Thanksgiving 2022 Recap

The holiday weekend is winding down and I hope that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Ours was a good day filled with great food and family.

The day started with a quick game of hide and seek.

We watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The kids loved seeing Josh from Blue’s Clues and Bluey in the parade!

After breakfast, we prepared the deviled eggs to bring. Sam said she didn’t have paprika. She chuckled when I told her I never liked when my mom put it on the deviled eggs! Then we all started to get ready to go to Sam’s mom’s for dinner.

The loss of my sister-in-law, Grace, is still very fresh. It helped to have family together. There was a lot of love and great conversation throughout the day.

We had an amazing dinner, prepared by my mother-in-law: turkey, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese and so much more. There was no shortage of desserts either!

The Detroit Lions actually gave us a good game to watch, despite losing in the last 23 seconds. It would have been nice to see them win their fourth in a row.

I got to finally meet my newest niece, Arabella. She is a little cutie! She’s only a few months old, but she’s almost as big as Andrew!

I dropped the ball this year and didn’t really take many pictures. My sister in law snapped a candid of the family as we were leaving which I just love.

I love it because it is typical chaos. It looks like Sam is asking me something and I am oblivious. Ella is waving and Andrew is like, “can we just go home now?”

We came home and relaxed the rest of the night, just enjoying family time.

As I turned off the lights and headed off to bed, I reflected again o just how thankful I am for my wonderful family.

Celebrating My Children!

In the Bible, in Psalm 127:3-5, it reads:

“(3) Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. (4) As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. (5) Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them”

My quiver has been blessed four times! I am certainly a lucky man to have been chosen by God to be a father to my children. Each of them, different in their own special way, fill my heart and soul.

Dimitri (holding Andrew), Ella, and Dante’

Dante’

My first born. He’s the one who made me “dad” for the first time. He is probably the most like me. He has a love for old music, old movies, and loves information on older celebrities. He is loud and boisterous at times, but is also a gentle soul who loves to help people. His random acts of kindness make me so proud of him. He’s a hard worker who loves to have fun and loves to be surrounded by friends. In a sense, he is my “Mini-Me.” He is currently studying hard with college and continues to thrive!

Dimitri

My second born. He is also a bit like me, but in another way. Now a high schooler, I see him mimicking many of my study “habits,” which is probably not good. I was the same way – waiting till the last minute to do homework or projects, forgetting to do things I need to and only doing the things that I WANTED to do, and never really studying like I should. I try to use those things as “teaching opportunities” with him. He is, however, a typical teenager right now. He is learning how to golf, so I cannot wait to go play a round (and rounds) with him. He has a bright future and in the years ahead, I know he will do great things!

Not unless there is a miracle

After some tests, I was asked if I was done having children. At the time, I was. The doctor said this was good, because based on the test results, I only had about a 4% chance of ever having more children.

After my divorce, and after I remarried, my wife and I discussed children. She is younger than me and wanted children. Knowing what I knew, it would take a miracle to have more. We discussed adoption at one point and even looked into other methods of getting pregnant. Then the miracle came ….

Ella

I will never forget the day Sam told me that we were having a baby. I will never forget they day we found out that our miracle was going to be a girl! I will never forget the day that she was born. For some reason, God decided that I would once again be a daddy and he sent me this beautiful little girl. What a joy it was to relive the first tooth, the first steps, the first words, and all the things that come with having a baby. She is so smart!! She excels at so many things! She her laughter is music to my ears. When she breaks out in song, I could listen all day. I love our moments playing Little People, reading books, and watching Bluey together. She is my sweet princess and I look forward to those special daddy/daughter moments.

Andrew

Another miracle! Ella was about a year old when we found out that Sam was once again expecting. It was truly a huge surprise to both of us! He is the opposite of Ella in so many ways. We never had to baby proof anything with her, but he is always into something. He is WAY ahead of where he should be. He was walking early and no doubt will be talking early. He is doing all he can to keep up with his sister. He is one of the happiest babies. There is something about his smile that just makes everything better. His laughter is just as musical as Ella’s. His first year is flying by and I look forward to teaching him to throw a baseball and those great father/son things.

My dear children –

Thank you for each being so special to me. I am so honored to be your father. I love you with every ounce of my being. I hope that I will live up to the responsibility that God has given me to teach you, to raise you, and to prepare you for life. In the time ahead, I will be happy to listen to you, to help you, or to give advice. I promise to be here for you till the end of my days.

