So much death …

For 5 days, I have opened my blog with every intention of writing. I have stared at the blank page, not really knowing what to write. How do I begin to even tackle what has been on my mind? I mean, I didn’t even tell my wife about it until just a couple days ago. I guess I didn’t realize just how much I was thinking about it until a couple weeks of constant dreams and a discussion with my therapist.

Maybe it is the “rising Covid numbers.” Maybe it is the fact that I am now required by work to get vaccinated or lose my job. Maybe it is the fact that death just seems a whole lot more common on my Facebook news feed. I’m not sure, but it seems like I am thinking a lot about it.

I have sleep apnea and wear my CPAP every night. That should allow me to sleep through the night without waking up every couple hours due to apnea. I have checked the CPAP app on my phone and according to it, I am not having enough apneas to wake me up, so why am I up every hour? It’s bad enough to constantly wake up, but when you lay there and fight to go back to sleep, it can be aggravating.

Even trying to fall asleep, my mind will not shut off. My prayers are interrupted with random thoughts. As I close my eyes, I begin to have bizarre thoughts. I find myself screaming inside my head “STOP THINKING ABOUT THAT!” I have tried those apps that play music and “talk” you to sleep. I have tried to put myself in my “happy place,” but my mind just doesn’t want to shut off.

In the past year, I have seen too many people pass away. Not all of them had Covid, but some did. Heart attack, sepsis, old age, cancer, and other illnesses have claimed the lives of friends, former teachers, and former co-workers. Just this week a friend from high school lost her life to Covid.

There is that old quote that says something about the only two certainties in life are death and taxes. A pastor friend of mine always says that the “death rate is still one apiece.” In the Bible, it reads: “ And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). In a book I was reading this week it said “You’re only one breath away from eternity.” All of those quotes are true.

I can’t even explain the uneasiness and anguish I have experienced over the past couple weeks. I’m not even sure why! Without getting theological or anything, I will say that I am not afraid of death, because I have settled that issue and know where I am going when I die. That may sound pompous, but I stand by my faith and trust that my Savior, Jesus Christ, died for me.

Despite the fact that I have peace with this, I have found myself laying in bed wondering about things. I have literally laid there with my eyes closed thinking about what I need to write down in a letter to my each of children should something happen or a love letter to my wife. What would I need to tell my dad or my brother? My mind races with these things for absolutely no reason.

As I look around at what is going on in the world, I see things happening that don’t sit well with me. I see such division. I see so much hate. I see (and feel) distrust for the government. There is way too much of the “I’m right! You’re wrong!” mentality. It makes me sad.

I have talked to people “for” and “against” the vaccine. So much uncertainty. I worry. I’m scared. I shouldn’t be, but I am. Is this where it all stems from? God only knows. God give me peace in the days and weeks ahead, please.

Be careful for nothing …

I needed to read this verse tonight. The Greek word translated “careful” in verse 6 is (μεριμνάω) merimnáō. It literally means “to be anxious” or “to be troubled with cares.” Anxious is defined: experiencing worry, unease, or nervousness, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. So the verse is saying “Don’t be anxious about anything!” “Don’t be full of worry!” It is easier said than done sometimes.

I haven’t really said anything on here or really anywhere about this, but I think my anxiety level is starting to rise a bit too much. Ever get that feeling like things are closing in on you? Feel like you are surrounded by things that are just out of your control? That’s kind of where I am right now. I’ve been in this place before, and have been able to get it under control. It just feels like the things I was able to do to get them under control, aren’t helping like they did before.

Admittedly, there are things that I know contribute to this. Lack of sleep, for example. I am just not getting enough, and won’t be getting enough for some time. With a baby on the way, and a toddler, I’ll be grabbing sleep in little chunks for a while. What is bothersome to me about sleep is that instead of getting my usual 5-6 hours, I am waking up a lot, usually from weird dreams. Then my mind won’t shut off long enough about other things to let me fall back to sleep.

I made the choice some time ago to stop watching the news. This really helped eliminate much of the barrage of Covid stories that I was seeing. Covid and just the fear and uncertainty that came with it led to me having a breakdown a year ago. Staying away from those stories helped. However, my phone continues to “ding” throughout the day and night with Covid stories from Yahoo News and other apps. Then there is the constant stories that friends share on Facebook.

