and gone. If it does, then I consider completing it.
I also dislike "tagging" others. I try to make a subtle suggestion on who's answers I think I would enjoy reading, but I make it clear that it is voluntary only.
So, after my internet hiatus - I returned to find that I was tagged by MotherOf8 in her MaybeWorthSharing blog for a "Finish These Five" meme.
The rules for the "Finish These Five" meme are...
Each player answers the questions themselves. At the end of the post the player then tags 5 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment letting them know that they've been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you've posted your answers.
The "Five" are...
1. Ten years ago…
2. Five things on today's "to do" list…
3. Five Snacks I enjoy… .
4. Five Things I would do if I was a millionaire…
5. Five Places I have lived…
Now, my answers...
Ten year ago...
I was the Father of Three.. All three were boys.
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Five things on today's "to do" list...
1. Get some sleep.
(This is the second day in a row I am operating on 3 hours of sleep.. That is a total of 6 hours of sleep between the time I woke up on Friday morning, and when I finally crash and burn sometime tonight (Sunday))...
2. Fill my gas tank... (It's on empty)
3. Finish a project for this year's National Night Out party.
4. Have the house ready for a party after the Minnesota Twins Game that everyone will be enjoying (while I am at work).
5. Did I mention "Get some sleep" yet??
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Five Snacks I enjoy...
1. Pretty much anything "Little Debbie" - When we were first married, my wife joked that she thought I was having an affair with Little Debbie... I have an affinity for the "Nutty Bar", but I have (over time) understood just how bad they are for you and have cut them all but out of my diet... (Yeah... Ok.. "Once and a while")...
3. Salt and Vinegar flavored potato chips.
5. Honey roasted peanuts.
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Five things I would do if I were a millionaire...
Assuming I was a "Multi-Millionaire" - and had enough money to not worry about working, or saving for the future...
1. Build a 7th and 8th grade classroom at the kids (private) school.
2. Build a gymnasium at the kids (private) school.
3. Pay off my church's debt.
4. Move to a home on some acreage.. Call it "the Compound" and raise some "free range children".
5. Hand build a log cabin on a large tract of land in rural Alaska (Like Richard Proenneke) and spend extended time there.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Five places I have lived...
(in alphebetical order)
(see a reoccurring theme here? )
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Five people who I think would have interesting answers of their own...
(and should choose to continue this meme.... or not... either way is Okey-Dokey with me...)
1. JDZPhotography - He is WAY overdue for a post, and this may provide him some inspiration!
2. Krystal-the-Pistol - Just had a baby and will have time on her hands to finish the meme! (Congrats KTP!!)
3. Two Texas Twins - Sis-O-Mine... Was off to a good bang, but needs some extra "fuel" to keep it going!!
4. From Russia with Love - A good friend of Sis-O-Mine...
5. Male Homemaker - A Contradiction of Terms - Frequently posts about his day - Could provide a little insight into the man behind the blog!
I tried my best to avoid the known "tag haters" out there. If I was wrong - please forgive me.
If, on the other hand, I was wrong and you LOVE being tagged, and REALLYwant to complete this meme...
Consider yourself (voluntarily) tagged!

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