Before Thanksgiving, there was a perfect 70 degree day. That was the day I should have put the Christmas lights up outside. I didn’t. Thankfully, I took advantage of a breezy 50ish degree day and was outside rigging up the lights.
After I finished, the following conversation took place between my wife and me:
Sam: Uh, what’s that big bunch of wires wrapped to the post?
Me: So, there was a strand of lights where only half were lighting up. Those are the ones that didn’t light up!
Sam: That really looks bad
Me:. No one’s gonna see those from outside. Especially in the dark!!
I was not about to go through bulb by bulb to check them. (I actually swapped out the first bulb that was out, but when it didn’t work, I was done with that!). And I certainly wasn’t going to buy an entire new strand of lights! I had already gone through the countless strands and replaced those bulbs that were physically broken. That took enough of my time.
So behind a post, there is a bunch of bulbs wrapped together … And out of site from anyone looking at it from the front.
When all is said and done, it looks good at night!
I really need to do more in the front of the house. I always feel like it’s not enough.
The ground was already hard, so I couldn’t get the stakes in for the large Christmas bulbs we usually put out. So their absence already makes it look “half done.”
I really need to get a big ladder. We don’t have one. I’m sure I could probably borrow one from a neighbor, but I never ask. I would love to do up along the roof. Those icicle lights would probably look good and can’t be that hard to hang.
I saw a thing on Facebook that made me laugh. It said, “It only snows in November because people decorate early for Christmas.” Blame me if you wish, but we needed to brighten things up over this way!
There has been a lot going on in my life, some of which I have shared and some I have kept to myself. We’re all processing a variety of emotions. With the passing of my sister-in-law, there is an extra bit of sadness. Like the song says, “We need a little Christmas!” So we decided to put up the Christmas tree this weekend.
The older the kids get, the more fun this becomes. Andrew was just a couple months old last year, so he was especially excited to see the tree and the lights. He and Ella both “helped” handing me lights. They were both extra giddy.
I had the lights plugged in as I walked around the tree with them. That way I could make sure they were placed evenly and all areas has the proper amount of lights.
Andrew, as you know, is everywhere. He gets into everything! So we debated waiting until closer to Christmas to put ornaments on the tree. We also debated not putting any on at all. We did decide to put the tree topper on, and Andrew was the perfect helper!
My dad commented on a picture of the tree on Facebook. He said he was taking bets on who was going to know the tree down – Ella, Andrew, or the cat! For the record, the cat has yet to get near the tree, which is really odd.
We brought up the baby gate and set it around the tree. It’s the “look, but don’t touch” gate. The kids can still touch it, but the probability of the tree coming down is a lot less.
I decided that certain ornaments had to go up on the tree. As ridiculous as it looks, all the ornaments are on the tree from about a foot higher than the top of the baby gate and up to the top. In total, there are maybe 12-20 ornaments on there.
Every year, we got to Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth to get an ornament that represents a big even from the year. We got one for our engagement, or marriage, the birth of both kids, etc. We went early this year and at the time, didn’t really have an “event” to get an ornament for. We opted instead for a plaque for the door with a snowman family on it.
When my sister-in-law, Grace, passed away I decided I was going to get Sam and her folks a memorial ornament for the tree. I had seen a few designs in the Bronner’s catalog, and chose this one.
I had hoped to save it until closer to Christmas to give it to Sam, but I can’t control my face. Let me explain.
I took the kids with me to Bronner’s on a day Sam was home sleeping. I kept the ornaments in my car so she wouldn’t see them. Then a day or two later, she was getting ready for work and said, “I was thinking about getting a Christmas ornament with Grace’s name on it for my mom.”
I must have stood there dumbfounded. My face obviously giving away that I had already done it. Instead of just saying, “That’s a great idea. We should do that.” I knew that she would just go and do it. So I walked out to the car and brought inside.
I’m glad it’s inside and I’m glad it is on the tree. Grace already has a special place in our hearts, and now she will have a special place on our tree every year.
If my tree being up brings snow your way, I’m sorry. We needed something help brighten the season, even if it is early.
Another thing I saw on Facebook this week said, “Don’t you just love it when the Christmas tree is the only light in the room?”
To say this weekend was not a hectic one would be a lie. In all honesty, the entire month has been busy for Sam and me. Sam has been running back and forth to various doc appointments and helmet appointments, plus helping her folks out with her sister. Both of us are running on little to no sleep. How we are making in through our nights at work and our days at home, I really have no idea.
Sam was up early on Saturday. I cam home and slept about 3 hours before having to get up and get my son. I picked him up at his mom’s house and then we drove to Sam’s parents’ house. She was there with Ella and Andrew helping out with her sister. I picked up Ella and came back home.
It was beautiful on Saturday! There was a lot of sunshine and it was close to 80 degrees. Ella wanted to play outside, so she ran around the yard playing with her toys as Dimitri and I worked on a couple projects. The biggest project was the swing set that Sam bought for the kids. It took about 3 hours to put together and I was pretty impressed with it.
