Well, well, well. Look who’s back…

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This is my first blog since May 18th. I guess this is the longest I have gone between blogs and many have sent private messages wondering if I am doing okay. My good buddy, Max, sent an email asking about me and it took me a while to write him back. Knowing I work in the medical field, and knowing how often I blog, he feared the worst. Needless to say, he was relieved to hear back from me. I figured if folks were worried if I was still around, I’d take some time to write.

It is not that I haven’t had stuff to write about, because I certainly have. I guess I was just having a hard time motivating myself to do so. It has been a very emotional month. So where do I even begin?

When I last wrote, I had just celebrated my 50th birthday. It seems that every time I hit a mile stone birthday, something happens to remind me I am getting older. This birthday, I found myself trying to read and really having difficulty seeing the words. I had Lasik surgery done years ago and I have had no real issues with my vision. I was told that the only thing that they couldn’t correct was if I needed reading glasses. I need to make an appointment to have my eyes checked, but until then, I am reading with these ridiculous readers on!

Speaking of birthdays, I feel bad because two very important ones came and went since I last blogged and they certainly both deserved a full blog. My wife celebrated at the beginning of the month and my youngest son officially became a teenager just a few days ago. Birthdays in quarantine suck. I didn’t get to really do anything for either of them! It will be a week or two before I see my son, so I am planning on doing something for him when he is back here with me.

I got Amazon gift cards from my mother and father-in-law, and from my dad. I decided I’d get some vinyl to play. One for laughs and one for music.

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You can’t go wrong with Frank Sinatra. They remixed his Nice and Easy album and I picked that up.

Next, I found an album I had years ago that is loaded with laughs from the great Soupy Sales.

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Graduation on the Internet

My oldest son graduated this year. You may have seen something about his school, as it made national news. They rented the Drive-in theater in town and showed all of the commencement speeches, staff speeches, and called out every graduate’s name (while showing their pictures) on the three big screens. Sadly, only one car per student was allowed, so Sam and I watched the live stream from home. It was certainly not the way I thought I would see my son graduate.

I emailed the principal and voiced how disappointed I was that only one car was allowed per student. Certainly there were more divorced parents than just me! I had hoped that he would return my email, but that didn’t happen. So, I cheered and cried when they read his name from my living room. He wore his cap and gown to the ceremony, but I haven’t gotten any pictures of him in them. I am hoping that he will come by with them so I can at least get one.

Back to Work

I returned to work two weeks ago. I really wasn’t sure I was ready to return, but the doc thought I’d be okay. The lab where I work is open, but only a few of the staff is back there. The rest are still working in a labor pool at jobs that they are assigned to. When I returned to work, that was where I went. The only bad thing is, the labor pool is going away and that means I will have to take a temporary lay off.

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The thing that scares me is wondering if they will ever call me back. I know of many people in radio who were told they were being laid off temporarily, only to have the companies eliminate those positions and terminate them. This is happening all over as many companies are doing whatever is necessary to keep their business alive. In the weekly trade magazine that comes our for just country radio stations, there is almost three pages of people LOOKING for jobs, while there is just a half page of stations looking to hire people.

Father’s Day

Father’s Day I was up early to meet my sons for breakfast. It was the first time we’d eaten in a restaurant since things opened back up. It was nice to see both of them together. Lately, I have only been seeing Dimitri, as Dante’ is now working and usually hanging with his friends. We had a nice breakfast and I enjoyed my time with them.

When I came home, Sam had Ella all dressed for Father’s Day.

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I received my Father’s Day/Birthday gift from Sam between my birthday and Father’s Day. She ordered me something that was made special for me. She had hoped it would be here by my birthday, but it took a few weeks to make. I was floored by this when it arrived. It was a book –

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She got to design how I looked, and how Ella looked. She said it was hard because her hair was still looking red some days and blonde on others. There were various stories to put in the book. She had Ella point and those were the ones that ended up in the book. She asked me to read it and I could barely make it through. It made me so emotional. It was the perfect gift and I will treasure it forever!!

My Baby Girl

The one thing that has been a plus though all of this is the time that I have gotten to spend with Ella. She brings me so much happiness. On nice days, we always try to take a walk around the neighborhood. She loves it! We look at the squirrels, listen to the birds, say hello to neighbors, and just enjoy the nice weather.

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We like to play with her toys on the floor, she likes to bounce in her jumpy seat, we nap together, and occasionally, we’ll watch Bubble Guppies together (she likes the music on that show).

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Sometimes, I will put on my Dean Martin or Frank Sinatra albums and we’ll sway and dance in the living room. Having this precious time with her has been a blessing. With the layoff, I will have more time with her and that will be the positive in a negative situation.

Classes

My DVD’s arrived for my Bible classes. I am currently re-watching the first year (the stuff that I had already done) and will continue with the new classes when I am finished. Just revisiting these classes has been very beneficial for me. I am glad that I decided to return.

I certainly feel like my spiritual life is moving in the right direction. I have a lot of peace right now, despite the uncertainty that lies ahead. I have faith that no matter what is ahead of me …. Every thing will be okay.

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With that being said, I guess that brings you up to date. I hope to not be so long between blogs. Thanks for reading!

