Sk8er Boy

Yes, it's true... #2 of 5 is well on his way to becoming a full fledged teenager...

The first step in raising a teenager is admitting you HAVE a teenager..

Sk8er boy... 'er I mean #2 of 5 went out today and spent copious amounts of his own money to buy a Skateboard. Not just ANY skateboard mind you... This aint no run of the mill, Target, Wallmart, or Fleetfarm $25.00 skateboard either..

No, this teenaged sk8er boy took his hard earned, and even harder saved cash to a real Skateboard store today - thus moving from the dorky neighborhood kid with a generic skateboard, into the way kewl teenager, more affectionately know as "Sk8er Boy"...

sk8erboy1 sk8erboy2

sk8erboy3 sk8erboy4

Now that I have admitted I have a teenager, I have started the "12 step" program for parents of teenagers... I think the next step is something like admitting you are powerless against the grip of the skateboard"... or something like that...

FOF to the group - "Hello, my name is the Father of Five, and I own a teenager"

Group to FOF - "Hello Father of Five"

What Could I be Getting Myself Into?

I know many of you who follow FOF also follow me on Facebook.  There can (at times) be some redundancy between Facebook and FOF...  This is going to be one of those occasions... Only, the difference between Facebook and the FOF blog is that here on the blog, I can ramble on ad-nauseam about a topic, where Facebook only let's me put a couple of sentences at a time out there for public consumption.

When we first moved to our new home, one of the first ideas that occurred to me is that since we would finally be settled for "some time to come" - that I should consider joining the local Volunteer Fire Department.  I thought about, debated it, considered it, postponed thinking about it, and finally justified in my mind why it would not be a good idea.  That was ten years ago. 

Fast forward ten years. 

For the past several weeks, my next door neighbor (who became a firefighter late last summer, maybe early fall), has been "planting the seed" to try and get me to join our local community Volunteer Fire Department.  He joined and started talking about it back then, and (to be honest) I mocked the idea, and (for the most part) disregarded the whole subject.

But, I have been thinking about it...  Seriously...

Then, the other night, we were invited over for a "recreational fire" and s'mores - where he started pitching it to me again... (This time in front of the Mother of Five).  Her asking me "Why not?" then started softening me on the whole idea... Although it's still easy to justify it away...  I'm too old, I'm out of shape, I'm already on call with the SWAT team, I live too far away from the station, etc, etc, etc.

Then, I posted a quick snippet about it on facebook...

"  Oh boy... My neighbor (a volunteer Firefighter) is trying to "recruit" me to try out at the next exam... He has done this a few times, only tonight... The wife was there to hear it.. "Why not?" She says.... Well, it could be an incentive to get myself into a little bit better shape... I've always been in the "no" camp, but to be honest... I think I'm in the "maybe" camp... Gots me some thinking to do.  "

Almost immediately, the update was followed by several comments from Facebook "Friends"... 

1 person likes this - go for it, biggie - Go for it Dave. Good incentive to get in shape and maybe a pension down the line - Just think on HOW many friends you have behind you!!! We will all Support your decision. That's called true friends! - I say go for it. But, well, I may not be a good influence - Wait, wait, wait.... do the volunteers get to wear the outfit? Cuz that's really key to whether I fully support this idea. - I'm afraid that if I COULD fit in a uniform, that I'd come out of a fire lookin' like a puffy toasted marshmallow (posted by me) - I did 3 years as a vol FF. I miss it quite a bit! Loved the work, Loved the excitement! Quit because they turned my house into a Walgreens....You won't regret the experience! - 911 dispatcher, firefighter...dude I want to live in your neighborhood sounds safe - Huh? :) - Could be fun, go for it!  (get in before you hit the age limit- I think 40 is already too old to join in Bloomington) - Sounds interesting! Want to hear more!

So, the first thing I did was check with my neighbor about the age limit.  I am (after all) 40, and in all reality - more than half way to "the finish line" (if you know what I mean)...  No limit.. (well, I am sure there is some sort of limit... but I was told that there was another recent rookie accepted at age 41...) That gives me at least a year.

