March... In like a lion!

After several very nice days, where much of the ground snow had melted away, mother nature threw another winter storm at us - and on this day-before-the-first-day-of-March (which is supposed to come in like a lion and leave like a lamb, or come in like a lamb, and leave like a lion), I'd say that March entered like a lion... 

A Winter Lion (or maybe a snow leopard)... 

snow1   snow2



As you can see, we got quite the snowfall last night, and the temps... Oh yeah, they plummeted too!

We went from a high of 39 the other day, to a temp in single digits, and a brisk wind - giving a below zero wind chill this morning.

Since I was on days off today, I decided to forgo the "clean up" until AFTER the storm.

It worked out well in my favor.. the show cleaned up pretty easily!

I rewarded myself when I was finished too!






Yeah, I know it's lent, and I am supposed to avoid "treats", but after an hour in the cold, and snow from the snowblower blowing into my face, I felt Jesus would understand...

You know the old saying..  WWJD?  I'd like to think if he finished blowing the snow, he'd reward himself with a mug of hot Amaretto Coco too!

FOF Observation #12

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.



I do not always learn my lesson the first time.

Link to Observation #7

Well, I did it! (Part 2)

This is a postscript to Dancing with one of my Demons and Well, I did it! (Part 1)

- - - - - - -

I arrived at the party and (at least I suspect) Lisa was watching for me to help my "transition" into the house.

I hung pretty close to the entrance, for quite some time, and enjoyed listening to The Limns play. They got my foot a-tappin' and I may have even bopped my head to a catchy beat or two. They did a really nice job, and it was the first time in "way too long" that I have enjoyed a live music performance.

On Lisa's request (I suspect to help me socialize) I brought a few cigars to share with a few other of her stogie smokin' friends. She got us all together, and sent us outside - but, alas the temps outside proved to be a bit colder than these fellas were comfortable with, so after half a cigar, I was was outside finishing my cigar while flying solo again.

A very friendly woman came out to stargaze, and started talking to me about Venus and Jupiter, and wishing upon the first star of the night. Seemed like a nice enough gal. Very "new age". I visited with her for a while, and then she also headed in. Before long, my bottled beer started freezing (yeah, it was that cold out). I finishing my cigar, and beer slushie, took a deep breath, and headed inside.

Here is where the story gets pretty cool!

While trying to blend into the wallpaper, the "new age" woman appeared out of the crowd, approached me, and introduced me to her husband. He too seemed to be a pretty decent fella. We ended up making "small talk" for a bit while listening to the music of The Limns. We found some really interesting common grounds on our shared religious beliefs, interest in world religions, and a similar upbringing.

At one point, Lisa's youngest son joined The Limns, and took "2nd mic" with the lead singer, and we all moved to where we could get a better perspective. After he finished singing, the room cleared out a bit, and I noticed a painting hanging on the wall at the other end of the room that I had not noticed before.

I picked up on the fact that this other guest was also looking at the same painting, so I turned and made the comment to him. I said "for a brief moment, I thought that may have been a Hieronymus Bosch Painting..." He turned to look at me (with a look of shock and surprise) and said he was thinking the exact same thing!

WHAT?!?!? Are you kidding me? What are the odds that this guy knows who Hieronymus Bosch is??

He then asked how I knew about Hieronymus Bosch (after all, who wouldn't ask... especially if you knew about Bosch's work - highly detailed landscape paintings of debauchery, violence and human defilement - a little "out of the ordinary" as far as artists go... ). That got us talking about art, fiction novels, and authors. Once we hit on the "Bosch connection", I relaxed significantly, and found that I can actually enjoy talking to a person I had never met before! (A huge leap for me!)

See! I CAN do it... It's not "easy", but with a little bit of work (and the help of a "fidget" in my pocket) - I was able to beat my own demons down somewhat!

So then, "after the fact", thinking more about it as I drove home, I started feeling pretty bad, and guilty for not "sucking it up" and meeting "Ron". And for that, I am truly sorry.