Halfway to 100 …

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I received my invitation to join the AARP early last week. A week earlier the letter from the Secretary of State telling me my plates were about to expire came in the mail. Both served as a reminder that I was about to get older. Three days ago, I completed my 50th trip around the sun.  I celebrated the 11th anniversary of my 39th birthday, as I like to say. My milestone birthday was celebrated in quarantine.

All over Facebook there are “quarantine items” you can have made.  You can have things like: “Our first anniversary – in quarantine,”  “Class of 2020 – the one spent in quarantine,”  or “I turned 50 in quarantine and all I got was social distancing,” put on T-shirts, coffee mugs, or just about anything. I’m thankful that I didn’t get any of that stuff for my birthday.  As a matter of fact, I am glad it happened while in quarantine!

Why would I be glad about that?  Well, I know my wife.  She would have found a way to throw me some sort of party.  Don’t get my wrong, I would love to see all my friends and family.  I just wouldn’t want all the hoopla surrounding my age.  I can see all the black “Over the Hill” balloons, “Look who’s 50!” banners, and I’d receive gifts like a cane with a bicycle bell and rear view mirror on it!  No, I don’t need that.  Besides, most of my close friends are all turning 50 this year, too.  I’m sure there will be some sort of birthday party down the road for one of them.  I can go to that and celebrate with them!  Hell, maybe a joint party is needed?

We had some errands to run early in the day, so I was out when my oldest son called me.  I felt bad, because he drove to my house to surprise me with a card.  He left it in the door for me and he had me video chat him when I got home.  He told me he couldn’t find a Tim Horton’s card, so he opted for Burger King, because he knows I drink their coffee, too!

Another friend texted me and said “Yo!  What is your favorite beer?”  This made me chuckle.  I told her that was the weird text of the day and told her two of my favorites.  On the drive home, I received another text from her that simply read: “Yo!  Check your porch!”  When I got home there was a six pack of each of my favorite beers and a wonderful heartfelt note.

One of the errands we had to run was for my wife.  She had me stop at this local bakery and sent me in to pick up her order.  She had asked me earlier in the week what my favorite ice cream was.  I told her it was probably Mint Chocolate Chip.  This little bakery made me a Mint Chocolate Chip birthday cake.  It was simply delicious!  It tasted just like the ice cream!

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She and Ella made me a very special birthday gift.  I cannot even begin to tell you how special it is.  She took Ella’s footprints and made a heart.  I cried when she gave it to me.  I always hope that she will see me as her first love and her hero!  I can’t wait to hang it up.

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Ella’s feet were busy this week.  10 days earlier, for Mother’s Day, I had also used her feet for an art project.  Funny how my wife and I think alike … I heard Sam singing “You are My Sunshine” to Ella one day and then found this idea, and made it for her.

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Throughout the day, there were countless Facebook messages, calls from my son, brother and father, and text messages from friends and family.  Getting to spend my birthday at home with my wife and daughter meant the world to me.  As a matter of fact, it was the perfect way to spend the day.

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Her smile just melts my heart!

So what will 50 bring?  I don’t know.  What do I wish for?  Good health.  Weight loss.  A growing family.  Less stress.  Job security.  More family time.  To be a better husband and father.  Less debt.  Better time management.  A deeper and stronger faith.  To be more forgiving.  To be less angry.  The ability to let go of the things that hold me back.  To be more positive.  To make amends for wrongs I have done.  To look at each day as a gift.  To listen more.  To smile more.  To love and cherish those who are important to me.

Cheers to another year!

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It’s a Gas – Baby Burps

Ella is 3 months old now.  She is cooing and smiling more and more.  She is becoming more and more curious about the world around her.  Quarantine has limited exploring outside the house to walks around the neighborhood, drives to the doctor, and the rare occasional visit where she sees people through the window.

As she gets bigger, there have been many changes.  Her facial features are changing daily, her clothes are getting tighter, and we’re about ready to move up a size in diapers.  One change I was not ready for, or expecting, was how much harder it is to get her to burp!

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There use to be a time where she’d eat an ounce of formula, I’d sit her up and the burp would happen before I even started patting her back.  There were times where she would burp after just one or two pats on the back.  Today, however, it has become a chore to get a good burp out of her.

It has become so difficult that Sam and I are joking about it.  When we have our Fit Bits on, we joke that we are getting our “steps” for the day because with each pat on her back, it registers a “step!”  We are exceeding our 10,000 steps every day!  It’s crazy!

I remember with my son, I could get him to burp while he was on my shoulder.  This doesn’t work for Ella.  I usually have to sit her up on my lap, and she will burp.  I am told that the “football” hold works good, too, but all that has done for Ella is allow her to puke on floor.

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When we do get a burp, it can range from a loud “Barney from the Simpsons” burp to one that is barely noticeable.  With those, I find myself asking Sam, “Was that a burp?” and pat her back a few more times just in case.  You gotta be careful, though.  If it was a burp, too much extra patting will just lead to puking.

There will be more burping to come in the months ahead.  Burping is important!  Anyone who has ever had a baby knows that a baby with gas is NOT happy!  The will cry and scream because they are in terrible pain – all because they have gas!  I learned real fast about “gas drops.”