Excuse Hurdle #1 jumped.

Immediately, I can see a couple of other benefits...  I think the department I dispatch for would benefit by having a dispatcher who could have some "in the field" firefighting experience (we have / had a couple already (LINK) - and the fire department could benefit by having a firefighter with some "behind the radio" experience as well...  (Sort of like having a dispatcher who went to school to be an officer... (LINK))

Like I said before... I do have some serious things to think about... This is a commitment to be taken seriously... 

I'm sending you away..

It's been so long since I last posted on Dad's Outdoor Journal, that today, I am sending you over there for a post...
I'm Going to Give it a Try (link)
Have a great trip!

Milestones (Three Years)

threeI thought it was in May sometime.  So I checked.  I was wrong.
It was actually April 2nd.  The day after April Fools Day. 
What on earth are you talking about FOF?
I am talking about the third anniversary of "The Life of a Father of Five".  It was three years ago on April 2nd that this blog came to life, and what a strange journey it's been...
It started off with a purpose...
Tales from the life of a chronically tired Father of five who lives in a high stress household, works in a high stress environment (as a 911, Police and Fire dispatcher), and copes with daily struggles of guilty feelings for not having the time he would like to spend with his family
I am keeping this blog as a collection of thoughts for my children (but others are welcome to enjoy too).... Someday I hope they have they chance to read this. My work and our hectic family lifestyle keeps me very busy. I hate to admit this but sometimes so busy that I don't spend as much time with my kids and family as I want to, or as I should.... Although I am not always with them - they are ALWAYS with me....
"The Life of a Father of Five" quickly grew into a little bit more. 
Right off the bat, I took a vacation from work to start building a deck.  Each day I documented the progress of my deck building on the blog, and a co-worker told me how much he enjoyed it.  He said he could not get enough.  Then, it spread around to a couple of other co-workers... 
From there, "The Life of a Father of Five" started branching out all over the place.  Not only here in Minnesota - All over the Twin Cities, Virginia, Rochester, and St. Cloud too.  Then across the nation!  Idaho, Texas, Georgia, Connecticut, California, Illinois, and Utah are among some of the locations I see almost every day in my stats.
Speaking of stats...  Yesterday I reached the 18,000'th  hit since I started keeping track (April 18th 2006).  This page has been viewed eighteen thousand times in just over three years!!  That is a staggering figure to me.
While researching some of the data needed two write this post, I discovered something odd.  I posted about my second anniversary on May 18th.
What's so odd about that?
Well, yesterday was May 18th...  And it was last night as I was falling asleep that it dawned on my that my "blogiversary" may be coming up quick, and that I should check into it in the morning.
(Cue the creepy Twilight Zone Music)
Exactly one year from the date that I remember that fact last year... 
Inaugural Post
One Year Anniversary
Two Year Anniversary
I enter my third year of blogging with the same joy and enthusiasm that I had started out with.  I do keep downloaded archives of the blog "just in case" - and so that even if Blogger isn't around anymore, when my children are old enough - they can enjoy who their father was...
To all of you - Thank You. 
I have had the opportunity to keep in touch with my friends, reconnect with some old friends, and make some really fantastic new friends too!  I hope that you have enjoyed the ride thus far.  As I move into my third year, and towards my fourth anniversary it is my hope that "The Life of a Father of Five" continues to entertain you, and helps foster both new and old friends alike. 

It Does Not Take Much...

ronandfez

For those of you who do not know, I am a HUGE fan (both mentally and physically) of XM Radio's Ron & Fez Show! (And for those of you who do know, go ahead and roll your eyes, and sigh "Not another Ron & Fez post"...

I just discovered that the Ron & Fez Show's time slot was changed.

Instead of the "Ron & Fez - Noon to Three" that we have all come to love hearing, they will now be boasting "Ron & Fez - Eleven to Three" (eastern). What does that mean??