Love always,

Dad

A Weekend of Ups and Downs

This weekend certainly was one that left me emotionally drained. It also left me knowing that there are things that I need to do as well as some priorities that need shifting. Some things are just too important and changes need to be made. I have every intention of doing what needs to be done. That is all I really want to say about that.

Monday

The weather was perfect to be outside. I decided that I was going to take the kids to the zoo. We are members, so it was a free day for us. I packed a lunch and we got there when it opened at 10am. Both Sam and I thought it would be quiet for a Monday, but there were a few childcare places doing field trips there.

We didn’t let that spoil our fun. I think I sometimes go a bit crazy with picture taking, but I love to look back at them. I was so happy that both Ella and AJ sat still at the opening photo op of t he zoo.

We saw the penguins, the otter (who was extra busy that day), the monkeys, kangaroos, and a huge emu. We also saw a wolf, chickens, an owl, alpacas, and a bunch of crazy prairie dogs. One of the first things Ella wants to do is ride the train. We’re members, so we can ride as many times as we want. I think we rode the train five times Monday! During on of those ride, I was able to grab my favorite picture of the day:

Look at the joy on their faces! What a wonderful picture!!

I realize that at 52 years of age, when people see me with my kids, they may assume that I am grandpa. So I chose to go to the zoo with my Bandit from Bluey “Dad” shirt on. I’m sure when I left the house, my wife probably thought I looked ridiculous, but that’s ok. When we got off of one of the train rides, a mom came over and said she loved my shirt.

Mines black – not grey

About 11:30, we found some tables by the carousel, which we were going to ride next. Mom packed a PBJ sandwich for Ella, a PB sandwich for AJ, some goldfish crackers, bananas, apple sauce pouches, and something to drink. It was fun to just sit and eat with the kids. AJ was in my lap and I think I wound up wearing more of his lunch than he actually ate! There were also plenty of crackers on the ground for the birds to eat after he was done.

A couple rides on the carousel, another train ride, back to the carousel and we were getting close to nap time. I told Ella we had to pack up to get ready to go. She wanted to go to the store. Sam and I had already said that we were not going to buy anything day, as we really hadn’t budgeted for it.

As we are walking through the gift shop, Ella picks up a small stuff wolf and says, “My wolf! Look Daddy, it’s my wolfie!” I told her that we’d have to get it next time and the melt down began. Urgh! I hate making her cry. I told her she could carry it for a bit and then it would have to be put back.

When we set it down, she started to cry again. As we walked to the door, a nice older lady stopped us and handed Ella the wolf, saying that she couldn’t stand to see her cry. I told her that we couldn’t take it, but she insisted. It was a nice way to end our trip to the zoo.

Weigh In Day

Before I go on, let me say that since I started posting about my weight loss journey, I have been followed by just about every keto diet page, healthy living page, eat better workout more page and such. This urks me for some reason. I post my stuff here to keep myself accountable. On the weeks I gain weight I will post that, too. This is my journey – if you are here to cheer my on, fine. If you are just here to sell your products, you may unfollow me at any time. I don’t plan on following you back.

Now that I have gotten that off my chest, I am happy to say that the scale showed a 3 pound loss this week. After 8 weeks, I am down 27 pound thanks to Weight Watchers. I am very happy about that. It is nice to be under 300 pounds! I can’t wait to keep reaching milestones.

Eating right and getting a walk in every day has been helping. The heat made it a bit rough this week, and so did the rain. Getting in a mile or two every day is something I have come to enjoy a lot. I love being out with the kids in the stroller.

The last time I saw my doctor, I was supposed to have lost 10 pounds. I hadn’t and she kind of gave me a lecture about that. I was supposed to have joined Weight Watchers and because money was tight, I chose to wait. When I left that appointment, she told me to see her again and the 10 pounds had better be gone – or she’d yell at me again! I see her this week and can’t wait to show her the progress.

Maybe next week – I can hit the 30 pound mark?! We’ll see ….

My Father’s Day Weekend

Father’s Day began for me on Saturday morning. We celebrated Saturday because Sam had to work on Sunday.