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This is a miracle drug.  I’m not lying.  Man, I wish adult medications worked as fast as this stuff!  I swear, it is almost instantaneous!  I have used these drops with every one of my kids and it has never failed (as long as the reason they were crying was indeed gas). If I ever meet the man or woman who invented them, I will hug them and thank them endlessly!

At any rate, I welcome your suggestions for best ways to burp a baby.  I need to wrap it up, now.  I have to “get my steps in” for the day …..

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Nicknames

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My grandparents had nicknames for everybody! In all honestly, I think my whole family had nicknames for everybody. For example, my dad and grandfather worked with a guy they called “Buckets”. My dad said something about how he had to fill buckets with parts or something at work, which led to that nickname. There was a family friend who we met while my parents where big into the CB radio craze. My grandma called him “Three Days”. He had gone over to visit once and then it had been a while between visits. My grandma asked where he had been and reminded him that “they bury the dead in three days” and the nickname stuck. We had a cousin they called “Flookie”. I don’t know the story behind that name. There was an aunt called “Harpo” because of a picture we saw of her with this Harpo Marx perm. There was an uncle called “Pif”. The list of nicknames goes on and on.

They also had nicknames for my friends. My best friend, Jeff, used to help when my grandpa drove us around delivering newspapers. We’d always be making noises and laughing. It probably annoyed my grandpa more than he let us know. Whenever he asked about Jeff, he’d call him “the crazy one.” When they talked about my Polish friend, Joe, they called him “the Polack.” My friend Steve had a variety of nicknames. Because he always seemed to have the Ace of clubs when we played pinochle, they’d call him “the Ace of Clubs.” He always ate a ton of Long John coffee cake when he was at their house, so “Long John” was another. One time he went into their fridge without asking and it pissed my grandpa off, so he became “the rude one.”

My Uncle Tom, my Godfather, had a few nicknames. The one I always used was “Rozmo.”. I am not even sure I know how he got that one. One of the Vietnam Vet guys used to call him “Rufus.” He will always be Rozmo to me.

My friends and I used nicknames, too. Many I can’t remember, but a few I do. I called my friend Margaret “M&M” because her last name started with M. This was LONG before Marshall Mathers (who went to our high school) decided to call himself Eminem. My friend Warren I called “JJ” and he called me “Victor” (characters from Cannonball Run). Steve went by a few nicknames – Srgt. PIN, Smokey the Bear, and a few others. Joe and I called each other cavemen names (maybe because of a cartoon or cereal or something) – Gronk and Ugma. Our friend Ron was called “Boom Boom” because it rhymed with his last name. I am sure my friends can remind me of others.

I don’t remember many of the ones I was called. In elementary school I ran for student council. I did my campaign speech in a blue denim cowboy hat and wore a blue suit. Although his suit was white and mine was blue, many called me “Boss Hogg.” In high school, when we were TPing houses, Steve called me “Hucklebuck” which eventually turned into “Hucklebuck DeValier!”

Baby Nicknames

It got me thinking about all the names parents call their babies. I used to call Dante’ “bubba” and Dimitri “buddy” among other silly ones. Ella is a nickname, as you know. Her real name is Pamela and we call her Ella. Both Sam and I have many names we call her:

  • Scooter Butt
  • Scooter
  • Ella Bella
  • Ellie Bellie
  • Pammie Poo
  • Poo Poo Pants
  • Stinker
  • Stinker Butt
  • Cootie
  • Scoots
  • Boo Boo
  • Toots
  • Tooter
  • Baby Goo
  • Smiley
  • Smiley Miley
  • El
  • Ginger Snap

She has so many names, she probably doesn’t even know her real name! At any rate, I was picking her up yesterday and I was talking to her. My Google Assistant on my phone went off and picked up me talking to her. It then beeped back at me and I had to laugh when I looked at my phone.

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“Sorry, I don’t understand.” Hilarious! I am sure that when I am out in public with her (when all these restrictions are lifted), I am going to be talking baby talk to her and people will be staring at me like I am crazy.

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Did you have a nickname? Did it stick with you? Tell me about it!

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The Little Things

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Spring!

I saw the above cartoon on Facebook and had to share it. Even though the “official” first day of Spring was in March, it is actually starting to feel like it here in Michigan. When people ask my what my favorite season is I usually say “autumn.” Spring is a close second. Spring is an amazing time of renewal. The grass goes from brown to green, the trees begin to bud, and flowers begin to bloom.

Cleaning

I actually got to go outside and accomplish a few things yesterday! When I moved in with Sam, I had many boxes of things that I stored out in the garage. Most of them contained books and various papers. Some of those boxes were full of things that my ex threw in boxes and sent here.

I spent a few hours yesterday and went through many of the boxes that were full of “unknown” things. A lot of the boxes contained old mail and stuff that just needed to be thrown away. There was plenty of stuff that contained personal information that needs to be shredded (the shredder will be working overtime soon).

I also found some boxes I will call my “wishful thinking” boxes. Those boxes contained clothes that are a size or two smaller than I wear now. I kept hoping that I would soon be able to wear them again. The problem is, by the time I can fit into them, they will be out of style (took me forever to give up on the bell bottoms!). Those clothes all went in a Goodwill bag. The rest went to the curb!