Back in the day, I remember my dad having to dig or drill holes for the swing set poles to set into. Then he’d have to pour cement in them and it had to dry before we could use it. This set was neat. It had “shoes” that went on the bottom of each leg. There was a stake that you “screwed” into the ground and then you bolted the shoe to the stake. That thing is solid, let me tell you! I was pretty impressed.
Ella loves going to the park and swinging on the swings and Andrew had never been on one. We ordered a toddler swing to go put on it (it came with one) so both kids could swing at the same time. They absolutely loved it!!
The kids got to swing for a bit and then we went in and had dinner. We all went to bed early, because we were all wiped out.
Sam had to work Sunday, so she was up for a bit and then went back to try to get some sleep. So I decided to take the kids for a walk before it rained. Ella wanted to take her baby doll for a walk too. So I loaded up Andrew in the double stroller and she grabbed her baby doll and we walked the neighborhood.
What made me really smile was to see the people who were passing by in cars looking at Ella, waving at her and smiling. It was awesome. She really enjoyed being able to walk her baby. After we got home, we played outside for a while. Andrew was so interested in everything. He loved just playing around on the blanket out on the lawn.
I had planned on Dimitri staying until the evening, but I guess he had some dinner to go to. So Dante’ came to pick him up and take him to the dinner. Dante’ is working a lot and going to college, so it is rare for me to see them both together. Even though it was just for a few minutes, it was nice to have them both there. I had to fight them to get them to pose for a picture!
Dimitri helped me put the swing set together and also helped me take down the remainder of the Christmas lights. Yes, I know, it is almost May! That should tell you just how crazy life has been our way. On the days I wanted to get out and do it, it was either freezing, raining, and most recently – snowing! I’m glad they are finally down!
He also helped me move some furniture around. Andrew is having some separation issues. It has been a challenge to do anything without him attached to us. If we are not in the same room with him, he loses it. He’s never really slept well if it isn’t in our arms or in our bed. So we moved the crib to our bedroom, got him his own sound machine, and hoped that he’d start sleeping in it.
Yep. That’s his crib … at the end of our bed! I’m really hoping that he gets into that crib sooner than later. Sam and I would welcome a night of sleep without getting a helmet to the head or kicks in the stomach.
Finally, some big news that is NOT family related…
As a life long Detroit Tiger Fan, it was very cool to hear that Miguel Cabrera joined an elite club on Saturday. He got his 3000th hit! Miggy has certainly made baseball fun to watch here in Michigan. Now, we just need to get back to the World Series – and win it! Congrats, Miggy!!
Another Christmas has come and gone. I hope that you had a Christmas full of wonderful memories! This Christmas was full of a lot of joy for us, but there were some things that left me sad. I will attempt to recap and keep it as happy as possible. Many of my Facebook friends have already seen these pictures, but that’s ok.
Thursday, December 23
After working the night before, I slept for a couple hours and went and picked up my son. His brother was working that night and was coming up after work so we could celebrate Christmas Eve Morning together.
My dad and Rose came over that afternoon. Neither had met AJ yet, so it was extra special to have them here. When then walked in, Ella ran to them SO excited. She was so happy to see them. She loves them both so much!!
There is something that is so amazing to me to see my dad hold his grandchildren. There is a special light in his eyes. There are almost tears. It is so special. He always kisses them gently on the head and talks to them.
Ella was all about Grandma Rose that night! Grandma made her a Mickey and Minnie blanket, which she just loves. One of my favorite pictures from that day is the two of them snuggled up on the chair with her blanket.
My Dad, being the silly guy that he is, heard Ella saying some of the alphabet. He immediately thought of “Violent is the Word for Curly,” the Three Stooges short which features the “Swingin’ the Alphabet” song.
So Dad had to sing it to her …
I was glad to get the chance to visit with them, and I am glad that three of his four grandchildren were there for him to see. Papa and Rose were very good to all my kids!
Dad and Rose left around 7, and Dante’ called about 8 to say he’d gotten off work and was on his way. I was exhausted and was actually on my way to bed when he called. He asked me to stay awake, so I did. He came in and gave he the biggest hug. We had some leftover pizza, so I told him to dig in and not stay up too late!
As I crawled in bed, my heart was full.
I’m sure the day is coming when the kids will be up at like 4am to open presents! We were blessed that they didn’t wake up until after 8am! I had to laugh, though, because ever since we put the tree up, there has been a gate around it. It served two purposes. First, it kept that cat out of the tree and second, it kept Ella from pulling on the ornaments and the lights.
When she woke up and came out the the living room, she walked over the the tree and saw all the presents under the tree – and no gate. She literally just stood there – not really sure what to make of things.
