Friday Photo Flashback

It’s time for another Friday Photo Flashback. As we get closer to the Christmas holiday, I picked another Christmas photo to look at. It is from 1974.

I found this on a hard drive. I am guessing that it is a scan that my brother did of some of the photos from my aunt. My Aunt Jodi and I are 4 years apart. This photo was taken on Christmas Day in 1974. My aunt and I are featured in the picture.

There are a few reasons I chose to feature this particular picture. First of all, I do not remember it. As I said, it had to be one my grandmother took. I don’t recall seeing it in an albums at my house, or in any batch of digital scans from my dad.

Next, it takes me right back to my grandma’s living room. Where the Christmas tree is, my grandpa’s rocking chair was usually there. Next to it, or on the wall next to it (which was a half wall as I recall) was where my grandpa kept his cabinet phonograph.

Those things were awesome! He had many big band albums, and one with Harry Belafonte singing in concert. He always played the song about a hole in the bucket or something.

The fireplace was a real fireplace as I remember. I may have only witnessed one real fire in it growing up. I recognize the red candle that is behind me and to my right in the picture. Grandma had that for at least a few years. I am four in this picture, but it is in the same spot in another Christmas picture from their house when I was 2.

I love the mess of open boxes and wrapping paper all over the place in the picture. It is a bit too blurry to tell what some of the toys in boxes are, but that army jeep was probably my gift. This may have been the year I got a GI Joe Doll. The GI Joe came with a small hand grenade. This must have been years before anyone worried about kids choking on things, because it was quite small. It was so small that my brother stuck it in his nose and it got stuck! I know that required a trip to the ER to have it removed! The more I think about it, he may have stuck it in his ear, I don’t know.

UPDATE: My brother was able to zoom in a bit on the picture and told me that the box behind me is actually a Weebles set! Sure enough, here is the box!

I’m not a fan of the buzz cut that I am sporting, but it was a favorite haircut of my folks. I had them often. I also don’t know what to make of the outfit I am wearing. Wow! The 70’s sure had some crazy patterns on pants! Even my aunt’s pants look like something you’d see on an old golfer.

I really have no idea what my aunt is handing me. Of course, the way we fought as kids, she might be taking whatever that thing is away from me. Is it a snake? Is it a dinosaur? Is it a fish? I really cannot say. I don’t remember that thing at all! I’m smiling, so I must have thought it was cool.

The crocheted shawl my aunt is wearing has GOT to be something my mom made. If I were to make a wager, it very well may have been her Christmas gift from my mom. Mom loved to crochet and made a lot of things for family. She made me some sort of sweater vest one year. When she was into ceramics, she made something for every one. When she was making fabric painted sweatshirts, everyone got one. Because the pattern, I would certainly think that the shawl is my mom’s handiwork.

You will also notice that on the tree, right behind my aunt is a crocheted diamond ornament. My mom made hundreds of those ornaments. One year our tree was full of them! Want proof?

The other thing I notice in the picture with my aunt and me is the garland. It seems like garland was a necessity for Christmas for my mom and grandma. It is wrapped around the tree, which is where you’d expect it, I suppose. But you see the lone strand hanging down along the wall by the fire place? Right there between the tree and the melted plastic Santa? I can almost bet that it is strung along the top of the fire place.

I stopped writing and went to my hard drive to see if I could find a picture of the garland. Sure enough, a couple years earlier, here is my aunt and I in front of the same fireplace. There along the wall – is the garland!

…and that same red candle!

At least I don’t have a buzz cut in that picture!

Oh to go back and watch those moments …

Making Spirits Bright

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?”

Yes. Yes, I do!

Christmas 2021 Recap

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.

Dad and AJ

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.

Ella and Grandma Rose

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.

B A Bay, B E Bee, B I Bicky By …

So Dad had to sing it to her …

Dad’s chart was a bit off….

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 me – wish the lighting had been a bit better

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.

Christmas Eve

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.

Ella – perplexed

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!

Ella – wearing the very cute PJ’s that Sam’s dad got for her

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

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.

Par for the course …

Ella, being the helpful big sister, helped open up AJ’s presents.

AJ watching sissy open gifts for him

Of course, I had to put together Ella’s basketball hoop, so she could slam dunk a few before dinner.