There were also old pieces of drywall out there and things from various projects and even from the previous owners that just needed to be tossed. I truly believe I heard our garbage men swearing at me this morning as the were picking up the trash.

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Catch

It was in the 50’s yesterday and sunny. The weather has been chilly and rainy. We’ve even had some snow. The sun was a welcome sight! It has been nice to open up the windows and enjoy the breeze.

Because of the weather, my sons have been kind of cooped up in the house. I mentioned in my last blog about playing cribbage with my youngest son. I have hoped to dig out the Scrabble game as well, to keep them busy. Yesterday, I asked if they wanted to take a walk around the neighborhood. They looked at me like I was nuts! “Exercise?! Really?!”

Instead, I suggested we get out the baseball and play catch. Surprisingly, they agreed. I’m not going to lie, I enjoyed every minute of it. Just me and the boys playing catch – priceless memories! I was able to snag a few shots of them and I love how I was able to capture some with the ball in the air. My phone takes better pictures that some of the expensive cameras I have owned.

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Daddy/Daughter Time

While it isn’t what I would call a “schedule,” I am enjoying some special moments with Ella. She usually gets up around 3 or 4 in the morning for a bottle. Sam has usually be doing this feeding, although I have once or twice. Ella falls asleep much easier for Sam, so after that bottle, she cuddles her and gets her back to sleep. Ella will then wake up around 6:30 or 7 and it’s my turn.

She doesn’t necessarily want to eat right away, and she is usually wide awake. She is usually full of many smiles (and presents many photo opportunities). For about an hour, I have “daddy/daughter” time. First, we sit on the couch and I make silly noises and make her smile. She is cooing a lot more now, so we have lots of conversation. Next, we have floor time. She has a little “toy tent” where there are toys that hang down for her to play with. At her feet, there is a piano that plays music when her feet hit the keys. She is going to be very musical!

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Usually, when floor time is over, she will be ready for a bottle. After that, she will go down for one of her longer naps. Yesterday, after floor time, she wasn’t ready to eat yet. So I picked her up and just kind of walked around the house. I usually sing to her while I hold her, but yesterday, I did something different.

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I pulled out one of my favorite Dean Martin albums and put it on the turntable. She listened to the whole side! She watched the record going around and around. She loved every minute of this. I put the above picture on Instagram and tagged Dean Martin’s daughter Deana and said, “My 10 week old daughter thinks your dad sings his songs better than me!”

It was so special for me. I sing her almost every song on this album. I just swayed back and forth with her in my arms. I hope that she will always want to share a dance with her daddy to these songs.

Back to the Book

Almost 20 years ago, I was taking Bible classes. I was completely focused on them, and then my first son was born. My ex felt that the classes were taking up too much of my time. We ended up leaving the church we were attending because she “didn’t feel comfortable” and so on and so forth. Because I hated arguing about it, I just gave in and stopped my classes and we stopped go to that church.

We went to a few different churches after that, which she always seemed to like (because she knew people there or they had a place to leave the kids). With each church, I always seemed to have issues (mostly doctrinal). When I mentioned my issues, they were usually blown off. She was happy there and that was all that mattered. Eventually, we stopped going to church all together.

As I have written in past blogs, since the quarantine, I have found myself returning to my faith. I have had the chance to watch many church messages from pastors I know. I was watching one message from a pastor who taught many of the classes I was taking. I mentioned this to Sam and she asked, “Why did you stop taking your classes?” When I explained, she told me “You should finish your classes.” Deep down, I knew she was right.

I called the school and asked what I had to do to start back up. They told me that I could start right back where I left off. I had the choice to start over and take tests again, but they still had a record of the tests I already took, so I didn’t have to if I didn’t want to. I found all of my notes from the first year of the school (all still neatly in their folders) and am reviewing them in preparation of continuing. Sadly, I do not have copies of my graded tests. I don’t even have a copy of my ungraded tests.

I am looking forward to moving forward and finishing what I started so long ago.

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End of Quarantine

It looks like we are nearing the end of the quarantine. I hope and pray that life can get back to normal – or a close to it – soon.

Be safe, my friends! Enjoy Spring!

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Friday Fodder

Hello readers. I hope this finds you safe and healthy. This is, yet again, another blog that is full of random thoughts in no particular order.

Baseball

My home team, The Detroit Tigers, have not been much to watch in the past. I guess I was spoiled in that I got to watch the magical year of 1984 and a World Series Crown. Since then, they have struggled. “We are rebuilding” has been what us fans have been told for years! In 2006 we went to the World Series and lost. So, in 30+ years, we really haven’t had much to cheer about.

Despite that fact, I really miss baseball. Today in my Facebook memories, a picture popped up that I posted two years ago. The picture is the view of the baseball diamond that is literally behind our house. “One of the things I love about our house is that I can walk out on the porch and catch a good ball game all spring and summer long,” is the caption. Sigh. Not this year. Even the neighbor kids aren’t out playing ball.

I have mentioned in the past that my favorite Tiger from the 1984 team was Aurelio Lopez. Senor Smoke, they called him. There was something about his pitching style that I liked. As a 14 year old kid, I used to pretend I was him. When I was with my dad, or my buddies from school. We’d pitch to each other calling balls and strikes. When I was alone, I had a square I drew on the side of my house that represented the “strike zone,” I used to throw the ball at. There used to be a square spray painted on the wall of our elementary school, and you could stand in the parking lot and throw tennis balls at it – calling your own strikes.

