Finally – A Movie I Can Get Excited To See !

If you were to ask me “What is the last movie you saw in a theater?” I wouldn’t be able to give you an answer. Honestly. I don’t remember.

For what it is worth, there really haven’t been any movies that have really made me want to go to the theater to see them either. I have become extra picky about what I will drop down money to go see. For quite a while, it seemed like I’d go to see a movie that looked good in previews, but ultimately, the trailer was better than the movie itself.

While I can’t remember the last film I saw in a theater, I do know the last GOOD movie I saw in one. The Incredibles 2. I realize that “good” is my opinion and also subjective, but really it was the last movie I felt was worth the money.

Sam has watched the Downton Abbey show on Netflix (or some other streaming service) and really likes it. I’ve never seen the show (as a matter of fact, I actually called it “Abbey Downton” instead of Downton Abbey). It is, however, one that she wants to go see. We had planned on doing it for her birthday, but time got away from us. I still plan on going with her, before her schedule changes.

The two movies that seem to be getting all the “hub bub” this year are: The Batman and Top Gun Maverick.

I’ve been a Batman fan since I stumbled on to the 1966 TV show. I enjoyed the first few movies with Michael Keaton, but now it seems so dark that I have no desire to see it.

I saw the original Top Gun in the theater. I liked it. It seems like every one wo has seen it says the new one is superior to the original. I’m sure that it is an exciting movie with more CGI/Green Screen stunts than they can pack into it. It’s just not one that I am going to run out and see.

I Guess I Have Changed

The change happened long before Covid threw the world into an uproar. I used to love going to the movies. Not so much anymore. Especially since I can usually watch them at home now. I can pause the movie when I need to use the restroom or rewind it if I didn’t understand what an actor said. Refreshments are free at my house and I can wear whatever I want when I watch it.

I had found myself walking out of the theater more disappointed than I used to. The stories just weren’t good. There was an over abundance of special effects. Often times, the sound effects drowned out the actors talking. It wasn’t fun anymore.

Dad Life

Then I had kids. A trip to the movies was never to see something YOU want to see anymore. A year or so ago, I wrote blogs about movies I loved from each year of my life. As I got older, more and more kid movies made the list: Shrek, Up, Sing, Cars, Toy Story, etc… I actually found myself enjoying wonderful stories with things for kids and adults.

All of that being said, I saw a preview for the next film that I am actually excited about:

I was BEYOND excited to see that there is a new movie featuring Puss in Boots. From the moment he made his debut in the Shrek series, he became my favorite character. His solo film was not excellent, but it certainly had a lot of great moments. Antonio Banderas will once again provide the voice.

I can only hope that it is not something that was thrown together. From the looks of the trailer (and you know hoe deceiving those can be), it looks like a good premise. It should be a fun one.

I’m looking forward to it!

Back – But Not 100%

Despite the few blogs I had scheduled to be published, I really only got to jump on here to blog a couple times over the past few weeks because of Covid. So I figured I would fill you in on what’s been happening …

Daddy Daughter Pirate Adventure

Prior to my Covid diagnosis, I was planning on taking Ella to a Daddy/Daughter Pirate adventure. I took the Tuesday off and worked Monday night instead. The Sunday before, I didn’t really feel great. I felt like I was getting a cold. Ella was diagnosed that Friday with a double ear infection. I was worried we wouldn’t be able to go because she was sick.

Monday I felt a bit worse and took a home Covid test. It was negative and I went to work. While at work, I just felt stuffed up. I was coughing a bit, and just achy. I went home and slept. When I woke up, I was still hoping to get to go to the Pirate adventure, however, I just felt like crap. My wife talked me into going to Urgent Care, where they swabbed me and gave me the Covid and Flu diagnosis.

It rained Monday and they called Tuesday to tell me that they had moved the pirate adventure to the next day. It didn’t matter, I wasn’t going to be able to go.

Mother’s Day

I’m glad that I planned ahead this year. So often, I wait until a couple days before to go out and get cards and presents. This year, I ordered Sam something online and had hoped to get her a few other things, but thanks to Covid, I was only able to give her the gift I ordered.

I saw this Facebook and thought it was perfect. It was a framed sign, printed on burlap that said, “My greatest blessings call me Mommy.” Under that I was able to put the kids names and birthdays. It came out better than I thought.