After a few minutes, Sam said it was time to go in and wake up the boys. They were already going to be leaving earlier than I thought (so Dante’ didn’t have to drive in the dark), so we wanted to get things going. We told Ella to go in and wake them up.
She ran into their room yelling, “Wake up, Bruh! Wake up, Bruh!” It was quite funny to watch my older boys stir in bed … all they wanted to do was stay asleep. Dante’ asked to sleep for another 30 minutes. I told him, “You’re sister isn’t going to wait 30 minutes and wants to open presents!” Against their wishes, they crawled out of bed and joined us in the living room.
Last year, we had to help Ella open her gifts. She wasn’t quite where she understood how to do it yet. This year, however, she was able to jump right in and rip open her gifts!
It’s neat to see how the various kids react to Christmas now. Dante is 19, so he’s very laid back. Dimitri is 14 and it depends on what he’s opening as to how excited or how much emotion he shows. Ella, she’s excited for everything. Andrew has no clue as to what is happening.
The boys are SO hard to buy for. They never seem to have any real ideas for me. Dante’ is kind of at the “gift card/money” stage. He’s happy with those. Dimitri really liked this golf game I had for the Xbox, so I made sure to get it for him to play at home.
Ella, being the helpful big sister, helped open up AJ’s presents.
Of course, I had to put together Ella’s basketball hoop, so she could slam dunk a few before dinner.
After a hearty breakfast, the boys went into their room and played games for a while. Knowing that they were going to be leaving early, I made sure that dinner was done early. Keeping with my family tradition, I made ravioli with my homemade sauce. I made sure to send a jar home with the boys, as Dante’ loves it.
Personal note: I used a bit too much wine this time. I felt that it was sweeter than normal.
About 3, the boys had to leave to go home to their mom. Ella was napping when they left. When she woke up, I picked her up out of her crib and as we passed the boy’s room, she said “Bruh”? “Bruh”? It ripped my heart out. All she wanted to do was see her brothers! Sadly, I don’t think they really know how much she loves them and how important they are to her. This was the saddest moment of the entire weekend for me.
A Christmas Eve tradition for Sam and I has always been to do the Drive Through Holiday Lights display at Crossroads Village. For $10 a car, you get to drive through and see the many Christmas lights that they have on display. When the kids are older, we plan on going and doing the Christmas train ride, which is truly amazing, but for now, we just drove through.
When we arrived, we got Ella out of her car seat and let her sit on Sam’s lap as we drove through. She was so excited. As we got close to the lights, she’s yell, “Here we go, Mommy! Here we go, Daddy!” It was so cute. Sam made the comment that she loves seeing things through Ella’s eyes. This is so true! We’ve been through there every year, but this year was so much more exciting because of Ella!
We thought about driving downtown Flint, which has some great lights, too. We decided against it, as it was getting late and the kids were tired. We went through out bedtime routine and got the kids to bed just in time for me to play Santa. I had a few things to put together so that they were ready for they kids when they woke up Christmas morning.
Christmas Day 2021
Sam wanted to be in the living room so she could record Ella seeing her presents, so I got her out of bed and asked Sam if she was ready. She said she was, so I sent Ella running into the living room. The video is priceless. The smile on her face is something I will never forget. We got her one of those Little People Jungle Rainforest things. It came with animals and makes noises and everything. It is HUGE and takes up a good part of the living room.
AJ’s Santa gift was a very cool floor chair. It allows him to sit up while on the floor and it’s a lot better than those Bumpo seats.
I love that both kids had “Santa” jammies for Christmas morning. Sam and I actually got matching PJ bottoms to wear that morning, too. AJ was wide awake and just taking in all the sights. I love this picture of him and Sam. What I love about it is that just above Sam’s right shoulder is a picture of Ella on her lap and in this picture AJ is on her lap.
One of Ella’s favorite gifts was a Leap Frog Tea Party set. The pot talks and it came with cups and cake.
I joked many times about having tea parties with my daughter. I am excited to say that we’ve had our first already and I am looking forward to the next one!
It was daddy’s turn to help AJ open gifts. So I grabbed his stuff and we opened them up. I was as surprised as he was! LOL. Sam got him a very cool “Floor time” pillow with lights, sounds, and more.
It made him like floor time a lot more….
Before we all showered and got dressed to visit Sam’s folks, we attempted to take a family selfie. We have a camera that I could have set up with a timer and all, but with my cell phone, I could snap 5-6 pictures in the time it would take to get one on the camera. Good thing we went with the cell phone – because it only took us about 57 tries before we finally got this one.
Since it was AJ’s first Christmas, we had to be sure to get a picture with him in his “First Christmas” outfit. Sam came up with the silly saying on the board and it made me chuckle!
After the kids napped, we went to Sam’s folks for Christmas dinner. Sam’s mom put out an amazing spread with turkey, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, and so much more. I’m not sure why we didn’t get any pictures while we were there, and I am sad that we didn’t. We are so grateful for them and enjoyed family time together.
