A 2014 Goal – Accomplished

20141231_163827I started out this year wanting to reach a GeoCaching “threshold”.  I wanted to reach a “landmark” find. 

I had my eye set on 400.  Throughout the year I was slowly making my way towards that number, but then trailed off.  After leaving deer hunting camp this year, I planned a massive push to find a slew of GeoCaches in and around the area I hunt, and by the time it was all said and done, I was WELL within the reach of my goal!

But, after a few more finds, I stagnated out and have been stalled at 399 finds for a while now.  I kept putting off that last find, thinking there was always going to be time to find it.  Days turned into weeks, and the weeks kept piling up. 

The saving grace was that I did not have to work on New Years Eve – so in the back of my mind, I always had one last minute option, but it didn’t help that I had Backside of Forty pressuring mocking inspiring me to achieve my goal.

Well, I took it down to the wire.  I waited until 30 minutes before sundown to actually head out.  I loaded up my GPS.  I grabbed my current inventory of Travel Bugs and Geo Coins, I took #4 of 5 and #5 of 5 with me and we ventured out into the sub zero wind chill. 

The GeoCache I planned was less than a mile from my house.  I had found the matching cache a couple of months previously, so I was pretty confident.  We parked the car and headed out to the “beacon”.

There, in the cold wind, with the silo as our backdrop – and my trusty daughters #4 of 5 and #5 of 5 beside me for support – I found my four-hundredth GeoCache, and achieved my GeoCaching goal for 2014! 

With This Ring…

IMG_3354For the past 21 years(+), my left ring finger has been adorned by a simple gold wedding band.

I still recall shopping for it.  I liked the look of some of the more “ornate” rings (rings with small stones embedded in them) but, being the “practical” guy I am, I was really planning on a simple plain gold band – so in reality the “shopping” was really quite simple.

Once I selected band that I liked, the only real option was something called “comfort fit”.


In a nutshell, a “comfort cut” wedding band is one designed using extra metal, making it slightly domed on the inside of the band. 
This results in a far more comfortable fitting ring.

Originally, I was going to skip the whole “comfort fit” upgrade, and just go for the least expensive option.  That’s just how I roll.  It was the Mother of Five who actually pressured me into considering the comfort cut once I admitted how much more comfortable it really felt on my finger.  I succumbed to her pressure, and “splurged” on myself.

On our wedding day, the Mother of Five presented me the ring, and (for 99.9% of the time that has passed since) there it has remained.  Only once had I lost this ring.

It was our first year of marriage.  We were living in an apartment with one parking stall, and two cars.  I allowed the Mother of Five to park her car in the heated underground garage, while I parked my car outside. 

ringOne winter morning, I came out to find a flat tire on my car.  This was no big problem for me.  I pulled the spare tire, and changed the flat right there in the parking lot before heading out to conduct my business.  Not long afterwards I noticed that the ring was no longer on my finger.  Assuming I lost it in the snow while changing my tire, I headed back to the spot, and began a fruitless hour long search, coming up with nothing.  I was devastated.

Miraculously, about two weeks later (as the snow was melting), I just happened to be walking by the spot I had changed my tire when I glanced down and spotted the ring just surfacing from the snow bank! 

You cannot begin to imagine my surprise and relief!
(Yup.  Satellite photo of the exact spot!)

Time has since marched on (and “fatherhood” has taken hold - think “sympathy weight”).   Since I did a little “expanding” in the years since I received it, my ring has also need a little “expanding” of its own.  I have had it resized, which has worked out pretty well – at least until I began a gradual loss of some of that weight a couple of years back.  Now the ring fits much looser than it has in years.  It is most noticeable in the cold and when my hands are wet.  I am very cautious because in these circumstances - the ring just “falls” off my finger.

Then, this happened…

A few days ago I came home from a long day at work.  One of my tasks was to prepared a piece of furniture we were selling on Craigslist for the buyer who agreed to pick it up that evening. Getting the furniture ready included some organizing and long term storage (for items like my deer hunting gear that had “landed” on top of it).  Once the cleaning / organizing was done, and the furniture was ready to go, I headed back inside, and booted up Roller Coaster Tycoon 2 to help pass the time while I waited for the buyer to arrive. 

About an hour into building a new park, I noticed that…

20141206_115331I nearly lost my breath!

Periodically, I take my ring off at work and set it on my keyboard.  But when I do this, my hands (which are very much accustomed to the muscle memory of high speed typing under stress) feel “different” when I type.  I can immediately sense that the ring is not on my hand.  I had not recalled that feeling or remember taking my ring off during my work day. 

In this case, I had NO IDEA when I last saw the ring.  There was no “obvious” moment that it could have come off.

I began hyperventilating as my search of the most obvious areas (pants, pockets, work bag etc) and the few areas of the house that I was in since arriving home (garage, bathroom, kitchen, and family room) proved fruitless.  I called my workplace to have them keep an eye out. 

I checked everywhere I had been, most areas twice, and even some areas three times.  I was not finding what I sought.  I tried calling the Mother of Five to see if she may know where it was (like maybe I set it down somewhere), but she was not answering her cell phone.

With no where else to turn, I sent a text message to a couple of sources of strength when I am stressed.  Best Bud Ed and Backside of Forty – both being sympathetic to my cause, and both helping out in their own way – but it was Best Bud Ed’s suggestion that did the trick.

Best Bud Ed called me up after I failed to reply to a barrage of messages he sent off.  He & I traced my steps back from the moment I got home.  I got out of the car, I worked in the garage, I came in the house, used the bathroom, kitchen, then sat in the living room.  With Best Bud Ed on the phone (to help keep me from “kooking” out) I started in the car, then went to the garage where he told me to check the hunting bin that I stored my hunting clothing out.