Let me put it this way, I can see why many people are choosing to leave Facebook. There is so much misinformation, countless arguments, and hatred within my newsfeed daily. I have muted or snoozed many people because of it. That doesn’t stop it, though. Any time a post mentions “Covid” or “Vaccine” there is a link that automatically shows up.

Then you have the fight between people who are pro-vaccine and anti-vaccine. This falls into the same category as whether you should wear a mask or not. It is amazing how polarizing this is. It is almost as polarizing as what we saw during the past few elections. Pro/Anti Trump. Pro/Anti Biden. There has always been divisions in our country, but it seems that it in society today, if someone disagrees with you, it leads to hatred and violence. I know way too many friendships that have been broken because of the failure to “agree to disagree”

I digress. If I am being honest, I am beginning to feel overwhelmed again. I know that I shouldn’t, yet I do. I need to take those verses and focus on them. I know that is where I will find peace.

Remember the opening of the Twilight Zone where all the things are spiraling around?

That is how I feel on a daily basis and it is taking my focus away from where it needs to be! I feel like I am surrounded by Covid and cancer and the deaths that they bring about. I feel like the vaccine is being talked about everywhere – whether the talk is good or bad. Then we have all the stuff that is going on in the Middle East, Earthquakes and natural disasters. I seem to have daily conversations with people about whether or not we are in the Biblical End Times. It is overwhelming.

THEN factor in that my wife and I are are expecting a baby and the pregnancy has had its share of scares and worry. Those worries outweigh ALL of the others. As mentioned in a pervious blog, those worries were put at ease to some degree with the latest ultrasound. However, we have 8 weeks left and I still have some concerns.

My mind is one big muddled mess at times.

I am struggling to remember things. I zone out during conversations for no reason at all. I can listen to something or read something over and over and not comprehend what I just heard/read. I’m scared about some things right now. I will spare you the details of that.

I’m hoping to dig myself out of the rut and get back to normal. I have the support of my wife and family. I have the support of my Christian friends. I have God on my side. I will do my best to “let go and let God.”

Thank you for allowing me to vent.

A Quiet Fourth & Song Draft Update

How life has changed in only a couple of years! Every 4th of July, our town puts on a fireworks show that is literally in our back yard. We usually have a big back yard BBQ, bonfire, and invite everyone over to watch the fireworks. Last year, the show was cancelled because of Covid. This year, Sam’s family was up at their cottage, my boys were at their cousin’s house, and it was just Sam, Ella and me at home.

Last year, we got some really awesome pictures of Ella in her 4th of July outfit and we made sure to take some again this year. She’s obviously a whole lot busier, but we still got some great shots. The one that was more candid than any of them also got the most “likes” on Facebook. She was literally walking down the sidewalk when I snapped this one:

Sam’s grandma (and Ella’s great grandma) is in her 90’s. We decided to go and visit her in the afternoon. It’s always fun to watch Ella in a new environment. Despite the fact that we brought a huge bag of toys, books, and such for her, she still seems to find things to get into. Her grandma had a 500 or 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle that she is working on in her living room. It’s up on a table, but you know that Ella walked right over to it! I was waiting for her to just get one hand on it to pull it all down. Thankfully, that didn’t happen.

When we arrived back at home, we made dinner and relaxed. Our plan had been to put Ella down for bed and then head outside to do a bonfire and watch the fireworks. Either Sam and I are getting old, or we are just exhausted, because Ella was in bed around 8:30 and we were both dozing on the couch. Both of us were in bed by 9:15!

Naturally, we were awakened by the fireworks show around 10:15. We probably could have gotten up and watched part of the show, but we decided that we would just listen to the booms from our bed and try to sleep. I’m not sure how I was able to fall asleep in between the bangs and booms, but I did (for a few seconds at a time). It was funny because we’d hear the booms, then we’d hear the echo coming from the baby monitor. We were both happy when the show was over and we were able to actually sleep.

My neighbor said that this year’s show was kind of lame, so I wasn’t sorry we were in bed!

Outside of some great family pictures, this is my favorite from the fourth:

I love the “Color Pop” filter on my phone!

