I'd Like to Know What You Think

The Mother of Five and I have made a decision to pull the boys out of school for a week.  This is not something we do on a regular basis, but given the circumstances (which I will cover shortly), this is a choice I can easily justify, and am more than comfortable having made. 
I am curious to find out if you think we made the right decision, and if you would have made the same decision.
First off, I do understand and acknowledge the importance of a good education.  Remember, we go out of our way to send our kids to a private school at great sacrifice to our family budget.  We do without a lot of "stuff" in order to ensure that they receive what we feel is the best possible education.  It's not easy, not by a long shot - but it is THAT important to us!
Regardless how wonderful I feel about our kid's school(s) - "education" is not something that the school district has a corner on the market with.  The school district's formal education has it's place - but it is also the responsibility of parents to educate their children above and beyond what the school district can and does provide.  Sure, there are the core elements...  Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic - along with a few others like music, foreign language, and history.  Then, beyond those traditional "lessons", let's not underestimate the social aspects of life our kids learn while at school... Things like pecking order, dealing with confrontation, dealing with adversarial peers, how to get along within a (diverse) group of people.  It's all a sort of plethora of social problem solving skills that will help guide them throughout their life.   
While these are all good lessons - and important for the kids to learn, there are other lessons, lessons not taught in schools, that are both important and in many cases necessary to get through life.  Things like how to maintain a vehicle - how to maintain a home - basic plumbing - basic electrical - basic woodworking - basic lawn maintenance - gardening - lessons like these that are not taught by the schools.  
Remember, my first job (and it was a job I stuck with for seven years) was in a neighborhood hardware store.   The things I learned from working in that store were some of the most important lessons I have learned, and are things I still use in my day to day life - even now, twenty-five years later...
Uncle "B's" house is in desperate need of a roof.  He has interior damage to his home as a result of significant leaking from his roof that occurred over the winter months.  My Father-in-Law is a former "house flipper" and has a lot of experience roofing houses.  By taking on the job himself, Uncle "B" will be able to add some sweat equity to his home while saving some serious money at the same time!  Unfortunately, this particular roofing job is significant in that it will require removal of three layers of old roofing material.  (i.e. A lot of manual labor
Uncle "B's" ability to schedule vacation time is limited by the seniority he has within his workplace.  This dictated when he was able to take his vacation (vacation time that will be used to roof the house).  The roofing job is scheduled to begin on Monday.  In desperate need of help with the job, my Father-in-Law is taking a week away to help Uncle "B".  Having helped my Father-in-Law roof in the past, I would have joined them, but I was unable to schedule time off of work.  #1 of 5 is just settling into a new job and has a lot going on within his personal life right now - so a week away is not a viable option for him.  
Instead, The Mother of Five and I asked #2 and #3 of 5 (13 and almost 15 years old) if they were interested in helping out.  Hearing that we would consider letting them get a week off of school they were "all in".  We officially offered them up as "cheap child labor". 
No, the help they are going to provide will not equal what another adult could - but they will certainly be able to provide some help - all while they learn the basics of roofing a house.  Who knows, some day what they learn this week may save them thousands of dollars on a future roof repair job of their own!
And of course... Let's not forget the other lesson that they are learning.  Helping a family member in need.
Now, one last factor that aided our decision to pull the boys out of school for the week to help.  It is a short week (Monday is Memorial Day)  that is made even shorter by the school's annual end of the year Track and Field day (which the boys were not disappointed to hear that they may miss out on).  Out of the five day school week, our boys are only missing three days of "school".  Since this is also the second to the last week of school (and the last week is also a shortened week) - I question how much "learning" would be going on anyway!
I truly believe that the lessons they will learn over the five days spent helping Uncle "B" and Grandpa re-roof the house will far outweigh whatever the school would be teaching them in the three actual school days that they are missing.
I am curious how you feel. 
  • Do you think we made the right decision?
  • Would you make the same decision? 
  • Why or why not?
Leave me a comment!

Just a Little Warning

I am going to apologize ahead of time for all of you with delicate sensibilities.  If you are easily offended, or have some sort of pre-conceived notion about what a sensible, responsible, and mature kind of guy I am, you may want to consider passing right by this post. 