IMG_3358I was reluctant at first – it seemed so unlikely, but I agreed to do it (if, for no other reason than to check it off my mental list of places I had checked).  I pulled my deer hunting backpack out, then I pulled out my blaze orange jumpsuit.  I went through the pockets of the jumpsuit, and ripped my way through the backpack.  I didn’t see anything.  I started packing it all back when Best Bud Ed suggested I keep the bag out, and bring it in the house to go through later.  I thought it sounded a little crazy, but I had nothing to loose, and so I brought it in the house.

I spent the next 30 or so minutes aimlessly walking around the house in a desperate and vein attempt to locate the ring.  I kept hoping that I overlooked it, and that it would pop up in a place I  had already searched.  I was doing my best trying to talk to Best Bud Ed on the phone while I searched and while I racked my brain to try and remember what I may have done with the ring. 

The phone rang.  Was it work??!?!  Did they find the ring??!  Oh, man – did I hope so!

Nope.  It was the Mother of Five.  Time to face the music.  I was almost in tears at the point I told her what had transpired.  Sensing my desperation (and I suspect wanting to avoid my manic / obsessive compulsive tirade she knew she would be facing when she got home), she tried her best to calm me, and told me not to worry.

By this point, I was convinced I would never see the ring again.  Unlike the first time I lost then ring (when we were first married) it was the thought of being out the money that upset me most.  Twenty-one years later (twenty-one years of blood, sweat, tears, good times and bad, sickness and health, for better and for worse) – I cared little about the money.  That ring was part of ME!  The sentimental value had far surpassed the monetary value of that ring!

I hung up the phone, and in a moment of mental exhaustion, I flopped down in our living room chair.  Sitting next to me (mocking me) was that damn hunting bag that Best Bud Ed told me I should bring in.  What was nothing more that an an attempt to occupy my mind, I reached down, grabbed the bag, unzipped it and started taking each and every item out.  I went through each item with a fine tooth comb – and AGAIN, came up empty handed. 

Then, just as I started stuffing everything back in the bag, there at bottom of the now empty bag, was a small simple gold band.  It almost looked “lonely” there in the bottom of the bag.


My knees almost buckled from under me.  The feeling of relief was beyond words.


I can only conclude that the ring had slipped off my finger (which was constricted by the cold) as I pulled my hand out of the bag after stuffing the hunting items I had left out on the furniture I was getting ready to sell.  Had it not been for Best Bud Ed’s instance that I bring the bag inside to go over again later, I would have likely driven myself MAD between now and next deer hunting season.

This ring that started out as being monetarily significant to me, and (over the past twenty-one years) had metamorphosed into something much more meaningful.  Much more symbolic.  Much more important to me.  It has become a symbol of my love for my wife.  My love for my children.  My love for my family.  All the things that money can not buy. 

The lesson (for me) in all of this is that I was reminded about just how fortunate a man I am.  Even if I had lost the ring forever, I still hold the TRULY important items close to me.  The truly important things that the SYMBOL (the ring) represents in my life.

Yes.  I am very fortunate to have the items the ring symbolizes in my life, but, I am also very grateful to have the small token symbol of those items (the ring) back on my finger.

And for that, I thank you St. Anthony.

FOF Observation #28

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.

'Twas the night after Halloween, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The loot bags were laid upon the dining room table with care,
In hopes that in the morning, the candy would still be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of jack-o-lanterns danced in their heads;
And mamma in her PJ's, and I getting ready for work,
It seemed like the perfect chance for me to quietly lurk,

It was roughly 2am. 

I was getting ready for work while the rest of the house was quietly sleeping.  As I sheepishly got myself ready, and headed through our dining room towards the kitchen (where the breakfast and lunch I prepared for the next day was awaiting their retrieval from the refrigerator), where it occurred to me that just before I went to bed the night before, I noticed a large bag (henceforth referred to as the “loot bag) filled with every possible type of candy known to man.  This "loot bag" was the booty from a night of trick-or-treating by #4 of 5 (and her friend), #5 of 5, or a combination of their combined hauls.  It was at that moment that I decided that I needed deserved wanted a little early morning sugary boost.  I turned to snatch a little something out of the "loot bag" when I noticed it was…

GOA (Gone upon my arrival)
UTL (Unable to be located)
MIA (Missing in action)

I made a very brief attempt at locating said "loot bag", when suddenly a strange feeling overcame me.  I was overcome with a sort of weird feeling of…  Disloyalty?  Deception?  Dishonesty?  Thievery?  Guilt?  

So, when I could not find the "loot bag" (that my own children likely HID from me), I was sort of relieved…  But, that’s when the “question” came to mind…

I wonder how much of my childhood Halloween hauls were plundered by MY parents??!?! 

To be completely honest, I don’t recall noticing any significant deficiencies throughout the years, so if they did indeed ransack my "loot bags", they did a good job.

I hope to follow in their footsteps!
(Now, where oh where did they hide that "loot bag"??)            

Reminding Myself

When we were just starting out and my kids were very young, I would often find myself thinking / saying things like “I can’t wait until the kids grow up!”, “I can’t wait until I can do grown up things with my kids!”  and “I can’t wait to see how my kids turn out!”. 

Life (and it’s continual march forward) has a way of diverting your attention from some of the most important things - things like TRULY enjoying your children at the age they are at.  Believe me, there is plenty of time to enjoy who / what they WILL become later, and no way to enjoy them for what they WERE back when you were too busy wondering what the future holds for them.  Now that I am where I THOUGHT I wanted to be, I am finding myself wondering why I was in such a hurry? 