Because we both were in quarantine, we had to place our grocery order online and have it delivered. Because I couldn’t get her a cake, Sam ordered one and we had it after dinner. We were able to spend a little bit of time outside in the sun, hoping the extra vitamin D would help with the Covid.

Mother’s Day 2022

The Kids

Thank goodness the sun has been out a lot this week. The kids have been loving being outside on the swings, playing in the yard or taking brief walks around the neighborhood.

Nana stopped by with some clothes she got for the kids on day and found Ella some “Princess Dresses.” She puts one on and then takes it off so she can put the other one on. I’m not sure what she was doing when I snapped this picture, but I love it. I can’t wait to be able to dress up for a daddy daughter dance!

Earlier this week, Ella was outside with Sam and heard a bird. She told Sam it was a “Nutpecker!” Sam did a double take and asked her again what kind of bird it was. Again, the answer came back, “Nutpecker!” I’ll just add that to the list of wonderfully funny things my daughter says. Nutpecker = Woodpecker.

Andrew turned 7 months old this week. He’s been crawling all over the place and is doing everything he can to stand up. He will pull himself up with the help of couch cushions, toys, pillows, you name it. He is able to stand for 30 seconds at a time, but then usually falls. It drives us crazy. Case in point:

Ella got a Doc McStuffins doctor kit. It comes with the typical doctor toys – stethoscope, otoscope, fake shot, thermometer, bandage and bag. Take a look at the shot, which is the second from the right in the picture below.

See how it is flat? Ok, good. Andrew was standing up next to me on the floor. I was sitting and he had pulled himself up and was standing. He quickly turned and fell and faceplanted right on the corner of that shot. Almost immediately, under his eye (at the top of his cheek bone) began to bruise. Then it began to swell. There was a huge bump under it. At first I thought he broke his cheek.

With 30 minutes before the Urgent Care closed, Sam ran him up to get checked out. He had a hematoma under his eye. Basically, it was bleeding under the skin. So he got his first shiner.

We were told to call his doc and follow up. The doc stated that she didn’t need to see him, but we should have him looked at by an eye doctor to be sure nothing was wrong on the inside of the eye. So he also had his first visit to the eye doc this week.

The good news is that the eye looks great and he will be fine.

He followed up with the Orthotics folks today about his helmet and they said he is progressing so well that he probably will be able to get the helmet off in a couple weeks. This is fantastic news, since we were planning on him having it on through July.

My Crazy Co-Workers

I was cleared to return to work today. The afternoon tech was off, so when I walked in I was the only one in the building. When I walked into the tech room, I was greeted with a masterpiece created by my co-workers.

They basically went through my Facebook page and found every ridiculous picture of me and created a “Covid Keith” board. It certainly made me laugh. I also realize that I make a lot of silly faces. There is a story behind the Alfalfa picture that I will share another time.

I suppose things are sort of getting back to normal-ish.

Covid Update

Hello readers. I wanted to check in. I am still recovering from Covid and the flu. I’m not going to lie, it’s been an experience.

At work, we screen folks for Covid everyday. One of the things we ask is, “Do you have any flu-like symptoms?”. I tell you that because the one thing I’m having trouble figuring out is whether or not I am having issues with the flu or Covid.

I certainly have the flu stuff – cough, congestion, runny nose, and exhaustion. No vomiting, thank goodness. The other stuff has to be Covid – aches in the shoulder, worst headache ever, weird shooting pains up and down my legs, especially when I am trying to sleep, and of course, shortness of breath.

Thankfully, I have not had a fever since being diagnosed. One of the things I’ve had to do is track symptoms, so I’ve been checking it regularly.

My wife has had it a bit easier than me, although today she seems to be feeling worse than she has since this whole thing started. It’s weird. There are times you feel ok, then times you feel like a truck hit you.

She is off until at least the 15th, while I need to call one way or the other on the 13th to be cleared to go back. Technically, if I am symptom free (which I am not), I can go two days before then to get another test to see about going back. This seems to be hanging on, however.

When all this started, if someone contracted Covid, they stayed home AND got paid to do so. The hard part for us is that we made it over two years before we got it. Now we are home and we won’t be getting paid for our time off (which is far from a vacation).

We’ve tried to get outside and at least breathe some fresh air. The weather was nice over the weekend and it was nice to just relax on the porch. Ella was glad to get outside, too.

Thanks to all who have checked on us. We’re slowly getting better. Will write more soon – right now I’m off to check temperature and my pulse oximeter levels.

