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.... ??

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