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I miss hearing baseball on the radio. I miss watching it on TV. There is some talk about teams being allowed to play without people in the stands. While it would certainly be weird to just hear the sound of a ball coming off the bat, I would miss the sound of the crowd cheering for a home run. At this point, however, I would welcome baseball in any form.

The Boys

After my self quarantine of over two weeks, I was able to pick up my sons. They will be staying with me for a little over a week. Despite having seeing them briefly when I took my oldest’s birthday gift to him, and their short visit in my driveway, I felt like I hadn’t seen them at all! Sure, video chats helped, but to actually be with them and give them a hug means so much.

My youngest still has school work that he is doing online and will continue to do through the end of the school year. Because he is a senior, my oldest had the choice of continuing with the final marking period or taking the grades he had when all this Covid stuff came down. He had excellent grades, so he chose the latter and is officially done with school. We’re still waiting to see about graduation and stuff. We haven’t booked a place for his graduation party yet, because we just don’t know when we’ll be able to hold it!

We were able to celebrate my son’s 18th birthday here. We made a cake and sang Happy Birthday. Choices were limited, but we told him he could chose what he wanted for his birthday dinner. He chose pizza (no surprise). It was nice to be able to do that.

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They are always on their devices. They have an Xbox, a Wii U, a Nintendo Switch, and countless games on their cell phones. I am trying to get them away from that stuff, but with the cold weather, it hasn’t been easy. At least today it is supposed to be in the 50’s and we can get outside to play catch or take a walk.

Recently, I taught my youngest how to play chess. It is not my favorite game to play, mainly because I suck at it. I decided that I was going to teach him cribbage. My grandpa taught me how to play when I was about 9 years old. We played the game open handed (where you could see each other’s cards) and I walked him through things. He beat me, and I am hoping to play a few more games while he is here. I am also hoping to get my oldest to play, too. It is ALWAYS nice to have something to do when there is a power outage, or when you are bored.

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In preparation for the boys, I made sure to put clean sheets on their beds, and straightened up their room. While I was in there, I raised the blind on the window to let the natural light in. We have a huge tree that is outside their window. The birds were driving Maizey crazy flying back and forth. She sat like this meowing and jumping at the window for about 5 hours!

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I remember a time when parents put their kids to bed and then stayed up and watched TV before going to bed themselves. However, it’s been the opposite here. Sam and I are ready for bed by 10 and last night they were still up at 3:30am!!! What is up with that?!?

Layoffs

As stated in previous blogs, I am off work on doctor’s orders. While I am here recovering, I have been lucky enough to spend it with family. I have been praying for my co-workers and others who are still working at the hospital. The labor pools at hospital continued to grow because of ambulatory sites being closed, and those workers being put in the pool. This meant less hours for those working. To make matters worse, this week hospitals in the state announced massive layoffs and cuts. Some positions were completely eliminated!

Many of the layoffs are temporary and employees can take advantage of unemployment benefits (while keeping their health care benefits). If I am being honest, I wish that this had been an option from the beginning for many of us. It would have been much less stressful (and safer) for people. I know I would have opted to just be home with family, instead of having to go through a the mental breakdown I had to be home.

I continue to pray for my friends who are still right there in the thick of things. I continue to pray for the many healthcare workers across the state, and throughout the country, who are doing what they can to save lives – while trying to stay safe themselves. I just want life to be back to normal. I want to go and do the job I was trained to do. I’m just not sure when that will happen and if I can even do that!

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Skinny Me

I was out in the garage this week looking through a few boxes. I was looking for some notes from some classes I took years ago (more on that in an upcoming blog). I stumbled on something that I had totally forgotten about – an old magazine I was in.

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Mobile Beat Magazine is still around and it is mainly for mobile DJs. I used to get it when I was DJing more. It had great ideas regarding set ups, equipment, contracts, etc… It also put out a top 200 list every year of the most requested songs from that past year. I still look at it when I do get out to DJ (which is rarely ever now). This particular issue did a story about mobile DJ’s who were also radio DJ’s. I was interviewed and I was one of those featured in the article. My ugly mug even made it in the magazine!

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It is funny to see this picture.

  • I am about 100 pounds heavier now.
  • The glasses are gone thanks to Lasik surgery.
  • The hair is gone because of …. natural causes.
  • The station is gone, because of typical radio politics.

The shirt I am wearing was given to me by my buddy Tim, who is now working in major market radio on a morning show. He and some buddies (Doug and Phil) used to have this set up in their basement where they “played radio.” In all honesty, the stuff they did was better than the stuff you hear on many radio stations today. They would make tapes and I loved them. They called it “Fake Radio” and had me voice some liners for it. Making those up were a blast. I loved that shirt and was sad when it finally was so tattered that I couldn’t wear it anymore!

Ella

My baby girl continues to be a source of happiness. It is amazing how much she has grown in just 10 weeks. She is “talking” so much! I could listen to “baby babble” all day! I love how she smiles at me when I talk to her. There is NO better feeling. While putting clothes away this week, my wife slipped on the tutu and bow my friend Margaret had sent. She slipped it on over her PJs and it looked great. Looking at her, I can totally see her wearing something like this for dance classes.

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I am so guilty of taking a million pictures of her. I will totally be “THAT” dad who will drive her crazy with my camera! “Dad! Enough with the pictures!” I will sit and go through the pictures and claim a “favorite,” only to go through them another day and claim another as “my favorite!” My latest “favorite” is this one:

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I love this little girl SO much.

I love my children SO much. Blessings – each and every one of them!

Until Next Time …

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Quarantine Chrysalis

I woke up this morning with the intention of writing a blog.  Not this blog, but another one.  I have my little “blog thoughts” notebook with the things I am going to write about, however, as I sat down with my cup of coffee a thought hit me.  That thought is what you are about to read.  I haven’t had but maybe 10 minutes to really think on this, so I hope I can get my point across.

The days ahead

I may have the date incorrect, but I believe the “stay at home” quarantine in Michigan started around March 13th.  Since then, some restrictions were added, but that really isn’t important for my point.  So, the quarantine has lasted well over a month here.  For me, I have been home on doctor’s orders for just about 3 weeks.  Government officials all over the country are making plans to life many of the restrictions in stages, so life can get “back to normal.”

With that being said, there have been plenty of articles and news stories about what the “new normal” might be.  Personally, I have tried to steer away from social media articles, and TV news in general (primarily for my health), because it just raises my stress level.  One thing is for sure, things are going to be very different when this is all said and done.  The thought I had prior to writing this, is how I hope to look at the post-quarantine days ahead.

The Chrysalis

When my oldest son Dante’, was in kindergarten or first grade, I remember him coming home and talking about the chrysalis in his classroom.  Now, that’s a big word for a kid his age. I’ll be honest, I’d never really heard that word before.  I had always heard the word cocoon.  He explained that the caterpillar had made his chrysalis and the were waiting to see what happened next.

You’ve seen the “life cycle” of a butterfly, right?  If not, here is a great illustration:

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About that thought I had this morning ….

Throughout this quarantine, I have already sensed some changes in my life.  Some of them, I have blogged about recently.  These things happened while being home in quarantine.  My thoughts shifted from what I used to think about to different ones.  What I thought was important, is not so important anymore.  I came to realize things that were “neglected” or “missing” prior to this, were things that needed my attention.

Prior to quarantine, I was living my life as the caterpillar.  As the caterpillar, I had certain attitudes about things, there was a lifestyle I was leading, etc.  With the quarantine, I have entered this chrysalis.  I am home with time to think about things.  I have taken notice of things that need to change and thought about how to implement them.  When I emerge from the chrysalis, I will be a changed person.  Life will be different, and hopefully, so will I.

Country singer Alan Jackson sang the song “Work in Progress”.  That’s what I am.  There is much work to be done.  Once I emerge from the “chrysalis”, it will be a daily challenge to continue to focus on the important things and not fall back into the “ways of the caterpillar,” but I sure am going to try.

I choose to look at this current situation as an opportunity that God has given me to examine who I was, where I was heading, and where I need to be.  It is time to emerge and spread my wings.

 

 

Coffee Problems and Breaking a Habit

If you are a frequent reader of this blog, or a friend of mine, you know how much I love my coffee.  Coffee is as important to me as water.  When we made our list of things to buy to have during quarantine, coffee was at the top of my list.  When there was talk of power outages, I bought instant coffee because I knew I could boil water and make some.  I have decaff coffee for nights that I crave it, but know I will be heading to bed soon.  I gotta have my coffee.

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This week I had not one, but two coffee mishaps.  I guess technically, I should mention that it was the same mishap – and I did it twice.  Back when my coffee pot died, my wife and I bought each other a new pot.  It works for both of us in that it can make a pot or a single cup.

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One of the things I love about this pot is that while it is brewing a pot, I can pull the carafe and pour a cup and it doesn’t drip onto the burner.  When the carafe is on the burner, it pushes up on a spring which allows coffee to drip from the basket containing the beans into the carafe.  When the carafe is not on the burner, the spring drops and water collects in the filter until the carafe is places back on the burner.  Why am I telling you all of this? It helps when I tell you about my mishap.

Twice this week, I filled the pot, put the coffee in the filter, put the carafe in place and hit the “brew” button.  Both times, I started to hear weird noises and smelled something burning.  When I returned, I found steam billowing out of the top and water running onto the burner.  Why?  Because in my stupidity, I neglected to put the carafe in all the way.  So it was only halfway on the burner.  That means that the spring was never pushed up to allow the water to flow out of the filter basket.  Instead, the basket, with coffee grounds, overflowed and spilled onto the burner and all over my coffee bar.  It was a mess!!  There were grounds all over the place.

When it happened the first time, I told myself I would be more careful.  Yet, within two days, I did the same exact thing!!  Twice I had to clean the entire pot and coffee bar.  I can’t even tell you why I did it again.  My head must not be in the right place.

Coffee Funny

So while Sam was pregnant, I was making some flavored coffee.  She asked me what I was making and I told her.  She stated that the coffee smelled like “the soap from the car wash!” You know the smell, don’t you?!