When I returned home from work, my kids were already up and waiting. Sam had texted me that Ella was anxious for me to come home to get my present. Ella was excited because she had seen something in the store and wanted to get it for me weeks ago. Same ordered it online so it would be here for Father’s Day.

Ella and Andrew got to play with markers (which only happens on special occasions) and decorate the gift bag my gifts would be in. She was so happy to hand me the bag.

She waited for me to reach into the bag and could hardly contain herself. When I pulled out her gift to me, she shrieked with excitement! It was really the perfect gift.

We watch Bluey together all the time. It is probably my favorite cartoon that she watches. Bandit, the dad on the show, is what ALL dad’s should be! He’s awesome. This book is just wonderful. We read it before bed last night. I don’t know who was happier about this book – Ella or me!

Andrew got some help from mommy with his gift. As I have mentioned, I’m an older dad. One of the reasons I started this blog was to write my memories and such so that in the event something happens, the memories are here. Sam took it a step further for Andrews’s gift to me.

I’m not sure who came up with the idea for books like this, but they are great. I had originally gotten one of these for my mom to fill out before she passed. She was just too sick and too tired to ever really do it. I wish she’d been able to do that.

At any rate, there are a lot of thought provoking questions in this book and Sam thought I could take it with me to work and fill it in when I was on breaks and such. I love the idea!

After nap time, the family drove up the road to look for some new pajamas for Ella. She’s starting to not fit in her current ones. We went to the Carter’s store and looked around. She was forever handing Sam and I things for Andrew or herself that she found on a rack somewhere. The funniest thing of the trip was a foreshadowing of Ella in her teen and adult years. She kept asking for shoes and even began to make a pile of ones she wanted!

Just the beginning …..

After our shopping trip we came home and made dinner. I didn’t want Sam to have to take me out anywhere, so we made chicken on the grill. We also made corn on the cob and other sides. It was the perfect way to wrap up the day.

I was out grilling the chicken and I was using a brush to put BBQ sauce on a few of the pieces of chicken.

As I am doing this, Ella is standing there watching me. She see’s me dipping the brush into the BBQ sauce and putting it on the chicken. She then says, “Daddy! You’re painting!” Priceless!

Sam kept telling Ella to say, “Happy Father’s Day” to me and it kept coming out “Happy Mother’s Day” which just made me laugh even more.

On Sunday, or “Father’s Day in real life,” as Bluey might say, we had a wonderful breakfast. I made everyone eggs, sausage, and fruit. Ella stated that it was “Deeee-lish-ous!”

We called my dad to wish him Happy Father’s Day. My oldest son called me to wish me the same. Sadly, I never heard from my second oldest son. That’s a whole blog in itself and I will spare you those details for now.

After Andrew’s nap, I decided to take the kids to the Barnes and Noble. I wasn’t sure that there was anything I wanted for myself, but I though we could pick up some new books for them.

While we were walking Ella and I were just talking. Andrew was in the stroller and Ella was walking next to me. I don’t remember what we were saying, but a woman stopped me and said that she wished she had videoed the exchange we were having. She said she was very impressed with how we were interacting. She reminded me of a teacher or something. Ella then said hello, grabbed a puzzle with dogs on the box and showed the lady.

The lady, without skipping a beat, got down on the ground and they counted dogs together, asked about the colors of the dogs, and talked about what “doggies say.” It was so cool to see. She thanked Ella for showing her and Ella put the puzzle back. The lady was so impressed with how polite Ella was. Proud parent moment.

After we got home, we had lunch. Sam took Andrew into our room when it was his nap time. Sam suggested that since one of the local ice cream places had free cones for dads on Father’s day, we should go. We wound up going somewhere a bit closer, but it still worked out because dads got a free scoop of ice cream there, too!

Ice cream is not exactly on Weight Watchers, but I had some anyway and ate carefully the rest of the day. Ella asked for “white ice cream with sprinkles” and that is what she got!

Dad may or may not have had to help her on occasion because it was melting faster than she could eat it!

She talked to everyone who came to the ice cream place! She recommended getting banana ice cream to many, even though she was eating vanilla. She was a real hoot. The owner came out and asked how her ice cream was and she said it was the “best ice cream ever!”

After the ice cream, dad decided to walk the neighborhood. Sunday, she didn’t want to ride in the stroller. So we walked together. The workout was a bit less intense than I had hoped.