It Finally Got Me

I guess it had to happen. I wasn’t feeling good when I woke up on Tuesday, Thinking that it was a cold or maybe the flu, I decided to go to Urgent Care.

Over achiever that I am I not only was positive for the flu, but positive for Covid!

So I am doing everything I can now to avoid the kids and Sam. Sam originally tested positive with the home test, but when they did a rapid test on her at her employee health department, it came back negative. I hope that is the case. We’re waiting for her results.

For now, it is just me in our room – feeling like crap!

The Shenanigans Are Over

For the first time in 2 years, the Chicago River was dyed green yesterday.

The St. Patrick’s Day tradition had been put on hiatus because of the Covid-19 Pandemic. The dye will stay in the water for about 48 hours and then it will change back to normal.

I posted my usual stupid St. Patrick’s Day Puns on social Media:

I also posted my yearly reminder that while “every one is Irish” on March 17th, St. Patrick wasn’t!

As I scrolled Facebook yesterday, it was full of plenty of people decked out in their best green outfits. Many people indulged on green beer, corned beef and cabbage, potatoes, and Irish stews in bars and restaurants beginning early in the morning.

I scrolled upon a post by a pastor friend of mine, and I felt that it was certainly worth sharing:

“Saint Patrick was a passionate evangelist who believed in the potential of young people to change the world. Instead of drinking green beer in his honor why not share the gospel with a young person today? He’d be way happier with that “

I think he would! I found a great quote from St. Patrick:

I didn’t partake in any green spirits yesterday. I didn’t even wear any green!

They always talk about the “Luck of the Irish.” Well, I am not Irish, but I consider myself one lucky man. I am married to the most beautiful woman on the planet and we will celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary on Saturday.

4 years ago …

I have been blessed with four amazing kids. My two oldest boys from my previous marriage and my daughter and baby boy with my wife. Who says you have to be Irish to be lucky?

Ella and AJ 2022
Dante’ and Dimitri – 2015

Yes, I am one lucky Italian!

Oh, yeah, I guess I did partake in some St. Patrick’s Day shenanigans at work …

We do sleep studies on a lot of pediatric patients. This week, one kid drew pictures for us and we put them up on the board in the tech room. Another kid made a thank you card for us. I grabbed a piece of paper and some crayons and I drew a picture of one of my coworkers and said, “You had a kid in the room I was in last night, right?” I told her I “found” a picture that her patient must have drawn of her and that it looked just like her!

I’m sorry, every time I look at this, the lips make me think of the Joker from Batman!

I understand this is probably only funny to me … so I apologize. I hope you had a nice St. Patrick’s Day ….

A Two-riffic Birthday!

Yesterday, I blogged about it being Ella’s last night as a one year old. Today (2-10) she officially turned two! On one of the Facebook “dad” groups I am a part of, someone posted that “Time is a thief.” That is so true. I am still scratching my head and wondering how she could be two already!

On my way home from work, I stopped off and picked up her birthday cake. It came out perfect. I thought it was neat, because they hadn’t written the message on it in frosting. It was actually printed next to the Minnie Mouse design.

The store also had balloons, so I made sure to get a HUGE number “2” balloon to mark the occasion. I helped Sam hang the banner before work last night, and she did the rest of the decorations before bed last night.

She put up streamers and blew up balloons. She then set up Ella’s gift. I guess it is called a “nugget.” It folds, stacks, and such. I can totally see her and I having some fun with this thing.

When I got home, she was still asleep. I was surprised, because she is usually up when I walk through the door. It made the day even more special to be able to sing Happy Birthday to her when Sam brought her out to the living room. She was probably not really ready to be up, so when she came out she wasn’t quite sure what to make of everything. It didn’t take long and she was playing around with the balloons and her “nugget.”

Nickelodeon has a “Birthday Club” where you can schedule calls to your kids from their favorite characters. I had a call scheduled for her from the Bubble Guppies. She smiled when they said her name and wished her Happy Birthday. It was a pretty cute bonus to the morning.

I whipped up some birthday scrambled eggs for her with some cheese on top with a side of blueberries. As she enjoyed her breakfast, I headed to bed because I knew I would be up in a short while.

Ella had a doctor check up this morning and afterward, Sam took her to the Peppa Pig World at the mall. I slept from about 9:30a to noon and got up to head out and meet them there (about a 50 minute drive). She was excited to see me when I got there and she was running from one thing to the next playing!

Because of Covid, Sam and I have been very careful and really haven’t taken her out much. When I walked in, the place was loaded with moms and their “piggies” who were all over the place! My anxiety was through the roof. We must have been hitting the hand sanitizing stations every time we saw one.

She had a blast! We didn’t stay too long, and when we left, we hit the gift shop. Boy, are THEY raking in the money! We saw this Peppa Pig car that we have seen before at Walmart. That was the toy that she picked out. We plopped it on the checkout and it was like $35!! At Walmart, it was like $22. What a markup!!

There is a Build a Bear in the mall and we went to get her Birthday Bear. We did this last year, too. Personally, I like this year’s bear better. It seemed much softer than the one from last year. It is such a cool thing for kids. You pay the price of your birthday. She is 2 – the bear was $2. By the time we got done, the fact that it was naptime was apparent. She was getting cranky.

Sam stopped at Carter’s (which was right by the Build a Bear) to see about an outfit for her birthday pictures this weekend. Sam found an outfit for pictures and some St. Patty’s outfits for them. Surprisingly, she was unable to find a good Valentine’s Day outfit for them (which is probably a good thing and saved us like $60!).

One of my favorite pics of the day – the two most important ladies in my life!

Andrew was at Nana and Papa’s so Ella could go to the doctor. When we left, I drove back home to try to sleep a bit more. Sam and Ella left to go get AJ. Ella fell asleep on the way, so Sam (as most parents would do) drove around awhile in hopes of getting her some sort of nap. I finally got into bed about 3:15-3:30.

Ella got to pick what she wanted for dinner. She loves tacos from one of our favorite Mexican places. Sam picked it up on the way home and woke me about 5pm so we could eat and have cake.

This look! LOL!

After dinner, I grabbed the “2” candle, put it on the cake and brought it out so we could sing Happy Birthday. What was the first thing she did? She starts to grab the flame of the candle! Sam did the best she could to keep her still as we sang to her and then she blew out the candle.

I had a Microsoft Teams meeting I had to call into on my way to work. Normally, I would be there in person, but because I wanted time with Ella, I decided to leave later and just call in on my drive in. By the time the meeting was over, I texted Sam to see if the kids were still awake. (I usually do a video call before they go to bed.) She texted back that they were already in bed and asleep. Both were pretty wiped out from a busy day.

I still cannot believe that my baby girl is 2 years old. Time is a thief indeed!

Happy Birthday, my sweet Ella! I snapped this picture of you today and it is probably my favorite. There stands a little girl pondering what to do next. She is a little girl full of potential. She is a girl who is smart. She knows she is going to do amazing things – and she is planning just how to get those things done! God has blessed mommy and me with you. We love you as big as the world! We look forward to the many wonderful things you will do in the years ahead!

Daddy’s little girl.

Grief

I saw this twice on Facebook today and it really hit me. It is SO very true. I’m sure that collectively, you and I could easily add more true statements to this. I wish I knew who wrote it to give them proper credit.

I am reposting it here, so I will always have it and so that anyone who may stumble on this blog will find it useful as well.

Whether it is because I am getting older or the fact that we are in the middle of this whole Covid pandemic crap, the truth is that I have seen more death in the past two years than I care to. I’m not just talking about the overabundance of famous people who are dying, but the normal every day people in life – classmates, parents of friends, spouses, teachers, fathers, mothers, siblings, grandparents, co-workers, etc… My Facebook feed provides at least two to three links to obituaries a day now.

Many of my friends are still trying to cope with losses that are VERY fresh in their minds. I hope that this helps you or someone you may know who is currently dealing with grief – or has been dealing with it for some time.

Grief

Grief doesn’t just show up the day they die

Grief shows up on a random Monday night

Grief shows up in aisle five at the grocery store

Grief shows up when they’re favorite song comes on the radio

Grief shows up at the dining room table

Grief shows up at your graduation and wedding

Grief shows up in the delivery room when they aren’t by your side or in the pictures

Grief shows up on those sleepless nights

Grief shows up when the phone rings and it isn’t them

Grief shows up when you go to dial their number and realize they’ll never answer again

Grief shows up time and time again always unexpected and never invited

Grief doesn’t just show up the day they die

This chart could not be more true….

It Still Ain’t Flat!

Remember when all it was going to take was two weeks to “flatten the curve?” A mere 14 days….

