57 Years Ago … Dean

“The Dean Martin Show” debuted on September 16, 1965. For most of its run, Dean’s variety hour was a fixture on the NBC Thursday night lineup. Martin was initially reluctant to do the show, partially because he did not want to turn down movie and nightclub performances.

His terms were deliberately unrealistic: as author Lee Hale recalled, “He presented [NBC] with a list of demands he thought it would be impossible to fill. He asked for an outrageous amount of money, of course, but there was more. He only wanted to work one day a week, and that day had to be Sunday. He didn’t want to do anything but announce the acts. He didn’t even want to sing if he didn’t feel like it… But surprisingly NBC agreed to each of his demands. ‘They should have thrown them in my face,’ Dean said later, ‘but they agreed to it all. So what the hell, I had to show up!'”

As his daughter, Deana Martin, recalled, after meeting the network and making his demands, Martin returned home and announced to his family, “They went for it. So now I have to do it.”

At first Dean had no regular supporting cast other than his accompanist, pianist Ken Lane. Guest stars were featured each week in comedy skits and songs, both alone and with Dean (who never rehearsed). Some of the young talent (including The Golddiggers and The Ding-a-Ling Sisters) also starred in Dean’s summer replacement series. The last show aired on May 24, 1974, but his “Celebrity Roasts” continued on NBC as a series of occasional specials.

57 years later, I can still watch clips of the show on YouTube and laugh like crazy! If you want to read a fantastic book about the show, find yourself a copy of “Back Stage At The Dean Martin Show” by Lee Hale. It’s a joy to read!

One Liner Wednesday

So I guess today is “One Liner Wednesday.” Many of the blogs I follow were posting quotes today. I actually posted this quote on my Facebook this week and it is a quote that sums up the week for me.

There is another quote, which I believe came from the movie Scarface: “Never beg anyone. Never trust anyone. Never expect anything from anyone.” I have heard the quote “Trust no one” before, and I guess they really are the same thing. However, this takes it a step further and fits perfectly.

It is sad that even those people who you thought you could trust, you can’t. The hard part is trying to figure out who was the “turncoat” or “traitor.” In the end, does it matter? Not really.

I’ve always been the kind of person who is open and wears my heart on my sleeve. I suppose it is a weakness to trust everyone. It’s like the quote from the Godfather: “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.” But how do you really know who the friends are and who the enemies are? I suppose you don’t – so bottom line: Trust No One.

My circle just became a whole lot smaller.

Christmas in September

To say that the past few days have been stressful is an understatement. There have been some very good moments and I tried to just take them all in. However, something was on my mind all weekend.

I’m not going to get into detail on that. I could, but I won’t. Let me just state that it is stress related to things outside of my home life. Read into that however you wish.

At any rate, after a particularly emotional and crappy Monday that was the culmination of all the things on my mind, I needed something – anything! My Monday evening walk with the kids helped. I was out in the neighborhood, counting squirrels, saying hello to our “puppy friends” and listening to AJ babble and Ella sing.

Sam knew the weekend and Monday had taken a toll on me. She never said it was her plan, but she suggested taking a trip to Bronner’s in Frankenmuth to look for our annual “ornament hunt.” Bronner’s is “The World’s Largest Christmas Store” and I have blogged about it before. You can read about that here:

We packed the family up in the car after Sam got home and we made the short drive there. It was the perfect day to go. Tuesday morning in September. Sure, there were people there, but not the normal crowd that is there. The sounds of Christmas music were playing through the outside speakers as we walked in.

(Johnny Mathis’ version of Marshmallow World was playing as I walked in. I found myself thinking that the Dean Martin version is FAR superior to this version. As a bonus, Dean’s version played before we left!)

I hadn’t thought about it but this was Andrew’s first trip to Bronner’s. He was in awe of all the lights and him and Ella were anxious to touch everything!!

Every year, we get an ornament that marks some big event that happened in the past year. We have an engagement ornament, a marriage ornament, a mother-to-be ornament, and two “Baby’s First Christmas” ornaments. So what big event could we commemorate this year?

Neither one of us changed jobs. We didn’t get a new house or new car. Now that I think about it, the only big thing that happened this year was my vasectomy! I doubt they had an ornament for that, but then again, they have thousands of ornaments for just about every thing! They probably DO have something for that!!! Maybe I will call and ask …

Instead of an ornament, we got a snowman family plaque. You have probably seen what I am talking about. It has mom, dad, and snow-kids.