About half way through the walk she tripped and skinned her knee pretty bad. So I wound up picking her up and finishing the walk with her on my shoulders. That brought the heart rate up a bit and I probably burned off about half of the ice cream calories!

When Sam left for work, it was just me and the kids. We were playing on the “nugget” and having a blast. Andrew was climbing up like nobody’s business. Once he was on the top, he would start to walk off it. Most of the time, I was there to catch him. There were a couple times where he’d do this little stuntman fall. He is fearless!

Thank you to my wife and my kids for making the weekend such a special one for me!

Recapping the Holiday Weekend

Saturday

When I woke up Saturday afternoon, Sam and I ventured out for the first time to the grocery store with both kids. We were also picking up a couple car seats to keep at her mom’s house, just in case she ever needed to take them for a drive. Because of this, we had two carts. Andrew was in one and Ella was in the other. It was actually quite comical and weird at the same time. As we both anticipated, the last part of the trip was quickly shortened as it became obvious that we were close to nap time and the kids got more and more fussy.

This was our first in person shopping experience in a year or so. Our local Meijer got rid of the Schipt shoppers recently. We actually liked having them shop. You picked your items online and they shopped for you. If they didn’t have an item, they’d text you and ask about a replacement. They even loaded the car for you! One good thing about having someone shop for you is that you are not tempted to add things to the cart that are not on your list. On the other hand, not shopping yourself often leads to you forgetting things that you might remember needing as you pass it on a shelf.

After the kids went to sleep, Sam and I fixed up the Easter baskets and set them out for them. Sam had the idea of putting plastic eggs in Ella’s bed and a trail of them leading to the front room. Of course, any time I got up to get a drink of water in the kitchen, I was kicking or stepping on those plastic eggs!

Easter Sunday

Andrew was wide awake early Sunday. Ella on the other hand was snoozing pretty good. I snapped a picture of her sleeping and put a caption on it that said, “Happy Easter. He is Risen. Ella on the other hand has not …”

When Ella finally got up, we handed her a bucket and she collected eggs from the trail of eggs, until she spotted her Easter Basket. At that point she dropped the bucket and ran to her basket. She was excited because she’s been asking for a xylophone. There is a picture of one in one of her favorite books and it is also featured in an episode of Bluey. She saw it and immediately began to play it.

I love that kids can sing whatever song melody perfectly while banging away in whatever rhythm they want to on the xylophone. The two “melodies” are vastly different, but to the performer – they are perfecting in synch! I really think she is going to be our little musician. She loves to play her xylophone and loves to sing!

We were invited to Sam’s mom’s house for Easter dinner that afternoon. Sam found some cute outfits for the kids in bright spring colors. They looked so cute together.

Sam’s mom had hid plastic eggs around the yard for an Easter Egg hunt. Andrew isn’t quite ready for that yet, so Ella went out and gathered eggs with her cousin, She loves being outside and despite the cooler temps, the sunshine made for a beautiful Easter Sunday.

After dinner and conversation, we decided to head home. Andrew is in his helmet 23 hours a day now and during the time it is off, there is a lot to do. It is important to wash the inside of the helmet, as well as make sure his hair is washed. This prevents any type of fungus or nastiness from growing in the helmet or on his head.

It’s almost weird to see him out of the helmet now. Sam took him to his appointment Friday and the measurements are looking very good. The helmet is doing what it is supposed to do.

Sunday night wrapped up with an unexpected emergency. Just before we got ready to get the kids to bed, Sam got a phone call. Her sister had to be rushed to the hospital. Sam drove to her mom’s and then drove them down to the hospital. She was admitted and is now home, but it was a bit scary. Sam got home around midnight Sunday night. I’m glad that she had the night off work so she could take her mom and sister.

Monday

We woke up to snow showers! There was very little on the ground in the morning, but after the kids woke up from their afternoon naps, there was a good coating of snow on the ground and you couldn’t see the grass! Typical Michigan weather, I guess.

What I found to be absolutely crazy was that the high school baseball team (who uses the field behind our house to practice/play on) was actually still having practice Monday afternoon. Those poor kids were out there on the diamond shagging balls in the outfield, running plays, and swinging blindly at balls being thrown to the plate because the snow was coming down so hard! It was nuts!!

Tuesday

I don’t even want to talk about Tuesday … LOL

I hope that you had a wonderful and blessed Easter weekend.