Song Draft Update

Round one of the 2021 Song Draft is in progress. I believe that there are 13 of us participating with 10 rounds of picks. Each of us participating will offer up a pick for each round. You can follow the entire Song Draft at my buddy, Hans’ blog.

https://slicethelife.com

He is posting every pick. I will be posting my song picks here in my blog after he posts mine. My first pick is in and will be posting one week from today. It is a great Detroit oldie that has a neat Motown connection. Watch for it on the 15th…

I have my 10 picks ready and I am excited to be taking part in this Draft event. I hope you enjoy it, too.

And the baby is a ….

I’ve been waiting for today for weeks! Because of Covid, my wife’s OB/GYN is only allowing the patient in the office. With Ella, I was at every ultrasound. I looked forward to hearing the baby’s heart beat each month. I loved that special togetherness that we felt when we were at the office. It has killed me to not be at those appointments. Today, I finally got to hear the baby’s heart beat – and we found out the gender!

You may recall that we went to a 3-D ultrasound place to find out Ella was a girl. They can tell you the gender at the 15th week of pregnancy. We called a few weeks ago and made the appointment. So I have been waiting patiently. Today, after only 4 hours of sleep, I was up and excited to go.

Today, made this more real to me. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve noticed my beautiful wife’s baby bump growing, so I know it is real. Not being involved with those OB/GYN appointments has really been driving me crazy. Today, I actually got to see the baby!

Regular ultrasounds are cool enough. We tried to get a 3-D shot of Ella, but she kept putting her hands in front of her face. We never really got a full face shot of her. Check out what we saw today…

It’s a little blurry, but there is the baby, looking right at us! WOW!

As I stated in a previous blog, Sam was leaning boy and I was thinking girl. We found out today. We were originally going to only tell a few people and keep the results a secret. However, since Sam kind of spilled the beans on Facebook, I can share them here….

Ella helped us make the announcement:

It’s a boy! Ella will be welcoming her little brother in October. Sam and I are naturally excited. It’s perfect. One girl and one boy!

We found out we were expecting around Ella’s birthday (2/10). On February 15th, I had a dream that my mother told me it was a girl, and actually blogged a draft when I woke up so I wouldn’t forget:

I was in asleep in our bed. Suddenly, the kitchen light turns on. I get up, not knowing if it’s a burglar. To my surprise, it’s my mom and she’s making making soup for her and my dad – in my kitchen. As I walk out I hear her say, “Oh, damn it,” as she spills it on the floor.  I told her I’d get her something to clean it up, so I grabbed some baby wipes.  She looked at me and said “It’s a girl.”

Then I woke up. It was a very vivid dream. She looked me right in the eye and said it. Of course, I thought it would be really cool if the baby was a girl because the dream would have been sort of prophetic…LOL Instead, it was probably just me and my early gut feeling. I won’t lie though, over the past couple weeks, the pregnancy has been VERY different for Sam. Because of that, I guess I kind of knew the baby was going to be a boy.

We are very excited for our son to arrive. We’ll have to do a bit of preparation, as we have all girl clothes. We also had no trouble picking a girl’s name. Finding a boy’s name has been a challenge…

This weekend, we’ll be spending time in those baby name books again!

Weekend Anxiety

The above sign can be seen almost everywhere these days. A similar sign was on the door of the restaurant my boys and I had breakfast at on Sunday. It obviously doesn’t mean anything …. In the past year, I have only eaten out twice. Once was for my anniversary (and they had everything set up perfectly for social distancing) and the other time was Sunday.

My boys wanted to go to Leo’s Coney Island for breakfast, and we met at 10am. When we walked in, there were only two table available (social distanced). There was a table across from us that had a sign on it similar to the one below:

About 10:30a, the restaurant starts to get a bit busier. People are beginning to wait for tables. One group of guys come in and none of them are wearing a mask. I made a comment under my breath to my boys about it and finished my breakfast. My sons were not quite done eating and a waitress comes over and removes the sign on the table across from us and seats the maskless morons at that table.

I could feel my anxiety levels jump out of control. I told the boys to put their masks on and we were leaving. I’m not even sure if they were finished eating. I was done.

Why bother with the signs on door or on the tables if they mean nothing?

I’d hate to think that we may eventually do what they are doing in the UK. Did you see this? They want to put in social distancing “lamp shades” over tables for people to eat at!