If you choose to continue, consider yourself warned…  You are heading down a road that once you start, you can never come back from.  I fear your image of me will be forever tainted.

This is a follow up post to FOF Observation #18

- - -

Tonight, #2 of 5, #3 of 5 and I had a “guys night out”.  #3 of 5 had some money for a PSP game, and since he is making a 6 hour road trip next week (more on that later) we agreed to let him buy one.

After about an hour in GameStop (a video game store that buys and sells used games), it was upon the suggestion of The Mother of Five that we dined out.  I gave the boys two choices… 

Subway, or….  White Castle

Immediately #2 of 5 went for the Whities!   #3 of 5 said he did not care, but quickly realized that since his mother was not present, that I was not just joking around!  He quickly changed his mind and agreed to Whities for some “sliders”!

While at White Castle, we ran into another member of the boy’s Scout Troop.  They sat next to us, and we visited while we ate.  Somewhere during dinner, the conversation turned to jail, getting arrested, and “body cavity searches” 

Don’t ask.  They are pubescent teen boys.  That is what they talk (and laugh) about – Yes, even during dinner.

After we left, the conversation only got “better”…  Not only did it get better, but their dad (yeah, that would be me) even joined in…

After consuming copious amounts of White Castle, and after too many jokes about potential nightmarish smells (stemming from body cavity searches) the conversation quickly turned “Gaseous” in nature…

As the “Gaseous” conversation continued we found ourselves inspired, and decided to start up a new band!  We named the band, and the members of the band. 

Tears were flowing from the laughter!  I even had a hard time breathing. #2 of 5 said he could not stop laughing because I was laughing so hard.  It was both viral and contagious! 

At one point, #3 of 5 even asked me if I needed to pull the car over because I was laughing so hard! 

Was our conversation borderline disgustingly inappropriate?  Yes, maybe.  But we laughed so hard, and had so much fun doing it, how could it be bad? 

I am certain at some point you will figure this out – but just in case you don’t – I put a link or two at the bottom.

Announcer:  Tonight, for one night only, Jam Till You Are Def Records, and Charmin Bathroom Tissue are proud to bring to you the one and only, never duplicated, Grammy award winning musical talents of one of America’s leading college humor rock bands.  Ladies, and gentlemen, will you please put your hands together for the musical talents of….  “DUTCH OVEN

(Crowd goes wild!  Yelling, screaming, crying, gnashing of teeth)

Lead Singer of Dutch Oven:  Hello Minneapolis!!  We are so glad to be here tonight!  Are you ready to have your socks rocked off?  Because tonight, Dutch Oven is going blow the roof of this place!!  But, before we do, I would like to introduce to you the members of Dutch Oven!!!

(Crowd goes wild!  Yelling, screaming, crying, gnashing of teeth)

Lead Singer of Dutch Oven:  Wow!  You guys are the greatest!  It’s fans like you that make it all worth while!  Well, let’s waste any more time, and get to it!  Allow me to introduce you to the members of Dutch Oven!!! 

(Crowd goes wild!  Yelling, screaming, crying, gnashing of teeth)

Lead Singer of Dutch Oven:  Dutch Oven is…  On bass – the guy who puts the funky beats down, and knows how to make his presence known in a crowd of people, will you please give it up for “BEEFY

(Crowd goes wild!  Yelling, screaming, crying, gnashing of teeth)

Lead Singer of Dutch Oven:  Amazing reception folks!  Truly amazing!  On the other side of the stage, behind the awesome riffs, and sick shreds on lead guitar…  A guy that leaves a trail wherever he goes!  Put your hands together for the almost “liquid” guitar skills of …  “GREASY”!! 

(Crowd goes wild!  Yelling, screaming, crying, gnashing of teeth)

Lead Singer of Dutch Oven:  Folks here in Minneapolis sure know how to make a feller feel welcome!!  Thanks everyone.  But Dutch Oven would not be as “Potent” as it is, without the amazing beats and percussion, from the guy who knows how to empty a room…  The guy behind the drums!!  The one, the only…  “B & CB”!!  (Bean and Cheese Burrito)

(Crowd goes wild!  Yelling, screaming, crying, gnashing of teeth)

Lead Singer of Dutch Oven:  And finally, the guy who puts it all together.  The voice behind Dutch Oven…  Would you give ME a round of applause – for I am the one, the only… “VELVEETA CHEESE”!!!!  But you can call me “CHEESY” for short! 