After we got home and got the kids in bed, Sam and I crawled into bed. Before I drifted off to sleep, I thought back over the many memories that were made and thanked God for the many blessings that He has given me. I am truly a lucky man.
Having the Christmas tree up was driving Sam crazy. Not because it was up, but because we literally had to move Ella’s toys out of that corner of the room. All of her toys were moved in front of the fireplace and it just seemed like we were always tripping over them. Long before Christmas, it was clear that on the 26th, the tree was coming down!
I spent the morning taking down ornaments, unstringing Christmas lights, folding up stockings, and putting them all downstairs until next year. Before I finished, there was one picture we had meant to get of Ella that we hadn’t gotten. So I hurried out to the garage and got the props ready before Ella and I walked the neighborhood. Here is the picture we had hoped to get earlier in the season ….
It’s back to work tonight for me, at least for a couple days. Looking back over this holiday weekend makes me smile. There are so many wonderful memories forever saved in snapshots that I will look back on often. Life is good. I am blessed.
Three more days until Christmas. I don’t even know where the time has gone, but the holiday is FAST approaching! This past weekend I was pretty busy, and at the same time there were plenty of wonderful family moments together.
After working four days and coming home, I feel like the kids have grown and are doing things that they weren’t just a day before. I’m not sure if it is the fact that he recognized my voice or my face, but AJ was smiling and babbling so much this weekend. Those baby smiles are exactly what I needed this weekend.
Saturday night, Ella and I were playing on the floor and Sam reminded me that I’d wanted to build a “fort.” So I pulled two chairs together and grabbed a comforter and tossed it over the chairs – instant “fort.” As a kid, I used to love when we’d sit in the fort and read books. Ella loved coming in … and going out. She was in and out and in and out. Believe me, it wasn’t easy to get her to stay still long enough to take a selfie…
This weekend we gave both kids a bath. Sam grabbed Ella and AJ’s bear PJ’s and gathered them up to read….
What book did we read first?? Well, of course, it had to be….
On Sunday, we placed a Meijer order for groceries. On Christmas Eve, it’s sort of been a tradition to have ravioli for dinner. Grandma always made them, and it is a tradition that I have tried to keep going. I refuse to use sauce in a jar for the holidays, so I made a list of everything I needed and spent the afternoon making sauce.
If you are new to this blog, let me explain. I have been trying to duplicate my grandma’s sauce for years. I have gotten close to doing so, and I have yet to master it. In doing so, I have kind of come up with my own sauce. I don’t tweak too much every time, because I don’t want to mess it up too much. This time around, there may be just a tad too much wine in it. Oh well….I will make a note of it and try again ….
While the sauce was cooking, Sam gathered up all the presents to wrap them as Ella took her afternoon nap. It’s always interesting to divide up the gifts. Ella and AJ will get TWO Christmases. We wake up Christmas Eve morning with my sons and open gifts, and then we wake up Christmas morning and open more. Sam bought some two sided wrapping paper from Sam’s Club. Being the smart woman that she is, she wrapped the gifts to open on Christmas Eve with one side and the Christmas Day gifts with the other side. She is brilliant!
After the sauce had simmered about 6 hours, Sam and I decided we’d take a short trip up to Frankenmuth to drive through town and look at Christmas lights. We put on the Christmas station, loaded the kids, and went for our drive. When the kids are a bit older, we want to go and just walk around town. We will definitely pile the kids into one of the horse drawn carriages and ride around town! For now, we just drove around.
We stopped at Bronner’s, which had all their lights outside lit up and it’s always neat to just drive through the parking lot. We weren’t the only ones who were doing it either. They have plenty of things around the parking lot that can be good for picture taking. I was afraid that Ella might run into the road/driveway that was by some of those, so instead, we went to a few that were well inside the lot. She loved it!
We had a feeling that winter time was going to drive Ella crazy! She loves to be outside. There is only so much that she can do in our house. We’ve been trying to limit her TV/Screen time, so she’s getting bored. Before I laid down for a nap before work, we grabbed her boots and coat and we went for a short walk around the neighborhood.
There is still a little bit of snow on the ground, but it will more than likely be gone by Christmas. We left without her gloves, so her hands got cold when she was picking up the snow. As we walked, she realized that we were at the house where her hound dog friend is usually outside during the summer. She kept asking where the doggy was, and I had to tell her it was probably too cold for her friend to be outside.
I was really surprised that she remembered the house!
When we got home, her hands and nose was a bit chilly, but she warmed up quick as mommy had lunch ready for her when we arrived.
There was a knock on the side door before I headed off to bed. The UPS man brought the kids a package from my brother. He had told me to watch for it. Inside were pajamas for AJ and a HUGE Daisy Duck stuffed animal for Ella. I had called him a week or so ago and told him that she was all about Daisy. She was so surprised when she saw it. I wish I had gotten pictures of her initial reaction. She had hands over her eyes and was so surprised. Then she grabbed it and hugged it!
