My heart skipped a beat this morning

My very good friend Lisa (from Many Things Do Not Fly) has been away on vacation.  Because of some complicated circumstances of that vacation, I have been following her Facebook updates closely, and commenting regularly. 
 
Then, this morning, I heard the news of the earthquake (and tsunami warnings) in Chile.  I did some quick news searches on line and saw that the epicenter was "WAY TO CLOSE" (apx 200 miles) to where she was staying (and aftershocks that were significantly closer)... Immediately, my mind started flashing to images of Haiti, and other recent natural disasters.
 
I (without hesitation) called her husband (who I awoke from sleep) hoping to hear good news - and thankfully, I did! 
 
Lisa is safe, and unhurt.  They had been able to communicate via text messaging. 
 
I do feel a little bad for calling him so early this morning - I had not considered the possibility that he was up, and communicating (or trying to communicate) with Lisa.  For that I feel pretty bad, but yet I am (very) thankful that he did take my call...
 
Please keep Lisa in your thoughts and prayers - for both success in her attempts to locate passage home, and her safety during that ordeal.
 
Once she is safe and sound back in the US, I will be eager to see / read / and hear her first hand stories of this tragedy - but again, I won't worry about that until she is safely back home. 

Transformations

IMG_0533

For the first time in - um... well, I am not sure - but in all likelihood for the first time since they boys became Boy Scouts, I gathered up their uniforms, broke out their (formal) sashes, updated their patches, then cleaned and pressed all aspects of their uniforms.  They (the uniforms) looked GREAT! 

I did this because a few days ago, the Jordan Cub Scouts celebrated their "Crossing Over" ceremony, and that (formal) ceremony involves the Jordan Boy Scouts.

You hear all about "hockey moms" or "sports dads" (which I am not) - but I certainly consider myself a "Scout Dad".  I was never a Scout myself - something I still regret.  I am not a Scoutmaster, or even an Assistant Scout Master (which I would LOVE to do if it was not for my inconsistent work schedule).  I do involve myself  with my boy's troop as much as I can afford to.  I am fortunate enough to be able to share in their Scouting experiences.

The "Crossing Over" ceremony involves the young Cub Scouts on one side of a small wooden bridge with their parents, and the (older) Boy Scouts and their Scoutmaster on the other.  As the ceremony progresses, the parents remove the Cub Scout "colors" from their son's uniform, then they send him over the bridge where he is met by the Boy Scouts.  The Boy Scouts stand behind the candidate - then place the new Boy Scout "colors" on his uniform and give him his new Boy Scout Handbook - signifying his transformation from a Cub Scout into a Boy Scout, and the acceptance of the new Boy Scout into their Troop.   It's all very symbolic of a little boy becoming an older boy - and taking his first steps into manhood. 

As I watched this ceremony (as I have many times previously),
I really began wondering where the time has gone.

IMAG0157 IMG_0537

 

 

 

You see, #2 of 5 is only a few requirements away from earning the rank of "Life Scout".  As a Life Scout, #2 of 5 begins his preparation for becoming an Eagle Scout (The next rank following Life Scout).

 

 

 

 

IMAG0163

IMG_0538

 

#3 of 5 is right on his heels, and is only waiting for the next "Court of Honor" ceremony to officially be promoted to "Star Scout".  He is already working on some of the Merit Badge requirements needed to earning his "Life Scout"...  If I am lucky, I will be having two Eagle Scouts in my house in the next couple of years.  That also means that my boys are growing up... and (way too) quickly. 

 

 

 

 

As I watched the ceremony, it was the first time I really noticed how young these new Scouts appeared to me - I really noticed the significant age difference between (my) older Scouts and these (new) younger Scouts. 

Yet how can it be, that when I look at my boys, I still seem to see the same little guys I remember sending over the bridge as they took their first steps towards manhood.  When I look at my boys, time seems to have both stood still, and somehow fast-forwarded.

IMG_0539IMAG0057When did my little boys start becoming big boys, and even started taking steps towards becoming men?  

The Mother of Five was right all those years back... Back when I wondered what my boys would be like when they were older, often wishing they were older and doing older boy things.  She warned me to be careful - that it would happen, and all to fast.  I disregarded it as "maternal sentiment" - but now that I am REALLY starting to notice, I can see that she was right. 

Not only was she was right, but now it's too late to go back.

Happy Valentines Day

To be honest with you - Holidays (such as Valentines day) in my eyes are not a big deal.  Oh, I know they are important to the Mother of Five and the rest of the family - so I still try my best to make a "good showing" of the holiday for their sakes, but if the day rolled by with little or no acknowledgment, I doubt I would even notice. 
It is the small acts of kindness, love, and affection that one does for their loved ones throughout the year that (I believe) speak more of "Love" than anything you could do on a single day like "Valentines Day". 
 
It's all about when things get mundane, or stressful - yet you go out of your way to do something nice (a load of laundry, clean up a bathroom, stop at the grocery store when it's out of your way) or the ongoing sacrifices (like working extended shifts when you would rather not - so they do not have to spend as much time away from home working) that speak of true and unconditional love. 
 
I know I may have readers who disagree with me (and that's ok).  Valentines Day is nice to celebrate, but I'd rather receive small acts of kindness and love throughout the year, and forget about the one-a-year commercialized "special" day.  But that is just me.
As we approached Valentines Day this year, I was "prepared".  I had an idea on what I wanted to do, and I even did some of the preparation (shopping) ahead of time (one of our five can verify that, in case you doubt me!).  Then, life started working it's little "magic" on us (like it so often does). 
Basketball, Boy Scouts, dance class, sewing class, work schedules (both mine and my wife's) plus overtime shifts for me...  It's hard enough.  But when you add a sick child, then a second sick child into the mix - you cut back into "family survival mode" - maintaining only the necessary scheduled items.
Like I said, being the "realist" that I am - I was expecting Valentines Day (at least for me) to pass with nothing much more than a Happy Valentines Day wish, a warm embrace, and quick but meaningful kiss (which is EXACTLY what I like - A "perfect" Valentines gift in my book!) - after all, the Mother of Five works a shift today, and not only do I work my regular shift - I am working an extended overtime shift as well.  I am gone from 6am (when I leave for work) until 6:45 pm (when I return from work).
 
IMAG0021That was until low and behold, this morning (around 5:45am)  while  getting ready for work.  I went to the basement refrigerator to grab a soda (like I do everyday), when I noticed a little something "extra" in the fridge!
 
I grabbed my "Valentines day gift" (which put a big smile on my face) and headed back up to leave for work.  I then noticed a little note taped to the garage door!  The note wished me a happy Valentines Day, and told me to check both the refrigerator (which I had already done) and the freezer! 
 
The freezer?  What could be in there that I wanted?? 
 
IMAG0025I almost passed up going back down because I suspected an "ice cream treat" of some sort (which I would share with my wonderful wife later), but since it was Valentines day (and she went to the trouble to surprise me) I went down and checked.
 
My second surprise literally fell out of the freezer, and into my hands!
 
By now, I was smiling big!  This wonderful wife of mine had made my day!  So, packing up all my "stuff" for work, I headed out to my car - where (for a third time) I saw another surprise waiting for me on my dashboard!
 
It sure isn't grandiose or earth shattering by any stretch of the imagination - but I tell you what - It sure made my day!
 
Thank you Mother of Five!  You are the without a doubt the best wife I could have ever asked for!  You put smiles on my face, and for that I love you so very much!  Happy Valentines day!
 
IMAG0027IMAG0020
 
 
 

A post almost seven years in the making

We built our house eleven years ago.  One of the “features” of the house Moen brand faucets.  Having spent just short of ten years working in a hardware store, and was familiar with (or I thought I was familiar with) the quality of Moen brand faucets.

Over the next three years, I had three failures of the kitchen faucet, one failure of the shower faucet, and one failure of the tub faucet.

Moen’s customer service has been GREAT.  All faucets were covered under their (extensive) warrantee, so it was only a matter of calling them up, and ordering the part at no cost.  Shipping was even covered!

tub1The tub problem was that the faucet’s plastic handle cracked and broke.  To use the tub, I would have had to run out and buy a new handle, or order one for replacement.  By this time, I think I was on a first name basis with Moen’s Customer service, so I just called up and ordered a new one.

In the mean time, I broke out the trusty vice grip and continued using the tub.

Through a series of mishaps (needing a new stem because vice grip stripped the stem, multiple occurrences of misplaced parts, and (let’s be honest here) a severe case of procrastination)  days turned into weeks.  Weeks, turned into months.  Months turned into years.  (Yup folks… Years (plural))  More that six to be exact.

During Christmas, a family friend (who had moved to California) had come over.  She had not been to our house in four years.  After coming out of our bathroom, she jokingly teased me about the vice grip tub faucet handle…This motivated me to finally get this job done!  I promised her that next time she came, the tub facet would be repaired…

tub2Not long after Christmas, the Mother of Five found the part I had misplaced!!  Huzzah!  I could finally repair the tub faucet!  After a couple of attempts to do so failed (because the washing machine was running, the dishwasher was running, the tub was needed) I finally had a day I could do it!! 

Moen faucets have a cartridge insert.  Replacing the cartridge is supposed to be only a matter of pulling out a pin and sliding out the old cartridge…  “Supposed to be” is the key phrase here folks… 

Murphy’s Law – An old saying that means "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong".  I think at times, Murphy wrote that law – JUST FOR ME!

I gathered up the tools needed, and began the process.  Vice grip removed with only a minor setback in that the inner workings had rusted together over the past “way too many” years.

Before long the vice grip was off, and I pulled the pin that held the stem in place… Now (I told myself) – I just need to “pop” the old stem out and push the new one in place!

tub3Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!!

Pull, and pull, and twist, and twist, and tug, and tug, and turn, and turn, and… Well you get the idea… I even hopped up on the little ledge, and tugged at the thing with ALL my might, it would not budge, until… 

>>POP<<  -  The stem busted off…  Sigh…

Now I had NOTHING to grip to get the old stem out.  Over the next couple of hours,  I had to carefully (did not want to scratch the inner brass liner that housed the stem) poke, prod, and chisel the old stem out of it’s housing.  It was a painfully excruciating and daunting task, But in the end, I was triumphant over the old stem.

Busting the old piece out (bit by bit) did eventually work, but it created a set of it’s own little problems.  As I dug my way down through the stem (and as the little bits broke off) some of the tiniest pieces fell down the inlets into the faucet, and back into the pipes of the house.  If I did not get them out of there before installing the new stem, they would get caught, and block water going to the valve.

tub4You can see the inlet in the photo (with the red arrow).  Tiny pieces (like in the photo on the upper left) fell into two of the little slots.  To get the bits out, I had to fabricate a plastic “waterfalls” that would prevent water from going where I did not want it to go, then turn the water on (unrestricted - without the valve in place) so the water pressure would “blow” the bits out of the lines. 

Since “Murphy” and his law were growing tired of me – This portion of the project went very well!

Once the lines were cleaned, and the valve box dry, I had to use some emery cloth to remove as much of the mineral deposits (green in the photo to the left) from the housing.

The new stem installed pretty easily, but the stem holder (pin) did give me a bit of a struggle.  I ended up chipping a bathroom tile while tapping the pin back in place (Thankfully the chipped tile is under the cowling and not visible). 

tub5I installed the replacement handle, and for the first time in just about seven years, laid my eyes upon the bathtub faucet as looked eleven years ago!  New!  Pristine!  Shiny and sparkling! 

With fingers crossed, I turned the water supply to the house back on, bled air out of the water pipes, and turned on the tub faucet.  NO LEAKS!  Works as well as it did the day we moved in the house, except…

The Hot and Cold were reversed!!

Since we lived with a vice grip for a faucet handle for the past (almost) seven years – We can put up with reversed hot and cold… at least for a while! 

Be sure to stop back sometime in the next seven years and ask me if my tub faucet is still running hot water from the cold setting, and cold water from the hot setting! 

Oh, and on a positive note!  I only lost one screwdriver down the hole where the faucet goes through the tile.  It’s about a two foot drop, and the hole is too thin for even the tiniest arms.  If you are ever in need of a small thin (and slightly warn) slotted screwdriver – I know where you can find one!

(All photos are click-able for larger views)

Housekeeping

…and I do not mean cleaning our house…

Earlier today I discovered Blogger has started a new product (in Beta) called “Pages”.  It’s one of the features that other blogging providers have offered that I wanted to see here in Blogger.

I quickly added the feature (as you can see right below my header…)  I removed “The Cast and Crew” from the sidebar and I added separate and special pages for “Father of Five”, “Mother of Five”, “#1 of 5”, “#2 of 5”, “#3 of 5”, “#4 of 5”, “#5 of 5”, and “Blogroll”.

For now, each of the pages has the info that was previously listed in the sidebar.  Over the next couple of weeks, I plan on dedicating some time to a special page for each of us…  Maybe a photo and my observations of  what makes that member of the family unique in their own special way!

I also removed the link to my blogroll from my sidebar and gave it a permanent page.  When I copied the info over, it was obvious to me that my blogroll was very outdated and is also in need of some updating. 

As I complete each of the pages, I will be sure to sent out an update to let you know.  In the mean time, I’ll be doing some other miscellaneous “housekeeping” here…  (Mostly in the sidebar)

Changed Plans

Saturday was supposed to be a day of ice fishing goodness.

Our local Boy Scout District (Rolling Hills District), sponsors an annual ice fishing derby.  In previous years, we have attended (LINK), and after managing to get the day off of work, I planned on attending.

When I brought it up to the boys, #2 of 5 told me he was not interested in going.  I’m not going to say I wasn’t a little disappointed, but he is 14 years old now, and starting to show signs of independence, and individualism. 

Yet another reminder to those of you who have children younger than mine…  Enjoy the time you have with them – it does not last forever.  You blink, and the next thing you know they are walking around with earphone in, listening to music you have never heard of, and looking at you like you were an alien from another planet when you ask them if they want to do something with you.

Anyway, after #2 of 5 told me he was not interested in sitting out in the cold, on an upside down five-gallon pail, trying to catch fish through an eight inch hole in two feet thick lake ice, his brother #3 of 5 told me that HE was STILL interested in going.  Not only was #3 of 5 interested in going, #4 of 5 (my 9 year old daughter) piped in and said she would like to go in #2 of 5’s place!

Hmmm… I lost one, kept a second, and added a third.  Two minus one, plus one.  I was still going with two of my brood.  That’s what a blackjack player would call a “push” – and I can live with that!

I also got the “Father of the Father of five” interested in going!

But then, we got the news…

Last fall #2 of 5 expressed interest in applying for a position with the Boy Scouts.  He was interested in becoming a summer camp “Councilor in Training” (or CIT for short).  The word got to us that his application was accepted, and that he was scheduled for an interview!  This would be his very first “interview”.  What a wonderful experience. 

The bad news was that his interview was DURING the fishing derby… 

So, like any good Father of Five would do, I pouted to myself, put on my happy face and took #2 of 5 to his very first interview!

Actually, it was not half bad.  In fact, it was a lot of fun.  It was a chance for me to spend some one-on-one time with him (which is getting harder and harder to do, and opportunities are getting fewer and further between).  Plus, once we finished the interview, we stopped at Chili’s for lunch, and shot the breeze for a good hour.  Nothing special – just hanging out and visiting.

From what I was able to ascertain, the interview went pretty well.  We will hear back in about a month weather or not he gets chosen.

Postcrossing

0ed762ca934a3011c53474816761bbbcA little of a month ago, I brought up something new I had stumbled upon while surfing the world wide web.  It is called Postcrossing

For more info on Postcrossing, and how I found out about it, see my PREVIOUS POST. 

As of today, I have been involved in a total of five “Postcrossings”
(Five from various categories – sent, received, or “in transit”)

I have sent three postcards (Two have arrived and been registered, while one is still in transit)and have received two.

I have sent postcards to the following locations (links to the postcard’s page)  Finland, Ukraine, and Belarus.

When I first signed up for Postcrossing, I went out and bought a dozen “Minnesota” post cards.  They are not exactly what I wanted to send out, but they represented a little something about where the postcard’s journey began.

================

I have also received two post cards (and will receive a third, once my “in transit” card arrives and is registered).  Both cards I have received are from Germany (and not too far apart either!)

Neuss and Cologne Germany.

IMGIMG

Here is a copy of my Postcrossing account map.  The pink lines represent SENT postcards (that have arrived and have been registered on the site) while the blue line(s) represent cards I have RECEIVED.  (It only looks like one line because the two cards I received were from separate sources so close it LOOKS like I have only been sent one card).

pcmap

So far, the kids have been LOVING this!!  They love the idea of postcards coming from all over the world, and #4 of 5 is studying Germany in school right now – so she brought my postcards in and explained Postcrossing to the class!!

If you are interested in finding out more, please click through to the postcrossing.com website – or check out my Postcrossing profile HERE

Did you reach the Bottom of this blog?

If you have read down to here and are interested in reading more, be sure to click here, click on the "Older Posts" link to your right, or use the "Archive" tool on the right sidebar. Thanks for visiting!