I mean, look at that thing! How can anyone enjoy a meal under that thing?? It’s like the friggin’ Cone of Silence from Get Smart!

I don’t think I’ll be ready to eat out again for some time ….

A Busy (and Painful) Weekend

Saturday

Saturday morning, I came home from work and went right to bed. Sam and I had plans to celebrate our anniversary this weekend. Originally, I was going to take her to an amazing Italian place in Troy (about and hour and 15 minutes from our house). After some discussion, we decided that since it was really the only day we had together, and I was going to sleep for part of it, that we should grab dinner somewhere closer. We decided on Outback Steakhouse. Now, Outback was the ONLY chain restaurant we ate at in Florida when we got married. We picked Outback for that reason, and because it was close to a few places we wanted to go to while we were out.

This was the first time we have been out to eat in a restaurant since all the Covid stuff. They did a good job of spreading everyone out. It has been so long since we were out, it was almost awkward. It was nice to have dinner together. It’s really amazing how something so trivial can mean so much. I will never take those little moments for granted….

After we ate, we decided to walk through Barnes and Noble. Ella loves books, so we looked through the various kid books and picked up a new book for her. She loves the Jimmy Fallon books (Your Baby’s First Word Will Be Dada, and Everything is Mama), and Sam found one called “This Is Baby” (which she loves just as much!). I picked up a book for me, too. It was my anniversary present from Sam. She had asked what I wanted and I told her to just get me a gift card. Instead, she went with me and I got to pick out what I wanted (More on that in a few).

With baby #2 on the way, we wanted to stop at Target to see what the double strollers looked like. I never in a million years would have guessed that I would be looking at double strollers! Anyway, they only had one there to look at, which I thought was odd. Sam is all about online shopping, but she’d like to at least see the thing before we buy it. Since they didn’t really have any, we decided to look in the toy aisle for a few things. We bumped into one of our sleep teachers, Angie, and her husband there. It’s been forever since I saw her, and we were just talking about finding a day to get together for coffee. They were out getting presents for grandbabies.

The world had changed. Normally, when I run into someone I know I offer a handshake or hug them. Here we were, all wearing masks, and kind of standing our 6 feet apart. We chatted for a while and then we had to get going because we needed to go pick up Ella from Nana’s house. This is where is was crazy awkward for me … I wanted to reach out and shake Dave’s hand and give Angie a hug, but instead it was kind of a “well….ok…..good to see you …. take care…..so long…” thing. It just didn’t seem right walking away like that. I dislike the new “normal!”

Sunday

Sunday was extra busy! We all got up and had chocolate chip pancakes. Afterward, Sam and I compiled the grocery list and I ventured out to Meijer. I always seem to have to go back to an aisle because I either walked right by something OR I didn’t see it on the list until almost the end of the trip. Ella napped while I was shopping and woke up as I was bringing in the groceries.

The weather was just beautiful. I think it was like 65 degrees. We had bought Ella one of those Cozy Coupe cars with the intention of giving it to her for Easter, but decided that the weather was so nice, we should give it to her Sunday. I’m not sure why, but I thought that it literally just snapped together…..it doesn’t. I had to go get my drill, a screwdriver, and a hammer to put it together. At any rate, She really loved it and I got to push her around the neighborhood in it.

We spent the afternoon outside in her car, in the stroller, going down the slide, and running on the trampoline. Eventually, she started to yawn and I knew it was nap time. Once I laid her down, the real work began for me.

Despite my best attempt to tell Sam that the lights on the house were “Easter Lights,” I took down all the Christmas lights. I can’t complain, and I’m glad I finally had good weather to do it. This year I had strung some up high on the front porch, so I had to drag out the ladder to get to them.

Once I had the lights down, I took the totes back to the basement. While down there, like a typical guy, I noticed this huge plastic house that Sam had in the basement so our nieces could play in it. We had talked about bringing it outside and cleaning it up for Ella. So, while Sam slept for work, and Ella napped, I took it partially apart and brought it upstairs. I had measured it and figured I could get it outside no problem. I got it up the stairs, through the basement door and once at the side door – it had to really yank it out! It was SO snug! I was able to get it outside and get it washed and back together!

After I got it back together, I was back inside making dinner, so Sam had something to take to work.

