I Had a Plan!

The two previous Thanksgivings, I had a plan.  Two years ago it was not much more than a thought in my head.  I never followed through.  I told myself I would try again “next year”. 

Last year I came even closer to implementing my plan.  I posted a couple of “teases” about it on FB.


“Trying to decide…  Is this the year???” (link)
(which was followed up with several witty comments by my friends)

“If it's going to be this year, I need to pull the trigger today! ("trigger", not "finger")” (link)
(which was also followed up with several witty comments by my friends)


I never did announce what the plan was.  (Truthfully, I wanted to document the experience here – and did not want to ruin the surprise) So, I told myself that I would try again “next year”.

So, here we are at “next year”.  I had a couple of precursory reminders of my plan.  First, in the form of a coupon and recipe that came in the newspaper – then in the form of a little “father / daughter time”. 

As a little extra inspiration, I sent another “ambiguous” facebook update..  


“Ooooo. I got a plan!!!” (link)
(which was followed up with several witty comments by my friends)


The parking lot of my White CastleSo as I woke for work (at 3am) on Wed. morning, I planned on grabbing my coupon / recipe on my way out the door.  It should be no surprise to many of you when you discover that when I arrived at work I realized that I forgot the coupon and recipe.  I did not care.  I was gong to fulfill the plan regardless.

By the end of the day I had almost forgotten about the plan – that was until a co-worker who I had spoken to about my plan reminded me!  As I left work, I called home to check which of the ingredients we had, and which ones we needed – stopped by and picked up all that we needed from the grocery store, and then – stopped for the main ingredient.

WHITE CASTLE STUFFING!!!

Ingredients for White Castle StuffingI arrived home with ingredients in hand.  Immediately #5 of 5 recognized the bag – and that brought #4 of 5 out to check what was going on too.  I told them of my plans, and asked if they would join me in my endeavor.     

The girls ate dinner, then we cleaned the kitchen and gathered the necessary ingredients and tools to get the job done!

We washed hands, and started digging in.  First step, cut, rip, tear, chop, slice, or disembowel 10 plain White Castle hamburgers (no ketchup, mustard or pickles).

 

 

 Cutting the burgers for White Castle Stuffing   Cutting the burgers for White Castle Stuffing

Be sure to check out the video too! 
(Am I doing this right?  As long as there are no chunks of fingers in there then you are!)

Once the burgers were all cut, ripped, torn, chopped, sliced, and disemboweled – it was time to add the rest of the ingredients.  1 1/2 cup chopped celery, 1 1/4 teaspoon ground thyme, 1 1/2 teaspoon ground sage, 3/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper, and 1/4 cup chicken broth.  I had the girls “toss” the cut, ripped, torn, chopped, sliced, and disemboweled burgers while I sifted and poured in the other ingredients.

Mixing up some White Castle Stuffing

We spent about 30 minutes in total putting it together.  (I think it could have been done in much less time but we made it a fun little adventure – so it took a little longer.)

I gotta say (although, as a White Castle fan you could say I am biased) but by the time we were done, and it was all assembled – it was really looking (and smelling) quite intriguing!  By “intriguing” I mean good! 

I took only one very tiny “taste” before putting in the refrigerator – It tasted surprising a lot like a traditional stuffing!

White Castle Stuffing

Once we were finished, I sent out one last “ambigious” Facebook update…


“I love it when a "plan" comes together!!!” (link)
(which was followed up with several witty comments by my friends)


I’ll be sure to report back how it turns out!

If YOU want to try the White Castle Stuffing recipe yourself, I’d urge you to give it a try.  Click HERE!

Father, Daughters, and White Castle Stuffing

 

 

Many special thanks to my very talented and quite talented “kitchen staff” for helping make my (three years in the making) “plan” a “reality”. 

You guys (well, gals) are the best!

A Dying Breed?

I’ve noticed more than a couple of posts recently from “dad blogs” that I frequent (on an semi-infrequent basis) that have decided to call it quits. They cite several reasons for the demise (many which I myself have struggled with from time to time, and a few that I have not).

My observations is that there seems to be an informal threshold of somewhere in the four to six year lifespan on blogging. This frightens me a little bit. I am well through my fifth year, and quickly approaching my sixth year – and the quantity (and maybe even quality) of content on FOF is also waning.

I’d be lying if I were to tell you that I have not contemplated the idea a couple of times. I mean, after six years – how much more is there to talk about? When I do have a little moment of inspiration to write about something – the first thing that often pops up in my mind is… “Wait, didn’t you already write about that?” (And frequently, the answer is yes.)

I certainly cannot deny that my involvement, commitment, and interaction with FOF has changed over the years. I have gone from a almost 200 post per year rate down to (so far this year) only 51 posts. Many things contribute to this - my available time, my available energy, my available creativity. Yet, here I am – once again investing a little more of that precious time, energy, and creativity to share my thoughts with someone(?), anyone(?), no one(?) here on “The Life of a Father of Five”.

It also has to be said… Facebook has drastically changed (not only) the blogging community, but truthfully all social media and (I think one could argue) the internet as a whole.

I don’t vilify or regret my involvement with FB. In fact, it is quite the opposite. I have had wonderful experiences connecting with old friends, as well as enhancing new friendships (many which started through blogging) on FB. FB offers a different level of interaction and connection with people that blogging does not offer. Yet, let’s not forget the inverse sentiment. A blog offers something different (more) than FB offers.

I have found myself (like many others have) asking “why”. Why maintain this blog? I have numerous partial (unfinished) posts, numerous planned posts, and even more “missed opportunity” posts occupying space in my brain. It gets a bit overwhelming at times. So far I have been very careful (and to a certain point, succusful) in drawing a line in the sand, and have kept FOF an enjoyable outlet vs just another task to add to my already busy and hectic schedule. Maybe that is what keeps it working for me.

Here is what I know to be true. FOF is MY little slice of the internet. I control the content. I control the interaction. I control the privacy. I control the layout. The Life of a Father of Five is what I WANT IT TO BE, and that is what is important to me. If I choose to post once a day, or once a week, or once a month, or once a year, it does not matter. If I get a thousand hits a day or only one, it does not matter. If anyone actually reads my content or not, it doesn’t matter (goodness knows I am not winning any literary awards for my meaningless drivel) – and I am satisfied with it that way!

Life has a way of changing and so it would go without saying that FOF has and will continue to ebb and flow much in the same way. Even though I may not be present here as often as I may have in the past – I have no intentions of calling it quits. The feelings I have expressed, the experiences I have shared, the things I have learned, the friends I have made are and will continue to be an important part of who I am.

And as far as those that may still be here with me on this journey (and God willing, enjoying the ride), I thank you. Thank you for allowing me to express my feelings, share my experiences, and learn a little bit together. You all have become some of the best friends around – real or virtual. You all are the frosting on the cake of “The Life of a Father of Five”.

My Daughter’s First

She’s seven years old, and as far as I can recall, this was the first time…

At White Castle with my daughterYup!  She has now officially been indoctrinated into the wonderful world of the White Castle!!

After work I had to drive home, pick up #4 of 5 and bring her back to the Mother of Five’s workplace so that they could go do some clothes shopping together.  With the boys home in full-on “Skyrim” mode I had my doubts that they would even know that#5 of 5 was in the house - So, I decided to take her with me, and after dropping #4 of 5 off, I would take #5 of 5 out for some Father/Daughter time!

After dropping #4 of 5 off, I told #5 of 5 I had a surprise for her.  She kept asking me what it was, but I wouldn’t tell her until we pulled into the parking lot.  I think I may have disappointed her just a little bit because I got a moderately un-enthusiastic “oh….” after telling her we were going to have dinner together at White Castle.

She said she had eaten there before, but it was so long ago that she does not remember it…

(Just try and wrap your head around that logic…  Indeed, she is a deep thinker!)

 

At White Castle with my daughterI ordered for us, let #5 of 5 pick out our booth, and we filled our sodas while we waited for our sliders.  (She mixed a “suicide soda” (where you mix a little bit of all the sodas from the fountain together in the same cup.))   We returned to the booth, and I explained what was about to come her way!

FOUR (yup, count them… 1, 2, 3, 4) burgers and an order of fries!! 

“Nuh-uh Daddy.  You did not order me four hamburgers.”
“Yup, I sure did sweetie!”
“Nuh-uh”
“Yup”
“Nuh-uh”
“Well, we will just have to wait and see then, won’t we?”

 

Maybe next time she will listen to her ‘ol man, eh?

 

Over the next ten minutes we ate our sliders together.  Then, after ten minutes, I was finished and got to spend the next thirty-five minutes watching her eat (did I mention she is a “putsy” eater) while we visited and were being silly together.  (Did you know that she can “double-fist” her french-fries – THREE in each hand?!?!  Did I mention that I have an AWESOME daughter!!)   After what seemed like an eternity of her uncanny ablity to eat at the speed of molasses, she (finally) announced that she was full.

I finished off what she had not eaten (I’m a good dad like that ya know) and we started packing up…   She then pointed out to me that the boxes could be arranged to form a “Castle” and that that is why they call the place “White Castle”  (again, with the deep thinking).

At White Castle with my daughter     At White Castle with my daughter  

I don’t know if it was the burgers, or the one-on-one company of her daddy, but she sure seemed to have a good time!  I know I sure did!

Madness at Midnight – Skyrim!

Skyrim Since June of this year #2 of 5 has been eagerly awaiting the release of a new video game.

Skyrim – the fifth game in The Elder Scrolls series… (Think “Dungeons and Dragons”)

He had saved money from his summer job – paid the reservation fee, kept track of the paperwork, and never lost focus (which is very unusual for him) as we slowly crept towards the (symbolic, or just slightly unique) release date of… 11-11-11.

Despite the much hyped “Midnight Release” of the game (that I secretly suspected he wished to partake in), #2 of 5’s “official plan” was to have me pick him up after school, take him to GameStop (where he had his game reservation), and then come home, where he and a friend (who is also an Elder Scrolls fan) would play until they, the television, or the Xbox360 dropped over in exhaustion.  I let him believe that was going to be the plan – that is, up until The Mother of Five was turning in for the night.

We had previously discussed it, and decided that (even though it was a school night and I had to be up early in the morning) I would (as a surprise) take the boys up and experience a “Midnight Video Game Release”.   (To be honest with you, I was a little curious myself.)

I was not disappointed.

I called the store ahead of time and got the “low down” on how this all works…

-  Store closes at 9pm.
-  Store reopens at 10pm.
-  Customers bring in their preorder receipt.
-  Customers pay their balance, and get their receipt stamped “Paid”.
-  Customers get in line waiting for midnight.
-  After midnight, customers present receipt stamped “paid” and receive their shiny new copy of Skyrim.

While not part of the “official” low down, based on my observations, I’d like to add one more bullet point.

- Customer takes their shiny new copy of Skyrim home, and begins an all night caffeine fueled video game bingefest until the collapse from exhaustion.

So, at the end of an already long day we headed out, arriving at the store just before 11pm where #2 of 5 fulfilled all his “pre-midnight” requirements.  There was close to 30 other customers in the store at this time.

 Skyrim Release Skyrim Release Skyrim Release

(Yeah, I do look pretty tired in that pic… Thanks for asking)

By 11:05pm the stream of customers entering the store to fulfill their “pre-midnight” requirements started growing and the line of customers who had their stamped receipt was overtaking the store – so the staff had to move the stamped receipt line outside the store.

Skyrim Release Skyrim Release


temps

 

 

For those of you who are not licensed math teachers….  Let me share a little equation with you…

November (+) Minnesota (x) 1 hour standing outside (=) Cold
(even for a “well insulated” native Minnesotan such as myself)

Thankfully, the neighboring coffee shop has free open WiFi that helped distract me from the cold by allowing me to pass the time on Facebook (As some of you may recall.)

 

 


#2 of 5 was the twelfth in line – ahead of him was a large group of what appeared to be friends.  Behind him the line stretched out along the strip mall.  I watched from the sideline as the line grew longer and longer by the minute.  There were some common themes among the attendees.  (Prepare for some sarcastic stereotyping ahead - Yet remember that humor often depends upon elements of truthfulness).  The group was…

 

- Predominantly male (while borderline crude, to call it a “sausage fest” would not be an exaggeration)

- 16-25 age demographic (Fitting)

- “I still live in my parent’s basement” (Need I say more?)

- A fair amount of acne. (Too busy gaming to worry about hygiene.)

- Goth, emo, skater, or just plain unkempt (hobo like) appearance.

- A large representation from extreme ends of the “body frame bell curve” (“emaciated” or “corpulent”)

- Black clothing (skinny jeans, trench coats, Converse All-Stars, etc)

- Body piercings

- Overly caffeinated bravado and machismo. (Not sure why, see first observation)

- Extreme braggardly, theatric and exaggerated stories, jokes, and tales told from their tremendous base of knowledge and life experiences.

Yeah, I joke a little there, but they were the typical gamer type…  Nothing to out of the ordinary.  Expected behaviors – a little profanity, bizarre humor (I’m pretty certain I heard more than one Monty Python quote), and lots of “gamer talk”…  Enough to make me quietly smile (and sometimes subtly shake my head in disbelief) as I listened in.  Nothing I would not expect to hear from any group of 16-25 year olds.  Yet, all seemingly pretty decent.


Skyrim Release

 

 

 

Although there was one customer there that deviated SIGNIFICANTLY from the standard demographic. 

Gaming Grandma or picking up a copy for her son / grandson. 

You make the call. 

(FYI – Pretty cool of her to be there either way in my opinion!!)

 

 

 


grape cigarsI do have one tip for the group at the head of the line though…  Take it from a seasoned cigar smoker.  Grape flavored cigarillos not only smell HORRIFIC (and I can only imagine how they would taste), they do NOTHING for your “manliness”…  If you are going to enjoy a cigar, it’s time put your big boy pants on, and smoke a REAL cigar. 

Suggestions include: Romeo y Julieta, H. Upman, Arturo Funte, or La Gloria Cubana. 

(A nice oily Maduro would give you extra manliness points!)  

As we waited and the line grew much longer, one car driving through the parking lot caught my attention.  It was driving with its windows down (slightly unusual for a November night in Minnesota).  I watched it as it slowly drove past the long line of customers.  From where I stood (away from the line) I could hear the passenger yell “Fags” with a volume that I could hear, but those standing in line (talking about all things video game related) did not hear.  I even turned to see if anyone noticed…  Only one person (besides myself) did.  Then from several lanes away, the driver and passenger started yelling much louder (enough to be noticed) – but they were so far away it was intelligible.   So much for the haters.

The time came – Midnight… The witching hour… 11-11-11… SKYRIM!!

   Skyrim Release

Staff popped out and started counting off.  They let the first ten in.  As quickly as they went in, they were heading out – game (or in one case a Skyrim themed Xbox system).  #2 of 5 was second or third in line in the next group.  I quickly snapped a photo, and before I could even switch from camera to video mode, he had his game in hand and was already heading (skipping?  You be the judge) out the door – game in hand.

I was a little worried at first… He was so excited that I contemplated putting plastic down over the car seats, just in case he was going to have an “accident” in the seat of the van… (Thankfully, he was able to hold his bladder…)

Once we are safely in the car #2 of 5 turns to me and says “Oh my gosh Dad, did you see all the “freaks” out there?”  I look over to him and simply shake my head.  I don’t think he fully understood the irony in his statement.  After all, wasn’t he (we) just a part of that circus?

I fully accept and embrace my freaky geeky self.  #2 of 5 has not yet come to terms with his…

Skyrim ReleaseWe made it home where #2 of 3 wanted me to picture text a couple of his friends with a photo of him and his newly obtained treasure (mocking them, I suspect).  After sending said text, I was able to snap one last picture before he headed off to bed - scurrying downstairs with the game curled tightly in his arm like Gollum and  his “precious”.

As I contemplated writing this post, it occurred to me…  Ya know, if Skyrim was came  out when I was 16 – I would have wanted to wait in line too!!

Question for my readers….

How long do you think before I’ll be able to squeak out a few minutes of Xbox time (that is not monopolized by the boys and Skyrim) to play ??   

Winning a Sentry Safe Giveaway!

Product reviews, offers and giveaways are (from my experience) a big part of blogging.  I get frequent requests to accept a free trial of some sort of product in exchange for my review of it.  Most times these offers come with the opportunity to host a contest, and give away a second item as a means of drawing in some additional web traffic, and advertising.  (Ya know, I really ought to take these offers up from time to time!

Several of the blogs I frequent host these giveaways.  Normally, I do not enter, but if I happen upon one with a product I have really wanted, needed, or could have use for - I have been known to drop my name in the hat once or twice.

Back in September another Dad Blogger I read (The Dad of Divas) hosted one of these product giveaways. 

It just so happened that he was reviewing and giving away a product that I truly had need for an upgrade, and something I had been frequently considering, but always fell short of actually purchasing.  (As a Father of Five, when isn’t there something that comes up to take away any extra money I may have?)

Dad of Divas hosted the Sentry Safe Big Bolts Hands Down Safety to All Review and Giveaway

Sentry Safes had recently developed a new product line they call their “Big Bolt” safes. (Aptly named after the 60% increase in the size of the bolts in the mechanism that locks the safe shut).

A few years back we found ourselves in the position of needed an area where we can securely lock up some of our more valuable items…

FYI – the term “Valuable” is subjective.  We do not own a lot of “expensive” items, but we do have some things that are “valuable” (as in irreplaceable), and a lot of “important” items.

We filled that need with a $9.99 Wal-Mart “fire safe” (seen below).  It is (effectively) a double walled tin box with some fiberglass insulation stuffed between the outside and inside walls. 

lockbox   lockbox

While the box served a purpose, it certainly had its limitations and “issues”. 

As you can see, the handle had broken - We had somewhere along the line we needed to gain access to the box.  Having misplaced the key, I had used a screwdriver to bust apart the lock tumbler. – eliminating what little security the box provided – And frequently the box was stuffed to the brim, not allowing the (unlockable) lid to close tightly, eliminating what little fire protection the box provided.

As a Police and Fire Dispatcher, you would think I would know better, eh?  I could just as easily put all our items in a shoebox and had them just as protected.   

Dad of Diva’s product review was just what we needed!  I took all the steps I needed to do to enter the contest, (at least the ones I had not already done, having already networked with Dad of Divas through the blogging community), and waited.

The day after the contest was over, I did notice a couple of odd hits on my blog – hits that referred back to the Dad of Divas’ Sentry Safe Big Bolts Hands Down Safety to All Review and Giveaway – but there was no winner listed, and no email in my inbox.  I had assumed that someone else had been chosen.

Two days later I received an email from Dad of Divas.  He was congratulating me on being selected, and asked that I get back to him within 48 hours to confirm my win with him!!  (Actually, I had received the email the day before but never got around to checking my email to the next day.)  Worried about having lost almost 24 hours already, I quickly replied to Dad of Divas with my gratitude and excitement!!  He assured me I had reached him in time, and seemed equally excited for me!!

Late last week as I arrived home from work I noticed a HUGE box in my driveway!  I immediately recognized it for what it was.  I struggled to get the box inside the house (it weighs 100 lbs).  I decided to wait until the next day to open it since it had been sitting out in the cold all day. 


IMG_0505

 

 

The next morning was like Christmas for me!  I jumped out of bed, and began un-boxing my new safe!  It was BEAUTIFUL!  I started searching through all the paperwork (warrantee, instructions, etc) for the combination – and almost gave up before noticing that I had overlooked it a number of times.

 

 

 


IMG_0509

 

 

I ran through the combination once unsuccessfully, and a second time it would not open before my whirring mind reminded me that this was a COMBO safe!  I needed both the key and the combination!  A quick twist of the key and voilà – the safe door opened!

 

 

    

 


The first thing that struck me as I opened it was the massive feel of the door, and the size of the “big bolts”.   These are indeed some massive sized bolts that lock this safe shut!  

IMG_0508    IMG_0507


The safe came with a handy adjustable tray, hardware to permanently mount it to the floor, and all the necessary documentations, warrantee paperwork, and instructions.  (Not to mention a box big enough to be metamorphosed into a "toy” by the girls!)  

I had so much fun going through the old “tin box”, organizing the items, and helping them find a spot in their new home!  As you can see from the photo, my new Sentry Big Bolts Safe is so roomy, all the items that were STUFFED into the (overflowing) tin box can hardly be seen!  With everything I previously had in the box (and more) there is room to spare (although I do have more paperwork and photos I want to store).  This thing has TONS of room in it!!  I am thinking when I am all said and done, that I may even have extra safe space to “rent” out!! 

IMG_0506   IMG_0511

I am more than pleased with the quality of this safe!  If you are shopping for a safe and have any concerns, let me assure you that Sentry has done an amazing job of putting together something that not only looks beautiful, but is so roomy and functional as well! 

One point…  I have not tested one aspect of the functionality of this safe.  Even though Sentry has done extensive testing, and that I have no doubt that it will live up to it’s expectations -  Let’s hope that I never have to test or review the “fireproofness” of the safe! 

