A Virtual Family Reunion

This weekend, my cousin Cindy, her husband Paul, and their daughter Katie from Maine (you may remember them from THIS POST or THIS YouTube VIDEO) made a road-trip to spend a long weekend visiting my sister in New York.

My mom was going to try and make it to to this mini-family-reunion as well, but due to timing and expensive airline tickets she was unable to attend.  Instead, my sister and I set up a video conference between their house and our house, and we spent over an hour visiting with my sister (and her family) and my cousin (and her family) over the internet.

Cindy is my maternal cousin (from my mother’s side).  Our shared grandparents are Mémère & Pépère… 

(You may have heard me talk about them before.  For those of you who do not, you can follow the links or take my word for it when I say how much my Mémère & Pépère meant to me.  There is hardly a day that goes by that I do not think of them in some way shape or form…  They were a big influence on me – and I love and miss them very much even after almost thirty years without them…)

Seeing and hearing Cindy and her family in person (or “virtually” in person) was GREAT!!  It has been years since I last saw my cousin like this. I see so much of my Uncle Dan in Cindy.  During the video call I (for the most part) stayed in the sidelines (a.k.a.  “Tech support”) in order to let my mom visit with my sister and her niece.  Still, I was was able to jump in the conversation a few times.

One of the first things Cindy mentioned after seeing me on the webcam was how much I reminded her of our Pépère…. 

I did not know what to say.  I had to choke back tears.DeniseJan

Cindy, I can not imagine a more meaningful thing you could have said to me.  Hearing you say that was truly a gift, and you may never realize how much that one phrase meant to me.  That one sentence truly made my night!  I can not thank you enough for that, and that moment will linger in my heart for a LONG time to come.

During the video call, Cindy and Paul spent some time sharing some old photos of my uncles, cousins, and grandparents (photos I have never seen before) that she brought with her.  Upon seeing some of these photos, tears actually welled up in my eyes.  My sister has said she would scan them and send me copies.  This will truly be something to look forward to!

My Sister on the left – My Cousin on the right.

We had some great laughs too!  I thought my hometown was great (small enough to have only two stoplights)…  Cindy and Paul’s hometown has only ONE (and there was discussion if that one even counted!!)  One of these days, I gotta get up there.  (Although from the sounds of it, there is a chance that I may never come back!!!

I also asked insisted hounded my sister to help set Cindy get set up on Facebook (They have not yet succumbed to the Facebook Frenzy) It’s such a great way of keeping in touch.

I’m hoping…  (Denise?  Cindy?  Are you reading this?)

After we were finished, and shut down the webcam – my mom could not stop talking about the amazing things that can be done on the internet…   Things like video conferencing – once thought of as Sci-Fi hoopla – now is so common that I can sit in my kitchen in Minnesota, visiting with my sister (in New York) and my cousins (from Maine) all at the same time…  Truly an amazing thing!

Thanks to Denise & Cindy for taking the time to do this with us.  You made my night, and even better, you really made Mom’s night!!  She was so happy!!!

Let’s Start at the Beginning

By now most people know about our trip to Texas.  For those of you who do not know, my wife (the Mother of Five) and I took a whirlwind vacation to the other end (North/South) of this great nation of ours.  We left our native state of Minnesota to spend some time….  “Deep in the Heart of Texas”.  It’s proved to be quite the adventure, and I am looking forward to sharing it here. 

I have been known to get a little winded in some of my blog posts, which I suspect bore the living daylights out of most (if not all) of you.  I’m going to break this trip down into digestible chunks (so that you won’t get a bad case of gas) and do my best to make my points as concise as possible.  This may seem like “brevity” to the FOF diehards, but it may also seem like a breath of fresh air too!

I started blogging over four years ago.  The first year my blog was mainly visited by friends family and co-workers.  My blog stats were low, and every once and a while I’d get an errant visit from someone doing some sort of odd search that landed them here at FOF.