The one above is not the one we got, but it is similar. So we had them put our family name on it and then each of the snow kids had their name written on them. It came out really cute and we’ll either put it on the mantel or hang it on the main entry door.

Next year, Sam has said that she wants the kids to go and each pick out their own ornaments. I think that is a great idea and a good way to make it a tradition. We want them to have that experience and then every year when the holiday rolls around, they can look back on the ornaments and relive memories.

The kids were both getting a bit antsy, so as soon as the plaque was personalized, we headed out. We stopped for photo ops and walked outside. As we exited the building, there was a huge Santa Claus. Andrew saw it and began to point to it. It was a perfect (and frame worthy) photo.

It was just want I needed to get my mind off all that transpired over the past few days. A welcome distraction with those that I love.

One thing is for sure. Despite all the feelings that are churning around inside me, especially as I think about things, I think on the reasons why I keep going. The people who mean the most to me. I think of my wife and her never ending support and love. I think of my two older sons, and of course, the two little blessings who accompanied me on our trip to “Christmas in September” …

THEY are why I continue to do what I do. THEY are the reason I need to focus on getting healthy. THEY are the reason I am happy.

Lordy, Lordy, I’m Down 40!

Today, I began my 16th week on Weight Watchers. When I weighed in this morning, I was happy to see that I had hit a major milestone. This week I lost a whopping 5 pounds taking my total weight loss to 41 pounds!

I hope to eventually get past some of the stress related things thrown at me this week and celebrate. Thanks to all those who have supported me in my weight loss journey. There is still a long way to go, and I will get there.

Where Am I Going?!

Yesterday I took the kids to a birthday party for a co-worker’s daughter. She lives about 40-45 minutes from me. I punched the address into the GPS and it told me where to go.

My co-worker sent me a text saying to look for the pink and purple balloons on the mailbox on the side of the road. As we got closer, I saw a sign with “Summer’s Birthday” at the side of the road. This was not my co-worker’s daughters name, so I ignored it.

Immediately after the sign, I saw a mailbox with pink and purple balloons. I looked at the GPS and it said I still had a 1/4 mile before I’d reach her house. I kept driving. When I got to where the GPS said the house was….there were no balloons and the address was way off.

I turned around and sure enough the pink and purple balloons were her house. And the other party? It was next door. My co-worker and I laughed about the GPS and she said in some cases, when you get to the wrong destination, the GPS shows a picture of an ATM!

Ella and AJ had a blast at the party and made new friends. Sam had asked to for us to be home before she left for work so she could see them. As I walked to the car, it started to pour rain. I rushed the kids to the car and strapped them in their car seats as the rain soaked me to the bone.

Once inside, I wiped the rain off my face and punched in the home address into the GPS. As I drove, the rain was so hard I had the wipers on high. I could barely see where I was going.

I called Sam, who had texted to see how things were, and told her we’d be there before she left because of the ETA on the GPS. I hung up and tried to see the on ramp to the expressway.

I followed the GPS instructions and when I got on the expressway the GPS lost signal. Bad area, obviously. So I kept driving. When the GPS kicked back in it kept telling me it was rerouting. The ETA also changed. I figured maybe an accident was causing us to get home later.

I texted Sam and said that’s a GPS was now saying I would be home much later than it did originally and for her not to wait for us. I continued driving and the GPS continued to reroute.

Finally, about 30 minutes later I was looking at the exit signs and thought, “What road is this?!” “Where am I?!” It was then that I noticed the Interstate sign said I was going East instead of West!

I had literally driven 40-50 miles in the wrong direction! What an idiot!!!

I should have been home by 5:30, but didn’t pull in the driveway until 6:40! Every time that GPS told me to turn around, I should have listened. I was sure it was wrong…

That’s what I get for being so stubborn.

Time To Play

I know very few adults who wake up and jump out of bed with a ton of energy. Personally, I get up and need a cup of coffee in order to get the day going. My daughter, however, always seems to be up and ready for the day as soon as she gets out of bed. She’ll run out to the front room, go to her toy box and say, “Daddy/Mommy, do you wanna sit on floor with me and play Little People!?”

Back in January, I recounted my almost injury with Little People. You can refresh your memory here:

She will always ask to play when she first gets up, and while she will always ask to play with the “Little People,” any toy comes into play. This morning was no exception. My brother sent Ella a “Frozen” bath toy set and despite the fact that they are like 3 or 4 times bigger than the little people, they all interact with each other.