Case in point… #2 of 5.
     · High school graduate 
     · Current collegiate student
     · Highly independent   

Nineteen years…  It sure seems like a long time when you say it out loud, but as I look at my son, and realize I am now able to do adult things with him, and am beginning to see how he turned out (all those things I was far too eager for as a young father), I NOW wish I could go back.  I hear myself saying things like “I wish he was a little boy again”, “I wish I had done more little boy things with him when he was younger”, and “It’s hard to remember what he was like when he was just a little boy”.

Yesterday, I texted #2 of 5.  He attends college about two miles from where I work.  I asked him what time he finished classes, and it just so happened that his last class ended 10 minutes before I was planning on going on break – so I asked him if he would like to stop for lunch somewhere. 

He did – and we did.

Sitting across the table from my adult son had a bit of a surreal feeling.  I (once again) began wondering where my little boy went.  It occurred to me that I was falling into the same trap as I did when he was younger – only in reverse.  Rather than simply enjoying the fact that I am having lunch with a smart, caring, sensitive young man, I was sitting there feeling bad about how much I wanted my little boy back.  I really saw the situation for what it was in that moment

What is the lesson here??

I (personally) need to constantly remind myself to enjoy my children for who they are, and where they are and at the age they are at.  There is plenty of time for their “grown up” versions later - and now (as they are all growing up) it really sunk in that there isn't as much time time for the “early” versions as it seemed back then.

I hope he enjoyed our brief and impromptu lunch, because I truly did!   
(#2 of 5 – if you are reading this, anticipate a few more of these, okay?)

Ten Memorable / Influential Books

Recently, a good friend of mine posted a Facebook status update saying he was "tagged" by a friend to list the "top ten books that have stayed with him and had the most influence on his life".  He is not one to follow the norm and do things like this "just because" he was tagged, but I also know him to be a pretty vivacious reader, so it was not very surprising to me to see that he accepted the challenge.  He listed ten books (well, nine books and a blog...)  I found his list very interesting.  Having gotten to know this fella pretty well over the past number of years, I will have to be honest, I didn't find anything in his list very "surprising", but reading over his cohesive list did prove to be pretty interesting / entertaining...
Of course, like any good Facebook meme, it requires the author to "tag" ten additional friends, asking them to complete the same task.  I was one of the ten victims names he tagged.
This meme also reminded me of something I posted here on The Life of a Father of Five - WAY BACK in 2007!  The Horror in My Life (link)  Well, I found it fitting that I would combine the Facebook meme, and (given the similar theme from the previous post) I thought it quite fitting that my reply become inspiration for a post here on the blog!
So, without further ado, here is my list of the "top ten books that have stayed with me and/or had the most influence on my life".  I tried to keep them in somewhat a chronological order, and did my best to provide links for further info.

Ziggy and his Colors
By Frans and Joyce Van Lamsweerde
Ziggy and his Music By Frans and Joyce Van Lamsweerde
Ziggy what Animals Say By Frans and Joyce Van Lamsweerde

 Ziggy and his Colors  Ziggy and his Music  Ziggy What Animals Say

I am clumping this three book set into one entry.   These were among the first and most memorable of all the books my mom read to my sister and I as very young children.  These books were written in 1968, and (as you may be able to tell from the covers alone) written around the time that would be the peak of the “Age of Aquarius”.  Both the story content and illustrations were overly colorful, vivid, free and flowing, and have an overtly strong “hippy” vibe to them!   When I look them over now as an adult I have to wonder if these delightful children’s stores were actually the result of an acid trip, and written on the journey back from the dark side of the moon.  (Well, it WAS the 60's - right?)

Acid trip or no acid trip, the stories do make for wonderful (and memorable) children’s stores – as evident by the fact that they top off my list of Top Ten! The premise in the first two (Colors and Music) is that Ziggy (the main character in the books, who sort of looks like the well-known Comic Strip character Ziggy, but seemingly has no real connection other than a coincidence) goes around collecting colors / sounds from the everyday environment around us - and later uses the collected colors / sounds to create paintings and a music box.  I do not have much memory of "What Animals Say" - I think we may have lost or ruined the book as children.
I am pretty sure if you were to ask the Sister of the Father of Five if she remembers the books, not only would she say yes - she may even break the books out and show 'em to you!!  If memory serves me correctly, the books ended up in her possession!

Children's Stories of the Bible from the Old and New Testaments
By Barbara Taylor Bradford.
Children's Stories of The Bible from the Old and New Testaments Jeff (my friend who tagged inspired me to do this) listed The Bible as one of his most inspirational books.  He is a very spiritual fella (which is one of the things I admire about him).  I too consider myself pretty “faithful” in my beliefs, but I am not as heavily vested in the literal interpretation of Bible as I am in the figurative interpretation of the concepts found within.  (Apologies to those who are more “Scriptural”.   I certainly respect your choices.

That being said, the #2 book on my list of top ten inspirational / memorable is this book is Biblical in nature.  My #2 book is a collection of Biblical stories of both the Old and New Testaments for children.

I no longer have the book, but recall it was inscribed as a gift from (I believe) my Uncle Greg and Aunt Marilyn.  It was either a Baptismal gift, or a gift from my First Communion (suspect the former).  I have fond and vivid memories of flipping through the pages and admiring the artwork, and hearing the familiar stories from the bible.  A couple of the stories that immediately jump out at me are the story of Moses (and the picture of a baby in a basket being put in the Nile River), and the David and Goliath story (not sure if that was because of the namesake, or that I am a virtual Goliath myself?!?!)            
While it is not “The Bible”, it is a favorite childhood collection of Biblical stories that make it into my “Top Ten”.