Needless to say, I was in bed early that night!

My phone sent me a notification that night that said my “panoramic” photo was ready to view. I didn’t take any panoramic pictures while we were outside Sunday. However, my camera took two separate pictures and combined the two and put Ella in the picture twice! At first I thought it was weird, but after looking at it, I think it’s pretty cool!

Two for the price of one….

Monday

Another beautiful day, this time 70 degrees. It was windy, but that didn’t stop us from playing outside. More trips around the neighborhood in her car and in her stroller. Then we played in her house. I’m thinking we need to get a chair or something for her to put in there, because she walks in and really doesn’t know what to do in there.

A Good Read

The book I got for my anniversary is called “100 Bible Verses That Made America.” So far I am enjoying it. It is really amazing to see how people of the past used the Bible and the principles to help shape this country. The only issue I have with the book is that every time it quotes a Bible verse, it quotes it from the NIV version. The NIV version wasn’t even around until the 1970’s. To me, it would seem that they would have used the KJV to quote from. Whenever it quotes a verse, I just grab my KJV and read it from there. Still a very interesting and enlightening read.

A Real Pain in the … Back!

About two weeks ago, I was getting out of bed and kind of felt like my back was tight. Over the next few days, I started to feel like it was even in my hip. I’m really not sure what I did to it. It’s been bugging me and kind of annoying. I’ve taken ibuprofen and such, but it has been getting worse. Monday, I pushed Ella in that car around the neighborhood (which meant I was leaning a bit forward to push her). Then I walked another mile or so with her in the stroller. It felt good to get out and walk! I love walking, but by the time I got closer to home, I could feel like my hip was hurting more. Later, I was feeling pain when I sat on the floor to change diapers. When I got up from bed, I could hardly move and the pain was excruciating.

I had to make an appointment with my doc for a refill on my prescriptions, and I plan on asking her about it when I go in. In the meantime, I have to wait until Thursday morning and these are my friend ….

They don’t help a lot, but they do bring some relief. This morning, when I got up, I was tearing up from the pain. I was trying to load the dishwasher and could hardly bend down. Trying to get pants, socks and shoes on only brought about more pain. I’m gonna try to get in to the chiropractor, too. I’m really hoping it is nothing, but I tend to always think the worst.

I’m off to pop some more ibuprofen…..

Thanks for reading!

Happy 1st Birthday, Ella

My wife made the observation that last night we laid our 11 month old daughter down to bed for the last time. She woke up a one year old! She’s no longer our baby. She’s our toddler! My wife also noted that today she realized the truth in the old saying “The days are long, but the years are short.” It is hard to believe that it has been a year, already!

I posted this picture on Facebook today, and it is truly amazing to see how much she has changed and grown in a year.

Sam’s Facebook post really nailed it on the head:

“Ella, you are so strong willed. You are mischievous. You are bold and fearless. You are not afraid of new things or new people. It is even safe to say that you are boisterous and loud. You are already speaking up a storm. You are inquisitive. The only time you are quiet and still is when you are observing or are asleep. You are always alert – your eyes don’t stop moving and your head turns at every new noise. All it takes is watching someone do something and you are right there to copy it and do it by yourself. Ella, Keep being you! Because that is who we love dearly!”

One thing Sam and I chuckled about today was how easy the “monthly” pictures of Ella used to be to take. We could just lay her in the crib and snap a few. She is SO busy now, it is hard to get her to sit still for them! We were able to nab a couple this morning before heading out to celebrate.

Love her oufit – Miss One-Derful!

One of the hardest things to deal with over the past year has been Covid. Because of it, we spent most of our time at home. So many people STILL haven’t had the chance to meet Ella. Quarantine babies (and kids in general) have really had it difficult. The malls may be open, but the playscapes are closed. Playgrounds at the parks have been closed. Many of the interactive stuff at children’s museums are closed. There was NO WHERE to take her except on walks through the neighborhood and occasionally playing outside.

We decided to take her to the Sea Life Aquarium about an hour from us. Legoland is also there, but we figured we’d do something that didn’t require too much “touching.” We were the first in line and got to walk through the aquarium and look at all the cool fish and sea life. She really enjoyed it. There were a lot of fish to observe and the lighting inside was very cool. There was even a place where she could reach in and touch some of the sea life. It took about a half hour to go through, and she really loved it.

We walked the mall for a little bit after the aquarium visit and remembered that they have a Build A Bear there. For your birthday, you get to chose a bear and you pay whatever your age is. She she picked a bear, picked a heart to put in the bear, and walked out with a new stuffed friend for just $1.00! I have a feeling we’ll go back and get a birthday outfit for the bear in the future. For now, she seems pretty content with her new buddy.

Later this afternoon, our plans changed a bit. We were going to have cake here at the house, but we ended up going to Sam’s mom and dad’s for pizza and cake. Yes, I got emotional as I took pictures and everyone sang “Happy Birthday.” I think we all hoped that she would just rip into her cake, but she was rather reserved. She picked frosting off and ate that mostly. Someone eventually gave her a spoon and I think she ate a little cake, but it was mostly frosting. By the time she was done, she had as much frosting on her as the cake did.

It really was a perfect day.

So now, before I close, I need to say something to my baby girl:

My sweet Ella Bella –

Today, you turned one year old. Mommy and I have enjoyed every second of your life. We have watched you grow up so fast! It really seems like yesterday that we were waiting for you to arrive. Now, you are walking and saying words. In the past year, you have brought us so much joy and happiness.

I’m sure that you think daddy’s phone is always ready to take pictures of you, and you’re probably right. You very well may be the baby with the most pictures on Facebook! You have been a bright light in a very dark and scary time, sweetheart. A pandemic, political nonsense, violence, and hatred were prominent throughout the world during your first year. However, your smiling face brought smiles to so many people. I guess daddy thought I might be overdoing it with all the pictures of you I kept posting. You have no idea how many people have told me how YOU helped them get through these tough times! Your smile brought smiles. Thanks to social media, people you have never even met are watching you grow up, and smiling at the new things you are doing. You are loved by more people than you can imagine!! There is something extra special and magical about you. Your personality is one that brings happiness to everyone.

You are our miracle baby. There will never be enough words for me to tell you just how much I love you. I only wish that everyone could experience the joy that I feel when I walk into the house after work and you see me and scream with delight that “daddy is home!” I wish everyone would experience the thrill that I get when you wake up and I walk into your room to get you and you smile at me as you reach for me to pick you up.

Mommy and I were going back through pictures of you over the past year, and it is amazing to see how fast you have grown. With each picture, we relieved special moments and milestones. We laughed and cried. We thanked God for sending you to us. A year’s worth of memories and this is only the beginning. There will be many more milestones. There will be countless new things for you to learn. You will continue to be an amazing little girl. Mommy and daddy will be there every step of the way, cheering you on in whatever you do! We will help you accomplish what your heart desires.

We have so much to celebrate today, and there will be much more to celebrate in the future. Thank you for being my little love bug. Thank you for making daddy feel so loved. YOU are special and I love you so very much.

Happy First Birthday, Ella. May God continue to bless you today and always.

Love you forever –

Daddy.

Hindsight Really is 2020 – A Recap

The saying goes, “Hindsight is 2020,” and many of us are rejoicing that 2020 is really truly behind us! I often wonder if you were to make a list of positives and negatives of the past year, would one outweigh the other? What about 10-15 years ago? Was that just as bad, but we only choose to remember the good things from that year? I don’t know the answers to those questions.

In talking with my youngest son this weekend, he was talking about the last year and listing all of the bad things from it. I told him that is really is easy to see the bad things, the negatives, or the sadness we experienced. I challenged him to try to find some positives among the negatives. As we drove back to my house, we were able to do that. I told him it isn’t always easy to find those positives, and sometimes there may not be any, but to always look for them.

December 31, 2019

As the world awaited 2020’s arrival there was great excitement. Many said, “This is going to be MY YEAR!” Others looked at the new year as a clean slate from 2019 (which they wanted to be over). I recalled the quote from country singer Brad Paisley, who said, “Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book, write a good one.” We looked at 2020 as a year of happiness, recovery, new opportunities, new adventures, and so much more! 2020 had other plans.

2020

Looking back at 2020, the absolute high point was the birth of our daughter, Ella. NOTHING tops this moment! The blog announcing her birth was one of the most read of the year.