Somewhere during that first year, I also got interested in finding and reading other blogs…  My key interest?  Dad-Blogs.  I’d stumble across one or two once and a while that would really catch my eye.  I started adding these to my collection of “Dad Blogs” that I would frequent.

Then, somewhere around August of 2007 (as best as I can tell by searching my archives) – I stumbled across one blog that REALLY caught my eye.  Honestly, I’m not sure who found who first, or who commented on who’s blog first – but (having dug back through his blog) I think I found my first comment on his blog.  It was a post about a Commodore 64, and some pretty “weird” shirts (this becomes important later).  I also remember this blog sticking out because there was a link to a another blog (I did not yet understand that they were written by the same guy) about a feller who was restoring a 1968 Chevy Pick up truck the owner named “Marge”.  Another friend of mine (The King of Clubs) is a huge car guy.  I remember sharing the link with him, and it was not long afterwards that he told me these blogs were written by the same guy!

The blogs?  AtHomeDaddy & TruckinDaddy

I found myself really enjoying his blog.  The way it was written, the author’s sense of humor, the positive attitude, and all from a guy who REALLY loves his kids!  Something on AtHomeDaddy just struck a cord with me, and I became an instant lurker, and fan.

Over the next couple of years I kept up with AtHomeDaddy…  We became regular visitors  and frequent commenters on each other’s blogs.  I found myself waiting to see what AtHomeDaddy’s next post was going to be all about, or what he had to say about my most recent blog post.

We both got into GeoCaching about the same time, and have had fun sharing exploits, and comparing notes about caching.  Texas vs. Minnesota (debilitating heat of the Texas summer vs the dangerously cold sub-zero temps of the Minnesota winter).  Caching with the kids, or flying solo.  Our cache stats (the number of finds) were neck in neck at one point (before AtHomeDaddy threw the gauntlet down, and challanged me to see who could get to 100 before the other).

About this time I found myself saying “I’d really like to sit down with this guy over a beer, and shoot the breeze”. Unfortunately, my sister (who had lived in Texas) had just moved to New York and my sister-in-law (who ha lalso lived in Texas) moved to Atlanta (for work) a couple of years earlier.  My chances of making back down to Texas anytime soon was very slim.  I was a little disappointed, but then again – this guy was a stranger, and I’ve always been challenged when it comes to meeting new folks – so I chalked it up to “never meant to be”.

Yet, as the years continued to pass, I got to know this AtHomeDaddy pretty well.  We seemed to share a sense of humor and have similar viewpoints on most of life.  Then, I stepped into the world of Facebook.  I was on it for a while before it really occurred to me that AtHomeDaddy may be on Facebook too.

After tracking him down, and sending that friend request, I was a little worried that he would think of me as some sort of cyber - stalker.  Thankfully, he accepted my friend request, and we continued to keep in touch through Facebook.  This added another level of personality to the on-line character I knew as AtHomeDaddy – and only further confirmed with me that had we had known each other growing up, I am certain we would have hung together, and would have been good friends!

Then, about a year ago, I got a FB friend request from AtHomeDaddy’s wife, TheBossLady.  Happily, I accepted.  I found I enjoyed TheBossLady’s updates almost as much as AtHomeDaddy’s.  In fact, in many ways, I saw a lot of similarity between The Mother of Five’s personality and TheBossLady’s!

Then, we started emailing each other…  Funny jokes, stories, you know, just shooting the breeze stuff – again adding more familiarity to that original blog persona.

Then, in February of this year it happened…  I opened a Facebook Message from TheBossLady.  She mentioned that the AtHomeFamily was going to be throwing AtHomeDaddy a HUGE milestone birthday party in July and wanted to let us know early enough so that we could make plans if we were able to / interested in attending.

Honestly, right off the bat, I was apprehensive…  It sure seemed a little odd.  Why would anyone want ME to attend..  I’m usually the wall flower, the wet blanket, the socially inept weird guy, but it would be so cool to actually meet and visit with AtHomeDaddy. 

Not to mention that we had family (Sister in NY, and Sister-in-law in GA) that we had not seen in years.  In fact, I have not seen or been to my sister’s last TWO houses…  Sister-in-law had been in GA for four years and we had not had a chance to see her yet either…  So, we told TheBossLady that in all likelihood it would not be possible.  I was watching for UBER cheap flights, and/or considered just going myself over a long weekend (via Greyhound) but it was too hard to justify..

Then, in May – I got an email from my sister in law.  The email said that her job is transferring her (again) – back to Texas!  The Mother of Five and I talked it over, and decided that given the “two-fer” nature of a trip to Texas would have (having not gone to see Mary in so long AND the invite to AtHomeDaddy’s party) that we would try and see if we could work something out.  A lot depended on timing.  My vacation, Sister in law’s availability, grandparent’s availability to watch the kids, and the timing of the party.

Needless to say, after numerous hours of juggling, and consideration – we were able to find a way to make all the pieces fit in place.  So after confirming everything with my sister in law, we let TheBossLady know that we were indeed going to be able to make it!  Her excitement was evident from the first moment.  She also came up with the idea of keeping our attendance as a surprise for AtHomeDaddy (which I was ALL IN WITH!)

So we started making plans.  Looking for flight / hotel / car rental deals, making arrangements for the kids (did I mention this would be one of the first vacations we have ever taken sans children?) and planning the “reveal”.

Between the blog and Facebook – how TheBossLady, The Mother of Five and myself were able to keep this secret was nothing less than amazing!  I kept dropping hints via blog, Facebook and Email that we were not going to be there, and hoping / praying that none of the few folks that did know would not make a slip in a comment, or a status update.  I even changed my blog settings to moderate all comments (now removed) just in case!

Finally, the time arrived.  We (the Mother of Five and I) were headed to Texas for some long overdue time with her sister, and AtHomeDaddy’s 40th Birthday party – OR SO WE THOUGHT……

Well, O.K. I lied

My last post was about the “regrets” I sent to the AtHomeFamily after receiving an invite to AtHomeDaddy’s 40th birthday party.

Well folks, that was a “plant”.  Yup.  I posted that message to add one more element of deception to an already well planned surprise!

See, the truth is that due to a unique set of circumstances – I actually DID attend his 40th – and he had NO IDEA!!

The next 3-5 posts will be about our trip to Dallas, Meeting with family, working with The Boss Lady to surprise AtHomeDaddy, the party, and the rest of the trip…  It’s been an adventure to say the least!

So, please forgive me for my lie, and be patient…  There is A LOT to tell!!  Stay tuned!

Birthday Shout Out

I’d like to give a shout-out for a happy birthday to fellow Dad Blogger and friend – AtHomeDaddy!  He is having a “milestone” birthday this week!

I was one of the lucky FEW recipients to have recently received a invite to a birthday bash being held in his honor.  Alas, due to my inability to attend this once in a lifetime – bound to make the local news – event, I was forced to send back my “regrets” via R.S.V.P.  

My reply to the invite went a little something like this…
Thank you for the invite AtHomeFamily!
If it was not for my crazy work schedule (and copious amounts of overtime), my wife's work schedule, the umpteen-thousand things the kids have going, the 1400 mile difference, what I can only imagine would be temps that register in the "inside a volcano" range (that would make a Minnesotan like me melt faster than Frosty the Snowman shoveling coal in the devil’s furnace room), and... of course lets not forget the recent Chupacabra sightings you posted about on Facebook - I would SO be there!
Happy Birthday AtHomeDaddy!
I later discovered that I was NOT quite as special as I thought… I was not one of the “FEW lucky recipients”..  No, I discovered that the list of invitees ran into the hundreds (yup, that’s plural…  HUNDREDS (He’s that popular of a guy ya know)) which would have caused me a touch-o-the anxiety (being a bit socially phobic myself)..

While I may not be able to attend – I do look forward to the day I can walk up to him, and shake his hand in person in thanks all the smiles, advise, and just plain old fun he has provided me over the years!
Despite the lack of my presence at this party – I hope AtHomeDaddy has a UNFORGETABLE (and Chupacabra free) 40th Birthday Bash! 

After all, If I recall, this is the “Summer of AtHomeDaddy!” – so don’t have too much fun AtHomeDaddy – Us dispatchers have our “connections” with the local law enforcement!  They’ll be watching you for me!!

A Day at the Beach

IMG_0395_360x480The weatherman forecasted an unusually hot day today.  Hot and humid, with a high dew point – and a strong likelihood of some severe storms because of the mix of heat and moisture in the air.

With #2 of 5 away at C.I.T. and #4 of 5 with a friend’s family for a day on one of our many local area lakes (Boating, fishing, picnicking, etc) – the Mother of Five and I decided that we would take the two we had left at home (#3 of 5 and #5 of 5) to the Mill Pond in Lagoon Park (our local swimming hole) for some fun before the “heat stroke weather” arrived.

Since the Mother of Five worked today – we stopped at McDonalds and grabbed a little “picnic” of sorts, and headed off to the park.  After eating our lunch lakeside together, we lathered up with SPF30, the Mother of Five said her “goodbyes” and “I love yous”, then #3 and #5 of 5 and I all headed down to the lake.

I waded in the lake while the kids swam, then sat under the shade of a grove of trees while they played in the sand, then waded in the water again while they swam, then got my chair and sat with my feet in the water while the kids swam, then after being successfully French fried, I moved my chair back into the shade and started nodding off behind my sunglasses as the kids finished swimming.

About the time I was going to suggest getting out and heading home, the two kids came to me and asked if they could head home. 

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View from our picnic area.






Close up of The Mill Pond’s aerator fountain… 








After lunch, and a few minutes of getting wet, #3 of 5 and #5 of 5 decided the beach needed a “hot tub”, so it was off to work – cooperatively working (unusually cooperative by the way) together to dig a pretty deep hole – then fill it with water…

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Without a city engineer present to aid us in complying with all Minnesota Safety Regulations, the walls of the hot tub began collapsing in on themselves.  

Before becoming a total loss, #3 of 5 jumped in one last time. 

#5 of 5 and I took this gesture as our opportunity to immobilize him for the time being.  We buried him in the sand up to his chest. 




Eventually he was able to free himself.

















Covered in sand, and both feeling a little hot, it was time to head back to the lake….  Piggy back style!

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A little more last minute swimming before calling it a day…. 

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All in all, we were at the park from 11:30 until 2:30.  It was a GREAT day!

I’m Too Young For This

How does someone such as myself go about writing a "monumental" post - one that is likely to be viewed by family and friends - copied and pasted, linked to and e-mailed to extended family members (and maybe even non-family or "soon to be" family members) around the country - maybe even the world?

I have asked myself that very question.  I have had a specific topic in the forefront of my mind for the past two months.  I have gone round and round with how to best approach it.  I have concentrated, contemplated and considered.  I have started and stopped.  I have written and re-written.  Through it all, I have not found anything that I was overly pleased with. 

I have therapeutically wanted (maybe even needed) to broach the subject here many times, but due to careful consideration of the timing, there were consequences for sharing this info too soon.   After carefully considering all aspects of this topic - I think the time is finally right - and I have decided that I'm going for the straightforward approach on this one.  Quick and to the point.

I need to add "Grandfather of One" to my "Father of Five" persona.

Yes, the Mother of Five and Father of Five are going to become Grandparents of One.  Wow!  Big news huh?  MASSIVE news (at least in our world).  It does not end there either.  Along with the news of becoming grandparents, we are also adding yet another persona to the already growing list...  "In-laws to One"  That's right.  Not only is there a baby in our future, there is an impending wedding!