(Crowd goes wild!  Yelling, screaming, crying, gnashing of teeth)


And now, for the sake of those who are not quite getting the reference here…  Prepare for the worst before you click through THIS LINK that hopefully will fill in any gaps you may have in putting the name of the band together with the band members names….  But remember, you have been warned!

Reading it here, seeing it on my screen – I can tell you it is not as funny as it was at the time… 

(Although, when we told The Mother of Five about it, she too tried to stifle her giggles – I tried to explain, but through her snickering, she advised me that yes… She DID indeed already know what a Dutch Oven was)

I guess it was one of those “you had to be there” moments between a dad and a couple of his boys – one of those moments that can never really be duplicated, and that I will hold in my heart until the day I finally leave this life…  No matter how pre-pubescent, or borderline appropriate it may or may not have been…

Now, one question for you.  Did you know, or did you have to follow the link?  Leave me a comment, to let me the world know!

FOF Observation #18

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.




Guys night out! 

‘Nuff said.

(If you are interested, you can read the follow up HERE)




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Another Catch up post - Target Field

We here in the fine state of Minnesota have our Major League Baseball team - the Minnesota Twins and our National Football League team – The Minnesota Vikings.  The Twins and the Vikings have been playing together in the Hubert H. Humphry Metrodome for the past thirty years.  (The Metrodome replaced the old Minnesota Metropolitan Stadium in the early 80’s.)

Climbing up on my soapbox

In the past ten years or so, us Minnesotans have been told that we NEEDED a new (baseball specific) Stadium in order to support the needs of the Minnesota Twins. 

I am not sure about the accuracy of this information, but I have been told that the Metrodome was initially built as a football stadium.  The ability to convert the stadium into a baseball field was only added as an afterthought.  Because it was never really intended for Baseball, watching a baseball game in it was next to impossible, and it was the Metrodome (and not the Twins poor reputation) that was to blame for so many seats going unsold during regular season games. 

After years of threats that the Twins were going to move or be sold, along with numerous failed attempts at funding, the “pro-stadium people” finally got what they have wanted for years - a new "outdoor" stadium - which has been under construction for the past couple of years.

This spring, the shiny, brand spanking new Target Field opened to the public.

Since the original passage of the legislative bill, our economy has tanked, and it makes me sick to see how much funding went to build this new stadium.   I am also shocked by how many of the people I know... People who claim to be “fiscally conservative” (and who just happen to be Twins Fans) simply shrug it off.  Heaven forbid the government raise taxes for something as ridiculous as schools, or health care for people who have none.  Stadium funding... now that's a different story!  Raise my taxes, and gimme my new stadium!

Climbing down off my soapbox

Now that I have that off my chest… 

Despite my lackluster enthusiasm for most things sports, my family does enjoy sports in Minnesota.  Not only does my family enjoy Minnesota sports, my brother in law “B” is a HUGE Minnesota Twins Fan. 

Ever since he moved out of state, “B” and his family have made it back once during the summer to catch a Twins game.  With this year, being the Twins first season in the new Target Field, made it even more attractive for “B” and family to make the trip.

Plans were made, and tickets were bought (many thanks to my Father-in-law who refused to accept reimbursement for our tickets).  The day arrived, and we headed out to Target Field.

Eating a few of my own words

Ok.  Like ripping a band aid off… I’m just going to get this out of the way. 

Target Field was a Beautiful Ballpark!  It is shiny, and new, and exciting!  There was a lot of “buzz” both in and around the stadium.  The kids were all excited (which makes it all that much more worthwhile).  I can unequivocally say that I am actually GLAD I went!  I even had a good time!

So, for the sake of my friends and family who have not been to the ballpark yet – please enjoy the photos I took from our day at the Minnesota Twins Target Field.   

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Left:  View down third base line from our seats

Right: View down the first base line seating

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Left:  View of the pitchers mound, and batters box

Right:  The Mother of Five with #5 of 5 (who is afraid of heights and did not like our seats)

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Left:  #2 of 5

Right:  Brother in law “B”

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Left:  Another view of the outfield, and the view of the Minneapolis Skyline

Right:  I was surprised to see as many empty seats as I did.  This photo was 10 minutes before game time.

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Left:  #4 of 5 showing off her Twins Spirit

Right:  Budweiser Patio – far end of third base line – No, I am not paying $7.50 for a beer… I don’t care HOW thirsty I am!

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Left:  Cousin “M” talking to his brother Cousin “C”

Right:  The “Jumbo-tron” – It did an amazing job even in direct sunlight!  Impressive!

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Left:  Cousin “M”

Right:  Cousin “M”

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Left:  The Twins sign in the outfield.  Pauly and Minnie (I think that is their names)

Right:  No, that is not AtHomeDaddy and his “Hat” – That is Brother in law “M”


Left:  The Twins Logo

Right:  #5 of 5 with her death grip on her seat – hanging on for dear life….  Fearful of the heights.

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Left:  Turned to snap a photo – and missed a great play – but catching #4 of 5’s reaction was worth it!

Center:  Another photo of the sign in the outfield… Pauly and Minnie (?) again.

Right:  Brother in law “B” and his son Cousin “M”.

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Left:  Yours truly (The Father of Five) along with #4 of 5.

Right:  Another gratuitous shot of yours truly (The Father of Five) with Brother in law “M”, #1 of 5 on the left and #4 of 5 on the right of the photo.

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Left:  #4 of 5 and cousin “M”

Right:  The Mother of Five, my five, and Cousin “M”. 

(Left to right…  #2 of 5 (dark blue), The Mother of Five (pink), #4 of 5 (baby blue), #5 of 5 (hot pink), #1 of 5 (beige), Cousin “M” (Twins jacket) and #3 of 5 (black hoodie with white image on it)


#4 of 5 sitting next to Cousin “M” and #5 of 5 still gripping her chair in the foreground.


And one last shot of yours truly (The Father of Five) – taken specifically for Facebook… I wanted to see how many of the people I have been arguing with over the stadium issue would notice… The two primary debaters DID indeed notice!

- - - - -

The stadium is not without it’s flaws…  (It’s an outdoor stadium and I can not have a cigar while I watch the game… What gives with that?!?!?!)  But that is not for this post. 


I am going to let my friends (the friends that supported the building of this new stadium dispute my very persuasive arguments) enjoy their victory.  It IS a victory because I can not avoid confirming that fact that the stadium is indeed nice.  It’s VERY nice.  I truly had a good time at the game – heck WE ALL had a good time at the game.  It was a great family outing, and I am certain that we will be back again.

Another "Father of Five"

So, as I checked through my sitemeter today - I noticed someone hit on "The Life of a Father of Five" by searching "fatheroffive.org" on Google.  Being the curious kind of guy I am, I typed in the .org address, and landed on another "Father of Five's" page.  It appears that I am not the only "Father of Five" on the blogsphere (not that I actually thought I was the ONLY one).only this "Father of Five" (and his family) are in some desperate need of thoughts, prayers, wishes (and more).
Looking at the photos of his family - it scares me to think that any one of us (even THIS father of five) could be in the same horrible scenario.   
While it's odd to see my own online persona being used on another blog, given the circumstances behind the start up of this new "Father of Five" on the web - I'm happy to share the title with him.  I am adding both his .org blog and his family's update blog to my feed reader, and will be watching his status closely.  
THIS "Father of Five's" thoughts and prayers will be with THAT "Father of Five" and his family for a full and speedy recovery.
I am asking you to please consider doing the same. 

You're welcome... NOT!

I'd like to send out a big "You're Welcome... NOT" to the person (and I use that term loosely) who decided to splurge on a Tiffany & Company on-line spending spree using our credit card info...   
I have some "special" words for you and for what you can do with your "ill gotten gains"...  But I'll save my readers from having to experience those words and ideas from the darker and more twisted regions of my imagination... 
Enjoy your spoils...  Fate has a funny way of being ironic...

The 2010 Parents Picks – Best Parenting Blog

The last time I was up for an award was the 2008 BestofBlogs Award.  It was a “self nominated” category (where anyone was allowed to nominate their own, and / or other blogs) – and, along with FOF, I nominated several other great blogs! 

In the end, I can in at a “mediocre” fifth place (out of ten) right smack dab in the middle.  Two of the blogs I nominated came in above me (fourth place – AtHomeDaddy, and third place – DadStuff and right below me in sixth place too - The King of Clubs) It was great just to have my blog out there, and to have so many of my nominations do as well as they did!

I have no idea how or when“The Life of a Father of Five” was brought to their attention (it was not me that did it this time), but I recently discovered that my blog is listed on Nickelodeon’s Parents Connect website as one of the 2010 Parent Picks Award for Best Parenting Blog!! 

(Taken from their website….)

parents choice award

Best Parenting Blog

We know you love Dooce, Amalah and about six million other awesome blogs. But which of these up-and-comers make you laugh, cry and LOVE being a parent?


This time, FOF is up against fifty other blogs… 


Out of the fifty, I am one of only three “Dad blogs” listed.  I have to admit, as much as I question WHY my little blog got nominated (after all, there are so many other well deserving – maybe even MORE deserving blogs than mine), I am quite proud that it did! 

If you are so inclined – click on through – and show your support for “The Life of a Father of Five”.  I would be ever-so-grateful. 

The catch?  Oh, yeah – there is a catch.  It’s a Nickelodeon sponsored contest, and to vote, you have to register for a (free) Nickelodeon Parents Connect account.  My guess… The contest is a marketing push of some sort…  A way to get their “Parents Connect” website out to the masses.  (Of course there HAS to be a catch, right?)

You provide your name, email address and some basic info – and register – you can opt out of all the email newsletters if you wish – and then “confirm” your account (via an email sent with a link to “confirm”).  Once that is done, you are eligible to “nominate” (vote) for “The Life of a Father of Five” as Nickelodeon’s Parent Pick as Best Parenting Blog of 2010!

In honor of Nickelodeon’s contest – I plan on finishing an incomplete post I have with a “Nickelodeon theme”! 

Front Patio – Step 2

After we had a month long spell of “below average” temps – I was ready to resume work on the front patio.

When we last left off, #1 of 5 and I had cleared away the bulk of the rock around 3/4 of the patio – but were left with all the rock that spilled in the dirt.  When shoveling up this rock, it would tend to bring more dirt along with it than rock – and when I dumped the rock in it’s new location – all that dirt would provide just the right environment for weeds to germinate within the rock – so that was out.





I decided the best approach was to build a sieve to sift the rock and dirt through.

Two 2x3’s lying around and a three foot chunk of 1/2” hardware cloth – lots of staples, and a snip-snip here, and a snip-snip there (trimming the excess hardware cloth) and I was ready to go.

I set the sieve up on two sawhorses, and started shoveling away.

By Saturday night – I had sifted through all the piles that #1 of 5 and I had left behind.  Sunday morning (right after church) let my motivation get the better part of me, and I headed out to finish the job.  #3 of 5 asked if he could help, so I found a task (that I IMG_0146_640x480REALLY did not want to do – pick the rock that fell into the lawn out of the grass – see photo).

He and I spent the better part of 3 hours picking through rock – sifting dirt from rock – hauling rock in a wheelbarrow, and (and here is the best part) – listened to HOURS of Gunsmoke Old Time Radio

By 5pm – I had the entire area I wanted free of rock – freed from all the rock.  I had the rock moved and in it’s new location (under the deck), had dug up and moved the three bushes that were in the corner (Moving those bushes were the hardest part of the day).

Now, I am ready to have Gopher One come out and mark my yard, so I can start digging holes for the fence posts to go in… 

Enjoy some photos of the area, prepped and ready for Step 3!

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FOF Observation #17

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.




Reminder… Not all Crayola Makers are of the “washable” variety. 


This was after fifteen minutes of scrubbing with hand soap, dawn dishwashing liquid, and 409 (you can even see the bottle in the background).


I think I have a daughter with blue and red hands (at least for the next couple of days)!


(And, for the record – her hands were so “saturated” with color – everything she touched was smeared with color.  Her face, the carpet, the refrigerator, the bathroom sink, her clothing….


Funny thing – the color came off that stuff without any problem!!





One Step Closer…

In an effort to get one step closer to being “caught up” – I resumed progress on the “about us” pages.  My original plan was as each member of the family’s birthday arrived – I would update their blank “about me” page.

We have had a round of birthdays (four in total) – and so I will start with the earliest Birthday…

#1 of 5 turned 22 years old in March.  You can click on over to his “about me” page on the link above this post.

Thank You

I am so far behind where I want this blog to be.  I have several posts floating around my head...  So many (unfinished) posts (trying to be heard), and so very little time to finish them in..  I hope to get some catch up done soon - but this was one post I could not afford to let slip away. 

It needed to be said.


Friends can be an AMAZING asset.  There is an old saying states something to the effect of "You can never have enough friends", but alas, a father of five has precious little spare time - and as much as I'd love to, the ability to spend a lot (or even a little) amount of time hanging with friends is (at best) a difficult undertaking.  (Just ask Best Bud Ed... He'll tell you).

Yet, time and time again - I find the roll my friends play in my life to be invaluable to me.

Friends come in all shapes and sizes.  There is (of course) my very best friend, my confidant, my adviser, and co-partner in life - my wife.  The Mother of Five.  I am unable to imagine (or even to BEGIN to imagine) what my life with be like without her grace and presence in it.  God himself truly shone down upon me the day I met her, and (thankfully) my life has never been the same since.

Yet, despite all I gush on and on about how wonderful it is to have The Mother of Five in my life, she can not fulfill every aspect / trait / roll that a friend does...  What one person could?  To that, I turn to a few others that I am forever grateful to have in my life.

We all have a few special friends in our lives.  Friends that have been there through thick and thin.  Friends that will come to our aid when we are in need.  Friends that have been there since we were kids.  Friends that we have grow up and matured together with.  Friends that have had to adapt to the changes in our lives - the addition of spouses, the birth of children, the moving to distant locations.  These are the folks that we will be playing cribbage with, or getting together for lunch with as senior citizens.  Despite my busy schedule, and issues with "social anxiety", I am fortunate to have a handful of these truly AMAZING friends that have stuck it out with me throughout the years.  They will never know how grateful I truly am for who they are, and all they (unknowingly) do for me - if for nothing else, just by being there.

Recently, I was in need of a "sounding board" of sorts.  Someone to bounce a story off of.  It was not so much that I was looking for advise, as I was needing to relate a story…  I did consult with The Mother of Five and a couple of those few special friends I have.  Their reaction / advise was (as I anticipated) predictable. 

When I say "predictable", I do not in ANY way mean that to be a bad thing...  Their predictable reaction affirmed my feelings, and is exactly why these folks are so special to me.  Our thoughts are so similar.

Although In this instance I needed something more.  Something DIFFERENT.  I wanted an unbiased and fresh view.  In this need, I stepped out of my zone of comfort and did something pretty uncharacteristic.  I turned to a couple of "safe" folks.  These are folks I have met through less traditional methods, and had no real stake in the topic being discussed.  These are folks that I never hung out with in my youth (although I suspect if presented with the opportunity, they would have been!)  They are folks that could have easily ignored my communication, and neither they or I would have been out of any significant emotional investment. All of us could have (and would have) continued the relationship we had already established - status quo - without interruption.

What I received in return was...  Well, it was exactly what I needed to hear and how I needed to hear it.  These folks really stepped up to the plate.  They (unknowingly) stepped in as a pinch hitter and knocked one outta the park for me. 

Although their words were similar to what I was thinking myself, and were almost identical to what I had heard already, these words...  They were... "Different".  They were affirming.  They were comforting.  They were emotional.  They were exactly what I would have expected from a friend.  A TRUE FRIEND.

This post is not about the details.  It's not about the who (they know who they are) or the what (they know what I am talking about). 

I write this post to serve as a reminder to ME

A reminder that it's OK to step out of my socially anxious comfort zone once and a while.  A reminder to look beyond the obvious for answers.  To look beyond the obvious for suggestions, and above all, to look beyond the obvious, not give into my fears, not to take the easy path, to take the risk and not be afraid to reach out to challenge myself and to embrace the friendships that are out there.  They can be so rewarding.

I am fortunate to have some AMAZING people in my life.  And I am thankful for each and every one of them and the friendships they offer – both new and old alike!

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