I’m not sure I’d ever have what it takes to be a photographer. Oh sure, many people comment on the pictures I take with my phone and post on Facebook, but they are far from professional.
There is a local photographer close by that has never disappointed us with her photos. She took Ella’s First Birthday pictures, Andrew’s helmet pictures, and recently Andrew’s First Birthday pictures. Her name is Beth and she owns Enjoy the View Photography.
I am always amazed when I look at the pictures she gets. I know the chaos that was happening when the pictures are being taken, yet she is able to grab that perfect split second in time that makes it frame worthy.
For Andrew’s session, she set aside some time for us to get a few of both kids and the family. The autumn colors were not at peak, but the outdoor photos still look fantastic!
She got pictures of the whole family sitting, standing, with Ella on my shoulders, and more. It is hard to pick a favorite and which ones to put on canvas.
Then there were photos of the two of them together. Some truly amazing shots of them sitting, but the one that both Sam and I love is them running from the camera.
There is one of Ella grabbing Andrew and hugging him that makes me laugh …
…and one that makes me tear up….
Beth got a couple solo shots of them, which wasn’t easy with Ella. She was way past being done, however, there is one that just came out perfect…
…my favorite solo picture of Andrew captures him in all his sweetness…
We headed inside to get birthday and cake pictures. Again, Beth was able to get these split second moments perfectly. Andrew was not really about sitting still, but you’d never know it by these pictures.
As far as a cake “smash,” we didn’t really get that for pictures. We got some at home on his birthday, but he was just to careful during the photo session. It was almost like he was saying, “I’d rather not make a mess…”
My kudos again to Beth and Enjoy the View Photography for these wonderful pictures which we will look back and enjoy for years!
It is truly hard to believe that Andrew turned 1 today! It seems like just yesterday we were bringing him home from the hospital. Yet here we are one year later. A lot has transpired in 365 days.
For new followers to the blog, you can relive all the excitement of his delivery and birthday here:
He didn’t go to bed any later than normal last night, but he slept longer than Ella today, which is not the norm. Ella was up and playing in her crib and I got up to get her. We came back to my room where Andrew was still sleeping. As much as she tries to whisper, every now and then she forgets and just gets loud. When I reminded her that it was his birthday, she screamed with excitement … and of course, woke him up.
When Sam got home from work, we whipped up some breakfast and had some well deserved family time. We snapped a few first birthday photos and then got ready for a day at the park. It was just beautiful today with temperatures up near 70. The sun made it feel a whole lot warmer.
We drove through and grabbed lunch and brought it to the park for a picnic lunch. There is a small park about 20 minutes away and it was just perfect. There was a playground with playscape and swings and a pavilion with picnic tables where we ate. There is a trail that you can walk with a small creek and fall colors.
Sam and Andrew explored the tennis courts and playground while I sat with Ella as she finished her lunch. When she was finished, we walked over to them. Sam asked if Ella wanted to show me where she had seen some ducks the last time they were there. She said she’d rather play on the playground, so Andrew and I took a walk over.
There is a little bridge that overlooks the creek and he loved just walking on it and looking down at the creek.
We were at the park for quite a while enjoying the day. We didn’t leave until it was close to nap time. Andrew wound up falling asleep in the car, which worked out because Sam wanted to stop and pick up some balloons for him. When we got home, Sam wanted to take a short nap before dinner.
Her mom stopped by to drop off Andrew’s birthday gift and brought their dog Toodles! We all love that dog! The kids loved that she was here and we all went outside and ran around with her. I wish I had gotten some pictures of that!
We had planned on making a chicken and rice dish for dinner, but I neglected to pull chicken out to thaw, so I wound up running to the store and picking up a rotisserie chicken. We made some green beans and mac and cheese to go with it.
After dinner, Andrew opened his birthday gifts and played with his new Little People School Bus before it was time for cake. We sang Happy Birthday and we gave him his cake.
Unlike the day of his cake smash pictures, this time, Andrew REALLY chowed down on this cake!!
It was very fun to watch. He just kept grabbing chunks of cake and stuffing his face. I swear, he ate 3/4 of that cake! I’m surprised he fell asleep tonight after eating all that sugar!!
He snuggled up with mommy and fell asleep on her tonight. It was just beautiful. Sam mentioned to me last night, she never really understood just how different it is in regard to the mother/son bond. She loved them both the same, but that bond is a little different. I explained that I totally understood what she was saying because I feel the same way with Ella. That daddy/daughter bond is really special.
Sam, Ella, and the birthday boy are all asleep as I write this. I think back over the last year and remember so many wonderful memories. He certainly has given us a run for our money. Plenty of after hours urgent care visits, a few months with his helmet, fracture of his foot, and all kinds of other things.
His sleep study showed he had sever sleep apnea. He was diagnosed with Laryngomalacia, which is some extra tissue on the larynx which can cause apnea and other issues. He goes in for surgery on Thursday to correct this. His sleep doc is also worried about whether or not the apnea caused some heart issues, so next week we have to go for an echocardiogram for him. We’re praying that all goes well with the surgery and the echo.
