My Father’s Day Weekend

Father’s Day began for me on Saturday morning. We celebrated Saturday because Sam had to work on Sunday.

When I returned home from work, my kids were already up and waiting. Sam had texted me that Ella was anxious for me to come home to get my present. Ella was excited because she had seen something in the store and wanted to get it for me weeks ago. Same ordered it online so it would be here for Father’s Day.

Ella and Andrew got to play with markers (which only happens on special occasions) and decorate the gift bag my gifts would be in. She was so happy to hand me the bag.

She waited for me to reach into the bag and could hardly contain herself. When I pulled out her gift to me, she shrieked with excitement! It was really the perfect gift.

We watch Bluey together all the time. It is probably my favorite cartoon that she watches. Bandit, the dad on the show, is what ALL dad’s should be! He’s awesome. This book is just wonderful. We read it before bed last night. I don’t know who was happier about this book – Ella or me!

Andrew got some help from mommy with his gift. As I have mentioned, I’m an older dad. One of the reasons I started this blog was to write my memories and such so that in the event something happens, the memories are here. Sam took it a step further for Andrews’s gift to me.

I’m not sure who came up with the idea for books like this, but they are great. I had originally gotten one of these for my mom to fill out before she passed. She was just too sick and too tired to ever really do it. I wish she’d been able to do that.

At any rate, there are a lot of thought provoking questions in this book and Sam thought I could take it with me to work and fill it in when I was on breaks and such. I love the idea!

After nap time, the family drove up the road to look for some new pajamas for Ella. She’s starting to not fit in her current ones. We went to the Carter’s store and looked around. She was forever handing Sam and I things for Andrew or herself that she found on a rack somewhere. The funniest thing of the trip was a foreshadowing of Ella in her teen and adult years. She kept asking for shoes and even began to make a pile of ones she wanted!

Just the beginning …..

After our shopping trip we came home and made dinner. I didn’t want Sam to have to take me out anywhere, so we made chicken on the grill. We also made corn on the cob and other sides. It was the perfect way to wrap up the day.

I was out grilling the chicken and I was using a brush to put BBQ sauce on a few of the pieces of chicken.

As I am doing this, Ella is standing there watching me. She see’s me dipping the brush into the BBQ sauce and putting it on the chicken. She then says, “Daddy! You’re painting!” Priceless!

Sam kept telling Ella to say, “Happy Father’s Day” to me and it kept coming out “Happy Mother’s Day” which just made me laugh even more.

On Sunday, or “Father’s Day in real life,” as Bluey might say, we had a wonderful breakfast. I made everyone eggs, sausage, and fruit. Ella stated that it was “Deeee-lish-ous!”

We called my dad to wish him Happy Father’s Day. My oldest son called me to wish me the same. Sadly, I never heard from my second oldest son. That’s a whole blog in itself and I will spare you those details for now.

After Andrew’s nap, I decided to take the kids to the Barnes and Noble. I wasn’t sure that there was anything I wanted for myself, but I though we could pick up some new books for them.

While we were walking Ella and I were just talking. Andrew was in the stroller and Ella was walking next to me. I don’t remember what we were saying, but a woman stopped me and said that she wished she had videoed the exchange we were having. She said she was very impressed with how we were interacting. She reminded me of a teacher or something. Ella then said hello, grabbed a puzzle with dogs on the box and showed the lady.

The lady, without skipping a beat, got down on the ground and they counted dogs together, asked about the colors of the dogs, and talked about what “doggies say.” It was so cool to see. She thanked Ella for showing her and Ella put the puzzle back. The lady was so impressed with how polite Ella was. Proud parent moment.

After we got home, we had lunch. Sam took Andrew into our room when it was his nap time. Sam suggested that since one of the local ice cream places had free cones for dads on Father’s day, we should go. We wound up going somewhere a bit closer, but it still worked out because dads got a free scoop of ice cream there, too!

Ice cream is not exactly on Weight Watchers, but I had some anyway and ate carefully the rest of the day. Ella asked for “white ice cream with sprinkles” and that is what she got!

Dad may or may not have had to help her on occasion because it was melting faster than she could eat it!

She talked to everyone who came to the ice cream place! She recommended getting banana ice cream to many, even though she was eating vanilla. She was a real hoot. The owner came out and asked how her ice cream was and she said it was the “best ice cream ever!”

After the ice cream, dad decided to walk the neighborhood. Sunday, she didn’t want to ride in the stroller. So we walked together. The workout was a bit less intense than I had hoped.

About half way through the walk she tripped and skinned her knee pretty bad. So I wound up picking her up and finishing the walk with her on my shoulders. That brought the heart rate up a bit and I probably burned off about half of the ice cream calories!

When Sam left for work, it was just me and the kids. We were playing on the “nugget” and having a blast. Andrew was climbing up like nobody’s business. Once he was on the top, he would start to walk off it. Most of the time, I was there to catch him. There were a couple times where he’d do this little stuntman fall. He is fearless!

Thank you to my wife and my kids for making the weekend such a special one for me!

2021 – What a Year!

At midnight tonight, we’ll start a brand new year – 2022. Some have compared a new year to a book. The book with 365 blank pages – one for each day – and said that the book is ours to write. There is truth to that.

As I looked back over my “book” entitled “2021,” I see that (despite the pandemic and all the crap that came with it) I really did have a good year. Bear with me, he’s the recap:

January

January started with some snow. It actually looks like we should be getting snow again this week. Ella absolutely loved being outside in the snow. It was fun to watch her try to figure out just what all the white stuff was. Today, when she sees it, she get’s excited and yells, “Snow! Snow!”

In mid-January, we scratched our heads and wondered just how Ella was 11 months old! I mean, it seemed like she was just born!

The pressure was on as we closed in on her first birthday. With Covid, we weren’t quite sure if we’d even be able to have a party for her.

February

As we got closer to Ella’s birthday, Sam was just not feeling right. 3 days before Ella’s birthday, we found out that baby #2 was on the way!

This took us both completely by surprise! There was great excitement all over again. The hardest part was keeping it a secret…

Ella’s first birthday was a fun and busy day. We ditched the pink blocks and marked the birthday with a HUGE number “1” balloon. This was followed by a trip to the Sea Life Aquarium, the Build a Bear place, and cake at Nana’s house.

We were glad to be able to get some professional “1st Birthday” pictures, too!

March

In March we got our first look at the baby we now know as Andrew/AJ and announced Ella’s promotion to big sister.

Ella also got her first haircut

March also consisted of many walks around the neighborhood and stops at the park.

April

Big brother, Dante’ turned 19 this month! Before that, Easter fell on my mom’s birthday. We got Ella all dressed up in her Easter dress, stopped at the cemetery to visit grandma on her birthday and then went to Nana’s for an Easter Egg hunt!

Ella is so very blessed to have wonderful people in her life. Aunt Margaret is one of them! (She will kill me for posting this picture, but I just love this!!) She and cousin Marissa came to visit and the highlight was watching them read books together.

We also found out the baby’s gender, but that wouldn’t be revealed until May.

May

Birthday’s have never really bothered me, mostly because I opt for the Jack Benny attitude and say that I am stuck at 39. However, in reality I turned 51. 30 was big. 40 was tough. 50 a bit hard to swallow. Over 50? Well…..I examine my own mortality every day.

The month started warm enough that Ella got to spend lots of time in her sandbox and pool.

We revealed that Ella was having a baby brother and got another look at him on an ultrasound.

Ella and I worked on a special project for Sam for Mother’s Day and we got to visit the Detroit Zoo.

May also brought Ella her first taste of corn on the cob!

June

My second oldest boy celebrated his 14th birthday in June. We got to spend Father’s Day together by visiting Crossroads Village. They had a Classic Car Show there and we walked the village and rode the train. It was such a great day with my kids!

It was SO hot that day!!! By the end of it all, Ella was physically exhausted. June was a hot month and we did get to get out and enjoy walks in the park and a day at the splash pad.

July

By July, Sam was 5 months pregnant and was so sick. The pregnancy was a rough one on her. The heat didn’t help things. Despite that, the middle of summer was packed full of amazing things and our family had loads of fun.

We celebrated America’s Birthday, Ella had her first visit to the public library and bowled for the first time, and we all visited the Saginaw Children’s Zoo.

August

As Summer drew to a close, we continued to squeeze as much into it as we could. I got to spend a perfect day doing a daddy daughter picnic, my name was finally on the board at the Corner Cone for a free ice cream, Ella spent lots of time drawing with crayons, and our stress levels were through the roof as we took Ella in for her ear tube surgery. We also got another peak at AJ and had a visit from my brother.

September

Fall! My favorite season of all. I was glad to be able to get together with Margaret, Walt and my buddy Chris at Margaret’s house. Since she’s already mad at the one picture I posted, I’ll just share the one she told me I could share. Hopefully, that makes things a little better….

We always love going to get pumpkins and decorating the front of the house for fall. Ella seemed to like it, too.

Ella and I also got to take one last trip to the Saginaw Zoo before it closed for the season. It was a great day for us, and Sam actually got to relax a bit.

October

We had been told more than once that there was a possibility that the baby would come before his due date. He held out almost until the date! Just two days before he was born, Ella and I got to go outside and enjoy the fall colors.

On October 11th, AJ entered the world. I watched in awe as my son was born and all the pride of being a daddy again filled my soul. We weren’t sure how Ella would handle it, but she welcomed him with open arms.

They still did not have a photographer at the hospital, so we went to JC Penney to have some newborn pictures taken. AJ looks spiffy in his outfit!

While this wasn’t Ella’s first Halloween, it was the first real Trick or Treating adventure for her. She was happy that big brother was there to walk with her. AJ was obviously way too young to attempt to go out this year.

November

Fall walks are among my favorites. I love looking at the colors. Ella and I took many fall walks and there were many instances where she’d just play in a pile of leaves! AJ kept us all busy and so it was just Ella and I making the trip to Bronner’s to get his ornament for the Christmas tree. We enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving at home and got the house ready for Christmas.

December

The final month of the year brought many happy memories. Professional Christmas pictures, my annual reading of Dickens, AJ turned 2 months old, a visit from Papa and Grandma, Christmas Eve with my boys, Holiday lights at Crossroads, our first Christmas as a family of four, and the anticipation of a brand new year.

Blog highlights included my entries to the 2021 Song Draft, salutes to Soupy Sales, my grandpa, and Ernie Harwell, a guest blog from my pal Max, silly blogs about hats and Bernie Sanders’ mittens, fishing memories, my favorite Twilight Zone episodes, and a blog about an amazing cartoon Dog Dad.

There were many sad moments in 2021. I lost classmates and friends to cancer, heart disease, and of course, Covid. If the past two years have taught me anything, it is that life is precious and another day is not promised. You never know when it will be the “last picture,” the “last phone call,” or the “last visit.” It takes me make to that quote that my band director wrote on the grease board my senior year. I have quoted it many times. “Live every day as if it were your last. Someday, you’ll be right.”

Life is too short. