First Communion

#5 of 5 getting a "Do-Up" for her hair.With #2 of 5’s Confirmation less than 24 hours over the horizon, it was time to shift focus from #2 of 5, Uncle A, and the Confirmation to #5 of 5 and her First Holy Communion.  We quickly cleaned up the mess from our Confirmation reception to dress the house for a First Communion reception.

With the house cleaned (or at least the other minions kids doing some cleaning) it was time to get #5 of 5 ready for her big event!  She started off getting her hair done into something called an “up-do”, followed with her first communion dress.  She was wearing the locket her Godparents gave her as a Baptismal gift.  Her veil was also made by her grandmother – and was (partially) made from her flower girl dress she wore when her Uncle B and Aunt J were married!

Once #5 of 5 was all dressed up, we headed off to Church where we had some time for photo opportunities before the actual mass began.  Part of the preparation for First Communion is to make a “First Communion Quilt Square”.  All the quit squares are sewn together to make an alter cloth.  That alter cloth is brought out for the remaining sacrament (Confirmation), and then again for their high school graduation send-off mass.  It’s a fun way to reminisce!   

#5 of 5's First Communion Quilt Square All smiles for #5 of 5 on her First Communion

Left photo above:  #5 of 5 with her Quilt Square.

Right photo above:  #5 of 5 – all smiles!

Mother of five, #5 of 5, Father of five The WHOLE "Father of five" family! 

Left photo above:  The Mother-of-five, #5 of 5, The Father of Five.

Right Photo above:  ALL OF US!!
Back row (left to right) #1 of 5, #3 of 5, #2 of 5, and The Father of Five.
Front Row (left to right) The Mother of Five, #5 of 5, and #4 of 5. 

#5 of 5 and her cousin in 2007  #5 of 5 and her cousin - five years later!

Left photo above:  Photo of #5 of 5 with her cousin M taken at Uncle B and Aunt J’s wedding in July 2007.  This is one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE photos!!  The look on their faces was PRICELESS!!  This photo was NOT staged.  I just happened to be at the right place at the right time! 

Right photo above:  #5 of 5 with her cousin M taken at #5 of 5’s first communion.  Note – her first communion veil was made from the dress in the photo on the left. 

The mass was held after our parish’s regularly scheduled masses, and officiated by our parish priest Fr. Timothy Yanta, along with Deacon Gary Hoffman (our Parish Deacon).  Siblings of the First Communion Candidates were allowed to alter serve if they wished, so #4 of 5 volunteered!   

Fr. Yanta and Deacon Gary saying First Communion Mass #5 of 5 and #4 of 5

Left photo – left to right – Fr. Timothy Yanta, Deacon Gary Hoffman, #4 of 5, and two other alter servers I am unfamiliar with. 

Right photo - #5 of 5 (First Communion Candidate) with her sister #4 of 5 (Alter Server)

Fr. Timothy Yanta and #5 of 5 during the Wednesday Mass following her First Communion - photo courtesy of Robin Nawrocki Photography

I could not be more pleased that Fr. Yanta was the officiating priest!  He does such a great job with the kids!  I think he does a great job addressing the kids in a way that they can understand his message that is still inspiring to me as an adult.  I could not be happier that our memories of #5 of 5’s first communion with be with Fr. Yanta!

This photo was actually taken at #5 of 5’s “Second Communion”. 

The kids of St. John the Baptist School attend weekly mass.  The 2nd graders of were given permission to be out of uniform and were allowed to wear their First Communion clothes to school on the first Wednesday after the kids’ First Communion.  This photo was taken from the Wednesday Morning Mass three days after her first communion.   

This photo is actually courtesy of Robin Nawrocki Photography.  Her son is in the same class.  Robin is an amazing and talented photographer, and she was there capturing each of the 2nd graders receiving their “Second Communion”. 


#5 of 5 with her First Communion bible shaped cake#5 of 5 and #4 of 5 with Fr. Timothy Yanta - after a weekend of Confirmation and First Communion massesAfter mass there were some additional photos. 

With the unique set of circumstances we had this year, we could not help but get a photo of #5 of 5 on her first communion, with #2 of 5 the day after his Confirmation along with our favorite parish priest, Fr. Yanta! 

Then it was time to head back home for #5 of 5’s First Communion  celebratory meal.  Like #2 of 5’s Confirmation day in which he chose Lasagna, we let #5 of 5 choose whatever she wanted for her meal. 

Her choice?  Barbequed Pulled Pork sandwiches!   

We had BBQ Pulled Pork, potato salad, cole slaw, lettuce salad, fruit salad, strawberry daiquiris, white wine, and (just for grandma) a bottle of Riunite Lambrusco!  There was also a customized Bible shaped cake!! 

The day turned out beautifully.  It was the perfect ending to a special faith-filled weekend at the FOF compound. 


This was a unique year for us, spiritually speaking that is.  You see, it just so happens that we have both a 10th grader (#2 of 5) and a 2nd Grader (#5 of 5).  In our faith second graders partake in the Sacrament of First Communion (more on that later) and 10th graders partake in the Sacrament of Confirmation

When this year’s sacramental schedule came out, we quickly discovered a very unique circumstance.  #2 of 5’s Confirmation was going to be held on April 21st, and #5 of 5’s First Communion was going to be held on April 22nd…  Yup!  Back to back!

This was a win in my eyes…  See, this way we only had to clean the house prepare for a major celebration ONCE!!  (Well, it would require a small amount of “touch up” between each event, but not a THUROUGH cleaning like we would have to do if they were months apart.)

The other up-side to having back to back events is that it makes it easier for people who have to travel to justify the trip.  It’s a “two-fer”…  Two sacramental celebrations for the price of one! 

Throughout the past year, #2 of 5 has been preparing for the Sacrament of Confirmation.  In its most simplest terms, the candidate selects a Sponsor and together they affirm (or confirm) and strengthen the baptismal vows that were made by the candidate’s parents when they were baptized into the church as an infant.

The Church has some specific criteria that is needed to fulfill the roll of Confirmation Sponsor, and to be quite honest, we were quite interested to see who #2 of 5 would choose for his candidate.  We did not interfere, or direct him in any way.

When the time came to choose a sponsor, #2 of 5 came to us with an idea.  Not only did he have an idea, but he has some very specific reasoning for that idea.  #2 of 5 chose my sister’s husband (my brother in law).   I was quite surprised… Surprised and (to be honest) very proud of his choice! 

There was one small snag.  Uncle A lives over one thousand miles away.  We talked through this and what it would mean, then we talked to the Spiritual Director for the Confirmation program, explaining his choice and our plan on how to make this work. 

She spoke with our Parish Priest (Fr. Yanta, whom I have blogged about here in the past – we are quite blessed to have him as our Parish Priest!) who gave her (and us) his blessing.  #2 of 5 made the telephone call and asked Uncle A to spend a few days considering the offer. 

IMG_0747A few days later Uncle A called back and told #2 of 5 that he has agreed to accept the roll!  There were a few logistical complications, but we did have a plan for that.  (I would step in, and fulfill the roll of Sponsor for the Candidate / Sponsor events, and then follow up with Uncle A and fill him in with what had gone on.)

This worked out very well.  In fact, throughout the year I think #2 of 5 and Uncle A’s relationship strengthen significantly!  They bonded on several different levels, and #2 of 5 introduced Uncle A into a whole new means of communication…  TEXTING!! 

I often found #2 of 5 texting Uncle A, or Uncle A texting #2 of 5.         

IMG_0733aHaving talked to each of them about their interactions, I quickly ascertained that they both enjoyed, and learned a little throughout the experience!  I could not be more thankful to Uncle A’s for having been there for #2 of 5!

The day of the Confirmation arrived.  The Sacrament was being held at Divine Mercy Catholic Church in Faribault, Minnesota.  The Sacrament was officiated by the Bishop and assisted by the Priests of the 3-4 Parishes who’s youth were being confirmed. 

After the ceremony, we all returned to the house where we had a Lasagna dinner feast.  (#2 of 5 was allowed to select what dinner would be.)  

Whether or not he realizes it, he made a big impression on his nephew!!  We are very grateful to Uncle A for his commitment to #2 of 5

Crazy Uncle

I am far more than just my persona as a Father of Five.  Today (for the sake of this post) I am going to take off my “father” hat, and put my “uncle” hat.  .

This year my sister her husband and their twin sons came home for Easter.

We took advantage of their time here and got our families together several times.  There was the obvious Easter celebration.  In addition to Easter, my parents had us all over for dinner a couple of times.  We also had a wonderful opportunity to celebrate #2 of 5’s Confirmation send-off mass together (more on that later).  But the ABSOLUTE HIGHLIGHT of their trip (for me) was the day that that I spent with my nephews!

It was my day off from work, but the Mother of Five had to work and the rest of our kids were in school – So I decided to give my sister, her husband, and my parents the “day off” and told them that I wanted to spend the day with my nephews.  The Mother of Five and I put our heads together and came up with great plan for our day.

First thing that morning, I broke out MY GPS and began loading up a number of GeoCaches located in the vicinity of our destination.  There are some unique elevation changes in the area, so I wanted to load up the Topographical data for the area.  I had a data transfer failure, so I tried loading it again.  This time I got a “success message” – So I disconnected my GPS and headed out.  

First stop – Pick up the nephews!  I was running a little behind and since lunch was going to be “on the trail” I called ahead and asked my sister to make a couple of sandwiches the boys like to eat.  I picked up the boys (and the sandwiches) and we made our second stop… Cub Foods for some “junk food”.  (What are sandwiches without chips, right?)

We ran to the chip isle and I told them to pick something out.  One of the boys motioned finding something they both like.  Nope, I said… That will NEVER do…  I told them they could each pick out their OWN junk food!  One of them picked Munchies, and the other picked Funyuns.  I picked up a bag of salted in the shell peanuts, and we headed to the check out.  From there, we headed to our third stop – beverages!  (What are sandwiches and chips without soda, right?)         

I decided to head to Super America (a nearby convenience store / gas station).  We ran to the WALL of beverage coolers.  There, I also told the boys to go wild… They looked at me with saucer like eyes… ANYTHING they asked?  I did draw the line at energy drinks, (my sister would have skinned me alive) but I told them anything else was fair game.  They contemplated several flavors of Mountain Dew High Voltage, and various other drinks, and one of the boys even said they could not make up their mind because there were too many choices… (Can you have too many beverage choices??)  Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, they chose Gatorades.  I grabbed a Half & Half.   We checked out and headed to our fourth stop – the Light Rail Station!

Waiting at the Light Rail Platform



True, I could have driven to our destination in my car, but where is the fun with that when instead, you can RIDE THE RAILS!!  The boys had never been on the light rail, so we headed to the 28th Ave Park & Ride station and jumped the Hiawatha Line until we reached our fifth and final destinationMinnehaha Park!



Minnehaha Park is a city park located in Minneapolis.  Minnehaha Creek cuts through the park – and as a centerpiece of the park – the creek plunges over Minnehaha Falls before continuning it’s journey to the Mississippi River. 

We jumped the train and headed into the park where we took advantage of a few photo ops and snapped some pictures.

Top of Minnehaha Falls The boys at the top of Minnehaha Falls  Butt Griding down the handrail! Butt Griding down the handrail!

Above left:  The view (from an observatoin bridge) over the edge of the falls.

Above right:  “Double Trouble” – my nephews posing from the same location.

Minnehaha Falls senic overlook Minnehaha Falls senic overlook 

Above left:  photo from the opposite end of the plunge pool.  As you can see, the spring drought had the falls performing at a “less than magnificent” rate.

Above Right:  Me with the camera at arms length “trying” to get a photo of the three of us. 

Hiawatha, Minnehaha, and the boys!


Another feature in the park is the Bronze statue of Hiawatha and Minnehaha. 

The life-size statue depicts Hiawatha and Minnehaha, who are characters from the epic poem “Song of Hiawatha” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

At the base of the statue the following inscription appears…

Over wide and rushing rivers
In his arms he bore the maiden.

The sculpture (which is located on a small island in the creek, can be viewed from the water’s edge a short way above the falls) was originally on exhibit at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893.  The sculpture was then purchased with pennies donated by school children in Minnesota.


Note:  It an also be climbed upon if you are willing to cross the creek and explore the island!


It was time for nourishment.  We decided to eat our picnic of sandwiches junk food and Gatorades in the park.  We located a picnic table and started digging in.  We spent some time visiting and discussing the “flavors” of our favorite colors… We tried to feed the squirrels and a hawk we saw in one of the trees with some Munchies, Funyuns, and peanut shells – but they wanted no part of it.  As lunch died down, it was time to break out the GPS for some GeoCaching.

I turned it on and just as it powered up, the GPS turned itself off.  I did this a number of times, always resulting in the same thing.  Suspecting the batteries, I swapped out the batteries from the camera, and the same thing happened.  Turn on, start up and then just as the GPS switches to the “finding satellites” screen the GPS turns itself off.  Then, it occurred to me  I had the data connection failure when trying to upload the topo maps of the area earlier that morning.

This is not the first time this has happened.  The first time (several years ago) I did an internet search and found many references to this problem.  All the references resulted in the same solution – Send the GPS back with a check for $75.00 for repair.  Then, I stumbled upon an obscure website that someone posted their own “remedy” for the problem.  In a nutshell – You download a copy of the latest firmware, erase the existing (corrupt) firmware, then reinstall the new (uncorrupt) firmware.  The first time I tried it, it took me three hours to figure it all out – but in the end it worked perfectly.  This time it took me about 10 minutes and I had the GPS up and running again.  You lose all your unsaved data (tracks, waypoints, settings, etc) when you do this, but it’s better than a bricked GPS!

Without the GPS to guide us to the GeoCaches – We decided to simply hike the trail from the plunge pool to the mouth of Minnehaha Creek where it meets up with the Mighty Mississippi

Until the age of eight our family lived a few miles from Minnehaha Park (and spent a lot of time there).  Despite this fact – I do not recall having ever actually walked that trail.

Once we descended into the area of the plunge pool and reached the base of the falls, we took a few more photos.

Base of the Minnehaha Falls plunge pool from the LEGAL vantage point! Base of the Minnehaha Falls plunge pool from the LEGAL vantage point!

Base of the Minnehaha Falls plunge pool from the LEGAL vantage point!

The first two photos were attempts at using the self timer.  After seeing us fail miserably, another park-goer offered to take our picture.

Now, it was time for some HIGH ADVENTURE!!  Time to show these boys what fun is all about! 

We crossed the creek (via a bridge) and the (looking both ways for people watching) we ignored the No Trespassing, Caution, and Danger signs and made our way past the fenced area and headed in for a better look! 

Well, not before ONE of the boys stopped me (the other one was already over the fence and making his way towards the falls).  The nephew that stopped me said he didn’t think we should go past the fence, pointing at the signs… 

I commended him for being so observant, and reminded him that he is too young for County Jail – and that I would be the one headed for lockup if we got caught!     

Base of the Minnehaha Falls plunge pool from the ILLEGAL vantage point! Base of the Minnehaha Falls plunge pool from the ILLEGAL vantage point! One ugly mug photo - taken from the Base of the Minnehaha Falls plunge pool from the ILLEGAL vantage point!

Not wanting to press our luck (or face jail time at HCADC) we headed back to LEGAL park exploration area. 

By the way – see that ledge behind the falls – the one that almost looks like a smile?  It is a bit of a legendary “civil disobedience” area – one I have ALWAYS wanted to go see (even as a young child) but as of yet have not.

We noticed a very large carp trapped in the low water of the creek between some rocky areas.  It looked quite dead until the boys decided to toss a few small rocks at it to see if it was still alive.  Sure enough, it was!

We made our down the creek, crossing over and back by bridges, rock hopping, tree climbing, and whatever other means we could find.  There was a lot to see down there!

Following the creek.  Notice in the left center of the photo - one of the boys crossing the creek.  See how there is NO TRAIL on that side.  Time for a little "OFF TRAIL EXPORING" for the boys!   Monkey see, monkey do.    AAAAGHHH!!  The Bear broke free!!     Why take a bridge when you can rock hop accross the creek?

In the left photo, one of my nephews got ahead of me, and then doubled back in the woods above the trail waiting for us to pass.  About the time I started wondering where he went, I heard my name being called from the woods above me… There he was – hiding behind some sort of fenced area.  It’s all good though – I got him back by telling him that he was hiding in the “Bear cage” area, and that if the gate is open like that, it must mean the bear is out on the loose…

He did not believe me…  I must be loosing my touch. 

So, we continued on.  (Hover your mouse over each picture for a “floating” description…)

LOOK!!  I found a crayfish!!    One lucky crayfish got away from the two!   

The Mouth of Minnehaha Creek!  Dumping into the Mississippi River.  Another photo of The Mouth of Minnehaha Creek!  Dumping into the Mississippi River.  This one was taken frmo the vantage point of the wooden bridge in the photo below.

We finally made it!  The Mouth of Minnehaha Creek!  The creek has traveled 22 miles through the Twin Cities until reaching the falls, and then downstream – emptying out into the Mississippi River (seen here) as it now starts to make it’s way to the Gulf of Mexico! 

Expolring the mouth of the Minnehaha Creek  The boys found this sandstone cave.  

Why cross the bridge (and stay dry) when you can rock hop (and fall in soaking one of your shoes)?  Shhh!!  Don’t tell your mom – The shoe will be dry by the time we get home, and she may never trust me with you guys again!!  (wink

On the other side of the bridge, the boys located this “cave” carved out of the sandstone.  One of the boys decided to explore the cave while the other was more interested in the sandbar and mouth of the creek.  I let them each have their own version of fun for a bit!

Sifting through the fine sand of the cave.  Whoops, just got my shoe wet!

The beauty of Urban Nature.  This does not quite fit with the "nature" portion of this Urban Park.  It does fit with the Urban theme though!  I don't know - I kind of think that skull and crossbones were pretty cool!




The time came to head back…  One last photo opportunity was when the boys located some really “cool” graffiti under a road bridge. 










It was time to hop the train and head back home.  By this time, the boys were tired out, full of junk food and Gatorade (quite proud of the fact that they each finished of a GIANT jug of the stuff). 

Tired out and headed home on the LRT Tired out and headed home on the LRT

Finally!  We got our front seats!!


Now experts at riding the train, they decided they wanted to be in the front car and sit in the front seats of the front car.  Originally the front seats were filled, but as soon as they emptied the boys eyed me and I gave them the “wink and nod”. 


They were up in the front seats of the front car! 




I am so grateful for having had the chance to spend the day with these two hooligans!  It was so much fun introducing them to things they have not seen or experienced before!  They are both such good sports and willing to try anything their “Crazy Uncle” is willing to let them get into (even if it means a little “civil disobedience and / or breaking a “little” law or two).

Hey guys – I’m already planning our outing for NEXT TIME!!  Hey sister of mine – be sure to bring enough BAIL MONEY for all three of us!!!   BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!

FOF Observation #24


The "FOF Observations" are a series of "Perpetual Posts" where I will share with you, my readers, short little 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.

Just when you think that the crazy stuff you see on the internet is a hoax, something comes along and reassures you that there just may be some validity to the Darwin Awards!




Yup folks… This is TOTALLY real.  Not faked.  Not stolen pics.  I took these myself. 

I was on my lunch break walk and this car drove up past me – EB on Old Shakopee Road just before the 98th St. split.  (Near the RR Crossing).

That is a couch stackedTetris’ed” on top of what looks like a coffee table or two night stands.

Worse part of it??  Look carefully at the tie-downs (or lack there of)…


Burger King - Jordan, Minnesota The other night while #2 of 5 was scheduled to work and #4 of 5 was away with friends.  This left #3 of 5, #5 of 5, the Mother of Five and I home.  The Mother of Five came up with the brilliant plan to dine out.  Where you ask?? 

Why BURGER KING of course!!

She thought it would be fun to surprise #2 of 5 at work!  I thought it was a GREAT idea since I had not seen him “in action” yet!

We arrived, and tried to “sneak” (yes, there is a video game where you (as that creepy Burger King dude) must “sneak” around and feed people – be sure to check out the link) into the restaurant.  I think we were successful because when we arrived #2 of 5 was bent over behind the counter lifting some boxes.

Didn't even notice us yet...  SURPRISE!  What a smile!  Cheeseburger Please.

Left photo – Just as he popped his head out from under the counter and was setting another box on the counter.

Center photo – SURPRISE!!  Oh, how I LOVE this photo.  We rarely get to see this smile on his face anymore.  It is the smile I remember from his childhood.  This is the #2 of 5 that I know and love! 

Right photo – I’ll have a cheeseburger please.  #2 of 5 taking #5 of 5’s order. 

Our order was taken (and filled) accurately – so we sat down to watch #2 of 5 while he worked eat our dinner.

Whoops! I enjoyed hearing him being told to “take out the trash”, and was immediately taken back to my own youth when I overheard the banter from the kitchen where I could hear him being (affectionately) referred to as a “mellonhead” (some of you may get the reference more than others). 

The true “show” (or “money shot” if you will) came when a remarkably un-courteous patron dropped her soda cup on the floor near the soda fountain.  Instead of telling anyone, she refilled her cup, gathered up here three bags of food and boot-scooted outta there without even a look back.  Two other sets of customers walked through the spilled soda.  The third couple to pass through the mess was older and the woman walked with a cane.  We overheard the man telling his wife to be careful because the floor was slippery.  We could take it no longer.  The Mother of Five advised the Manager about the spill, and she immediately called up #2 of 5 to mop up the mess.

That’s where I got a good look at #2 of 5 hard at work!

Moping Moping Moping   

Slippery when wet (and clean).


Actually, he did a pretty decent job of cleaning it up, and even put a slippery – wet floor sign down!

He has his moments (that’s for sure) – but in the end – I have to say how proud I am of #2 of 5.  He’s truly a good kid at heart! 

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