Ron and Fez will be live on air an extra hour each day starting today!!

I am not sure how they feel about it (I'll be listening to the replay later) but for "fan boys" like me - it's truly a gift!!

Thanks Ron & Fez - Thanks for providing the best 3 hours (and now 4 hours) of radio each and every day!!

An extra hour has made me a happy man!!

On a side note... Congradulatons to East Side Dave from the Ron and Fez show - on the birth of his child #2!

A Night Out

It was a Night Out for the grown ups!

For my birthday, my parents gave me a night out that included Dinner and a live show at the Theater, so last night, the four of us went out!

The city I work for has a thriving artistic culture center, and it's attached to our "City Hall" (referred to as "The Civic Plaza"). Civic Plaza consists of the Police Department, City Hall (which consists of many departments), and the Bloomington Center for the Arts - all under one roof.

Dinner was my choice (well, between two different choices). The Olive Garden, or The Cheesecake Factory. Having never been there before, I selected The Cheesecake Factory. (Despite the Olive Garden's Zuppo Toscana being among my FAVORITE things to eat!)

Not being sure what to expect, I was delightfully surprised. I choose the Salisbury steak smothered in onions, mushrooms, and mushroom gravy - with garlic mashed potatoes, and green beans. Judging by the number of times the Mother of Five dipped her fork into my plate for a "taste", I was not the only one who thought it was delicious!

Arsenic-Logo-Web After dinner, we headed off the the Bloomington Center for the Arts, to see "Arsenic and Old Lace" (not sure how long this link will remain valid) being put on in the "Black Box Theater".

I have "heard of" Arsenic and Old Lace before, but I knew nothing of the story, nor have I seen the Cary Grant version of the movie either. I had only the most basic knowledge of the storyline.

The show was quite enjoyable, and the actors / actresses did an outstanding job. It was easy to get lost in the story, and feel like you were "right there" so much more so than seeing a movie.

Thanks Mom & Dad! Thanks for a great evening out! We both had a wonderful time! We will HAVE TO do that again sometime soon!

Happy Mother's Day!

I would like to take a moment out of my too-busy schedule to wish a few special folks a Happy Mothers Day.
 
TO MY WIFE - for without whom I would not be the person I am today (be that for better or for worse).  I can't thank you enough for sharing a wonderful life together with me, and together helping me raise some of the best kids in the world!   You make me so very happy, and I love you more and more every day we spend together!
 
TO MY MOM - for without whom I would not be here today, and for helping to shape me into the happy and successful husband / father / and man that I am today!
 
TO MY MOTHER-IN-LAW - for without whom I would not have the wonderful wife I have, and for treating me like one of your own.
 
TO ALL MOTHERS OUT THERE - for going above and beyond - for the sacrifices you make - for the unacknowledged things you do for your children, husbands, and families... 
 
As a "Father of Five" - I'd like to wish you all the happiest of Mother's Days EVER!  Thanks for all you do!  Enjoy your day!

Is This REALLY Necessary?

As mentioned in my prior post, I spent Wednesday morning (my day off) dispatching a specific "Incident".  There was a gathering of Civil Disobedient protesters, and as a specialized SWAT dispatcher I was selected to man our Command Post to provide communications for the "event". 

Due to this "assignment", I was unable to chaperone a field trip to the Minnesota Zoo with #5 of 5's  preschool class that I had previously signed up for.

The Incident Commanders were all very understanding, and did everything they could (and then some) to get me there - but in the end, it was cutting it too close.

This worked out ok in the end because I have been dealing with a persistent, and ever worsening cough for the past month.  I called the clinic, and set up an appointment.  Unfortunately they did not have a spot open until the next day.

By the time I got home, I was coughing enough that it was not only bothering everyone around me, but it was starting to bother ME.  The Mother of Five said our urgent care center opened at 1pm, so I headed out.

Our urgent care center and E.R. share a lobby / waiting / triage center.  You check in, wait, meet with a triage nurse who routes you through to urgent care or E.R. depending on the circumstances.