My first daughter. Daddy’s little girl. My wife, Sam, was just amazing throughout the delivery. It was the first time I had witnessed natural child birth and I was in awe of everything. My heart was overflowing with happiness. What a day!

This month, Sam and I were talking about what to do for her first birthday. With Covid, there is not a whole lot we can do. We are probably not going to throw the big party we wanted to, but we are working out plans for something special to mark the occasion.

Covid-19

I can’t even imagine if Ella had been born a few weeks later. By the time March arrived, the whole world was talking about Corona virus and Covid-19. Everything started to shut down in an attempt to “flatten the curve.” Our sleep labs closed and we were deployed to the hospital Labor Pool. During my time there, I heard stories and witnessed things I will sadly never forget. With a new baby at home, my constant worry was that I would bring it home to her. I eventually snapped. The doctor called it Acute Stress Disorder and she took me off work. I was out on FMLA for 6 weeks.

Finding the positive in a negative – I got to spend 6 weeks with my daughter. There are countries that allow both parents to stay home with their newborn child for a year when they are born. I wish the United Stated allowed that. There are so many wonderful moments that happen in that first year. It is a shame that we have to go back to work while our babies are still so young.

Another positive: As the curve flattened, I officiated my first wedding for my friend, Theresa from high school. To say I was nervous is an understatement, but all went well and I didn’t mess anything up too bad. It was nice to see other friends from high school at the wedding, too. It was a bit weird, as there were many masks in the crowd, but that had kind of become the “norm.”

Division and hate

2020 brought more division and more hate. There has always been division in politics, but it seems that both parties hatred for each other was over the top. I’ve heard a lot of mudslinging in ads, but the stuff being said was brutal. The politicians seem to have forgotten who they are supposed to be representing and working for – the people of the country!

Everyone was offended by everything in 2020. Social media was full of arguments, name calling, and much more. Really, the media just continued to “feed” the public and make everyone more angry than they were to begin with. Jim Morrison of the Doors once said, “Whoever controls the media, controls the mind.” Noam Chomsky takes it a little further:

I had to finally stop watching the news, and scroll past so many posts from friends. I couldn’t take it. It is totally ok for you to be passionate about your beliefs and your political stance. If it is different than my stance or beliefs, that’s ok, too. You and I can agree to disagree. I was saddened that so many friendships were broken because of the difference of opinion. Friendships that have lasted 30+ years ended because of this, and that breaks my heart. If only more people thought like Thomas Jefferson:

Blog Milestones and Hits and Misses

In 2020, I celebrated two years of blogging. I wrote my 300th blog. I still wrote many movie blogs and music blogs. The music blogs slowed as I started to neglect Tune Tuesday. I tried something new with Friday Movie Quotes, but that didn’t seem to go over too well, so I stopped. Most of my blogs were ramblings about my life and of course, my daughter.

The other blog that got a lot of views was my recent blog about the loss of my friend, and high school band director, Tom Shaner. I posted a link to this on my Facebook, and his daughter also shared it, so many people I didn’t even know read it. I received a private message from his brother who told me that he really appreciated my blog and how it enlightened him on the impact he had on his students. When I finished writing that blog, I didn’t think it did him any justice, but that private message proved otherwise.

Conclusion

As I look back on 2020, I see life’s “circle.” The high point of the year was the birth of my daughter, while the low point of the year was the passing of my friend, Tom. Life and death. A new life enters the world, while an old one leaves the world. Happiness and sadness. As life moves on, the circle continues. We see new births and new deaths.

A pastor once told me that birth is the beginning of death. You begin to die the moment you are born. There is truth to that. So as we look on the new “book” that is 2021, and we begin to write on the blank pages, let’s try to remember the words of actor Michael Landon:

Here’s to a Happy New Year for all of us!

Endings and Beginnings

“What feels like the end is often the beginning …”

I will be the first to admit that this blog is more appropriate for the end of the year. However, with the events of the past few days (which I will elaborate on in a future blog), it weighed on me to write these thoughts down.

2020 brought many things to an end. Sadly, the one thing that didn’t go away was Covid-19. The virus has forced many local and small businesses to shutter their doors forever. The virus cut short the lives of many Americans and people all around the world. It has also put many things in jeopardy of disappearing forever – going to a movie, free samples, touch screens in public, buffets, and even shaking hands.