The Ghost of Dibble Hollow By May Nickerson Wallace, Orin Kincade (Illustrator)
The Ghost of Dibble Hollow Back CoverThe Ghost of DIbble Hollow Front CoverAs mentioned in the previous post “The Horror In My Life” (linked above), I have had a penchant for ghostly, and horrific fiction for as far back as I can remember.  This  was a book we picked up at a garage sale at my request.  The book had me hooked from the image on the cover – although, the scariest part of the book IS the cover!  For one reason or another, I have kept this book.  I still have it in my box of childhood “treasures”.  The Ghost of Dibble Hollow just may have been my “gateway” into a lifelong infatuation with macabre fiction!

A Night to Remember by Walter Lord

A Night to Remember It’s not that this is an amazing book, or that I even really enjoyed it, but I have had a lifetime fascination with The Titanic. 

Remember folks, when I read this book, the Titanic had yet to be found – and was really a story veiled with a lot of mystique. 

My fascination with the Titanic was mostly with the thought that such a incredible ship (and it’s contents) lie silently at an unknown location at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean – refusing to give up it’s voiceless secrets.   

The Dead Zone by Steven King

The Dead ZoneHere it is again…

This time, cropping up in my early teen years.  This was a book I grabbed on a whim (having never heard of Steven King before reading this book) from the library to take along on a family road trip vacation.  Quite honestly, I remember more about reading the book (and wanting to get back to reading the book) than I do of the actual vacation.  It was one of the earliest “can’t put down” books for me – and (because I enjoyed it so much), it was the catalyst for my “decade long” run with Steven King.

The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank by Erma Bombeck.

The Grass is ALways Greener over the Septic Tank I am pretty certain that this was one of the first books I ever checked out of the library in High School.  I left my small K-8 school (and limited library geared for the younger kids) and was presented a whole new collection of books to choose from when I started attending the Academy of the Holy Angels as a 9th grader.  It was (for me) one of the first “laugh out loud” books I had ever read.  I remember going back and rereading paragraphs just to make myself laugh again and again.  I suspect I found humor in this book having grown up in the suburban utopia of “Prestigious West Bloomington”!

The Grass is Always Greener was an eye opener for me.  It demonstrated to me that there are books out there that are REALLY funny!!  Humor has, and continues to be an very important aspect to my life! 

The Nighttime GuyThe Nighttime Guy by Tony Kenrick

Why this book?  I can’t be completely sure.  I mean, who has ever heard of this book?  Who has ever really heard of this author?  Not many I suspect – but for some reason – this book (while I am certain wasn’t intended to) made me laugh out loud! 

Much like Erma Bombeck’s “Grass is Greener” – there were a couple of scenes in the book that made me laugh so hard my sides ached – and I read them over and over again (finding them just as funny as the last time).
The memorable scenes all involved a supporting character (a young girl… maybe eight or nine) who was rude, crude, and borderline vulgar.  For some strange reason, her antics REALLY made me laugh.  I tried reading a couple of Kenrick’s other works, but none of them really struck a chord with me like '”The Nighttime Guy” 

Frankenstein by Mary Shelly
Ahh…   Mrs. Hanson… 
My senior year English teacher. 

Kate Hanson - English Teacher extraordinaire! Ya gotta give her a ton of credit.  She put up with a lot.  (And, by “a lot”, I mean me).  She continued to try to reach me knowing full well that 99% of the reading assignments she gave me went…  well…  Unread. 

Not only “unread”, but “UNASHAMEDLY unread” .
Yes, that is me bowing my head in shame and embarrassment. 
Forgive me Mrs. Hanson, for I knew not what I was doing.
The names of numerous (unread) classic novels completely escape me now for having never read them -   but not Frankenstein!  I cannot be certain if it was the horror theme, or Ms. Hanson’s rebellious declaration that she was one of the last teachers in the State of Minnesota still teaching this book, but for whatever reason it was - I actually read it! 

Not only did I read it, I THRIVED at this unit.  I read every assignment, answered questions and actively participated in class.  I read ahead of where we were supposed to be.  I did well on the quizzes and test.

It was to be my most successful endeavor in her class!  Thank you Mrs. Hanson! 
You did it!  You reached me through Frankenstein!

(Photo of Mrs. Hanson from the 1987 Academy of the Holy Angels yearbook)

It by Steven King

Come on…  What horror fiction fan and Steven King enthusiast wouldn’t undertake this massive 1138 page lighthearted tale of an evil entity posing as a “happy dancing clown” living in the sewers of a small town preying upon the children?? 

Not this one!! 

Pennywise in the sewers
“When you're down here with us, you'll float too Georgie!”
This book had me lock, stock, and barrel – to the point I would be up at night, reading in the dark of my room (freaking myself out), and even got me scolded by a college professor for reading it during her class!

Announced to the whole class during lecture:  “Mr. FOF, I know I can’t compete with Mr. King, but would you please put away the novel and at least attempt to listen to my lecture?”  (true story!)   
I hope you have all had the pleasure of creating scenes and imagery in your head of what you are reading about in a book.  I know I do.  In “It”, the kids are drawn to “The Barrens” (the gateway to Pennywise’s lair).

Well, as I read the book, the image that came to my mind was of a very real place not far from my home.  I imagined The Barrens looked a lot like a large storm drain outlet that pours into Nine Mile Creek in Harrison Park (Bloomington, MN). 

When “It” was finally made into a movie, and I got a chance to see it, I was completely freaked out by how similar the movie scene seemed to what I pictured in my head.  

Pennywise in the Barrens

(Photo of Harrison Park storm drain outlet coming soon!)