This is uncharted waters for us.  How are we as parents supposed to react when our 22 year old unmarried and only recently employed son comes home and shares with us the fact that we are going to be a grandparents, and that he is getting married?  That is a lot of change.  A lot of change in a short amount of time.

There are options...

    • There is always the "bury your head in the sand" approach.  We could wish, hope, and pray that what we are hearing is all a dream - all while pretending it isn't true.  This may work - for the short term.  I suspect it will all come crashing down around us somewhere around the ninth month though.

    • We could get upset.  We could rant and rave like lunatics - loud enough to frighten even the in-utero baby.  We could wail and gnash our teeth - disowning the young couple and yet-to-be-born child while we mourn the loss of innocence, lament the demise of society, and grieve the end of the world as we know it.  Perhaps a little dramatic overkill there?  Um...  Yeah.

    • We could be excited!  We could be so happy and enthusiastic that we run out buying cigars, champagne, balloons, and banners for our front yard!  We could shout from the rooftop how proud we are of our son and his girlfriend for their "choice" to procreate - proclaiming this is the best news we have heard in a LONG time!  But, is that true to how we really feel?

What's been going on over the past couple of months is something more akin to a "stew" of emotions.  A little bit of this, and a little bit of that.  Not wanting to speak for the Mother of Five, I can attest to, and share with you how I have been feeling...  I feel disappointment, but at the same time I also feel excitement.  I get angry at myself for feeling disappointed.  I start striving for acceptance.  That's when I start worrying.  Worrying leads me to fear and my uncomfortably with all things "change".  My worry and fear bring me back full circle to disappointment.  It's a vicious circle.  Sometimes it's one of those emotions.  Sometimes it's more than one (or all of them).

Having said many prayers for #1 of 5 and his betrothed, we have spent many hours discussing and reflecting upon the situation.  We have decided the best approach is to do as we feel God would want us to.  First and foremost - while we do not condone what has happened, and how it has happened - we are glad that they decided abortion was not an option.  This baby deserves all the love and support it can receive.  We both strongly feel the best way to do that is to help support this young family as best we can.  If a person's own "family" can not be supportive for them during trying times, who can they count on?  After all, they are happy and excited about this.  In the eyes of this young couple, this is good news.  Why start this baby out into a life of turmoil?  That does not make any sense.

So, we watch.  We have watched their excitement as they plan their future together, as they come back from prenatal doctor's visits (and show off the ultrasound photos).  We listen as they share some concerning news, and are relieved with them as things resolve themselves.   I can not say every one of the decision(s) they have made would have been the decision(s) I would have made, but - these are THEIR decisions to make, and THEIR decisions to live with the consequences (both good and bad) of having made.

I do have to give #1 of 5 some kudos.  He deserves a lot of credit for stepping up and assuming responsibilities of his new roll of parent.  I have seen him transform into a "work 5 hours a paycheck - video game junkie" to a "working two full time jobs to make sure my family will have what it needs" sort of guy.

We have reminded them ad nauseam (in preparation for parenthood) how difficult this is going to be (to the point that #1 of 5 has told me he does not want to hear it anymore - which means weather or not he UNDERSTANDS it, he certainty has HEARD the message), and the importance of their newly obtained responsibilities, but...  They're young.  They're in love.  Their heads are still in the clouds.  They are certainly in for a heapin' helping of some of life's best reality checks - and in very short order.

The question that really needs to be answered is..  What does all this confusion and contradiction mean in the end?  What's the bottom line?

We plan to be there to love and support #1 of 5 and his Fiancé as best as we can.

-- and --

We plan to be there to love and support our first grandchild as best as we can.

Wanna know one upside to being called a "grandpa"??  I can tease my parents (and in-laws) that they are soon going to be known as  "GREAT-Grandparents"!!  Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!!  That may be worth the price of admission (to grand parenthood) right there!!