Two points!

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!

Sleigh ride!

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.

Here’s the monkey!

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.

Sitting pretty

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.

Must be good tea!

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!

Yummy!!

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.

Wow!! What’s this, daddy?

It made him like floor time a lot more….

Mesmerized

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.

Merry Christmas!

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!

Got him smiling and everything!

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.

December 26

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 ….

Hauling her Christmas tree

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.

A Special Addition to the Tree

This is one of those blogs that is overdue. It’s a “Thank You.”

One of the things that I love about Christmas is decorating the tree. Most of the ornaments each have a special memory. As I have blogged about in the past, we try to get one new ornament every year that signifies a big event from the year (our engagement, our wedding, the births of our children, etc…). As more of the memory/event ornaments go up, we remove the generic bulbs.

Along with the ornament for AJ’s First Christmas, there is another special ornament on the tree this year. I thank my brother, Christopher, for that.

He has a friend who took this picture of my mom and my son and made this ornament for me. The photo was taken in 2002 when my son was just 2 days old. Dante’ was her first grandchild and she was thrilled to be a grandma. I remember she slept in the waiting room the entire night as we awaited his birth. I had seen my mother smile before, but the smile on her face was like no other when she saw him and held him for the first time!

This picture was taken right around within minutes of one of my favorite pictures of my mom and Dante’:

The ornament is a wonderful addition to the tree this year. It makes me so sad that mom never had the chance to meet her three other grandchildren. I hope with each passing year, as my kids see this ornament on the tree, they will ask questions and want to know more about her. I will love sharing stories about her with them.

Christmas “Recycling” Project

It’s hard to believe that next month, this blog will celebrate it’s fourth “birthday!” As we enter the month of December, I am filled with nostalgia. My thoughts turn to Christmas and the many wonderful memories I have of past December days. In over 500 blogs, the subject of Christmas has come up more than once.

When I worked in radio, I had folders where I stashed bits and jokes that I could recycle or reuse the following year. In a sense, that is what I am doing with this blog. Recently, I have received many new followers who may have missed these the first time they were published. So here is a “Best of” blog with links to some of my favorite Christmas themed blogs.

A Christmas Carol

Scrooge and Mrs. Kellogg

Christmas Character Rankings

Who sits at the top of my list of Favorite Holiday Special Characters? He’s a chilly guy …

Channel Changing Holiday Songs

This list is still pretty accurate a few years later …

A Letter to Old St. Nick

One of my most powerful blogs. I still am moved by what I wrote.

Christmas Eve at Grandma’s

I have SO many wonderful memories of Christmas Eve! I miss my grandparents so much!

Christmas Tree in Pictures

In looking through pictures, there are so many with trees from over the years …

The Miser Brothers!

One of the blogs I wrote that always gets a lot of views this time of year is one I wrote on my favorite Christmas special…

A Major Award!

For the same blog-a-thon I wrote about Ralphie and his old man!

Holiday Alphabet

This blog would be a little different if I wrote it today …

Holiday Rodents

Everyone knows the ONE Chipmunk song they always play, but I feature a different one here…

Last Christmas was a First Christmas

Last year’s Christmas memories. Ella’s first Christmas!

Some blogger friends are participating in “Blogmas” which features a different Christmas themed blog daily all month long. I’m not sure I could do that, but it was heartwarming for me to go back and reread these and I hope you enjoy them, too!

A Week In Review

Tonight I return to work after being off for 6 days. The best thing about being off was being able to spend time with my family. Naturally, I had my camera ready and caught many wonderful moments.

Wednesday

We were very minimal with the ornaments we put on the tree this year. Ella is all about the tree and the lights already. The special ones we did put up were more toward the top of the tree, while the “generic” ones were toward the bottom of the tree. Ella can reach over the gate that we have around the tree and gets to those. It was probably smart to keep the extra fragile ones in the box this year.

We did make sure to put AJ’s ornament close to Ella’s matching ornament from last year, though.

Wednesday, my brother sent a package to the kids with a few outfits from the Disney store. I am pretty sure that my kids first Disney trip will be accompanied by Uncle Chris! He sent Ella a Christmas Minnie Mouse, who she has been hugging on since she arrived.