It really was the cutest thing!!!
HA! I just looked at that picture and in it, you can totally see how I messed up hanging the stockings! Last year, we had 5 (Me, Sam, Dante’ Dimitri, and Ella). This year we added the small “My First Christmas” stocking for AJ. I use those 3M hooks to hang the socks. Somehow, I marked off 7 spots instead of 6, so there are three on one side of the fireplace and three on the other and a big space in the middle. URGH. I must have looked at it 5 times before I actually attached the hooks, but I never realized there were 7 spots! THAT is why I rarely build anything from scratch …
3 more days …. I’m looking forward to the holiday….
I feel like I haven’t really blogged about “life” lately. I kinda feel like I haven’t really even had a minute to sit down and write. Between wacky schedules at work and an even wackier sleep schedule, writing has been a challenge. So here are some highlights from the past couple weeks….
Right after Halloween, Sirius XM radio launched a bunch of their holiday channels and the Christmas music was readily available.
I took advantage of a rare 60 degree November day and put up the outside Christmas lights. I know, I know, people think I am rushing the season. The truth is, I don’t like putting them up in the cold. They have been up for a couple weeks now, and the only time I have turned them on is to make sure they looked ok.
The side porch takes the most lights. I always check the strands before stringing them up to make sure they work. For some reason, one of the strands had a cluster of lights in the middle that didn’t light up. Both ends lit up, but not the ones in the middle. I went through and tested bulbs, but couldn’t find the problem. So I put them up anyway! I just made sure the unlit portion of the lights was covered by lights I knew worked!
We don’t do much to the front porch, though I’d like to. I got razzed about how I didn’t get up and string lights on the roof by some friends. I’ve never been a fan of heights, so, these are the highest my lights will go. Besides, I only have a three step ladder!
AJ celebrated being one month old a week or so ago. It is amazing to come home from work and see just how different he looks to me after only one day! He is much more alert and his sister just loves him! He is starting to take notice of a lot of things around him. Recently he discovered the mobile on his swing.
Every year, we take a trip up the Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth (“The World’s Largest Christmas Store”) and get an ornament for the Christmas tree that represents a big event from the past year. Sam and I have one for our engagement, our first Christmas as husband and wife, when Sam was pregnant with Ella, Ella’s first Christmas, and now we needed to go and get one for AJ’s first Christmas.
Obviously, life at our house is pretty crazy with two little ones. We had planned to all go to Bronner’s as a family day trip. AJ was napping and Sam suggested that Ella and I go, since we knew exactly what we wanted. There is an ornament that is exactly like Ella’s except it is blue for a baby boy.
Finding the ornament took all of 5 minutes. The line to get it personalized was long and we stood in line for almost 30 minutes (Thank goodness I had the PBS app on my phone, so Ella didn’t lose her mind waiting!). I had pictures of Ella’s ornament and how they did hers, and we wanted AJ’s to be done the same way. Ella and I walked around a little bit while they worked on the ornament. There are plenty of photo ops throughout the store and outside.
It was close to lunch time, so we snapped a couple pictures, picked up the ornament, and drove home. I hope to be able to take a drive up there one night when the lights are all lit up and grab a couple pictures.
Later that day, I took advantage of nap time and brought the tree up from downstairs. We’ve been trying to decide where to put it this year. We’ve moved everything around in our living room two or three times due to the addition of Ella toys or furniture, so it was unclear where it would go. There is a little nook in our living room where we had moved a lot of her toys, easel, toybox, etc…. We decided to find somewhere else for those things and that the tree should go there.
So, the tree is up and the lights are on it. However, we will decorate it this weekend or next weekend. I did have some help with the lights as I put it up …
…and, of course, little brother had to get into the act …
I’m excited for the holidays this year. Ella is at the perfect age for unwrapping presents! It is going to be a fun holiday season ….
The Beach Boys sang the surfing hit “Catch a Wave” back in 1963. They were the kings of “surf rock” and their songs had a “happy” sound that made you wanna grab a surf board and head to the beach. Today, when we talk about waves, it has nothing to do with surfing. The wave I don’t want to catch is the second wave of Covid-19!
Covid-19 – Wave #2
Less than a week ago, I blogged about some co-workers and a former co-worker who all contracted Covid-19. The consensus among them all was that it was awful. One said they “wouldn’t wish this on their worst enemy!” The day after I posted that blog, we found our neighbor had it. He informed me today that his wife also has tested positive. One of the symptoms is a loss of taste or smell. He developed something weird – he says that all he can smell is cigarette smoke and that he has a burning in his nose and throat.
Yesterday, I found out the pastor who teaches my classes tested positive for Covid. He was actually in the hospital and was given what the doctor called “The Trump Treatment.” He was released from the hospital and said he was resting in his “man cave” in the basement isolated from his wife. He said that it was very fatiguing. The thing that he said bothered him the most was that his eyes bothered him when he read. For a pastor who loves to read, he found that most annoying. He posted on his Facebook today that his wife has also tested positive for Covid. He joked, “Well, at least we can hold hands again!”
Our Governor had a press conference last night stating that cases were rising again. Some things were shut down again, while some things remain open and will be reevaluated in three weeks. Hospitals are filling up fast and it looks like we are in the middle of the second wave. I am half expecting our lab to shut down again, which will not be good for us. We can’t live off unemployment and I’m not sure I can mentally handle the stress of being in a Labor Pool again!
I pray that we get past this sooner than later.
I can’t end this blog on a sour note, so I thought I’d share a few pictures from the weekend.
My wife comes up with the some of the coolest ideas for pictures. We were putting up the tree and had most of the lights on it. She ran to Ella’s room and grabbed the “First Christmas” blanket, and set her down with a strand of lights. It took a few shots, but this one came out pretty cool. I wish I had the app that lets you keep some color and put some of the picture in black and white. I just love the way that picture came out!
I mentioned last week that we had gone to Bronner’s in Frankenmuth to get Ella’s ornament. It made it on the tree, appropriately right next to the ornament Grandma Rose gave us (the baby shoes) when we mentioned we were having a girl.
Ella loves when we read her books. Sam got some books for free with rewards points and such on Amazon this week, so I read them to her last night before bed. They were still on the couch this morning when Sam came home from work. Sam started reading them to her. Realizing this was a moment I wanted to catch on film, I grabbed my phone and caught this amazing photo –
The book is called “Your Baby’s First Word Will Be Dada” by Jimmy Fallon. I love those two with all that I am! This picture fills my heart with such joy.
Michigan weather has been just beautiful the past week or so. It looks like we’ll have one more nice day and the temps will drop. Saturday, while the baby was napping and my son was doing homework, I went out and cleaned up the leaves from the driveway. Later that afternoon, my kids and I got to get out and take a walk around the neighborhood. He enjoys pushing his sister in the stroller. It is a good time for us to just catch up.
I decided to take advantage of the weather and get the Christmas lights up. The more I thought about what I wrote in a recent blog, the more I was convinced that putting up the lights early would bring about some happiness in a year that has really sucked. My son and I strung all the lights out on the side porch. The nice temps made it easy to do and with him helping, it only took me half the time.
I got some of the decorations up out front, but I have a few bad strands that I need to check fuses on before I string them up. I am thinking of adding the strands of white LED lights that I had strung along the fence for our 4th of July party. I usually only put the lights along the rails on the porch, so it should be pretty easy.
After I dropped my son off and the baby woke up from her nap, we spent most of the day outside. We took our stroll through the neighborhood and walked a bit longer than normal. I had to laugh because when we got back home, she totally kicked her foot up like she was relaxing!
After our walk, we played in the leaves (until she tried to start eating them), played on the slide, sat on the trampoline, and then just sat in the grass. She was standing next to me in on the back lawn and I looked up and saw our shadows. For some reason, looking at them it hit me how fast she is growing up. I can’t believe she will be 9 months old tomorrow! The shadow was a reminder to enjoy every little moment like this…
I have never read a bad thing about Alex Trebek. Every interview I watched of him, he always seemed like a wonderful man. With his passing, there has been an outpouring of wonderful tributes to him by celebrities all over the country. A friend pointed out that Trebek and the great Sean Connery passed away within a week of each other.
One of my favorite sketches on SNL was Celebrity Jeopardy. Will Ferrell played Alex Trebek and Darrell Hammond played Sean Connery. In the sketch, Connery has this unreal hatred for Trebek and always made countless jabs about Trebek’s mother. It was always a treat to see Norm MacDonald playing Burt Reynolds in these sketches.
I always waited to see how Connery would take a category and make it dirty – for example:
Real Category: Let It Snow. Connery asks for: Le Tits Now
Real Category: The Pen Is Mighter Connery asks about: The Penis Mightier
I truly hope that SNL doesn’t miss the opportunity to do some kind of tribute to Connery and Trebek this week. I can see a Heavenly round of Celebrity Jeopardy with Ferrell, Hammond, and MacDonald being very funny!
Same Old Lions
Sunday, I got to see bits and pieces of the Detroit Lions game. It was awful, as usual. I saw this on Facebook today, and had to share. I know that this is totally supposed to be more of a political jab, and I am not posting it to be political, I just thing it is pretty funny!
It was certainly great to hear that voter turnout was so good. Whether your candidate won or lost, if you voted, you did your part! Over the past couple decades, we’ve seen a lot of division. We’ve seen a lot of lost trust in the system and the government. With every election, I hope and pray that the elected officials will do something to bring us together. I may have posted this picture before, but I thought it was one of the most powerful that I had seen this year:
In 2016, after the election, I wrote something on Facebook. It came up in my Facebook Memories today. It is worth sharing:
“Maybe we are family. Maybe we went to high school together. Maybe I went to college with you. Maybe we worked together. Maybe we bowled together. Maybe you and I like the same movies or music. Maybe we met at a conference.