(Is this REALLY necessary point #1) - I went through the entire process, and the triage nurse checked me into the E.R.   I asked her why the ER and not the urgent care center.  It ends up that my wife was wrong.  Urgent care does not open until 6pm.

I asked the nurse if visiting the ER was "overkill" for what I was dealing with.  I told her I did not want to waste ER resources for something that really did not need to take up ER time...  She said not to worry about it at all - they could take care of everything while I was there.  I verified this no less that two other times before I was sitting in the ER exam room, and was assured each time that it was indeed ok.

(Is this REALLY necessary point #2) - I next met with an ER nurse who gave me a LOVLEY "open backed" gown...  Thankfully (for both me and for the ER staff) I was told I only needed to undress from the waist up before putting on this gown.

Then the ER doctor came in - poked, prodded, checked, and listened to all sorts of things "above the waist"...  This all seemed on the up-and-up.  When it was all said and done, he ordered a chest x-ray, and said someone would get me shortly.

(Is this REALLY necessary point #3 - and truly what inspired me to write) - A young petite little blond nurse came into my room, and told me that she was here to take me to X-ray.  I had been sitting in the chair and playing Solitaire on my palm pilot up until this point...  I stood up and walked toward her, when she said I needed to lay on the gurney...

Me - HUH??  I have not even touched it.  Why not keep it clean for the next person...

Nurse - Nope.. Hospital policy that I need to move you on the gurney.

Me - Your kidding me, right?  I mean I am a strong - able-bodied - fully mobile adult.  I have been able to walk down the hall all-by-my-self for sometime now..  Plus, as you can see, I could use the exercise anyway.

Nurse - Sorry Mr. Father-of-five.  We need to get you up on this gurney, and roll you down to X-ray.  It's policy, and we do this for everyone.

Me - What if I sign a waver?

Nurse - Just get on the gurney....

By this point I could see I was not going to leave the room under my own power, so I hopped up on the gurney, and let this young petite little blond nurse push me down to the X-Ray room.

I can only imagine how it must have looked.  A scene straight out of Sea World's back room laboratory.  A Marine Biologist college intern trying to push a small pale bloated Beluga Whale down the hall toward the "Deep Sea Vet's Lab" all by her self - struggling...

In the end, she did just fine.  Maybe she was right... She does this for everyone...

And while I am in the "tall and fat" "big and tall" category, there are certainly much more "bigger" and "taller" than me out there. 

- - - - - - - -

For all those wondering.... It was confirmed as I suspected - Bronchitis.

Healing... And Moving On

Well, two days after the fateful event that caused so much trauma for our family (please click link to read the heartbreaking story if you have not already herd it), we began the process of healing, and moving on.

garfield blog1 After a morning of dispatching from our Command Post for a specific "Incident", I was unable to chaperone a field trip to the Minnesota Zoo with our youngest's preschool class that I had previously signed up for. The Incident Commanders were all very understanding, and did everything they could (and then some) to get me there - but in the end, it was cutting it too close.

This worked out ok in the end because I ended up making a run to urgent care for a persistent, and worsening cough. More on that "experience" later...

After the ER visit, and picking up subsequent prescriptions, I made my way home to accomplish the one task I had set my sights on for the day. We needed to lay Garfield to his eternal resting spot. At the family dinner table, we discussed the various options...

We came up with three viable options. The concave portion of our kidney shaped flower garden, a back corner of the yard, or under our deck where the ideas that we came up with.

We also talked about how we would mark the location...

In the end, we chose the concave portion of our kidney shaped flower garden. Additionally, we decided to "upgrade" this area, and create a small "memorial" to our beloved Garfield. We are going to put a concrete birdbath, and an etched stone memorial there too.

Planning this with the family was really nice. I really think this helped move us towards "closure".