My wife is a “Pinterest Mom.” She is always on there looking for things. She found a recipe for homemade Play-Doh. It was messier to make than to play with. It consisted of cake frosting and powdered sugar. Once it was made, Sam gave Ella a rolling pin and cookie cutters and they were playing with it. She certainly had fun.

Thanksgiving Day

Our family stayed home this year. With Covid numbers rising, we felt it best to just celebrate at home. A few years ago, I bought a silly turkey hat at the Christmas Tree Store. Ella took pictures in it last year, and naturally, I had to pull it out again to get more!

Last year’s picture is her in this same hat in front of the Christmas tree, too. AJ is just too small for the hat to fit him, but I had to get at least one of him in his “First Thanksgiving” shirt near it …

Once the turkey was in the oven, I sat down to watch the Detroit Lions lose another game. It seems like they always find ways to lose! It looked like they actually might win this one, but as usual, stupid penalties helped them add another “L” to their record.

Friday

I can say that in my entire life, I have only been Black Friday shopping once! That was enough. We spent the day relaxing at home on Friday. My wife went out briefly to run a couple errands, but no shopping was done!

We’ve been trying to get AJ as much “floor time” as we can. As I sat next to him on the floor, Ella came over and decided she was going to lay next to him. There was lots of laughter and giggling.

Saturday

I picked Dimitri up in the afternoon and he pretty much stayed in his room playing on the X-Box. He brought over some game called Halo. It’s one of those “kill the aliens” games. While he was doing that, I was watching the U of M/Ohio State game. As a Michigander, whether you are a Michigan State fan or U of M fan, you ALWAYS root for whoever is playing Ohio State.

I wasn’t really sure if the Wolverines were going to pull off a win, and there were many sports folks saying that Ohio State was probably going to win. I was happy to see Michigan walk away with the win. So was AJ, who celebrated on Ella’s U of M blanket!

Sunday

It snowed pretty much all day on Sunday. Dimitri usually stays with me until evening, but said he wanted to go home around 2:30 that afternoon. When I returned home, I noticed that the snow was perfect “Snowman making” snow. I grabbed Ella’s snow pants and got her dressed and we went outside.

She walked around the yard and wasn’t sure what to make of things. I made a snowball and started rolling it for the bottom of our snowman. She watched me and I tried to get her to help me. She was more interested in just sitting in the snow or laying in it. The snowman was never completed.

Instead, we walked around to the front of the house, where she sat and pointed out the colors of the oversized Christmas bulbs. She then returned to the back yard, where I grabbed the sled that Sam’s dad gave us. I placed her in it and pulled her around the yard. At first, she seemed confused by it, but by the middle of the ride, she was all smiles!

She eventually walked back to the trampoline, which was covered in snow, and wanted to jump on it. Why not!? She had a blast! I could see that her nose was red and I knew it was time to bring her in the house, but that was a challenge. She loves being outside! I eventually talked her into going to see mommy inside. I had so much fun with her outside! Hopefully, next snowfall, we’ll finish that snowman!

Monday

I had my physical Monday morning. It went sort of how I expected it would. I will probably blog about it in more detail separately.

The highlight of the entire day was close to bedtime. I was reading Ella some books, which as soon as I was finished with, she’d take them to mom to read. As I took this picture, and reflected on Thanksgiving, I realized just how lucky I am and how thankful I am for my family.

I hope that you and yours had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Gearing Up For The Holidays

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!

Baby Milestone

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.

Holiday Tradition

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 ….

Darkness and a Laugh

Normally, I sleep until about 4 or 4:30 in the afternoon on work days. I was pretty exhausted when I got home this morning, so I was looking forward to a good sleep. That didn’t happen.

I have sleep apnea. I sleep with a CPAP machine. With it on, my apnea issues are resolved and I sleep through the night (or day). I was abruptly awakened this afternoon around 2:00pm. I didn’t quite know what happened and then realized that my CPAP was not on. I reached over to turn on the light – nothing. No display on the CPAP, either. The power was out.