However we met, however we know each other, you are here because you are my friend. You and I are Americans. We are citizens of the greatest country in the world. One of the great things about being an American is that we have the freedoms to believe what we want and vote for who we want. We don’t always have to agree. I say this because no matter where you stand as a Republican, Democrat, or Independent…..as a Baptist, Catholic, Lutheran nondenominationalist or Dispensationalist….. heterosexual or homosexual …..male or female…..employed or unemployed….union or nonunion…..I don’t care!!! You are my friend and I am glad you are my friend. You have the right and the freedom to believe what you want and voice your opinion. Knowing that we may not agree is ok with me. There are other things we have in common that led us to be friends. I haven’t deleted any friend or family member because of their vote, because of their faith, because of their sexual preference, or because of their job or financial status. Thank you for being my friend.
Life would be pretty boring if we were all the same! A quote from Andy Hargreaves came across my timeline today and I want to share: “If we were all on the same page, no one’s reading the whole book”!
So what if your candidate lost? So what? One of the first thing I learned as a kid was there are winners and losers in games and elections. So what do we do now? You take the words of a pastor friend of mine who reminded me that “The guy you voted for may not have won, but you should still pray for him.”
So that’s what I am going to do. Here are the Bible verses to back that up:
I Timothy 2: 1-3
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
Let’s face it, 2020 has kinda been a crappy year. As it draws to a close, many of us will be glad to see it go! Sure, there have been high points, but the bad has outweighed the good throughout most of the year. Covid-19, quarantine, the election, political ads (on TV, radio, and via text message), politics in general, loss of income, unemployment, businesses closing, to mask or not to mask, hate everywhere, and the list goes on and on.
The things we experienced this year have messed with the mental health of all of us. Depression and anxiety diagnoses have skyrocketed. We are going bananas being cooped up in our homes. We miss the interaction with friends and family. We miss being able to go and fellowship with our church friends. Our children are lacking personal interaction with friends. This year has left so many of us scarred for life!
I don’t know about you, but I am physically exhausted by it. I “snoozed” so many friends who were posting countless political things on Facebook. I had to. Come on, how many times has someone’s post on Facebook about an issue changed your mind or your belief about something? I understand that everyone has a right to their opinion, and I am entitled to mine. The wonderful thing about our country is that you and I can share different opinions and still be friends!
What amazes me is how there are some people who just can’t be happy unless they are voicing their disgust about something. Those things don’t even have to be “hot topic” things, like what I mentioned a few paragraphs ago. Here’s an example:
A friend of mine posted the following on Facebook:
“What the hell is the matter with people? I can’t believe that people are already putting up Christmas decorations! Trees are lit and in front windows, lights are strung along the gutters, and the blow up Santa’s are sitting on lawns! Radio is already playing Christmas music!! Stop the madness, people!!”
My response to this is simply this: why is this such a big deal to you? Is it hurting you? How does a blow up Santa on the lawn of someone who doesn’t even live in your neighborhood affect your life? It seems like you were just looking for the next thing to complain about, and this was it.
2020 has so many things to look back on in disgust, so I welcome anything that would bring happiness! We could use a little happiness. We could use something to brighten our world. We need happy songs. There’s a song that says “give the world a smile each day.” Maybe if we spent a little more time smiling at one another, there wouldn’t be so much hatred in the world.
You know what? I’m not going to live my life like Debbie Downer (or whatever that SNL character was called). It’s pretty easy to find things to bitch and complain about (pardon my French), but it’s just as easy to find things to rejoice in. If you can’t find happiness – find a way to spread it! Be nice. Be kind. Smile.
To those who are already spreading joy with holiday lights – bravo! Thank you for making me smile!
To those who are walking around grumpy, angry, and looking for something to complain about…. take some advice from Bobby McFerrin:
Bing Crosby could sing “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas” all he wanted last week, but it was never going to happen here in Michigan. The weatherman told us over and over to expect record high temperatures. Hell, it was colder on Halloween and Thanksgiving than it was on Christmas! Maybe that is why it didn’t feel like Christmas to me. I’m not sure.
I worked Sunday night and had Monday night off. Sam had to work Monday night, so it was going to be just me and the boys. I picked them up around 6pm, and then we stopped to pick up Dimitri’s new glasses. We then met my aunt for dinner at Cracker Barrel, where she gave the boys their Christmas gifts. We had a great meal and the boys were glad to see her.
We went home and they were allowed to open up one gift – their Christmas Eve pajamas. I always thought this was a cool idea. We never really did this growing up in our house (which explains why some of the pajamas I am wearing in old pictures are just plain embarrassing!), but I wish we had. They were excited for presents in the morning! They were in bed before midnight, which was a challenge! Once they were in bed, I filled their stockings and added a couple gifts under the tree.