After dinner, I started the work of cutting up the lawn (so I could put the patch back when I was done), and digging the hole. When the whole was complete, we called the kids, our next door neighbor kids, and I was going to invite the "across the street neighbor girl" (who played with Garfield every day) but, she was sick, and could not come over.

garfield blog2All of them had made cards, or picked flowers (dandelions), and came up with some things to send Garfield off with.

- I got a small baggie of Cat food for him (man, that cat could E. A. T. - It was only fitting to send him off with a little of what he liked best!).

- #2 of 5 decided to send him off with a laser pointer. (Garfield LOVED the laser pointer. We could get him to jump over 6 feet to try and "catch" it....)

- #4 of 5 use a piece to her gerbil cage (Garfield was so "interested" in the gerbils... He would stand guard, and sleep near their cage - just hoping for one of them to get loose.)

- Everyone else made cards (including the little girl across the street who could not be there).

We placed our things with Garfield, sealed up the box, and #2 of 5 lowered him into the little "grave".

More dandelions on top, and #2 of 5 asked to fill the hole back in.

Unfortunately #1 of 5 could not be with us, but he called us, and specifically asked that we say a prayer for him since he could not be there.

By the time we were finished, the kids were all doing MUCH better. The "immediacy" of the situation has passed, and as the old saying goes... "Time heals all wounds". Overall, everyone will be ok. #2 of 5 is even talking about wanting another cat. (But he does not ever want to name another cat Garfield - so he can always remember "his" Garfield the way he was...) No decisions have been made in this direction as of yet.

As promised this post includes the photo of Garfield on the Mother of Five's cel phone (the one that #2 of 5 does not want changed for a while...)

One last photo. This is the last photo we took of Garfield. It was dated 4-20-09. #4 of 5 was cleaning out her gerbil cage, and Garfield (who loved to squeeze his HUGE frame into the smallest possible boxes to curl up in) decided to do so in the gerbil's cage.

Garfield the Cat.

I will refrain from sharing the feelings I am having for the person who drove their minivan up our street in a reckless manner tonight.

I will also admit to the difficulty I am having with refraining from acting out the disgust and RAGE I feel towards that person for also hitting, and killing Garfield our family cat tonight. The part that puts me over the edge is that it was done while #4 of 5 (our eight year old daughter - the cat lover) was watching out the window.

Garfield1aI will say prayers of thanks to God tonight, that this person also did not have the manners, etiquette, or good taste to even stop. Things would not have gone well for them tonight, and as a result, would not have gone well for me.

I will also admit the heartbreak I am feeling right now for the kids. Like I said, #4 of 5 actually saw the accident. We were all sitting in the living room, but she saw it through the window. I was "lucky" enough to get to see the raw reaction on her face.

As I turned to see what she was looking at, I saw Garfield struggling to make his way up into our yard. Like the true #$%^ that I can be at times, got upset because of the inevitable vet bill, and vocalized it as I raced my way out the door.

Garfield was still struggling when I reached him. Not really for long though... One breath, maybe two. #2 of 5 was right behind me. Being in uncharted waters, I told him he should probably go back inside (so as not to witness the cat struggling for his last breaths). In hindsight, I was thinking that maybe it would not have been a bad idea to have let him stay, and be with his cat as it died.

Moments after Garfield breathed his last, I turned around and #2 of 5 was standing 10 yards behind me... Asking if Garfield was ok. I told him that Garfield had died, and invited him to sit with me.

Garfield was "technically" #2 of 5's cat, but we never really kept track of "who's cat is who's". Garfield was our family cat, and was loved by our family, our next door neighbor's family, and the family across the street - who's house he was running from when he was hit. But at the end of the day, #2 of 5 had a very special relationship with Garfield, and was very in-tune with him.

Garfield1#2 of 5 sat next to me on the front lawn. I held him in my arms. I held him tight as he broke down and wept. He asked if he could pet Garfield. I told him of course he could, and that Garfield would like that very much. It had only been seconds (maybe twenty) since Garfield had passed away.

#2 of 5 is 14 years old now. Mom was still in the house with the other children, and for a few minutes it was just him and I outside with Garfield. He was holding me tight, weeping.