Here you can see the image from Harrison Park / Central Park / Moir Park in Bloomington, Minnesota that came to my mind as I read the book.  In summer, it is much greener.

It would look something like this....


Dracula by Bram Stoker
Bram Stoker - DraculaLet’s see.  Ghost stories, Steven King, horror movies, evil clowns, etc, etc, etc.    And I had not read Bram Stoker’s Dracula before adulthood??  How this one slipped by me, I will never fully understand. 
By this time I was working overnights at a 9-1-1 center.  Between calls and during my downtime, I took to reading.  I was planning on re-reading Frankenstein again, but was unable to locate my copy of it – so instead, I ran to the library.  I wanted to find something similar to Frankenstein – so I thought to myself… Dracula!  Why not Dracula?  So I checked it out.
Have you ever read Bram Stoker’s original Dracula? 
No, the movies, comic books, and “Scholastic” versions of the novel do NOT count. 

I’m speaking of the Dracula novel as written in Bram Stokers own words!
A hidden love story. 
Forsaking God.
Supernatural entities. 
True evil.
Subtle sexuality. 
Victorian era gothic settings.
Dracula started me down a long road of vampire fiction.  Not the “Nü Vampire genre” (like one can find in “True Blood” (and all the other recently romanticized vampire stories) – but down the dark, evil, gothic, and violent vampire fiction.

I am also going to cheat by adding an 11th bonus entry – but this is not so much a “book” as a means of reading.
The Kindle By Amazon. 
Kindle walking My Kindle has completely reinvigorated, revitalized and reinvented the way I read.  Not only the WAY I read, but HOW MUCH I read too.  I went from reading a fair amount as a boy, to reading little (if any) for personal leisure since graduating college.  The “reading drought” continued for more than 10 years.  

On a whim, I went out and bought both myself and The Mother of Five a simple e-ink Kindle Touch.  I cannot even being to tell you how much this has changed my reading.  I am averaging a novel a month now, am frequently prowling for new (bargain, discount, or free) content to add to my Kindle (I have over 300 books stored in my Kindle at the time I am writing this post), and have even dedicated a page on this blog to my Kindle reading habbits. 

(Feel free to check it out by clicking on THIS LINK)

The Project – Part One

For months now (maybe even a year) – I have been contemplating a project.  For many, this project may not seem like much, but for a fella like me (livin’ a life of “chaos in paradise”), this has been quite the undertaking.

It all started  when the END OF ONE ERA ushered in the BEGNING OF A NEW ERA.  Then, a vehicle upgrade (well, actually a “downgrade” in size), and an pending vacation trip made the project even more of a necessity!

cartopping the canoeIt all started (in earnest) in the fall of 2013.

I had been “car-topping” my canoe for transportation to and from my paddling adventures, but getting the canoe up on top of the car (or van) and back down has proven to be a little more of a hassle (and scratch/dent inducing) endeavor than I had envisioned.  Then, I up(down)graded my vehicle from a 2000 Saturn SL1 to a 2005 Toyota Corolla.  The vehicles are comparable in length, but the roofline is noticeably shorter, and thus, even less stable to “cartop” than the Saturn.  (I suppose I could “make it work” if I had to, but between the scratch/dent issue and the shorter roofline, I elected not to risk it.)

What I did was start researching alternate methods of transporting the canoe.  I started looking at trailers that would haul canoes.

There are many different options available.  If money was no object, I could have had a readymade trailer delivered within a week – but, money IS an object.  So, it was back to the drawing board.  What became pretty apparent to me was that MANY people (particularly kayakers, but many canoers too) BUILD their OWN trailer – and in typical “Father of Five” fashion, I became ferociously obsessed with researching these trailers and the idea of building my own.

I think I identified (and visited) every website that documented the building, modifying, customizing, or rebuilding of a trailer for use as a canoe hauler.

To help me organize the ideas I stumbled upon, I turned to another online resource I had previously ignored… Pinterest.  I created something called a “pin-board” to collect the ideas I liked best.  (If you are interested, feel free to visit my “Canoe Trailer Pin-Board”  by following the link.).

The basic design (and sort of “foundation” for my project) looked something like the photo on the right.

(Thank to Jack from www.metalsmithpro.com for permission to use photo)

My “ideal” canoe trailer would have the following features…
· It would be inexpensive
· It would be small and lightweight (but long enough to haul a 17’ canoe)
· It would need to have the ability to carry gear (either in the canoe or in/on the trailer)
· It would need to have the ability to use it for other purposes (aka – “convertible”)
· It would need to be storable
· To make it storable, I needed it to (easily) break down or fold up
· To make it usable, I needed it to (easily) be set up or unfold out of storage

Immediately, the Harbor Freight trailers became the obvious solution.  They have four models to choose from.  A “lightweight” and a “heavy duty” in a 40x48 “stick” trailer or a 48x96 “fold up” trailer.  Regardless of the deck size, I wanted to go with the heavier duty trailer.  The lightweight trailers have an 8” wheel and the heavy duty trailers have a 12” wheel.  The larger wheel is more suited for longer hauls.   

After several months (most of the LONG Minnesota winter of 2013-2014) and several discussions with / input from my good buddy “Backside of Forty” (of which mostly centered around the 40x48 vs 48x96 debate) I found myself more often than not drifting towards the 40x48 option.  Honestly, neither was the ideal solution.  It ultimately came down to price, size, and convertibility.

Once I felt as if I exhausted all “research” possibilities, I took the ideas I liked best, and combined them into a “hybrid” trailer.  I drew out (to scale) what I thought the trailer would look like.    
Convertable Canoe Trailer Convertable Canoe Trailer

As you can see, I chose the 40x48 stick trailer.  I would build it with two length options – one extraordinarily long (for the canoe) and one that is much more typical.   