A Mood Changer

Pardon me while I become “toddler dad” for a minute…

When you become a parent, you lose the option to watch TV … at least when your kids are awake. Most days I watch all the PBS shows (Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Wild Kratts, Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum) or the various stuff from Nick Jr. or Disney Jr. (Paw Patrol, Bubble Guppies, Peppa Pig). My favorite is Bluey.

I blogged about the show (and primarily the dad – Bandit) here:

One of my favorite episodes is entitled Bad Mood. In the show, Bluey’s sister (Bingo) is in a “bad mood.” Bandit, Bluey and Bingo’s dad, IS the bad mood. It is signified by him wearing a Viking Helmet and walking with Bingo standing on his feet. He grunts and stomps through the house destroying block towers, ruining drawings, and throwing things.

Now there have been “a few” times when I have been at work and I’ve been in a “not so good mood.” I have joked with my co-workers that I need to get myself a Viking hat. No one really knew what I was talking about, so I showed them clips from this episode. Whenever a computer would crash or something didn’t work, I’d say something like, “This is when I need my ‘bad mood’ hat!”

One of our crew is transferring to another department and tomorrow is her last night here. Tonight, she said she was going to run out to her car for something. She came back in and was holding this Viking hat, which had two blonde braids hanging down from it. She told me that she wanted to get something to thank me for all the laughs we’ve shared working together.

It made me laugh out loud when I saw it. It also made me sad. I really have come to enjoy the nights that we work together. She loves music and we’ve shared a great many stories about songs and artists. She is also very funny and there are times I am laughing so hard my sides hurt. I am certainly going to miss having her in the building.

I told her when she gave me the helmet that it really won’t be a “bad mood” hat. Mainly because when I go to put it on, I will think about her – I’ll laugh – and that will put me in a good mood.

Thanks for your friendship, your conversation, and the many laughs, Laura! You will be missed, especially by me!!

They Call Me “Dad”

At some point, when I get an extra few bucks, I wanna order this shirt.

I am kind of over everything right now. Perhaps it is a lack of sleep, the need for a break/vacation, dealing with stupidity in many facets of life, an overwhelming amount of stress or a combination of all of these things. I am not really sure what the issue is. The past couple weeks, I feel like even the smallest things get under my skin. I feel like there is so much going in in my life right now. I feel like I lack the mental capacity to sort through it.

I can kind of fool most people. I usually can so this by just staying to myself – reading a book, listening to music or an old time radio show with headphones, or playing a dumb trivia game. The one person I cannot fool is my wife. She knows I am struggling, maybe she hasn’t said anything, but she knows. She can sense it. Even with an Oscar worthy performance, she knows.

She’s dealing with her own stresses right now. She’s doing SO much running around with the kids. Some days she has two different doctor appointments – one for each kid – each one in different cities. While doing that, she has to be sure she has bottles and diapers, and so on and so forth. It’s hell. It is days like this, that I wish I worked a normal schedule.

That’s a lot of crap to vent, and for that I am sorry. I hadn’t really wanted to write that much, but I was told by my therapist that sometimes you gotta just get it all out.

Despite having so much on my mind, I was not going to write a blog today. I just had nothing to write about. Then, while scrolling through Facebook memories, I found a post that probably hit me harder today than it did when I first posted it! It was a powerful reminder of how no matter what is going on in my life, I have an important role that I simply have to live up to every single day.

The Facebook Memory:

An amazing thought for the day: Parenting “is greater than any milestone you will ever hit in your career. It dwarfs any fame you may receive for your ideas or inventions. You’ve been handed a piece of history in advance – a gracious gift you send to a time you will not see – and you play the biggest role in how that history will ultimately be recorded” – T. Kimmel

This quote blows me away. Wow! This really shows how important a role I play in my children’s life. I’m not always going to be here for them, and when I am gone, I can only hope that they have learned something from me that they will take with them in the future. I hope that there is something that they learn from me that helps them in the future.

Another quote that is similar to the one above is :

I do not want to fail my children. I love them with all of my heart and soul. My role as their father is more important than any of the BS that is going on in my life. I have to make it a priority. I will love them, care for them, teach them, and guide them the best that I can, so that when they get out on their own, they will be ready to take their place in history.

