Holy 500!

I was notified by Word Press that this blog hit a milestone!! Had I been paying attention, I would have made Blog #500 something a bit more special. Instead, my last blog (#500) was about how tired I am!

Reflecting

As I sat down to write Blog #501, I thought on how far this blog has come. I never started this blog to gain hundreds of followers, however, I have. Originally, I started the blog as a way to write down my feelings and thoughts as I went through some troubling times. Then I thought it would be a good place to write some memories down so my kids could look back and read them. It has evolved into a place where I can write about personal things, and not so personal things.

I am glad that the details of how my wife and I came to be together are here. I am also glad that I have detailed blogs about the the birth of my son and daughter. There are also many memories of my mom, so that my kids who never had the chance to meet her, will be able to read about her. I hope that they will be able to come here to read about the special people in my life – my wife, my kids, my parents, my grandparents, my teachers, my co-workers and mentors, and my friends.

It’s also fun to look back at the special “events” I took part in. Recently, I took part in a song draft, which allowed me to feature 10 great songs. There was a bit more pressure than just picking a song and writing about it. It was hard to pick just 10! Blogging about TV shows and movies as part of blogathons has been fun, as well. I’m looking forward to a TV show draft, similar to the song draft, coming soon.

What Have I Learned?

So, just what have I learned after 500 blogs?

1. It’s not easy!

I read somewhere that most people who start a blog quit writing after a month. I am glad that I have continued to write, although finding stuff to write about is not always easy. There are many days where I sit and have nothing to write about. In those moments, I turn to Daily Writing Prompts. Sometimes they will be helpful, but many of them are worthless.

Some days are easier than others. Many times a song will bring about a memory I can share. Other times a conversation will spawn something worth writing about. My kids are a constant source of writing material and funny stories and for that I am grateful. I love bragging about them.

The key for me is to just keep writing. I plan to do just that.

2. I’ve met some really cool friends

When I created my blog, I started to search for blogs about music and movies. I started following some of them and by doing so, found there many people who share similar likes with me. I began to comment on their posts and they commented on mine. By doing so, I have really gained some neat friendships with people I have never seen face to face. I’m thankful for each of them

3. I often wonder if I make a difference

I guess I hope that someone who goes through my blog will find an occasional “nugget” that they can use in their daily life. It’s not easy to put your life out on the internet for everyone to see, but if someone can learn something from the challenges I faced and the issues I worked through, I will be happy with that.

More recently, I have blogged a little bit more about my faith. I was always told to not discuss religion and politics. I follow a few blogs who share my beliefs and I appreciate them. I know that not everyone is going to share my beliefs and that is ok. That being said, I am also not going to be afraid to post more about it and am always happy to discuss it with others.

4. I really enjoy blogging

I’m not sure I could ever be a reporter or a writer where there were deadlines for articles. I enjoy sitting and writing about my passions, my experiences, my family, and my life. I love being able to write down things that I can go back and reread and relive those moments.

I have put quite a bit of time into this blog, and don’t make a dime off it (Although, I hear that there are many bloggers who DO make money off theirs)! It has never been about making money. It has never been about having a blog republished. It has never been about having millions of followers. This blog is my little spot on the internet to save my thoughts and share them.

How about your feedback?

What do you like best about this blog? What would you like to see more of? Would you ever consider being a guest blogger on my site? Tell me your thoughts. I appreciate you being here and reading my blog and hope to keep posting things you find interesting.

So what is next? 500+ plus blogs I hope and I am excited to continue sharing “me” with you!

Recipe – Hot Taco Dip

I’m not one that will sit here and post a weekly recipe. As a matter of fact, the only recipe I posted was for Waikiki Meatballs in a blog about my mom. Yet, here we are. Today’s blog stems from the following Daily Writing Prompt: Do you have a favorite recipe from your childhood that you still make today?

The answer is yes. This is one of the easiest things to make and it always reminds me of my mom. She used to make this for parties and get togethers, and at times would make it for dinner! It is such a favorite, that whenever my brother or I make it, we almost always send a picture of it to each other with the text – “MOM’S TACO DIP!!!”

For the dip, you need a pound of ground beef (or turkey if you choose), a packet of taco seasoning, a block of cream cheese (lite cream cheese works too), a tub of sour cream, and shredded cheddar cheese. Some recipes include chopped onions, tomatoes, or peppers – but my mom never used them. Of course, you also need your favorite dipping chips.