As this picture uploaded, I laughed out loud. At the bottom of the picture – Olaf, Elsa, Anna, and Sven from Frozen. Above that, you have Batman and Robin Little People mixed in with Little People from Little Mermaid, Rainforest Animals, and Barnyard mixed together with various toys from Happy Meals and random Disney characters.

You can only imagine the conversations that happen between the various characters. These conversations get finnier depending on who is playing each character. Today, Ella grabbed the big Anna from Frozen and said, “Do you want to build a snowman?” (a song from the movie) and Batman (me) replied, “I’d love to but the Joker is on the loose in Gotham City!” Ella usually looks at me dumbfounded and eventually tells me what I need to say!

Look again at the picture. You see the Bath Toy Olaf (snowman) and the Little People Olaf? Yeah, that’s what Ella calls “Mommy Olaf and Baby Olaf!” It doesn’t matter that Olaf is a snowMAN, it’s a mommy and baby! As a dad, I just roll with it and often find that this play time brings me tons of laughs.

Sometimes I think that adults should have their own toy box loaded with action figures, Matchbox cars, and things like that. Every day, for an hour or so, adults should get lost in pretend play and forget the troubles of the world. How would this be different that imagining that you are relaxing in a hammock on a tropical island somewhere?

Maybe I’m crazy, but I’d be the first to vote for the politician who mandated play time for adults! Bring on Go Carts, Dodge Ball, Mini Golf, and Laser tag!! The world needs a whole lot more fun.

Friday Photo Flashback

It is time for another edition of my Friday Photo Flashback. If you are a new reader to my blog, this feature started with a writing prompt that asked for you to find a picture that brought about memories or emotions and post the picture with comments about it.

Today, I am posting a picture that is over 20 years old. It is one that I haven’t seen in probably that long. I stumbled on a long forgotten folder on my hard drive which contained some scans from my dad. He had scanned this picture of my oldest son, Dante’. This came from a 1st birthday photo shoot.

I believe that we had these pictures taken at Walmart. Do they even do photos anymore? I don’t think so.

It is crazy to see him this little! I remember those deep brown eyes and him parting his hair like that. I remember how cute I thought it was that he was holding his arm like that for this picture. It is really hard to even begin to express the feelings I had when I saw this one again.

It was around this time that we noticed some developmental delays. We had him evaluated and got him into some therapy early, which really helped him as he grew up. I remember starting with a Developmental Delay diagnosis, then an Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis, finally an Asperger’s Syndrome diagnosis. Thanks to early intervention, and therapies, he is doing very well. Nothing can stop him! He has a good job, he has his own vehicle and he is going to college. I couldn’t be more proud of him.

It is pretty amazing to look at this one year old kid in the photo and know how far he has come and where he is at now. He looks way different now – glasses, beard, and I don’t think he bothers to part his hair! What a wonderful adventure it has been!

Your Wish Is My Command

I can’t remember what site I saw this on, but thought it was interesting to see the responses. If you had one “genie wish,” what would you wish for?

I think what makes the question tough to answer is that whenever we think of a genie, there always seems to be three wishes. That’s not the case here. Before you give your answer, let’s just rule out the wish for “more wishes,” too!

Here were some of the answers given by participants in the piece I read:

The ability to be fluent in all languages – past and present

I can see where this would come in handy.

Teleportation ability.

I can totally see wanting to do this! The money we’d save on gas alone would be worth it!!

Money

Well, you knew someone would wish for money. While it would come in handy, if it were me, I’d wish for just enough to get by. No need to have boatloads of it – it is the root of all evil after all.

Time Travel/Live Life Over Again Knowing What I Know Now

These two were separate answers, but I think they both kind of are the same. The problem I have with this wish is all it would take is one major change to your life (knowing what you know now) to change the rest of it. That would mean a whole different time line, as Doc Brown illustrates in Back to the Future II.

The Power To Be Invisible At Will

This reminds me of the “I’d like to be a fly on the wall” cliché. I think the reason someone would want this power would be to be able to spy on someone primarily. Personally, I have found that I’d rather NOT know what others are saying about me…

The Power of Shapeshifting

This one goes along with the invisibility thing. As a matter of fact, the person who answered mentioned that if they could shapeshift, they would become a dog or a fly or a cat or something that would go unnoticed when getting close to whatever they wanted to observe.