Despite my inept social skills, I really did have a good time. I think I need to see that "I can do it" once and a while! Thanks, Lisa & Andy!

Well, I did it! (Part 1)

This is a postscript to Dancing with one of my Demons.

- - - - - - -

Well, I did it!  I attended the aforementioned event... And did so "solo".

I think now that it's over and done, it's safe for me to publicly thank (for inviting me), and send one of my oldest and closest friends (Lisa from Many Things Do Not Fly) my very best wishes for a happy and momentous birthday, and a wonderfully prosperous year!  We have been friends for over half our lives, and she is truly a "one of a kind" woman and friend!

Wait... "One-of-a-kind" can be taken two different ways.  There is a good "one-of-a-kind", and a bad "one-of-a-kind"...  You know, the kind where you say "She is a one-of-a-kind gal" as you roll your eyes up and put a sarcastic looking face on.. 

Valid observation.  Just to clarify, my friend Lisa..  She falls squarely in the GOOD "one-of-a-kind" category!  No rolling eyes, or look of sarcasm on this face!

Lisa and her husband hosted a HUGE party for her birthday.  Food, drink, live music, and LOTS of people.  Lots of people I do not know. 

Lots of people I do not know + Father of Five = Unusually high level of stress and anxiety.

The good news is, I did not have a breakdown!  In fact, overall, I had a pretty good time!  There was plenty of opportunity for "people watching", I visited with an old high school classmate that I had not seen since graduation, and I even "stepped out of my comfort zone" just a bit and got a chance to visit with a few nice folks. 

I did blow a chance to meet someone that Lisa felt I should meet.  I think she was really excited to introduce us, but unfortunately by the time I was hitting a level of comfort, he had already left.  My apologies to both Lisa and "Ron".

On a positive note, I seemed to share quite a bit in common with one guest in particular!  Realistically, I understand that I will likely never see this person again - but it was nice to see I can actually have FUN to talk to someone with some similar interests (someone I have never met before).  How we ran into each other, and how we discovered these interests is a pretty quirky story...  

(If your interested, stay tuned for part 2.  If you are not - then skip part 2!).

This only serves to make things worse...

By now, most of you know I have issues with Parcopresis and with Paruresis.

For those of you unfamiliar with these terms, let me share... (definitions from wikipedia)

Parcopresis - A psychological disorder, more accurately termed psychogenic fecal retention, whereby the sufferer is unable to defecate unless they have a certain level of privacy. The level of privacy involved varies from sufferer to sufferer. The condition has also been termed shy bowel.

Paruesis - also known as pee shyness, shy kidney, bashful bladder, stage fright, urophobia, shy phallus or shy bladder syndrome, is a type of phobia in which the sufferer is unable to urinate in the (real or imaginary) presence of others, such as in a public restroom.

Well, the other day while surfing the net, I did a google search for Parcopresis (don't ask me why...), and out of a morbid and sick sense of curiosity - I clicked on the image search...

Go ahead... Click on it.  Come back when you are done... I'll wait...

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


Dancing with one of my Demons.