Our oven takes forever to heat up, so I usually preheat my oven right from the get go. You don’t need much heat, I set mine for 350. Anyway, first you brown up your ground beef (for meatier dip – use a pound and a half). If you are going to use onions or peppers, brown it all together. Once the meat is brown, drain it and return it to the pan. Next add your taco packet with a little water. Once the meat is seasoned, add the block of cream cheese (cut into pieces helps it mix better) and about half of the sour cream tub. For thicker dip, use less sour cream or more cream cheese. Once it is all melted together and is as thick as you like it, spread it into a glass casserole dish like this:

Once you get it spread out into the casserole dish, sprinkle your shredded cheddar cheese on top. I like a lot of cheese, so I really lay it on there. I know some recipes call for the “taco mix” shredded cheese, but I always use cheddar. If you are so inclined, you can also add chopped/sliced black olives on top. Next, you toss it in the oven and bake until the cheese is melted. Let it stand for about 5 minutes and dig in.

Just remember thicker dips require thicker dipping chips!

Enjoy!

My “Go to” Karaoke Song(s)

It has been some time since a “Daily Writing Prompt” moved me enough to use it as a blog idea. Today’s though, was definitely one I could use. The Prompt? “What is your ‘go to’ karaoke song?”

I have to admit, I have sung a lot of karaoke. I did this mainly when I was in my mid 20’s to early 30’s. My friends and I had a couple places that we’d go and sing at. Looking back at it, I have to laugh because they were all dive bars.

I started singing karaoke with my old morning show partner, who actually COULD sing. He had a great voice and often sang ballads from the Great American Song Book. It was always funny because you’d have these people up there singing Johnny Cash, The Rolling Stones, Queen, and Prince. Then he would get up and sing something from Robert Goulet!

At one point, between radio jobs, I actually hosted karaoke, which I thought would be fun, but it really wasn’t. It was then that I realized there were plenty of people who “thought” they could sing, but couldn’t. They come up to you with requests like, “Put some reverb on my voice” or “Pitch the song up or down” or “Give me more volume on my microphone” … It was crazy! These people are up there thinking their Shania Twain or John Lennon or something.

I have never claimed to be a good singer. I have a handful of songs that I can sing and sing them well. I know which songs my voice will never be able to handle. I stick with the ones I know I can do without embarrassing myself. In my repertoire were songs like: The Wonder of You (the Elvis version), Bad Bad Leroy Brown, Bad Case of Loving You (Robert Palmer), The Lady is a Tramp (Sinatra) , Mack The Knife (Bobby Darin), And I Love You So (lol – yes! The Perry Como song!), and That’s Amore (Gotta do some Dean Martin!).

If I had to pick the 3 karaoke songs that people would associate with me, they would be:

#3 – Tutti Fruiti by Little Richard

The reason for this is that back in the day, I used to change the lyrics to this. The lyrics were … well, not clean. People always laughed when I did this, however, today, I couldn’t do that any more. It’s just not who I am. I actually kind of cringe when I think of some of the lyrics I sang.

#2 Delilah – Tom Jones

I’m not going to lie, this was always a hard song to sing. Tom has such a great and powerful voice. The end of this song is tough. The night is fairly high – and you have to hold it for some time. That high and long note was nothing for my old morning show partner. He used to do this song a lot. I am not sure how or why I started singing it, but it became one I was always asked to sing.

#1 – Secret Agent Man – Johnny Rivers

By far, one of my favorite songs to sing, and hence, my “go to” karaoke song. It was always a favorite of mine growing up. The Johnny Rivers single was recorded live (I think at the Whiskey A Go Go). I probably heard my dad play this hundreds of times on his guitar. It has such a great intro and awesome solo. I remember one time I brought a fedora and a trench coat to the place we were singing so I could wear them when I sang this. Yeah, I was quite the dork in my 20’s!

While I loved singing karaoke, eventually it got old. I felt like I was going out and wasting money on alcohol, and being forced to sing the same things every time. There were plenty of other songs I would have loved to try, but the people I was with always made me sing the ones they wanted to hear (“It’s my birthday! You HAVE to sing Bad Case of Loving You!” etc…) The karaoke “scene” just wasn’t were I wanted to be anymore.