The Ability to Do Everything Perfectly

Wouldn’t this get old? Sure, I can see it being nice for some things, but for EVERY thing? This just sounds like the plot line to a Twilight Zone Episode.

Free Healthcare World Wide AND A Cure for Cancer

These two were actually part of the same wish – but is it really two wishes? Anyway, Free Healthcare would be nice and I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t want a cure for cancer!

Knowing the Answer to Any Question

As most people know, having ALL the answers isn’t always the best thing. Sometimes it is best NOT to know all the answers. I could see where this could work for good – and bad.

Never Having to Feel Anxious or Depressed

In other words, being happy? I can relate! While most of my anxiety and depression is gone, there will occasionally be a bout now and then. It’s not easy to be happy all the time, because sometimes life throws those curveballs at you. It would certainly be nice, though, to get rid of anxiety, depression, anger, and those other emotions that bring you down.

That Every Person Holding a Position of Power Would Have Empathy For Others

Wow! Yeah, that’s a good wish.

Two more and I’ll turn it over to you. One is silly and the other struck a chord.

A Magical Fridge That Always Gave Me Whatever I Was In The Mood For When I Opened the Door

This made me laugh. I also feel like who ever had this wish wanted a whole lot of alcohollic beverages in there …

I Wish I Never Had a Reason to Wish

Let that one run around in your head for a bit. THAT is a powerful wish!

Now – What would YOU wish for if you had just one “genie wish?”

Front Porch Fixin’

I am not a handyman. I’m sure that I have mentioned this fact many times. So when my wife came to me and said she was worried about the front porch, we both knew who to call.

Our front porch has felt “soft” for some time. Sam (and I) were worried that our mail carrier would take a step on it and fall through! My father-in-law has helped us on numerous projects. Sam called him and he came over to assess the situation.

The one thing we were not clear on is whether or not there was anything below the deck boards. As we stood there wondering, it was decided that the fix it project would take place the following day. So, without thinking about it anymore, he grabbed a hammer and started to pull out the deck boards.

We were relieved to see that there was a cement porch under the boards. At least we knew our mail carrier was gonna be ok! The boards were literally falling apart as we pulled them.

My father-in-law took some measurements and began to do some figuring. He guessed that we’d need about 10-12 deck boards and we’d be able to get the job done in about 4-5 hours. So Monday night, Sam and I headed to Lowes and grabbed the boards, deck screws, and a few things for pumpkins for the kids.

Tuesday morning, we took the railings off, ripped up the old boards and began measure for the new ones. I’m always in awe of the little things my father-in-law does that I would never think of. For example, the first thing he did was measure and mark the center. I am sure I wouldn’t have done that. He knew exactly where the first boards were going to go and how we were going to attack the rest of the project.

As we were cutting and setting boards, my father-in-law said, “I’m not sure we got enough boards.” This freaked me out. He is always right on with measurements. He reminded me that we had measured thinking we were going to lay boards a certain way, but we opted to lay them a little different.

Thankfully, the main walkway area of the porch were all full length boards. For the outer parts, we were able to take the boards we had and stagger them a bit. Once we butted the pieces together, you really can’t even tell. Plus, Sam and I will eventually paint the porch and those seams will be even harder to see. So it all worked out and the only extra money we had to spend was on a few bolts for the railings which needed to be a tad longer.

If you look close at the outer boards, you can see where we butted boards together. I think it looks great! I was actually pretty impressed with just how much better it looks. It also was a fairly quick job once we started. Instead of 4-5 hours, we were finished in just under 3 hours.

If I didn’t have my father-in-law’s help, I am sure that the porch would be uneven, cracked, and a disaster that looked like I hired these guys:

Instead, it looks amazing! As I stood on it yesterday, I was impressed at just how study it felt. I’m sure the mail carrier will feel a lot safer, too!

Thanks, Dad!

A Typical Dad Day

(I’ve never read this book, but I may have to …)

Sam worked last night, so it was my day with the kids. What does a typical day with dad look like?

The day starts with Andrew up first. We take the baby monitor out into the living room so we can see when Ella wakes up. I make him a bottle and take care of diaper change number one. Within 5 minutes of finishing the bottle diaper change number 2 is in order, because he poops like clockwork.