I planned on keeping the trailer deck 40x48.  This way I can…
  • Build rails for the small trailer.
  • Build a storage box to fit a 40x48 floor. 
  • Buy and install (with the option to remove) a car top carrier. 
  • Build an “oversized” deck (that would rest three feet out the front on the tongue, and hang over the rear of the trailer by 1 foot) giving me the equivalent of a 48x96 flatbed (and could even build rails for a 48x96 trailer too!).
This would allow me to…

  • Use the trailer to haul JUST the canoe, or…
  • Use the trailer to haul the canoe AND a storage box / cartop carrier, or…
  • Use the trailer to haul a storage box / cartop carrier WITHOUT the canoe, or…
  • Use the trailer to haul as EITHER a 40x48 or 48x96 inch flatbed WITHOUT
    the canoe or the storage box / cartop carrier.

I can also remove all “accessories” (tongue, storage boxes, canoe framework, and rails), and be left with a very small, short and narrow trailer that can lean up against my garage wall, and snug between the studs.  The tongue(s) / rails / oversized flatbed could all be hung on the garage wall.

Yup.  This plan suited my needs!!  So, with all my plans in place, I began saving my “allowance”. 
It would only be a matter of time before I started!! 

Father's Day Fun!

I could not think of a better way to recognize “Father’s Day” than to dedicate this fun little post to MY dad! The “Father of the Father of Five”.

It’s a “spin off” to my previous post (Graduation 2014 - #2 of 5) in which I eluded to something I wanted to share that was related to graduation, but not really about the graduation.

You will (undoubtedly) see how it’s connected!


This is my dad. The “Father of The Father of Five”.

The “FoFoF” graduated from Roosevelt High School in June of 1955. This is his senior class photo.

On the day of his graduation, his parents took his photograph standing next to his car. When he graduated, he was driving a 1946 Ford Sedan.

(BONUS photo at the very bottom of this post!)

This is his high school.
Roosevelt High School - Minneapolis, Mn

The Father of the Father of Five. Graduation day, June 1955. Standing next to his 1946 Ford Sedan.

This is me. The “Father of Five

I graduated from the Academy of the Holy Angels in June of 1987. This is my senior class photo.

On the day of my graduation, my parents took my photograph standing next to my car. When I graduated I was driving a 1976 Ford Granada.

This was my high school.
Academy of the Holy Angels - Richfield, Mn

The Father of Five.  Graduation Day June 1987.  Standing next to his 1976 Ford Granada.

This is my son. #2 of 5.

#2 of 5 graduated from Jordan High School in June of 2014. This is his senior class photo.

On the day of his graduation, we took his photograph standing next to his car. When he graduated, he was (and still is) driving a 2000 Buick Century.

This was #2 of 5's high school.
Jordan High School - Jordan, Mn

#2 of 5.  Graduation day - June 7 2014.  Standing next to his 2000 Buick Century.


As promised (and...  for just a little bit of ADDED FATHER'S DAY FUN), here is a photo I found of Roosevelt High School's 1955 Homerooms #325 and #328B.

You may (or may not) recognize one of the faces in the crowd.
I may (or may not) have made the identification just a little bit easier!  (wink)

Graduation 2014 - #2 of 5

Last weekend marked the passing of another one of life’s big events – for me as a father (and my wife as a mother, and us together as parents), as well as for #2 of 5 who takes ANOTHER big step a much larger world.  (As you may or may not recall, #2 of 5 took another one of those steps just a couple of months ago.



#2 of 5 has graduated High School. 

For those of you counting, that’s “two down, three to go”. 

It’s been said before, and it merits repeating – time has a way of escaping if you are not paying attention.  My advise for you fathers out there reading this is to slow down.  Slow WAY down.  Enjoy the moments while you are in them, because if you don’t – in the blink of an eye – you will be standing at your child’s graduation wondering just where the time went.  Trust me on this one.

I can not even begin to believe the concept that it’s been seven years since #1 of 5 graduated.


A little background on #2 of 5.

#2 of 5 attended St. John the Baptist School from Kindergarten through sixth grade (including two years of “Wee-Angels” preschool), then attended Jordan Middle School for seventh and eight grade.  He moved on and completed his secondary education at Jordan High School for ninth through twelfth grades.  He is (as of right now) currently enrolled, and begins his post-secondary education at Normandale Community College in the Fall!  I am very excited for him!

#2 of 5 is a very bright young man, who’s view of the world is one of equal treatment, and equal justice for all.  While he did not graduate with “high honors”, I could not be prouder of him for the many important life lessons he picked up along the way.  He has honed and calibrated his moral and ethical compass – and while I may not agree 100% with the direction the needle may point (but, it’s a good 98% that I can agree on) I have no doubt that the direction that compass is taking him in is both good, and the right direction.  

Be sure to visit #2 of 5’s dedicated page here on FOF. 
You will learn a lot more about this fine young man! 


Scheduled before the graduation ceremony was St. John the Baptist Church’s Graduation send off mass. 

The send off mass is the regularly scheduled Saturday evening mass (the time coincides well with the graduation ceremony), where graduating seniors join the entry procession, receive a special blessing by the congregation, follow the exit procession, and are provided a light lunch after mass in Louis Hall (the Church basement and kitchen area).   

One other special thing St. John’s does for the graduation mass is to break out this class’s First Communion Alter Cloth.  (The green and white quilt over the main alter in the photo).

This Alter Cloth is a quilt of “squares” made by these students as a project for their First Communion.  Each student is to use felt, cloth, fabric paint, and the like to craft an image related to first communion.   Then, each of the quilt squares are sewn together to make the Alter Cloth.