I do not have photos for this post.  Perhaps in the not too distant future, #1 of 5 and his Fiancé can provide a copy of an ultrasound photo - and maybe a photo of themselves together for a future update??  I'll leave that up to them..   This could prove to be quite an exciting series of posts here on FOF... The "Grandchildren Posts"... (Man, I wasn't ready for that yet!)

Before I sign off here, I want to give a "shout out" to a few special folks out there...

There were a couple of different folks whom I confided in when this info first arrived on my doorstep (and knocked the wind out of my sails).  These special folks were my "sounding boards.  Each of them played different (but equally importiant) rolls in helping me remain grounded as I processed this development in our family history.  I can not thank them enough for having been there - for fulfilling the rolls they took.  They each played a little different part - but each part was unique, important, and essential in it's own special way.  Just letting me get this off my chest was a huge help, but these folks went above and beyond.  It was being there to listen to me, to sharing their own thoughts, ideas, and experiences, to just checking in after not hearing from me in a while...  The things these folks did for me was just what I needed, and just when I needed it too.  I don't feel it necessary to drop any names here.  The wonderful friends that I am talking about here all know who they are, and what they have done for us...  

Please accept our personal, deepest, most sincere, and grateful Thank You's.

Which Watch?

Are you sitting down?  I am about to tell you a little something about myself that may be a little "shocking" to some of you.

I can get a little "obsessive / compulsive" at times...

Yeah, ok.  I know, I know.  Some of you are surprised to hear that this father of five who seemingly has it "all together", just may have a few issues, a few phobias, a few skeletons hidden in his deep dark closet. 

Oh please - spare me.  Let the "sinless" (issue-less, or phobic-less) among you cast the first stone -

(ducking for cover)

Thankfully, my list is short, and not what I would consider "debilitating" by any means.  I have previously mentioned my obsession with lost keys, and my compulsion to find them.  More recently, I have been obsessing over replacing my wristwatch - and it's not the first time I have done so...  

I have worn a total of six watches since I started wearing a watch at the age of 12.

  • Armitron My first watch was a Timex analog watch - that actually had to be wound.  Yup, no battery - a good old fashion spring loaded wind up watch.  It even had a little window for the date on the face!
  • My second watch was one of the new fan-dangled Armitron digital watches.  No, not the LED watches... Nope.  It was an LCD watch!!  It had the date, day, time, and even had an ALARM!  I chose this watch because a good friend of mine had the exact same watch, and I LOVED it!   (Photo is of the exact model)
  • My third watch was another digital watch.  A black plastic Casio.  Less "decorative" and more functional.  I was (after all) working in a hardware store, and that watch got a lot of abuse.
  • By the time I was in my senior year in high school, fashion had became a little more important.  My fourth watch was an Elgin analog.  I picked up this watch at a local discount retail store (C.O.M.B. for those of you who may remember).

Up until this point - finding "the right" watch was never a problem.  They were either gifts, inexpensive utilitarian tools, or a good deal on a nice looking watch.

Then, somewhere around the time I started working as a dispatcher (still have not heard that story?  Check out PARTS ONE and TWO) I found that my analog watch was less useful as a digital watch.  So, when my fourth watch died I started a search for just the right watch.

41StpkUKnrL._SL500_AA300_ After a significant search, looking for "just the right watch", with "just the right features", for "just the right price" I ended up with a Timex T77517 Atlantis 100.  I had that watch for YEARS.  I was amazed at how well it "took a licking and kept on ticking".  A broken band (held together with fly fishing string) kept it running for another two years past it's initial failure.  (I'm too cheap to buy a new watch band when I can "fix" the one I have)

When that Timex finally died (some nine years after I first got it) - I again went on the hunt for "just the right watch", with "just the right features", for "just the right price".  This time, my search took me almost a full year.  I would find the right price, but with the wrong features, or the right features for the wrong price...  But never just what I was looking for.  It was both extensive and exhausting.  (Just ask the Mother of Five... She will tell you.  I drove her crazy during my search.)