If there was karaoke at a work party or back yard BBQ, would I get up and sing today? Yeah, probably, but I would leave the fedora at home!

“Just Write”

I have been at a loss for what to write the past few weeks. I’m not sure if that is because I am busy with other things or if I’ve run out of things to talk about. Everything I read about blogging always says “Just write!” So here I am – writing.

I went through countless “writing prompts” and the ones for this month are all pretty lame: “Five things you like about yourself,” “Describe the view from your window,” and “What do you want more of.” I really don’t think that these are the kinds of things my readers what to read about. Do you really want to know what’s out my window? I mean, I’ll write about it if you really want to know…..but our house has a lot of windows!

Random thoughts

Recently, this blog hit 200 followers! The fact that I have even 50 followers amazes me! Thank you for deciding that my thoughts are worth reading. Please feel free to drop a note in the comments and let me know what you’d like to see more of. I am grateful for my old and new followers!

Coming up soon, I am happy to announce that one of my blogger friends has decided (after much begging by me) to write a guest blog (or two) on a subject that I have wanted to write about for some time. He is currently working on it and I will let you know when to expect it (and give more details) as we approach publishing it.

We recently celebrated President’s Day. Maybe I’m just old, but I actually remember when we celebrated both George Washington and Abe Lincoln’s birthdays separately. I may be remembering it wrong, but I could swear we had both days off school. Do you remember that? I guess I could Google it, but was it really necessary to combine the two days?

A month and a half into 2021 and I have been following a plan to read the entire Bible in a year. I have missed a day or two along the way, but I always make it up the following day. I am right on track. It has been a nice way to either start or end the day (depending on the day of the week). It is a mixture of Old and New Testament right now, which I like. I am noticing just how everything fits together. I also have a plan to read through all of the Apostle Paul’s epistles in a month, but have yet to start that. I hope to do that in March.

I think I read somewhere that half of the population of the United States was affected by the winter storms that came through this week! I know many folks in Nashville and in Texas who were without power and struggling. We got hit with something like 8 or 9 inches the other night and more accumulation tonight. Tuesday morning, my wife called me from the street and said that the snow was up to the windows on the van and could not get in the driveway. The snowplow had blocked the end of the driveway, so I ran out and shoveled so she could get into the driveway.

The night before I had gone out and shoveled the driveway and my neighbor brought his snowblower down for me to use. One of the sheer pins was broke, but he had bought new ones and he gave them to me. He had surgery recently so he couldn’t use the snow blower. So I went in my garage and tried to put the sheer pin in, but it was too big. I had no idea if the thing could run with out the pin in one side, so I just went back out and shoveled the rest.

I texted him that night and said the pin was too big and told him I would go to the hardware store to get a smaller one the next day, not knowing that we were going to be slammed overnight with a ton of snow. After I got my wife’s van into the driveway, I went out and shoveled the whole thing. After I came back inside, I got a text from the neighbor saying, “You know, you can still use the snowblower. Only one side will work, though.” 800 mg of ibuprofen later – I sent him a text that read “thanks.”

I think if that stimulus ever gets here, I’m going to go buy me a new snow blower!!

Bedtime Books

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Today’s blog comes from a “Daily Writing Prompt”. The prompt reads: “Do you remember your favorite book from your childhood?” This prompt comes after I stumbled on a set of books that I had as a kid in a used book store.

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The Charlie Brown Dictionary was a set of 8 books that had definitions of words. I remember my parents ordered these from somewhere and every month a new volume would arrive. I loved when a new volume would arrive. They had the entire set at this book store for the bargain price of $2! How can I pass that up?!

The writing prompt also comes a week or so after the baby shower. One of the things we want for our baby is a good library of books to read. We did receive some books at the shower, some of which I recognized, and some that I didn’t. Some of the books we received were books that I had read to my boys, and I am excited to share them with our daughter, too!

As I thought about the prompt, I don’t know that I can actually recall my “favorite” book as a kid. There are, however, many that I do remember vividly. I thought it might be fun to sit and off the top of my head, write about some of the ones I remember. I am sitting down to write this blog knowing that it will be incomplete. It will be incomplete, because I know I am going to probably miss a lot of them. Here goes:

The Poky Little Puppy

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When I was growing up I think I had every one of the “Little Golden Books”. Of all of them, this is the one that immediately comes to mind when I think about my childhood. I remember buying it when my oldest was a baby and reading it to him. I really didn’t remember the story up until that point, but for me to remember it for so long, I am just guessing it was a favorite. I remember there being many Disney stories that were in the Little Golden Book collection.