I have been invited to an social event, that I am really looking forward to attending. From what I am able to gather, there will be a larger number of people attending... At least a MUCH larger number than I am accustomed to.
There is a potential for a few people I know to be there. Some I know pretty well, others I have not talked to in quite a few years. Realistically speaking... The number of people there that I REALLY want to see hovers around 4 or 5.
Normally, this would be not be too much of a problem, as I would have my wife there to help "ground" me, and give me someone to focus on when the "going gets really tough", but in this case she is unable to attend, and I'll be flying solo.
Going get's tough? What are you talking about?? It's a PARTY!
Well... Yes, it is a party... and it's a party for a person who is very important to me... So missing it is NOT an option. But I am already getting that all to familiar nervous feeling. It is a feeling that I understand is irrational, but yet seems to be just beyond my control and ability to turn off.
Yup... It's my old friend "Social Anxiety".
That old friend that I (from time to time) am forced to confront. For those of you who have never had the pleasure of dealing with this, let me share a few personal expectations I have - just to give you a "flavor".
First off... I do not suffer with a DEBILITATING case of Social Anxiety. It is just strong enough to make me uncomfortable, cause my mind to ramble to itself at a feverish pace (the "voices in my head"), give me heartburn (Hello there Shatzki Ring, my little friend), make my palms sweat (by the way... that's why I did not shake your hand), and feel like I am going to pee my pants (I won't of course.. Seeing that another one of the demons I dance with is Paruresis).
I expect that I will get to the party, and will seek out the guest of honor (and in this case, the host). I will be crawling out of my skin until I meet up with them. It's just a weird thing about me, and hard to explain. I am uncomfortable in other people's houses. Plain. And. Simple. Until they know I am there, and I know that they know that I am there, I will not be able to relax.
This will undoubtedly be followed with a NORAD like scan of the attendees, attempting to locate the few I expect will be there (that provide me a level of comfort with that will ease some of my anxiety), while locating (and keeping track of) pockets of folks that I am unfamiliar with, and (as embarrassing as this is to admit) avoid.
Side note. Preliminary apologies to those familiar folks that feel like I am being clinging. I am. I will not be offended if you get sick of me and walk away. I understand... I am just that desperate to maintain my sanity.
I expect to feel what I can only describe as a "gravitational pull" towards that quiet chair in the corner. You know, the chair that is placed such that it is difficult to get "too comfortable" talking to whomever is in the chair. Difficult, but not impossible. It's the chair that usually sits empty because... well, because most folks at the party will be there to "mingle". I may look lonely there, but it's O.K. Really! It will be the spot that helps relax me (just a wee bit), and lets me "people watch".
I DO like "people watching". If only I could be a "fly on the wall"...
When it comes time to visit with the guest of honor (the part I look forward to the most) - I WILL enjoy myself, and things will be looking up. The pleasure of this person's company will overshadow all the anxiety I will be feeling. I can not allow myself to relax too much though. I need to remind myself not to be to clingy (see above). The guest of honor is really an outgoing people person, and they will want to (and should) be moving around the crowd.
The evening's anxiety will continue past the time I leave the party, and (don't ask me why) I will not feel relaxed until I am back in "familiar" territory...
Before you all write me off as a complete lunatic, let me assure you that I am NOT crazy (well, at least not "completely" crazy). This is a "recent" addition to the dysfunctional portion of me ("recent" as in the past 10-15 years or so), and I am still learning how to deal with it.
I used to enjoy "mingling". But somewhere along the road of life, something "interfered" with that portion of who I am. I (truthfully) suspect it has to do with the isolation from peers that having a large and busy family can bring. It may also have something to do with my job, and the environment I work in.
Fear not dear friends... There is hope. Since this is not a "chronic" condition, thankfully I am able to get out, meet with friends, and even meet and talk to new and interesting people. The whole evening will not be completely stressful. There will be periods of enjoyment throughout the evening, and I hope to see a close "long time friend" that I have not really seen in YEARS.
I think this is what may help me get over this touch of "Social Anxiety". Putting myself out there. Putting myself in those slightly uncomfortable situations, and forcing myself to relearn how to relax in large crowds of folks that I do not know well. A bit of the "Hair of the dog" if you will...
In the mean time... I'll be over in the corner, rocking in my seat, mumbling to myself in preparation for this event that (believe it or not) I am really looking forward to!

Happy Valentine's Day!

valentines1This post is dedicated to MY valentine.

You often read about all the escapades of our family here on FOF, and you here a lot about me, and my observations, but to be completely honest, I would not be who I am today was it not for one special woman out there. 