There are days that I look through Facebook memories and I cringe as I delete things from the past. There are days that remind me of fun things the kids did, fun trips, or wonderful memories. Then there are days when one simple quote will knock me back a few steps to realize my focus is on the wrong things … and to adjust that focus to the right things!

The Omelette

Confession: I’m 51 and I love cartoons.

I have blogged about the cartoon Bluey before, and yes, I am blogging about it again. The third season of Bluey is still unavailable for viewing in the United States. There are some ways around that by changing your VPN or some other “tech” stuff I don’t understand.

I happen to belong to a Facebook group that will occasionally post some of the videos. As I held AJ this afternoon, I saw that they posted a cartoon from season 3, so I watched it. I literally laughed out loud throughout the episode, and at one point almost cried. That’s just one of the reasons I love this cartoon.

The episode is called “Omelette.” The cartoon starts with Dad (Bandit) opening his eyes to see his wife and two daughters looking at him. It’s his birthday, and they tell him they are going to make him breakfast in bed. He states he is hungry and mom suggests getting a move on, because when dad is hungry – he gets cranky. I can totally relate to this! Maybe it’s a guy thing?

Anyway, in the kitchen mom starts to make a “fast omelette” and tells Bluey to set up the table (the tray) and Bingo to make a birthday card for dad. As mom turns around, there is 4 year old Bingo. She tells mom that she made a card for dad at school and shows her. She then asks to help make the omelette.

First, she grabs the eggs, and as she walks to the counter, she drops about half of them on the floor. After cleaning it up, they attempt to crack eggs. She is not hitting the bowl hard enough, so mom tells her to try harder – which leads to another mess. After that mess is cleaned up, something happens where Bluey spills juice and that needs to be cleaned up.

Mom’s phone rings and it is dad asking how much longer breakfast will be – because, you know, he’s hungry! This totally cracked me up. I can see myself doing that. She tells him it won’t be long decides that Bingo should let mom just make the omelette. Cut to dad in bed ….. obviously getting more and more hungry (and cranky).

Mom whips up the omelette and is ready to take it to dad. She notices Bingo is pretending to play with two nutcracker salt and pepper shakers. Mom is watching as she basically tells the one salt shaker she’s “not good enough to help” with things. Mom now realizes that Bingo is playing out exactly how she felt when mom told her that she couldn’t help.

Dad now enters the kitchen and is begging for food. Mom tells Bluey to get dad back in bed and keep him there. He sees the omelette and begs to eat it. Mom tells him its not his and Bluey and dad are off to the bedroom. It’s pretty funny to hear Bluey tell dad to “Stay!” – they are dogs after all.

Mom then asks Bingo to help make the omelette, which makes her very happy. There is a montage of messes being made, borrowing more eggs from neighbors, phone calls from dad, more messes, more egg borrowing, and eventually – a pretty nasty looking omelette. They take the omelette to dad who wolfs it down in seconds!

He announces it was the best omelette he has ever had.

I’m not sure why I related so much to this particular episode, but I did. For some reason, I connect with this family and these characters. I also learn from them. Dad (Bandit) is the dad I want to be. He plays with his kids, often times more than any dad I know. I strive to be like him with my kids.

This episode was kind of a slap in the face to me (amidst the times I laughed at Bandit). Let me explain. My wife is all about letting the kids make messes. I’m not sure why, but when she does that, my anxiety levels go through the roof. One time, she gave Ella Jello or pudding and just let her play on her high chair. Jello and pudding was everywhere! What a mess that had to be cleaned up.

Last week, she bought one of those blow up pools. We don’t have a bath tub, so she filled this thing in the middle of our kitchen. There was water everywhere. Ella had a blast, but I could feel myself going crazy with anxiety! “The water is going to go through the floor to the basement!” I thought. “We’re going to ruin the floor!” My mind never stopped racing about those things.

When mom realized that all Bingo wants to do is help, she lets her – no matter how many messes had to be made. I need to step back and read the kids. I need to let them make messes. I need to let them help. The look on Bingo’s face and the excitement she shows when mom asks for her help – that is what it is all about.

Without it being an official New Year’s Resolution (because I don’t believe in them), I think this year, I’ll let the kids break a few eggs …..