Before he has surgery, he had to get a COVID test. I had to take him in for it and I was totally prepared for a lot of crying. I just knew that it was going to be awful for him to be swabbed. The nurse came in, swabbed him, he made a face and there were no tears! I literally snapped this picture like 20 seconds after the swab.
What a blessing he is to us. As I said on Facebook today:
One year. 365 days. What an amazing trip around the sun it has been for our Andrew Joseph! He is unique and wonderful in so many ways!
This amazing little guy has brought even more happiness to our home. His bright blue eyes light up the room. His smile is contagious. His laughter is joyful noise.
His happy dance makes us all giggle with delight. He is a good little brother, even though Ella has said that he “drives me crazy!”. I have no doubt these two will be best friends. Thank you, God, for allowing me to be “dad” to these two amazing kids!!
Happy birthday, AJ! Thank you for a wonderful year of memories and milestones. We can’t wait to see what the years ahead will bring….
I love you, son.
Sam posted this:
Today you are ONE! This momma might be in a bit of denial that you aren’t my tiny baby anymore. Even though you are my second baby, you have definitely taught me how to be a momma in a whole new way. You taught me to listen to my momma gut when something isn’t right. You have taught me to fight for answers and pray harder then ever.
Andrew you are fierce and determined! You will not let anything stop you. Your sister might be bigger but you have no issues pulling her to the floor by her hair if it means getting your toy back. You will find a way to get to whatever you want. Even if it isn’t always the safest. There is a reason we call you Bamm Bamm.
You are brilliant! There is not a single gate, or baby proof tab or lock that you haven’t mastered. All it takes is one time of you watching and you know how to do it.
You are so loving! You have always been busy, but you are the first to always snuggle your momma. You still have yet to ever nap somewhere that isn’t in my arms and 99% of the time that is where you are all night too. You fall asleep with my lips on your forehead every single night. And it is secretly my favorite part of the day.
You have the best smile and the brightest eyes and we love you more than you know! Happy Birthday Sweet Boy!
I have said it before, but it is worth repeating – I am a truly blessed man.
When I get home in the morning, my little girl will be two years old. My wife probably didn’t intend on making me cry, but she sent me a picture of her sleeping in her crib with the message “Last picture as a 1 year old,” but she did.
I wish I had taken the day off tomorrow. I didn’t because I had to save my PTO time for a surgery I am having this month. I want to spend the entire day with her. I want to celebrate HER! Sadly, I have to work tomorrow night, so I will probably miss most of her day.
As I look back over the last year, it is amazing to see how much she has grown and just how far she has come. Some highlights:
First birthday at the Sea Life Aquarium
Amazing professional First Birthday/Cake Smash photoshoot
First haircut with Miss Sherry
Family Easter Egg hunt
Finding out she was going to be a big sister
First time eating corn on the cob
First time bowling (with big brothers)
Family visit to the Detroit and Saginaw Zoos
First trip to the library
Drawing her first picture
First surgery – ear tubes
Outside adventures (trampoline fun, walks around the neighborhood, sidewalk chalk drawings, sandbox fun, visits to the park, playing on the splashpad, swimming in her kiddie pool, playing in leaf piles, sledding and making snow angels)
Arrival of Little Brother and official promotion to Big Sister
Family visit with Santa at Cabella’s
Daddy/Daughter trip to Bronners to buy the annual Christmas ornament
Visits from Aunt Margaret, Cousin Marissa, Papa and Grandma, Uncle Chris, and so many others.
What a One-derful year it has been!
The “terrible twos” don’t scare me. I just hope that time slows down a bit.
Yesterday, I kissed my one year old for the last time. When I get home in the morning, I will kiss my two year old for the first time. I can’t wait to see her….
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 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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We got back the photos from our “First Birthday/Cake Smash” session and they are so good! The photographer caught some really fantastic shots. There are so many good ones, it will be hard to decide which ones to get printed. She wanted to get some pictures of Ella walking, so we’d stand he close to the back drop and she’d walk forward. One of the photos of her walking looks like she is a model on a catwalk! Check out the sassy “pose” she gave us:
Sam always has the cutest things for her to wear. For the cake smash, she had a pink tutu, a crown, and a string of pearls. Prior to getting into the cake, the photographer was able to catch some wonderful pictures of her in the outfit.
Now we just gotta sit down and pic the ones to print.
My glasses arrived. I guess I didn’t realize just how bad I needed them to drive. I guess distance was an issue, too, and I didn’t know. When I put them on and was driving to work, I didn’t really notice a difference, until I looked at the road without them on. It was crazy just how blurry the signs were. I’m glad I got them.
My reading glasses will take a bit to get used to. They are not just magnifiers, like the ones you get in the store. It’s a bit weird still. I have to figure out the right distance to read things at. Eventually, I’ll get it right.
Today, I was trying to read the label of something, so I put the readers on. Ella stood in front of me and got this terrified look on her face. I knew it must have been the glasses that were freaking her out, so I lifted them up and said, “It’s ok. It’s just daddy.” All of a sudden she just broke into this horrible cry. I felt so bad. I have heard that things like glasses, hats, and things will make you look like another person to toddlers, but I never really had it happen before. I guess when she’s around I will squint and do my best to read what I need to.