Another Little Golden Book that I had, and eventually shared with my sons was a Sesame Street book.

The Monster at the End of This Book

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As a child of the 70’s, I watched a lot of PBS. Sesame Street was a show I watched faithfully. Mr. Hooper was still alive when I was watching Sesame Street! The adventures of Ernie and Bert, The Count, Big Bird, Grover, and Kermit helped me learn letters and numbers. I mentioned in a previous blog that I had an Ernie hand puppet. I also had a stuffed Grover. I liked him cause he was always so silly. Grover is the star of this book. It is such a fun book to read and I am sure that it made me laugh as a kid, as much as it made my boys laugh! I can’t wait to share this one with Ella.

Dr. Seuss Books

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I probably had every single Dr. Seuss book ever written! They were very popular with my generation. I have found that people either love or hate his books. I had a friend who just loathed when her son would pick Green Eggs and Ham to read. I could never figure out why.

I remember I was doing mornings on B95 and it was Dr. Seuss’ birthday. We had one of the contestants from American Idol (Phil Stacey) in town to do a show for us. We were talking about Dr. Seuss books with our newsman, Hal Maas earlier in the show, and he couldn’t remember half of them (which we razzed him about often). We actually had Phil Stacey read “Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?” on the air! The book has all kinds of silly noises, and Phil played it up on the air! It was so silly to hear him reading this, but he told us how much fun it was!

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I am sure I will be reading Ella many of his books.

Three Little Kittens

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This was one of Dante’s favorite books. I think he loved it because of the cat noises I used to make while reading it to him. I am almost positive that this was another book my mom read to me. This is a must for me to read to Ella, especially since we have two cats at home.

Like I said, I KNOW I am forgetting others that were probably read to me as a child. I am hoping that those of you who are close to my age will offer us some of YOUR favorites. By doing that, maybe you’ll refresh my memory about other books from my childhood.

Books I Read to the Boys

The books above were books I loved growing up, and read to my boys. The following books are some of my favorites that I remember reading to them at bedtime. These will all be in Ella’s library, because I love them all!

Goodnight Moon

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This book is so simple. I loved saying goodnight to all of the objects and having the kids point to them. Dante’ would always make a “Squeak” noise when we said good night to the mouse.

Rainbow-Fish

This book came in very handy when trying to teach about sharing and being selfish. The moral of the story and showing how sharing with others can make everyone happy is a great lesson that even adults need to remember.

The Kissing Hand

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This one was voted one of the Teacher’s Top 100 Picture Books for Children. I read this to both boys especially as it got closer to when they were going to preschool. It’s really a great book to help children deal with the “separation” issue of going to school. Our book came with all these little red heart stickers and I think Dante’ used to put them on his backpack or pencil box.

The Going To Bed Book

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Sandra Boynton has so many great books for kids! I loved reading this one every night. It was so fun and her characters are just so cute! This is just one of MANY of her books that I loved.

I’m Thankful Each Day

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Probably one of my top 5 books to read! One of my favorite bible verses is I Thessalonians 5:18 which reads: “In every thing give thanks”. Raising children, we want them to be thankful! We tell them to say “please” and “thank you”. What I love about this book is that you see this little boy who is full of gratitude. He is thankful for big things in his life, as well as the small things. He is so grateful – and happy! It is a must for Ella’s bookshelf!

Snowmen At Night

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I love this book for so many reasons. Remember when you were a kid and you’d make your snowman? Then the next day you’d come out and he’d look a little different? It always made me wonder what he’s been up to! That’s exactly what this book is about. What do snowmen do at night?! This book is just so much fun to read and the illustrations are a hoot, too!

This book was a favorite of both my sons! Caralyn Buehner wrote a few sequels to this too (Snowmen At Christmas, Snowmen At Play, Snowmen At Work, Snowmen All Year)! My goal is to have all of these in Ella’s library.

Reading Dads Rock!

Reading is SO important! The great stories that are found in books will fuel a child’s imagination for years and years! A parent reading to their child is one of the greatest things in the world. It is quality time together. It is bonding time. It is something that I cannot wait to do with our daughter. Bring on the bedtime stories!!

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