As a well known world class “worrier”, it will feel so good knowing that once I have all the items I want protected safely tucked away in the safe!  It will be one less thing adding to the “noise” in my already overactive head.  (But what if… But what if… But what if…)

I want to personally thank Dad of Divas for hosting the Sentry Safe Big Bolts Hands Down Safety to All Review and Giveaway – and thank Sentry Safes for the generous (and much needed) upgrade!      

“Family” (quotation marks intended)

As I grow older I am discovering something about myself.  I do not know if it is unique to me, or to my circumstances, but I did noticed a recent indication that this is something that it may not be so unique just to me.  


I attended a relatively small Catholic Elementary / Junior High school from Kindergarten through eighth grade.  Nativity of Mary in Bloomington, Minnesota (although I switched from St. Kevin’s to Nativity in 3rd grade). After 8thgrade, I attended the Academy of the Holy Angles in Richfield, Minnesota (a Catholic High School also considered small compared to the public school alternatives) along with a large number of the kids I grew up at Nativity with.

As with most kids, we all had our “groups” that we spent most of our time with, and groups we did not socialize with as much.  As we progressed on to  high school some of us went in different directions (attending different High Schools), but those that continued on together adjusted, expanded, and morphed our relationships with each other.

I fell into what I would consider the “leftover group”.  We did not fall into any of the typical categories (athletic, artistic, popular, etc) and so by default we bonded into our own makeshift “hobo-group”.  I found that even through High School these groups did not intermingle much but overall we got along pretty well.

As the saying goes…  Time and tide wait for no man.  We all graduated, and moved on – college, careers, family, jail, whatever.  Friendships and relationships again adjusted, expanded (or shrank), and morphed into something different.

Career and family followed college for me.  I am now a fully vested family man (ahem… “Father of Five).  My time is spent working, and maintaining my home and family.  Somewhere around ten years ago or so I came to the realization that that through this life as a father of five, I had lost contact with all but a few of the friends I have made through the years.  Admittedly, it was a little depressing to ponder, but it was my life.  I have since learned to accept it, and adjust.  Friendships are a luxury at this point – a luxury that comes at the cost of career or family.

Then along came Facebook.  Suddenly, I started noticing old friends and classmates that I had not spoken to for years – some even decades – popping up here and there.  Facebook has made searching and finding old friends easy, and made connecting with those old friends even easier!  Sure, there are those folks that I did not have a lot of interaction with, and that I still don’t – but it’s still nice getting a little snapshot of what life is like outside the walls of my work and family, and with old friends I would not normally hear from.


Very recently, one of those friends (from both Nativity and Holy Angels) experienced a tragedy.  She unexpectedly lost a parent.  This friend is one of the classmates that I was a little more closer with, and have kept in touch with from time to time throughout the years.  Besides our shared scholarly tenure, we have an extended connection through church and my work  (her family had a significant involvement in the Bloomington Volunteer Rescue Squad, along with having taught several police officers, firefighters and EMTs.)

This classmate shared her loss on Facebook.  As I read through the sympathetic comments left for her, I noticed a large number of classmates from both Nativity and Holy Angels.  It was there that I stumbled upon one comment in particular that truly caught my attention.

 

“…I feel like all my Nativity friends are more like close cousins.  Therefore, I’m sure your collective family feels this and sends you a virtual hug…”

                                                                                -Mike Burns

That was it!  Wise words indeed Mike!

Nativity of Mary Bloomington Minnesota 1983 There have been many people in my life.  Yet, as I travel backwards, I see that “pool” get smaller and smaller.  From the thousands of industry, peer, and co-workers I deal with now, to the anonymity of College, to my high school class of less than 150, down to the roughly 50 kids I went to elementary and junior high with.  Many whom I still have contact with.

I don’t know how many other (or if any) of my classmates from Nativity feel the same way, but from my perspective - good, bad, or otherwise, this small group of people were such a big part of so many of my formative developmental years and we shared so many experiences that even now (28 years later) that whenever I have contact with one of my old classmates, I DO feel a different sort of connection and bond with them.  It DOES feel almost like a small family.

If you are one of my old Nativity classmates, I’d like to wrap this up with a special message for each and every one of you.  Whether you were one of my closest friends, part of the other groups I had less contact with, or somewhere in between - I look back at my time with you and at Nativity with great fondness.  Sure, growing up is not without its ups and downs, but what life experience isn’t?  

So… I am sending out my most sincere “thank you” to each and every one of you for being part of that family.

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