Sam had come in about 1pm to nap while Ella napped. The baby monitor, which she had turned on when she came in was now beeping because it lost the connection to the camera. The camera runs on electricity, while the monitor has a battery. So, now we were both up. I tried to go back to sleep, but my apnea would wake me up the minute I fell asleep.

Eventually Ella woke up and I went in to get her. Naturally, for the next couple hours I was reminded of all the things we just take for granted. There were no lights in the bathroom, so I had to shower by the lantern light before work. Our oven/stove is electric, so the dinner we planned on having didn’t happen. We ended up grabbing drive thru. Worst of all, no power to the coffee pot. I had to drive through Tim Horton’s on my way to work, because I needed my coffee!

No power meant no TV, which was actually very nice. Ella was in such a fun mood when she woke up. We read books, played peak a boo, and goofed around with toys and such. One on one time with our kids without the distraction of modern technology is actually a good thing.

Sam called around 8pm to say that the power had finally come back on. I was glad to hear that because I’m not sure Ella would have fallen asleep without her sound machine on. Not only that, it is supposed to get cold tonight and that would mean no heat. It was still a bit windy tonight, so fingers are crossed that the power remains on through the night.

Funny Story From The Weekend

I neglected to include this story in the Weekend Review Blog from yesterday. As we get closer to the baby’s arrival, we’ve come to realize how NOT ready we are. One of the things we did on Saturday was build his swing. Our living room is basically THE room in our house. When we built Ella’s room, we lost our dining room, so the kitchen table when out in the living room. As we gathered more and more stuff for Ella, the table went to the basement.

So Saturday, we are looking at all the stuff we brought back up for the baby. We have the pack and play, the swing, the furniture that was already in the room, and of course, all of Ella’s stuff. Sam and I stood in the middle of the room deciding just how to rearrange everything to make it all fit. We tossed around a few ideas and eventually moved things to where we have as much space as we can, and still have room for everything. (I still think the ottoman is going to end up back in the basement.)

We crawled into bed that night just exhausted from moving everything around. I turned out the light and laid down. The only sound in the room was the sound of the music from Ella’s room coming from the baby monitor. As I feel my self beginning to doze, in true Sam fashion, she turns to me and says, “You know what I just thought about?! Where in the world are we going to put the Christmas tree this year?!?”

A Wave I Want NO Part Of (and other thoughts)

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.

Our Ella

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.

Thanks for reading! Stay Safe!! Avoid the “wave”!

Reflecting on 2019 …

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As the year draws to a close, I have pondered about what I wanted to write about.  Some of the blogs I follow have posted “Year End” Top Ten lists featuring their 10 most read blogs of the year.  Others have written rants about the old year, and posted resolutions for the new year.  Yet another blogger posted a 50 question “Year End Reflection” post, where he answered questions about the old year and the new year.

It is often very easy to diss on the year as it draws to a close.  I do it often.  In the last week or so I have heard so many people talk about how awful 2019 was and how they cannot wait for the new year, so they can start fresh.  I used to do that, too.  Granted, I know many people who truly have endured a very bad year.  I know too many people whose parents have passed away, gone through a divorce, survived terrible accidents, lost their jobs, and many other things.  I can totally understand how looking back can be difficult.

I think it is often easier to focus on the bad things, because those are the things that tend to stay with you.  Personally, I made a list of some things that I recalled from the past year that could go onto the “bad things” list.  I then decided to make a list of all the good things.  Jotting down things from memory, it was no surprise that the good list outnumbered the bad.  To further the point, I grabbed my phone and went back through a year’s worth of pictures and was reminded of many other things that happened, which all ended up on the “good things” list.

Quick Review of My Year

In January, Sam and I went to the Detroit Opera House with my dad, Rose, and my cousin Dianne to see The Phantom of the Opera.  I had never seen it before and I loved it.  Since Sam talked me into seeing Wicked last year, I have come to appreciate some of these wonderful productions.

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In March, Sam and I celebrated our one year wedding anniversary with a trip to Cleveland.  Many joked about the fact that we went to Ohio, and I can see how that might be funny.  We really had a great time at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and a visit to The Christmas Story House.  As a bonus, we got to grab dinner with my brother while we were down there.