While not official, I am pretty confident in saying that 2020 has forced the end of my radio career. Stations have their DJ’s broadcasting from home live or recording shows from home. I enjoyed doing it part time and it allowed me access to studios to do any free lance voice work that might some my way. I am sure that if I needed a studio, I could call and get into one (thanks to a few friends). I don’t do enough of it to warrant buying equipment to set up a studio at home. I have come to terms with this and will always look back on my days in radio fondly. I’m a pretty lucky guy to have worked with so many great people.

I am also sure that I am officially retiring from DJing parties and weddings. The equipment has become too heavy for me to lug in and out. The money people are willing to pay is much less than it used to be, and it has stopped being fun for me. There are some events that I would probably still enjoy doing, but those are the low paying gigs. At one time, I really enjoyed doing it, but it has become more like work.

With the end of things, come new beginnings. One up side of not working at the radio station on weekends is time with my kids and my family. Over the past few months, I have watched my daughter accomplish some firsts – and I am glad I didn’t have to miss them because I was working.

There was a time when I was working full time, working part time in radio, and doing DJ stuff on the side. I was never home. That may or may not have been intentional due to my home situation at the time. However, over the past 4 years, my life has changed drastically for the better. I like being home. I love being with my wife, my daughter, and my sons. I cannot wait to be home with them, even if it is just to sit on the couch and watch TV!

So as 2021 approaches, you and I are faced with 365 blank pages to write as we wish ….

I’m sure that the new year will bring challenges, especially since we will still be dealing with Covid-19, political unrest, division, and hatred. But with each blank page – we can make a choice to be positive, be happy, enjoy every minute, and count every blessing.

Lost In Thought

I was sent home from work tonight because of low volume.

The night started off on a high note. One of my co-workers stopped at an Italian bakery and brought me some pignolata! It is a Sicilian dessert that I blogged about 5 days ago. I was excited to dive right in. Naturally, I had my reservations. My grandma never used sprinkles, and this batch has them on it.

I asked my co-worker if she wanted to try it. She stated she bought some for herself and a friend and had tried it. She was not impressed. My heart sank. Now, I had to try it. I was disappointed. It was similar, but no where close to grandma’s. There was not enough honey, not enough chocolate chips, and no powdered sugar. Sigh.

As I drove home, I passed the town Christmas tree. It was already lit. Stupid Covid. Every year, our little town does a tree lighting ceremony. Santa shows up, there is a parade where the high school band marches down main street, and the shops are open with baked goods and hot chocolate. Afterward, there are some games and other activities. Obviously, this didn’t happen this year. What a shame! I really enjoy doing that with the family.

I came home to to a quiet house, turned on the Christmas lights and thought about how different things are gonna be this year. It makes me sad. It makes me hope that there will be some sort of “normal” by next year! Kids shouldn’t have to talk with Santa through a bubble or behind glass…

It seems that every time I open my Facebook, a friend has lost someone dear to them. One friend has literally posted about one friend passing away and within an hour, she posted another friend had passed away, too. Too many friends have lost parents or children this year. Many of these aren’t even Covid related! There is so much sadness.

I feel like my prayer list grows bigger and bigger every night. I pray for those friends who have family members in the hospital. I pray for those who are grieving the loss of a loved one. I pray for those who have struggle because of the loss of employment. The list goes on and on. I will keep praying …

My cousin summed things up recently when she posted this…

Before you start bragging that you’ve done your Christmas shopping and post a picture of 175 wrapped gifts under the tree, please remember :

Some parents have lost their jobs and don’t know how they’re going to feed their kids, never mind buy presents for them.

Some families are on 80% pay and only just managing to pay bills. 😔 (Some are making less than that, or trying to make it off unemployment!)

Some people have lost family members and Christmas won’t be the same now or ever again. 💔

Some people don’t go online and now have no idea when or how they’ll be able to shop.

Some people are completely isolated and alone, and won’t be receiving any gifts from anyone at all.

Some people are fighting for their lives!!! Christmas shopping is the last thing on their minds. So remember, nobody likes a show off!!!

For me this year, more than ever before, it’s more important who is around your tree rather than what’s under it.

Be humble. Be thoughtful. Be kind. That’s what the holiday season is really about.