For there to be a "Father of Five", there needs to be a "Mother of Five", and there is.  Indeed, there is a WONDERFUL Mother of Five that I have been blessed to have in my life.  She is not only my best friend, but she also my perfect wife. 

No, she is not a perfect person, but neither am I.  What she is though is MY PERFECT WIFE.  She makes me so very happy.  She is positive when I am feeling negative, surprises me when I need a surprise, inspirational when I need inspiration, and the best mother a father could ask for to raise his children. 

I thank God often for putting us together.  

- - - - - -

Yesterday, when she was getting ready for work she told me to make sure that if we had anything for Valentines day, to get it set aside, because she was going to surprise the kids by decorating the table for our Valentines day party today.  I sort of did the whole "vaguely interested" shrugging my shoulders - and gave her the "yeah-whatever-it's-only-Valentines-Day-look that an overly practical and frugal guy like me could give her... I am sure I left her with the impression that she was going to get a "Good-morning-and-happy-Valentines-Day-Kiss" and that would be the end of it.

valentines2But no.

Last night, after she left for work, I left #1 of 5 in charge of the rest of the kids, and took off quickly to pick up some flowers and a card (something I hardly ever do, even on Valentines Day I should do more often).  I had the kids make her special Valentines Day cards, and hid the whole lot of stuff.

She came home, and (because of a thumping headache) I was already asleep...  I got out of bed to help her set up her surprise.

As you can see, she baked a cake, bought some pink bubble gum, some Valentines Day candy, and a gift for the kids.  What is in this photo that WAS NOT on the table when she went to bed was the flowers and cards for her!

Yup, I snuck up in the middle of the night, got the stuff out, and hid them on the table.... (see... It's still dark outside!)

In fact, as I am typing this I can hear that she just got out of bed, and is walking in the kitchen!!!  RIGHT NOW!!

I have to go...

I have to share with my wife just how much she means to me, and to our family.  How much I truly LOVE her!

For the rest of you?  Have a wonderful Valentines Day!

Show Me your Mii

Hey, I know there are many Wii owners out there.  Let's face it... Some of us Moms and Dads have almost as much fun with the Wii and the kids do.  I for one tried to make a "Mii" that looks as close to "me" as possible.

FOF_MII  2008-12-07-59554

I can't be the only one...  How about you?  Show me your Mii!

(Make a post, and leave me a link in my comments)

A Day on the Lake.

Check out the recently completed post over at Dad's Outdoor Journal
A Day on the Lake

ice fishing

She went too far!

After reading my recent post titled "Unprecedented" (about buying new shoes), and an older post titled "FOF Observation #6" (also about buying new shoes), my mother has broken her silence here at FOF. 
She sent me an email that sounds like it was intended to be a comment, but as I read it, I felt she "went too far" with her words...
Here is what she had to say...  You be the judge.
New Shoes
As the mother of "The Father of Five" I can definitely validate that when he was a child it was so-o-o-o-o difficult to bring him into a store so that we could buy a new pair of shoes for him.  So, father of five as your mother I can't tell you how very proud I am of you that you not only bought one but two pairs of shoes for yourself.  This is a REAL BREAKTHROUGH!  
I am kind of guessing that "The Mother of Five" threatened to leave you if you did not get yourself some new shoes for yourself.  Thanks Mother of Five. 
Now if we can get you some new shirts for yourself.
Love and Hugs,  Your Mom 
Come on mom..  You are WAY out of bounds with that one.  NEW SHIRTS TOO?!?!?! 
I demand that you take that back!!


Some of you who know me, are aware of my "over the top" approach of frugality when it comes to shoes.  As a matter of fact, Father of Five's Observation #6 dealt with just this topic.

Recently, the pair of shoes I bought to replace the ones in Observation #6, are falling apart.  The soles are cracking (just like the ones in the photo), and (approaching the level of "brutally honest") they have lost their odoriferous freshness (if you know what I mean).