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While she was pregnant, I stopped buying it.  Recently, I found a bag of it under the coffee bar, so I brewed some.  This time, Sam says, “Is that cherry?  It smells like cherry.  Is that the car wash coffee?”  I told her it was.

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It made me laugh – and it made me understand the ways a woman’s sense of smell is heightened and changes when they are pregnant!

Bad Habit Broken

“Don’t bite your nails.  Your nails don’t bite you.” – Soupy Sales

I guess I have always had some form of anxiety, because I have always been a nail biter. My nails have always looked like hell.  I have always tried to stop, but have never had success.  I guess one good thing has come from this Covid-19 BS – I haven’t chewed on my nails in about three weeks.

All the talk about touching your face, and washing your hands really made me aware of every time I went to bite my nails.  It’s a nervous and terrible habit.  I became aware of just how many times I went to bite my nails over the past few weeks.  Every time I went to do it, I envisioned the Covid virus living on them.  Made it easy to stop.

I gotta be honest, it feels weird to have nails.  I am hoping that I can keep it up.  Maybe I’ll go and get a manicure when this quarantine is all over!  Pass the nail clippers….

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… and pass the coffee.

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“Hello Again, Hello …”

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Long time … no blog

Hello, my friend.  Sorry I have been away for a bit.  My last blog led to many friends on Facebook reaching out to see if I was okay.  I wasn’t.  When I wrote that blog, I obviously was a bit frazzled, but had yet to reach my breaking point.  That only took an extra few days.

I’m not going to go into a lot of detail, but I finally cracked.  Emotionally.  Mentally.  Physically.  The stresses alluded to in my previous blog, and the stress of everything that is going on eventually led to this.  During a visit with my physician, she stated that she was very concerned about me.  She decided it was best for me and my health to be off work for a few weeks.  I am hoping she is right.

Quarantine 

Since the doctor visit, I have been home.  I have only ventured out in the car a couple times – to pick up groceries we ordered online and once with Sam (more on that in later).  Many think I am crazy, but after the things I heard and seen at the hospital, the first thing I did when I brought the groceries home was set them on the porch.  With gloves on, I went bag by bag and wiped everything down with bleach wipes.  How do I know who touched the things we bought?

Remember the blog I wrote about things to do while at home?  Yeah, despite the sudden abundance of extra time, I haven’t really had a chance to do much of what was on that list.  The stack of unread books remains unread – for now.  Exercise – I took a walk or two and put leaves in bags (does that count?).  Plenty of movies I have yet to watch.  Clear coat on the wall in the kitchen – can’t do any home improvements.  Organizing digital music and folders and radio stuff – you would think I’d be on the computer more than I have been, but I am not. Clean the basement – I did this partially.  So many things on my list that I just haven’t done.  Sigh.  How damn sad is this?  I finally have the time, but just can’t put myself in the right frame of mind to do them.

Hand writing So Many Things in To Do List, business concept

Social Media

While I am trying to limit my time on social media, I admit, I still get on Facebook more than I should.  It’s not that I don’t like it, it is just that it is flooded with so many things I am trying to avoid.

  • Political Bullshit.  Blaming Republicans and Democrats for everything.  Trump bashing.  Trump Praising.  Governor bashing.  Governor praising.  Polarizing stuff.  The world is full of division and it shows on Facebook.  You have your right to your opinion and to post what you want, however, I have programmed myself to scroll by this stuff.
  • Corona Virus  – Covid 19 stuff.  Being in the hospital setting, I know the numbers.  I know the severity of it.  The various theories and conspiracies and people re-posting every article they find to “prove their point” is NOT what I need to see.  The only things I pay attention to are the things posted by the CDC and World Health Organization.
  • Sad stories.  There are PLENTY of them.  Emotionally, I know they are out there, I just can’t handle them.

I have a page I update called Celebrity Passings.  When a celebrity dies, I post a picture and farewell.  There have been more than I can count lately – some Covid 19 related, some not.  My heart is just not in it right now.

One thing I am enjoying are some of the Facebook “games” that are out there.  One of the ones I am doing right now was a challenge to post an album that influenced your musical taste for 10 days.  In support of the 2020 seniors, some are posting their own high school senior pictures (I need to do that).  Another one that was fun was to zoom in on a picture of an album cover, or a scene from a TV show or movie and post the zoomed in part to see if people can guess what it is.  I zoomed in on Doc Brown’s eyes from Back to the Future – LOL!  Great Scott!

Family Time

The one thing that I have been able to do is spend time with my family – at least most of my family.  It has been very nice to spend time with my wife and daughter. This certainly has been a wonderful way to de-stress.  Ella is getting so big, and it is amazing how her features seem to change every day!

I have been feeding the baby more lately.  She often will fall asleep while eating.  When this happens, I usually let her sleep in my arms.  I may have mentioned this before, but one thing that I love is when she smiles in her sleep.  It is just so cute.

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She is actually smiling a whole lot more.  She has a little floor mat with toys that hang down from it.  She loves lying on her back and looking at the toys.  She’s also been able to hold her head up for longer periods of time. She has a “Bumbo” chair, and she loves sitting in it.

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Ain’t it cute how she is giving us a “thumbs up” in that picture?