This is not meant to be political or start an argument or debate. It is just an observation that I wanted to write about. I don’t want your political opinions and I don’t want debates or arguments going back in forth in the comments (here or on Facebook)!

We were talking about how Ella will be two years old in less than a month. She was born and “BAM” Covid hit! She is what they call a “quarantine baby.” She never got a real 1st Birthday Party. She probably won’t get a 2nd Birthday Party either. She’s never been to a movie, or a museum, or really done anything where there a lot of people. I’m sure it will be the same way for AJ.

I know that there are people who will say, “Go out! Live a little!” I’m sorry, I’m not ready for that. I know people in the medical field who feel the same way. As much as I want a date night, where I can sit in a restaurant with my wife or a trip to the movies, or whatever, we aren’t ready. We see too much doing what we do. We hear the stories. We know people. We’re happy (and unhappy) to be hermits – only leaving when absolutely necessary.

Covid numbers are up and continue to be grow. The numbers are so high that schools can’t even hold classes because the attendance is so low they can’t even count it as a school day! My son’s district just put out a note saying that they are going virtual for two weeks – or longer (depending on the numbers) – because staff and students are out with Covid. Hospitals have hundreds of employees out with Covid (or the symptoms). Restaurants (even fast food restaurants) are closing early because of staff issues. It’s insane.

Covid hit close to home for me. Both of my sons were diagnosed with it recently. They were both at my house on Christmas Eve! Naturally, we were worried about the kids, but it seems that they caught it after their visit to my house. Another friend of ours had not seen family or had any type of family gathering for two years. Everyone got their shots and boosters and they figured it was ok to get together. Nope! They all got Covid.

I guess what cranks my fears up a notch is that many of the hospitalizations are children under 5. The last thing I want is my kids in hospital. Maybe I am just an overprotective dad. I am ok with that. That’s what dad’s do.

I just wish that this whole Covid crap would go away! Whatever we are doing, whatever plans the government has in place, whatever the general public is doing, it ain’t working! I have a feeling this is going to be around for a long time….and that makes me angry, cautious, anxious, afraid, and most of all – sad.

Sigh.

Holiday Grief

The song says, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” but for some, it isn’t. Some are dealing with grief and the loss of a loved one and I tend to think that the holidays make that grief a bit more difficult than it already is.

I have written about death and grief before. In reflecting on events of the past few days and past few months, I was moved to revisit an old blog and write again on the subjects.

Back in August, a classmate passed away from Covid-19. This week, one of my dearest friend’s brother passed away. Both were under 55.

In a previous blog, I wrote: I understand that death is a part of life.  I am reminded of a quote from my psychology class that said, “The hardest part of losing someone isn’t having to say goodbye, but rather learning to live without them – always having to fill the void, the emptiness that’s left inside your heart when they go.”  This is so true.  Leo Buscaglia said, “Death is a challenge.  It tells us not to waste time.”  Also true.  Bruce Lee, who died at the young age of 32, said, “If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.” 

That blog was written after another friend of mine passed away unexpectedly at 47. I talk about how precious time is and how death and time often tie together. I mention in that blog that “life” also ties in with time and death. “Live every day as if it were your last. Someday, you’ll be right.” That quote was written on the band room announcement grease board some 33 years ago by our band director, Tom Shaner and it will always remain with me.

Every year, I would look forward to the Shaner’s Christmas card. They often would share photos and a yearly recap. Tom would always scribble a little note off to the side of the card to me and sign it “TRoy.” Tom passed away a couple days before Christmas last year. Today, the Shaner Christmas letter arrived, this time with a hand written note from his wife. She continues to grieve, as do the rest of his family.

At the end of her letter, she included a quote that I have never seen before, but found to be absolutely perfect. I wanted to share it here because I know many others who are grieving this holiday season. The quote reads: “When we lose someone we love, we must learn not to live without them, but to live with the love they left behind.” (Unknown)

That quote is SO VERY TRUE! It can apply to someone who you have lost recently or many years ago. It also ties in with the last quote I used in my previous blog about life, death, and time. The blog reads: The late author Terry Pratchett says this: “No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away.”  

Whether you are grieving the loss of a loved one or friend who has passed away recently, or a long time ago – every time you think of them there are ripples. Every story you tell, there are ripples. Every smile they bring to your face, there are ripples. They live on and their love lives on – and the ripples continue….

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.