Spaghetti? I Was Just Dreaming About That …

Today is National Spaghetti Day here in the United States. I didn’t know that until a friend of mine posted it on Facebook earlier today. I also didn’t know it was National Trivia Day in the United States. The same friend posted that, too. So before I tell my story … how about a tidbit of spaghetti trivia?

Did you know that the word spaghetti is plural for the Italian word spaghetto, which is a diminutive of spago, meaning “thin  string” or “twine?” You do now!

Dean Martin eating spaghetti

It is probably a total coincidence that I had a dream about spaghetti last night. Usually when I have a dream that I am trying to figure out, I wake up and email myself what I remember. Nine times out of ten, it is a bunch of misspelled words that I have to wonder just what I was trying to type.

So my dream, I admit, doesn’t make much sense at all. Although it was almost like there should have been a message in it or something. So, here is (to my best recollection) the dream:

There is a mixture of humans and cartoon characters in it. I don’t really understand it, but that is like most dreams I suppose. The family from Bluey is in it (probably because my daughter and I were watching it before bed).

The Heelers from Bluey

At first I think I am at some sort of spaghetti dinner, like a fund raiser or something. Then I realize that this event is some sort of celebration or ceremony. It has something to do with the children – and the number of meatballs on the child’s plate. It was sort of like a karate/kung fu belt ceremony.

Each child walks through the line with a plate of spaghetti and when the reach the appropriate server, he plops a certain number of meatballs on the plate and explains what it means. No meatballs meant they were newcomers, one meatball was a novice, two meatballs meant they were intermediate, three meatballs signified above average, and four meatballs was a pro/master.

Anyone who got four meatballs got a huge round of applause from the crowd. It was almost like some sort of Jewish Bar Mitzvah or something, “Congratulations! Four meatballs! You are now a man!” I stood there puzzled by the whole thing and then I realized that I am in line, holding a plate of spaghetti. The server drops three meatballs on my plate and tells me to move on.

I am stumped. I am confused. Why do I not have four? What exactly are you a pro at if you DO get four meatballs? I don’t even know!

I walk away staring at these three meatballs and Bluey’s dad, Bandit, comes up to me and says, “Only three, huh? That’s they way it goes sometimes, Mate.”

Then I wake up.

Weird. Weird. Weird.

Oh, and the guy dishing out the meatballs? Frank Sinatra!

2021 – What a Year!

At midnight tonight, we’ll start a brand new year – 2022. Some have compared a new year to a book. The book with 365 blank pages – one for each day – and said that the book is ours to write. There is truth to that.

As I looked back over my “book” entitled “2021,” I see that (despite the pandemic and all the crap that came with it) I really did have a good year. Bear with me, he’s the recap:

January

January started with some snow. It actually looks like we should be getting snow again this week. Ella absolutely loved being outside in the snow. It was fun to watch her try to figure out just what all the white stuff was. Today, when she sees it, she get’s excited and yells, “Snow! Snow!”

In mid-January, we scratched our heads and wondered just how Ella was 11 months old! I mean, it seemed like she was just born!

The pressure was on as we closed in on her first birthday. With Covid, we weren’t quite sure if we’d even be able to have a party for her.

February

As we got closer to Ella’s birthday, Sam was just not feeling right. 3 days before Ella’s birthday, we found out that baby #2 was on the way!

This took us both completely by surprise! There was great excitement all over again. The hardest part was keeping it a secret…

Ella’s first birthday was a fun and busy day. We ditched the pink blocks and marked the birthday with a HUGE number “1” balloon. This was followed by a trip to the Sea Life Aquarium, the Build a Bear place, and cake at Nana’s house.

We were glad to be able to get some professional “1st Birthday” pictures, too!

March

In March we got our first look at the baby we now know as Andrew/AJ and announced Ella’s promotion to big sister.

Ella also got her first haircut

March also consisted of many walks around the neighborhood and stops at the park.

April

Big brother, Dante’ turned 19 this month! Before that, Easter fell on my mom’s birthday. We got Ella all dressed up in her Easter dress, stopped at the cemetery to visit grandma on her birthday and then went to Nana’s for an Easter Egg hunt!

Ella is so very blessed to have wonderful people in her life. Aunt Margaret is one of them! (She will kill me for posting this picture, but I just love this!!) She and cousin Marissa came to visit and the highlight was watching them read books together.

We also found out the baby’s gender, but that wouldn’t be revealed until May.