After a year long search, I finally pulled the trigger and purchased a new watch!  I ended up purchasing a Timex T77517 Atlantis 100 all over again...  Yup... Afer a year long extensive and exhausting search (that drove the Mother of Five crazy) when it finally came down to it, the only watch that seemed to provide me the features I wanted, for the price I could afford was the same exact watch.  

Fast forward another six years, and the second Atlantis has finally died.  It's band has failed at least twice (I found a GREAT method for repairing a specific ailment of it's band) but with the band having failed twice now, and the battery dead - it was time to start that dreaded search once again...

After the first month, I was tempted... I have stumbled across the T77517 a couple of times throughout my search.  It would be so easy, so familiar - to just grab it and go...  It could be on my wrist, and telling me the time in a matter of minutes...  But, after having worn the same exact watch day in and day out for the past 16 years, I have made a decision...  I have drawn a line in the sand!

It's time for a change.

That noise you just heard???

It was the "gasp" from all my close friends who just heard me welcome a "change".

Bound and determined to NOT wear the same wristwatch for ANOTHER five to ten years - I set out to find something, nay ANYTHING that came CLOSE to what I wanted in my price range.

It's been two, maybe three months so far.  I have found very little that suited my wants / needs.  I found some nice "Data Bank" watches - watches that I can set multiple alarms for - that will display (in text) what the alarm is sounding for (a co worker has one of these, and it's really kind of convenient) - but it's a little more expensive than I care to spend on a watch.  I found some affordable watches that did not have the minimum features I wanted.

But finally, I think I have found it!  Taking a leap of faith, I have purchased a watch that I think fulfills all my requirements - SIGHT UNSEEN.  Yup, I have not seen this watch first hand.  I have not tried it on (important), manipulated the functions, or seen the back light...  The functions and back light are not as important as the fit!  Remember folks, I am a GIANT of a guy.  I have wrists the size of small tree-trunks.  The only other watches I have seen that I liked did not fit.  My last watch barely fit on it's largest setting...

The necessary features this watch has is that it's digital, has a metal wristband, a "indiglow" style back light, a stopwatch and a countdown timer.  It has to be waterproof, and casual enough for everyday wear, but look nice enough for "Sunday dress"... And, it has to be big enough to fit around the "ham shanks" I have for wrists...

waveceptor Folks, may I introduce you to the WV58DA-1AV Waveceptor made by Casio.  (Description taken from Amazon.com's website)

This Casio waveceptor sport watch is a stylish casual watch bursting with features, making it an ideal choice for world travel or everyday adventures. The distinctive digital display features four asymmetrically divided mini-windows inside the round, brushed stainless steel bezel. The central window shows the time, kept accurate with multi-band atomic timekeeping and world time settings for up to 29 time zones (48 cities). The upper window displays the month and date, and the lower two windows display the day of the week and the waveceptor receiving signal. This watch also offers a daily alarm, countdown timer, 1/100 second stopwatch and an EL backlight with afterglow. The elegant stainless steel band with fold-over clasp and double push-button safety release completes the look. This watch is water resistant up to 165 feet (50 meters) and offers a two-year battery life.

The watch has scored a "four out of five star" rating from the 72 people who have rated it on Amazon.  One of the biggest complaints about this watch is it's overly large wristband, (which some of the reviewers have said will only fit a GIANT)...  Perfect for me!!!

I almost bought the watch a month ago.  The day I went to purchase it, I noticed the price went up seven dollars.  I was not having any part of that (Yeah, don't say it... It's only seven dollars), so I put off buying the watch.  Two days ago, while fumbling around Amazon for something else, I stumbled back onto the link for the watch and noticed the priced had dropped back down!

Needless to say, I am now looking forward to the arrival of my new watch!

You should have seen the look on the Mother of Five's face when I told her that I bought a new watch already (and that it was a different watch than the one she has seen me wearing for the past sixteen years).  It was a mixture of disbelief, relief, and surprise!

It sure will seem strange to have a different watch on my wrist after wearing the same one for the past sixteen years!