I finally broke down, and went to the store to pick out a pair of shoes.  Fifteen minutes later (that's how I roll when it comes to shopping... Hit and run / In and out / Over and done) - anyway fifteen minutes later I am leaving the store having bought TWO pairs of shoes...

Gasp!  Cough!  Choke!  Wheeze!

Did you just say TWO pair of shoes... In the same YEAR?!?!

Yup pardner... That's right... TWO PAIR OF SHOES!

In an unprecedented move - I went out and actually bought TWO pair of shoes.  What I like to call "brown shoes" and "tennis shoes".  The two kinds of shoes I own.  Brown, and tennis.

new shoes 

What would make me do such a thing? 

Sale + Clearance + additional 15% off items (sale and clearance included) = Two pair of new shoes for 45 bucks!

Even a fugal shoe miser like me can not turn down a deal like that!

And now, I'll sign off with a promise that we will not have to talk about shoes or shoe shopping again for at least a couple of years!

Love, in the form of a light bulb.

For you parents out there, and in particular, you parents with many children (like myself) there will come a time (if it has not already happened) that one of your children (in my case #3 of 5) finally comes to the realization that they are  loved less then their siblings.

About a week back, while trying to calm #3 of 5 down from a particularly "difficult evening", I sat down with him in an attempt to understand what was bothering him.  For those of you who follow me on Facebook, it was Jan. 27th - when my status read.. 

David put "Disintegration" by The Cure in for an "agitated" #3 of 5 to help mellow him out a bit. Now, I am listening to it myself...."

While sitting and talking to him, he put me in my place with a shared a recent realization that he had made.  He realized that I did not love him as much as our other children. 

? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

Curiously, I asked him what made him feel that way. 

light outHis reply...  "Because when the light bulbs go out in the other kid's rooms, you change them right away.  The light bulb in my room has been out for a long time now, and you STILL have not changed it."

Is that the best you got little man?  Come on, I could do WAY better then that!!  Let's be honest here... It's only been out for a couple of weeks.

A couple of weeks?? 

Just what kind of monster father am I??

Wait.... Did he just say I love him less because I did not change his LIGHT BULB as quickly as I may (or may not have) with his siblings??

light onTrying hard to fight off the giggle that was welling up inside me, I did my best to justify why I had indeed not changed HIS bulb as quickly as I may have with the other rooms.  While it was true that the rest of the kid's ceiling light fixtures' bulbs do get replaced faster than his, it "may have" something to do with the desk lamp that is in his room that is not in any of the other rooms.  The desk lamp that lights his room as well as his ceiling light...

Let me clear up one other excuse tidbit of info before going on. 

Hardware Store lesson #4538. 

Light bulbs have different sized bases.  Mogul, Standard and Candelabra are among the most common.  Recently, there has been more interest in the lesser known "intermediate" base. 

The ceiling fan installed in #3 of 5's bedroom has a receptacle for a lesser known "intermediate" base light bulbs.  (Had I known it at the time, I would have purchased a different fan).  

I had a slightly harder time finding the bulb.  Attempt #1 was Target (my mistake).  The only thing I could find was a outrageously expensive "appliance bulb" for microwave ovens.  That bulb lasted for a few days before burning out.

bulbsToday, I broke down, and made a special run to Home Depot to see if I could buy my son's love back find the appropriately sized light bulb.  (What I should have done in the first place).

When #3 of 5 came home - I took him to his room, turned on his light, and "asked his permission" to love him as much as the rest of the kids again...  Having all but forgotten his "difficult evening" and the statement he made, I had to remind him how I did not love him as much as the other kids.  He suddenly remembered, and we had quite the chuckle out of it.

But the story does not stop there.  Oh, no.   

I then took him upstairs, and showed him the selection of bulbs I purchased JUST FOR HIS LIGHT!  I reminded him that NONE of the other kids have a stash of special light bulbs JUST FOR THEM!! 

I asked him if this now meant I love him more than the others....     

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