May

Birthday’s have never really bothered me, mostly because I opt for the Jack Benny attitude and say that I am stuck at 39. However, in reality I turned 51. 30 was big. 40 was tough. 50 a bit hard to swallow. Over 50? Well…..I examine my own mortality every day.

The month started warm enough that Ella got to spend lots of time in her sandbox and pool.

We revealed that Ella was having a baby brother and got another look at him on an ultrasound.

Ella and I worked on a special project for Sam for Mother’s Day and we got to visit the Detroit Zoo.

May also brought Ella her first taste of corn on the cob!

June

My second oldest boy celebrated his 14th birthday in June. We got to spend Father’s Day together by visiting Crossroads Village. They had a Classic Car Show there and we walked the village and rode the train. It was such a great day with my kids!

It was SO hot that day!!! By the end of it all, Ella was physically exhausted. June was a hot month and we did get to get out and enjoy walks in the park and a day at the splash pad.

July

By July, Sam was 5 months pregnant and was so sick. The pregnancy was a rough one on her. The heat didn’t help things. Despite that, the middle of summer was packed full of amazing things and our family had loads of fun.

We celebrated America’s Birthday, Ella had her first visit to the public library and bowled for the first time, and we all visited the Saginaw Children’s Zoo.

August

As Summer drew to a close, we continued to squeeze as much into it as we could. I got to spend a perfect day doing a daddy daughter picnic, my name was finally on the board at the Corner Cone for a free ice cream, Ella spent lots of time drawing with crayons, and our stress levels were through the roof as we took Ella in for her ear tube surgery. We also got another peak at AJ and had a visit from my brother.

September

Fall! My favorite season of all. I was glad to be able to get together with Margaret, Walt and my buddy Chris at Margaret’s house. Since she’s already mad at the one picture I posted, I’ll just share the one she told me I could share. Hopefully, that makes things a little better….

We always love going to get pumpkins and decorating the front of the house for fall. Ella seemed to like it, too.

Ella and I also got to take one last trip to the Saginaw Zoo before it closed for the season. It was a great day for us, and Sam actually got to relax a bit.

October

We had been told more than once that there was a possibility that the baby would come before his due date. He held out almost until the date! Just two days before he was born, Ella and I got to go outside and enjoy the fall colors.

On October 11th, AJ entered the world. I watched in awe as my son was born and all the pride of being a daddy again filled my soul. We weren’t sure how Ella would handle it, but she welcomed him with open arms.

They still did not have a photographer at the hospital, so we went to JC Penney to have some newborn pictures taken. AJ looks spiffy in his outfit!

While this wasn’t Ella’s first Halloween, it was the first real Trick or Treating adventure for her. She was happy that big brother was there to walk with her. AJ was obviously way too young to attempt to go out this year.

November

Fall walks are among my favorites. I love looking at the colors. Ella and I took many fall walks and there were many instances where she’d just play in a pile of leaves! AJ kept us all busy and so it was just Ella and I making the trip to Bronner’s to get his ornament for the Christmas tree. We enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving at home and got the house ready for Christmas.

December

The final month of the year brought many happy memories. Professional Christmas pictures, my annual reading of Dickens, AJ turned 2 months old, a visit from Papa and Grandma, Christmas Eve with my boys, Holiday lights at Crossroads, our first Christmas as a family of four, and the anticipation of a brand new year.

Blog highlights included my entries to the 2021 Song Draft, salutes to Soupy Sales, my grandpa, and Ernie Harwell, a guest blog from my pal Max, silly blogs about hats and Bernie Sanders’ mittens, fishing memories, my favorite Twilight Zone episodes, and a blog about an amazing cartoon Dog Dad.

There were many sad moments in 2021. I lost classmates and friends to cancer, heart disease, and of course, Covid. If the past two years have taught me anything, it is that life is precious and another day is not promised. You never know when it will be the “last picture,” the “last phone call,” or the “last visit.” It takes me make to that quote that my band director wrote on the grease board my senior year. I have quoted it many times. “Live every day as if it were your last. Someday, you’ll be right.”

Life is too short. Live. Laugh. Love.

As we welcome 2022, I pray that it is a good year for all of us. May we find it full of happiness and good health. May God bless you and yours in the upcoming year.

Get ready. The Book of 2022 awaits. Grab your pen and turn to page (January) 1.