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April brought about a couple celebrations.  My son, Dante’ turned 17 and we had a small get together with his friends at our house.  It was quite a loud party with all of his friends there!  Then we celebrated Sam’s graduation on the west side of the state.  I still beam with pride at all she has accomplished!

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May was a busy month.  My nieces and nephew ran us ragged at Peppa Pig World, Dimitri was in good voice at his choir concert, and the boys and I went with my father-in-law, and brothers-in-law to the Three Stooges Festival in Redford.  I also celebrated another birthday, and Sam bought me the most amazing gift – a record player.  I have since enjoyed looking at used record stores for more vinyl to play on it.  That gift also led to Sam and I sharing our first dance together.

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Summer was very busy!  I got the chance to golf with my friends Matt and Shawn,  went to the zoo and the beach with the boys, went to carnivals, visited many ice cream places, played mini-golf, and had many bonfires!  In June, I spoke at a Sleep Conference in Detroit, we celebrated Dimitri’s Birthday,  Sam’s birthday, and she shared the news that we were expecting.  This is one of many favorite memories of the year!

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In July, we went to our OB/GYN and got the first glimpse of our baby.  At this point, we did not know the gender, and were calling her “Baby P”.  On August 30, we decided to go to a place near us that would be able to tell us the gender a bit earlier than our OB/GYN.  It was at this appointment that we found out we were having a girl.  This would be another of my favorite memories of the year.  In August, we also took Dante’ around town on the hottest day of the year to try to get some Senior pictures taken, and shared with my dad that he would soon be holding a granddaughter. It was also fun to have the boys go on a scavenger hunt to find out they were getting a sister!

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In September, I spent the day at a work conference called “The Power to Choose”, which was a truly wonderful experience.  There were many great speakers and I was so glad to be able to attend.  I walked away from this day with some great tools to use with patients and in life in general. On September 25, we got “official” confirmation from our OB/GYN, that Baby P was indeed a girl!

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My brother visited us in October, and Sam allowed me to take Baby Bump Picture #1.  Baby Bump Picture #2 came in November in front of the Christmas tree – a picture that I will treasure forever!  November was very busy as we were showered with love from family and friends at the baby shower.  We took our annual trip to Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland and bought our yearly ornament for the Christmas tree.  We enjoyed the Christmas light display at the Detroit Zoo, and construction began on the baby’s bedroom/nursery.

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December brought my staff Christmas party, which was full of hearty laughter!  Sam and I attended our birthing classes, and I learned how to breathe (and hopefully not pass out).  We celebrated Christmas with the boys on Christmas Eve, spent time with Sam’s family Christmas Day, and celebrated with my dad and Rose over the weekend.  I have spent way too much time at work, due to where the holidays fell.  I have also been working some extra shifts at one radio station, and doing my normal shift at the other radio station.  In between all of that, we’ve been sanding and painting the new hallway and the baby’s room (only adding to the excitement of her arrival!).

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As I look back, I am inclined to quote Frank Sinatra and say “It was a VERY good year!” Have you taken the time to really look back at the things that happened over the last year?  One thing that I noticed about the “bad things” on my list was that I was surrounded by good friends, and family who helped me through those “bad” times.  That, in itself, takes a bad and makes it sort of good, right?

Frank Sinatra also sang, “Regrets?  I’ve had a few…”  One of the daily writing prompts for December asked “What is biggest regret of the past year?”  I would say stopping Weight Watchers.  I am in no way, shape, or form blaming Sam, but I gotta tell you…it’s hard to diet when you live with a pregnant person.  Yeah, I know, I should be able to control myself, but all too often, when I went out to get her something she was craving…I got something, too!  LOL.  I have already resolved to get “back on the wagon” after the first of the year!

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In closing, I hope that each one of my readers can look back over 2019, and find some really good times!  I hope you can recall happy memories.  I hope you can find the good that accompanied the bad.  I hope you can find the positives, and focus on those things.  2020 brings a new year, a new “book” if you will.  That “book” contains 365 pages and YOU are the author of each page.  I am looking forward to writing our books together.  Feel free to reach out if you ever need a friend – I am here!

May 2020 be a happy and healthy year!  May it be full of joy and happiness!  May it be full of friends and family!  May it be positively the best yet!

Thanks for reading!  Cheers!

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