We usually go to get Ella together when she wakes up. He thinks its funny to push open her door. I then have to grab whatever Ella wants to bring with her out of the crib. This usually consists of a nana blanket, maybe a book, maybe a stuffed animal, maybe a pillow, or maybe all of the above.

She gets a diaper change and it is time for breakfast. Somedays we eat eggs, others waffles, another day pancakes, and sometimes a smorgasbord of fruits and other things. Sam usually arrives home around breakfast time. Today she brought donuts for them. Ella loves pink dipped donuts, not that she ever eats the donut. She loves the frosting, though.

Depending on the day, we either read books, turn on the TV or play with her toys. This is when I usually make myself and Sam something to eat. I made us scrambled eggs and had to make extra because the kids were eating all of Sam’s!

Sam almost always brings out an outfit for the kids to wear. We ventured out on our morning walk and looked for our puppy friends. She now knows just about every dog in the neighborhood’s name!

When we returned home, she began to read books. Most of the time they are books off her shelf.

After reading one of her favorites, she told me to sit down so she could read me a book. The book? The Weight Watcher’s Cookbook!

She kept calling the sandwich in the book (shown above) a cheeseburger!

While she is reading to be, my daredevil son continues to find ways to hurt himself. He’s been climbing, so Sam thought it was time to bring the swing/slide thing we got for Ella a few years ago back upstairs. Well he can climb it, he just hasn’t really figured out how to slide down yet. So he gets up there and starts shaking the one wall of it and eventually steps on the slide and falls off.

He truly has no fear. Today alone, he busted open his lip three times. None of those were from falling off the slide! He just tripped over stuff and fell on his face. I swear if we have to go to urgent care again, they will have to put in a window just for him.

Comedy continues to ensue with Ella. Today she grabbed her winter coat and winter hat and asked to wear them. She had me help zip up the coat and said, “I’m already for winter and then asked to watch Frozen.

We watched it like 7 times today. I will be singing “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” and “Let it Go” in my sleep tonight!

Lunchtime this week has brought the same answer to question, “What would you like for lunch today?” “Grilled cheese and crackers!” That answer has also been offered up to “What would you like for dinner?” and “What would you like for breakfast?” I’m glad that Andrew isn’t able to answer that question yet. When they both start asking for different meals, it’s gonna drive me crazy!

After lunch, it is nap time. Today, thanks to the neighborhood dogs and open windows, the nap was cut short. Shortly after wake ups, Sam woke up for work. She said some packages she ordered were on the porch and Ella went with her to get them.

They were the Halloween costumes they are wearing this year. I won’t say what they are here, but hers involves a dress. She wanted to wear it. Sam told her she had to wait until Halloween. This was not what she wanted to hear, so Sam offered up another dress for her. My friend from work gifted us some dresses that her daughter has grown out of. They are going to be perfect for holidays or family photos. Anyway, she spent the rest of the evening wearing one of those dresses.

Earlier I had thrown some chicken in the crock pot for dinner. Sam cooked up some buttered noodles to go with it for the kids. I took the chicken out and started cutting it up. I tried a piece to make sure it had cooled down enough and it tasted funny. I can’t even really descibe what it tasted like – but you know how they always say, “it tastes like chicken?” This didn’t. I wound up throwing it away.

After Sam left for work, Ella said she wanted a snack. So she handed me one of those applesauce pouches. Andrew got one, too. They both had like three of them! Ella kept asking for more and when I got her one, he wanted one, as well.

After playing with toys for awhile, more diaper changes were needed and it was pajama time. I was lucky enough to be able to get pajamas on her tonight. I really thought that she was going to want to wear the dress to bed! I’m sure I would have let her…

She took a book to bed with her, we said prayers and I closed her door. I brought Andrew with me and tried to rock him and sing him to sleep. He had the funniest case of the giggles and it took him forever to fall asleep. Once he was asleep, I put him in his crib and took a shower.

Reflecting back on the day:

7 outfit changes. 5 poop diapers. An unknown amount of pee diapers. 3 times sweeping the floor. 2 times picking up the same toys and putting the in the toybox. 2 times vacuuming. 7 viewings of Frozen. 3 busted lips. 8 bumps on the head. 12 crying fits. 2 bad pieces of chicken. 3 cheese omelets, 2 grilled cheese sandwiches. 3 video chats. 7,953 times I heard, “Daddy!” 2 sleeping kids.

Add it all up and it equals one amazing day for a very blessed Dad!