This Alter Cloth is used on their First Communion (in second grade), their Confirmation (in tenth grade) and their Graduation send off mass (in twelfth grade).


We used the Church’s Gathering Area before mass to get some family photos (which I won’t bore you with here).  #2 of 5 (who has little to no patience for being photographed) did surprisingly well.  After “a few” (~ahem~) photographs, we attended mass held by Fr. Timothy Yanta (our beloved Parish Priest) which was followed by the enjoyable Luncheon in Louis Hall.  The idea of the luncheon is perfect (and I could not be more grateful for the Church doing it).  There is only a short window of time between the end of the mass and the beginning of the graduation ceremony.  Trying to coordinate a meal for our family between the two would have been difficult (at best).  The ladies of the church did a GREAT job, and lunch was delicious!  Their meal went a long way towards us being able to enjoy the graduation without the distraction of hunger!

With all the festivities at St. John’s complete, it was time to head to the High School and get this kid graduated! 


The Graduation ceremony was to be held at the Jordan High School athletic field, but due to a significant rainfall during the day, it was held in the Gymnasium instead.  Seating was at a premium because it was held in the gym. 

Each family was allotted four tickets to the “main floor” and the bleacher seating was available for the remainder of the families.  This led us to a small dilemma.  We had five immediate family members attending (myself, the Mother of Five, #3 of 5, #4 of 5, and #5 of 5).  We also had both sets of grandparents attending.  Given the totality of the circumstances, the Mother of Five and I discussed it, and ultimately decided on giving our “main floor” tickets to #2 of 5’s grandparents.     

A couple of items in particular stood out on the stage. 

Two bouquets of white roses were present along with the diplomas.  Each bouquet of roses represented a member of #2 of 5’s graduating class who’s presence at the graduation was in heavenly spirit.   

Chloe Fruth who lost her battle with cancer during their Sophomore year, and Mickenzy Segler who was involved in a fatal automobile accident during their Senior year.

The ceremony itself was very nice.  Both the band and the choir preformed throughout the ceremony.  The festivities kicked off with the VFW holding a “posting of the colors” (displaying the United States flag) ceremony.  This was followed with the opening remarks and a congratulatory address.

At one point during the ceremony, the school staff acknowledged the students who have selflessly joined the armed forces, listing each student, and the branch in which they joined.  Once each of these students were acknowledged, the crowd erupted in thunderous applause and a standing ovation.  It was one of the most moving displays I have seen!

IMG_0900A few more acknowledgements followed (Outstanding Seniors and Best Citizen Awards) before the Awarding of the Diplomas began.   

The moment finally arrived.  #2 of 5’s name was called, and he began his walk to the podium to receive his diploma.    

Soon thereafter, the end of the list of graduates was reached. 

There was one last speech by one of the seniors (titled the “Graduate message”) before the Graduates proceeded out of the gymnasium and into the gathering area.

The gathering area was quite crowded, but we were able to find a less chaotic corner for a post-graduation photo session. 

Picture 055    Picture 046

#2 of 5 (and each of the graduates) were given a bouquet of three white roses.  I am not sure if they were asked to or not, but #2 of 5 had planned on giving one of three flowers to each of his grandmothers, and (I suspect) the final rose had him torn a bit.  I think he wanted to give it to his mother, but I also think he also wanted to give it to his girlfriend.

The Mother of Five (in what I think is a really cool move) preemptively told #2 of 5 that she thought it would be very nice gesture if he were to give his girlfriend the rose (thus removing any feelings of conflict or guilt he may be feeling). 

#2 of 5 did present his last and final Graduation Rose to his girlfriend.  I tried to capture the moment in a picture, but missed it by about two seconds.  I still got a photo just after it happened.  There is a tremendous smile on this young lady’s face – and I have no doubt she enjoyed receiving the rose as much as the Mother of Five and I enjoyed watching #2 of 5 give it to her! 

Call me sentimental if you want, but this was one of my favorite moments of the evening!!

(I would have loved to have posted a photo of #2 of 5 and his girlfriend, or the “tremendous smile” photo, but I want to respect her privacy – having never really made a “debut” here on FOF yet, I am not really sure how she would feel about it.)  

With the ceremony over, gown turned in, and diploma in hand, (the newly graduated) #2 of 5 headed out with his class to the All Night Senior Party! 

I understand that he arrived back home around 4am (or so) before collapsing in exhaustion.  I fully expected I would not see #2 of 5 “return to the living” until somewhere around 3pm – but while working outside (being careful not to wake him) - #2 of 5 came bounding out of the house around 11:30 am.

He answered a couple of my questions about the All night party, before climbing into his car, and driving off into the next chapter of his life…

I have another follow up post to this one – it’s related to graduation – but not just THIS graduation. 
It’s become a bit of a family tradition.

I will update THIS LINK once the post is complete.


The Life of a Father of Five’s anniversary just rolled right on past me again. 

It’s hard to believe that I have maintained this hobby / project / endeavor for over eight years now.   As I have stated in previous “anniversary” posts, FoF is not the same thing it was back in 2006.  Back then, I had so much to say.  So many stories to tell.  The kids were young, and there were so many thing we did that I felt compelled to share.  Very few days passed without me posting something ANYTHING about something ANYTHING .

Time went on, and many of the stories I told that were once “new and exciting” to share were duplicated over and over (things like summer camp, hunting trips, school events, etc) – and the kids have all gotten older.  Old enough to express their “viewpoints” on my talking about them in this forum.  Old enough that I felt obligated to respect their wishes (at least to a certain degree).

As FoF transitioned, a noticeable trend (or trends) starting taking shape.  FoF began to change.
·         Post QUANTITY has diminished…  (significantly)… 
·         On the other hand, QUALITY has increased… (or so I like to think)…  

FoF has, and will remain a big part of who I am.  While I continue to struggle with “quantity” of time I can commit, and the “quality” of the work is certainly questionable, I will continue to hold on to this little creative outlet, and do my best to modify, adjust, and adapt what FoF means to me, and to the others who regularly stop on by and/or those who just happen to stumble on by.  

Like so many previous anniversary posts – I HAVE to give a shout out to a number of AMAZING people I have met along the way.  People who influence me in ways that they likely do not realize.  When I first met these folks, they were strangers to me.  Strangers with names like (in no particular order) A Family Runs Through It, AtHomeDaddy, Backside of Forty, Postulates and Pasttimes, MotherOf8,  My Family and Other Animals just to name a few.  (Forgive me if you are not named.  There are too many to list!)

Through our mutual interests (like blogging, families, and parenthood) many of the fellow bloggers I have met through FoF have transitioned into friends.  I have come to know some of these folks on a much different level.  A much more personal level.  Their support and friendship along the way has become quite real, and very significant in my life.  I am unable to truly express my level of gratitude for the niches they have etched into my life.

Taking His Next Step Into a Larger World

Today, #2 of 5 continued his full fledged sprint towards independence and adulthood by jumping another one of life’s hurdles along the way.  Vehicle Ownership! 

5 Knowing full well that I had two teenaged males at (or approaching) driving age, not too long ago I upgraded my previous vehicle to something a little newer.  When I did that, I “handed down” my previous vehicle to my two teenaged drivers.  Since that time #2 of 5 and #3 of 5 have been sharing the hand–me-down 2000 Saturn SL-1 (my previous vehicle). 

I have been completely impressed with how well the two of them have cooperated and found a balance between each other’s needs, and how they helped each other out when it came to use of the car and cooperation with each other.  I cannot recall having heard even one argument over “who gets the car” during the time they have shared it. 

Understandably though, we expect #2 of 5’s vehicular needs to change drastically in June when he graduates high school and transitions into the life of a live-at-home college student.  Recently, he has been expressing his interest (and concerns) with obtaining his own “set of wheels”.  The Mother of Five and I have assured him that he is at just the right age and position in his life to start setting a goal for, and looking into options for “vehicle ownership”.  That’s when an opportunity presented itself. 

A friend of my father-in-law had a vehicle he was no longer using sitting in his garage.  When he mentioned to my Father-in-law that he felt it was time to sell the car, #2 of 5 came to mind.  #2 of 5’s grandfather made it a point to tell him about the possibility, and provided him the contact information.

New and Former owners - shaking hands!#2 of 5 got in contact with my Father in Law’s friend, arranged to see and test drive the vehicle, and agreed to purchase the vehicle.

“Technically”, #2 of 5 had enough funds to write a check right “then and there” for the car – but, I had other plans in mind.  Having never established ANY sort of credit, I felt this was the perfect opportunity to teach him about the importance of RESPONSIBLE use of credit, and how to build a strong foundation for a good credit rating in the future.  The Mother of Five and I have helped #2 of 5 (carefully) navigate the (sometimes treacherous) waters of obtaining his very first “personal loan”. 


Transfering ownership at the DMVOnce the financing was arranged, and a casher’s check was drafted, it was time to make it official!  #2 of 5 got back in touch with the seller, and arranged a date to transfer his money for the title of his very first car!

We met the seller at the Department of Motor Vehicles, paid him, transferred the title, and renewed the registration.

The previous owner handed my son the keys – and congratulated him on a job well done buying his very first vehicle!

My heart swelled with pride.


Who is that in the car behind me?
With the sale complete, we headed out to “show off” the new wheels.  (There he is, in the car behind me, on our way.)

Of course, being the “broker” of this deal, we had to stop off and Grandma and Grandpa’s house to thank them for pointing him in the right direction, and show them the fruit of his labors. 

I don’t totally know why, but on the way to my in-laws, I was VERY nervous about #2 of 5 driving his new car.  I was as worked up as I was the time he took MY car out (alone) for the very first time. 


Truthfully, I had nothing to worry about.  I have heard from several people what a good driver he has been, and now behind the wheel of his OWN car, bought with his OWN money – I have no doubt he will be even more careful – but sometimes the worry overpowers the common sense in my own brain.

Once we stopped off at my in-laws, we started heading home.  Between my in-laws home and our home is my parents home.  So, of course, we stopped by there too!   

Grandman and Grandpa Mémère and Grandpa

(The Mother of Five’s folks on the left and my folks on the right – both very proud of #2 of 5!)
Aren't grandparents the best things in the world?!?!

With the car purchased and now “shown off” to the grandparents, #2 of 5 was chomping at the bit to head out to do his OWN thing (in is OWN car) – but not before I “had to” take a few pictures of my young man and his new car! 

May I please introduce you to #2 of 5 with his very own
2000 Buick Century
V6 – 3.1L – 4 door – “Jasper Green Pearl” with 115XXX miles on it

Proud new owner Proud new owner!

Father and son - a PROUD fatherhood moment!

Yup, there is no doubt.  I sure am proud of the young man #2 of 5 is becoming more and more each and every day. 

I was told (and dismissed) just how much I would miss the early years while my children were growing up, and now that they are almost there – I truly wonder where the time went.

Don’t tell him so, but often – while thinking back to that little boy he once was brings tears to my eyes.  Tears mixed with joy and pride for who he has become, and with sorrow for wishing I could have the little boy back – even just for a few hours.

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