If you are in any further need of convincing of my obsessive / compulsion over wrist watches, consider this...  I just wrote what would be considered an "unusually long blog post" where I rambled on and on about my personal struggles with replacing a thirty dollar wristwatch...

Who else would do this?

Now that you know this about me, let me ask you....  What do YOU obsess over?

It's Over.


Well, it's over for me.
Out of the fifty blogs nominated for the Nickelodeon's Parents Picks Awards this year, I did not place in the top five.

I never thought I'd win the award, but I had hoped that I would have placed in the top.

Regardless of where I placed, it was fun to have participated!

To see who made the final cut, CLICK HERE.

Thanks to all who voted for me!

V Minus One

Last night (on the 4th of July) marks day one of twenty one (three weeks) that we will be short one child.

After his initial week of C.I.T. Staff Training, #2 of 5 moved into the official "hands on" portion of his career as a C.I.T.

His first week will be filled with helping the staff operate the reservation in a "Day Camp" mode.  A Pack or Den of Cub Scouts come to the camp and partake in a select set of activities at various locations throughout the Reservation.

Weeks two and three are for Weblos Scouts (older Cub Scouts).  They spend a week at the Scout Reservation.  During these two weeks, #2 of 5 has been assigned the position of "Den Chief".  He will be assigned to a Cub Scout Pack (or Den) each week, and act as a "guide" of sorts.  He will ensure the scouts and their adult leaders are up on time, get them to their pre-scheduled activities throughout the Reservation in a timely manner, and ensure they get back to their campsite when they are finished with their daily activities.  He will act as the representative of the Phillipo Scout Reservation to that Pack/Den, helping them out with whatever needs they may have. 

He will act as the "Concierge" to his Pack/Den.

We had planned on leaving for the camp (a one hour drive) between 8:30 and 9:00 pm.  Due to an extended Fourth of July family celebration, we did not get on the road until 9:30 pm.  We watched the fireworks all over the horizon as we drove through the darkness.

When we finally arrived at Phillipo around 10:30 pm, we found the camp dark and empty.  I drove to the dining shelter (which was dimly lit) and found no one.  We drove to the Gwinn Staff Building and found that also dimly lit with no one around. I called their phone number, and got no answer.  It was so very surreal...  (cue the flashback music)


I fully expected that at any moment, and large figure in a white hockey mask, armed with a grotesquely large machete knife would lumber out of the woods and chase us all the way to Camp Crystal La... Uh, oh wait.  Camp Crystal Lake is no where near Phillipo Scout Reservation, and to the best of my knowledge - Jason Voorhees (or his mother) have never stayed at Phillipo...  Maybe I'm freaking myself out a little, huh?




Ok.  While I was not too worried about being the victim of a machete attack, it WAS really sort of odd, and a little creepy.  The Mother of Five and I decided it was time to leave.  We would return and drop him off first thing in the morning.  Just as I reached the main gate of the Reservation, a car's headlights came into view.  I pulled over and let the car pass, turned on it, and followed it as it made it's way back into the Reservation - finally pulling into the parking lot at the Gwinn Center.

There, we met one of the Full time staffers.  We explained who we were and why we were there.  The staff member quickly welcomed #2 of 5 to the Reservation, and helped him check in.

I walked #2 of 5 back through the woods to his staff campsite and his tent - only to find a bicycle parked next to it.  As #2 of 5 made his way into the tent, he stirred at least one other camper who had arrived earlier and had already "crashed" for the night.

Since #2 of 5 had the only flashlight, I stuck around outside the tent to let my eyes acclimate to the darkness, said my goodbye, and headed off down the trail in complete darkness - leaving one of my brood behind.

While it is true that he will be gone for a total of three weeks (which will seem odd – being gone for so long) - he does get a day off each week - and we plan on having him home to veg out on the couch, watch some TV, play some xBox, and do whatever teenaged boys do when they are not hiding out working in the wilderness.

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