Thinking about this now (about an hour later), I am thankful for those few minutes before everyone else came out of the house.

In all reality, this will likely be one of the last times this will happen. He is growing up so fast, and to have him need me, one more time, to help through this was something I think I needed as much as he did (for different reasons).

I removed his collar and name tag, hading them to #2 of 5. I told him that these were his to have, and that Garfield would want him to take care of them.

After a few minutes of holding my boy in my arms, as he pet the cat he loved so very much, the rest of the family came out. Next to break down was #4 of 5 (8 years old). She too is VERY attached to the cats, and as the one who witnessed the accident, was noticeably upset. She curled up in her mother's arms and wept.

We sat together as a family, on the front lawn, surrounding Garfield. It was a very emotional time.

As it started getting dark, I left to get a box to put Garfield in for the night. One by one, everyone left to help, except #2 of 5. He stayed with his cat.

Watching him sit there in the middle of the yard, alone, crying, and petting his cat was a painful thing to see, and will be with me for a LONG time to come.

After finding a box, and a little blanket to wrap him in, we all went back to #2 of 5 and his cat. I had him help me place Garfield gently in the box, and I sent the kids inside.

It was past the kids bed time, and they were all in various states of emotional turmoil. There was a lot of crying, and sadness in our house tonight.

We reminded the kids that if Garfield could talk to us right now, he would not want us to be sad. He would want us to think happy thoughts of him, remembering all the funny things he did, and would want us all to say a special prayer for him.

#4 of 5 mentioned (before going to bed) that "at least Mimi (Garfield's litter-mate and our other cat) can at least eat now. (Garfield was an eating machine...). At least that put a little bit of a smile on her face before bed.

As I sat with #2 of 5 in his room before bed, he said that this was the WORST day of his life. He has strep throat, missed school (and will have a ton of homework tomorrow) and now it was the day his cat died. What can you say?

Garfield2 Just before going to bed #2 of 5 said that at least he does not have to have a 5:30 am alarm clock anymore (Garfield would jump on our beds until he got one of us up. This almost always happened around 5:30 am). This statement put a little smile on his face, and so I told him the story of what his sister said about Mimi being able to eat. That also put a smile on his face.

I asked him to (over the next few days) write down several thoughts and memories he has of Garfield. Things he does not want to forget. I reminded him that our memories of those that have passed are what allow them to live on.

#2 of 5 had a hard time getting to sleep tonight. He could not sleep, and came out to sit with us for a while. He is just now heading off to bed (10:40 pm).

For those of you that have been around here long enough... you may remember a post titled "The Third Option". This post was also about Garfield.

The photos that make up this post are of one of the first photos we have of Garfield (when he came home for the first time) with #2 of 5, and one of the last photos I took of Garfield.

I am also going to update this post (or create another) with a photo #2 of 5 took of Garfield on my wife's cellular phone. (I still have to figure out a way to get it off the phone.)

While crying himself to sleep tonight, #2 of 5 told his mom that it was "odd". When we asked him what was "odd" - he said that for some reason - this afternoon - he changed the screen saver on her cellular phone to a photo he took of Garfield earlier this year. Between his tears, he asked if she would leave it as the screen saver for a while.

My wife was crying when she told me this story.

Garfield, you will be missed. Your two years with us went WAY to fast. You were by far, the most entertaining cat I have ever had the pleasure to know. Thank you for all the fun times, and the laughs you provided our family over the past couple of years.

You go with all the love of your human family.

Now that the kids are asleep, and my wife is too, it is my turn to go cry myself to sleep...

FOF Observation #13

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.
IMG_1031-----------------------------------

Something occurred to me this evening.

Having had a particularly busy "no-school" day that included not only our kids, but also their friends (and one friend as a sleep-over), it finally sunk in...

The crumbs left behind on our kitchen floor (often) have the potential to contain both the caloric, and nutritional value to support a small third world nation...

(Ruler added for reference....)

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