We waited for Sam to get home and we opened presents. The boys had got Sam a Cinnamon candle (she loves the smell of cinnamon), and a book she had mentioned wanting. They were excited to see some of the very cool T-shirts we bought them. They were less than thrilled with new underwear (no surprise there). I think they enjoyed the books we bought (even though we had the right title but wrong book for Dimitri). Dante’ was happy with his new controller for the Switch he has, and Dimitri was happy we have a new game to play at the house.
I made a huge breakfast with eggs, bacon, sausage, and toast. I also made cinnamon rolls. After breakfast, Sam (who had worked all night) had to lay down to sleep. Knowing that I had to take the kids home at 6, and that they were having dinner when they got home, I made an early “dinner” of ravioli and garlic bread. It was nice. In the 24 hours I had them, I had some great conversation with both of them, together and separately. Those moments are so special to me. The conversations get deeper every year – a constant reminder that they are growing up and becoming men. Hugging them goodbye in their driveway was a bit harder than normal.
Sam texted me and asked if we might have a “date night” Christmas Eve. We were going to grab dinner and drive around looking at Christmas lights. Well, there wasn’t much open at 7pm on Christmas Eve! We went to Crossroads Village/Huckleberry Railroad to experience their “drive thru” light display. Every Christmas they have a wonderful train ride with great Christmas decorations and lights. When the train is not running, they open up for the “drive thru”. For $5 a car, you drive through the village, which is lit up beautifully. The trees and buildings have tons of lights on them! There are huge light displays as you drive through, too. It doesn’t take very long, maybe 15 minutes, to get through, but it is always worth the trip.
After seeing the lights, we tried to find somewhere to eat, but almost everything was closed. Our Christmas Eve dinner consisted of two Big Mac meals at McDonald’s! Neither one of us really wanted to cook at home. We came home and sat on the couch. We watched A Christmas Story and How The Grinch Stole Christmas. The baby is moving all over the place and I could feel her moving and kicking when I put my hand on her belly. It was a long day, and I think we both dozed off a bit and slept on each other.
Christmas morning, my best friend since 2nd grade, Jeff, was in the area dropping his daughter off to see her mom and her grandma. He brought over a pound of bacon and we had pancakes, bacon and coffee. Always love when I get to spend time with him. We chatted for a few hours and then we had to get ready to go to Sam’s sister’s house. We needed to bring desserts, so I shipped up a batch of my grandma’s chocolate chip cookies.
Dinner was at 3 and we had turkey, ham, mac and cheese, potatoes, and loads of desserts. Some highlights from the afternoon included watching Sam get down on the floor to color with my nieces in their coloring book, and holding my nephew. It’s been a while since I have rocked a baby to sleep, but as much as he fought it, I was able to get him to sleep. It was neat to think that I’ll be doing that with my daughter in less than two months!!
I had to go to the radio station and record a show afterwards. It took a little longer than normal, so when I was finished we were hungry again. After watching A Christmas Story, we joked that we would probably be having Chinese food for dinner like they did. There was a Chinese place nearby that my son said is fantastic, so we drove over there. Chinese places on Christmas a happening!!! The place was packed. They told us there was at least an hour wait, so we figured we’d just go to the place by our house. It was busy, too! Usually when we call, food is ready in 10 minutes. Christmas Day, however, the wait was like 25 minutes. I’m glad we called it in – it was ready when we got there and we took it home to eat at home.
I found myself staring at the Christmas tree lights from the couch after we ate. Lost in thought. I don’t really know that I was thinking about anything in particular. I may have been thinking about past Christmases. I may have been thinking about future ones. I could have been thinking about those people who have passed away and are no longer here to celebrate with us. I don’t really remember the exact thoughts. I am sure that it was probably a mixture of all of those things. One thing is for sure, it did not feel like Christmas to me at all.
My brother-in-law posted on Facebook that this was the “least Christmasy Christmas ever”. The comments that followed were almost all in agreement. I tend to feel the same way. It wasn’t fun to shop for presents. Sam and I opted to not buy anything for each other. We have all of this work to do on the baby’s room that just isn’t getting done because I am working so much. My work schedule has been such a crazy mess with my real job and the radio jobs.
Yes, I watched my favorite Christmas specials, watched my favorite Christmas movies, listened to classic Christmas old radio shows, and read A Christmas Carol! I listened to Christmas music on the radio, played it on the radio, and sang along with the boys. Then, as I mentioned at the start of this blog, there was the spring-like weather. It was just really hard to get into the spirit this year.
Maybe I just need a do over when the snow arrives? I don’t know. So many thoughts running through my head tonight, and none of them really make any sense. I’ve been without my “to blog” notebook for a few days…normally I jot thoughts down there. Looks like I need a few minutes to myself to think and sort out my thoughts ….