When the weather cooperates, we’ve been trying to get out and walk the neighborhood.  The other day it was 70 degrees.  The following day we had temps in the 30’s and 40’s with rain, snow, wind, thunder, and some sunshine!  Only in Michigan!  I had the chance to do a daddy/daughter walk through the neighborhood.  It was very relaxing and she enjoyed the time in the fresh air.

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This will be Ella’s first Easter.  We had hoped to have some professional pictures done, maybe one with the Easter Bunny.  Obviously, with the current situation and social distancing, that can’t happen.  So we’ve been trying to get some pictures here at home.  We’ll post them on Facebook for Easter.  During today’s shoot – I had to laugh.  In one picture, she curled her lip up like Elvis!  Just typing this makes me laugh.  Here she is channeling her “inner Elvis.”

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Her hair continues to baffle us.  Some days it looks brown.  Some days it looks blonde.  Some days it looks red!  A red-headed Italian?!  Oh boy, am I in trouble!!??

Missing My Boys

As I stated above, I have had the chance to spend time with almost all of my family.  My sons are with their mom as this quarantine continues.  I haven’t seen them in almost a month, maybe more (all the days are running together).  I have video chatted with them a few times, but I miss them.  When we do talk, I always have the feeling that their mom is looming over them and they aren’t free to talk.

One call from my oldest made me especially sad.  The 4th was my mom’s birthday.  She would have been 72.  Every year, my sons and I visit her grave at the cemetery.  I was planning on going, but that day, I took a new medication that was prescribed by my doc and the side effects hit me pretty hard.  I was dizzy, lightheaded, and felt sick.  I took a nap and when I woke up my sons had called.  I called them from bed to tell them I was staying home.  They video chatted with me from the cemetery.  It was sad that I wasn’t they with them.  They were both in tears.  My oldest was upset because he was close to her.  My youngest was upset because he never had the chance to meet her and it still bothers him.  I told them that when this was all over, we’d go and visit.

It has just been awful not seeing them.  I miss them terribly.  My oldest video chatted yesterday and was showing me that he is growing his beard.  He turns 18 tomorrow.  I won’t even be able to hug him!  I have a gift for him.  I plan on wrapping it and driving it to his house and leaving it on his porch for him.  I told him I bought a cake and will make it and celebrate when we get the chance to be together.

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Special Trip

Outside of going to the grocery store, I have only left the house one time.  Actually, it was me, Sam, and the baby.  I was feeling down.  Sam said we were going somewhere.  She said she had wanted to do this for a few weeks.  It obviously wasn’t a restaurant or anything, so I had no idea what she had in mind.  We all got in the car and she drove.  She drove to the cemetery.  She knew I was upset that I didn’t get to go with the boys, but she also wanted to take Ella.  She said it she wanted Ella to see one of the Pamela’s she was named after.

As you can imagine, it was emotional for me.  Sam brought a blanket and Ella and I laid on it by my mom’s grave.  My mom always hoped for a granddaughter.  I know she would have spoiled her big time! Just like with my youngest son, it makes me very sad that she never got to meet her grandma.  Sam’s grandpa is also buried at the same cemetery, so we took Ella to see her great grandpa, too!

It was a very special trip.

No Moe

One of the changes that happened recently is that we had to find a new home for one of our cats.  We had two.  Moe was our first.  Then we got Maizey.  Moe was huge.  He ate so much!  When we brought Ella home, we worried.  How were they going to react?  They both did well, so we didn’t think we were going to have issues.  We didn’t, until one night we found Moe in Ella’s bassinet.  He was laying on her, and we knew this was dangerous.

We didn’t know what to do.  By a stroke of luck, my sister-in-law’s ex’s parent’s cat had died recently.  They were looking for a cat!  They took him and treat him like a king!  We heard he has eggs for breakfast – at the table!!  He has his own heating pad on the couch.  He is living it up.  I miss him, but am happy he found a good home.

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As for Maizey, well, when Moe was here, she was moving.  She never laid by you.  She never let you hold her.  She never purred.  Well, that has all changed.  She loves being by us now.  She meows and likes her tummy rubbed.  She always seems to be by me now.  She loves to be petted and now purrs like nobody’s business.

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Happy Easter

We’ll be staying home for Easter, obviously.  We’re not even sure what we are doing for Easter dinner.  But we plan on dressing up and enjoying our day as a family. We have an Easter basket for Ella and a very cute Easter outfit.  I am sure there will be many pictures!

Faith

I’m not one to push religion on anyone.  I understand that everyone believes what they want to believe.  I realized how far from my faith I have been through this whole situation.  Over the past two weeks, I began watching messages from pastor friends of mine, and got back into reading my bible.  A friend asked me some questions about the Antichrist and it was fun to re-study that topic and chat with her.  Bottom line, my faith is important to me.  It is a key element in my coming out of this in a better frame of mind.  I plan on spending a bit more time focused on that (and Him) in the future.

A friend of mine took this picture in Grand Blanc this week (about 30 minutes south of here).  It was such a beautiful picture, I want to share it here.  Enjoy your holiday.  Happy Easter.  Count your blessings.

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I appreciate you reading.  Sorry to have been away for so long.  I’ll get through this.  It just may take some time.

I hope to be back to my normal blogging self, soon.

Be safe.  Be well.

Keith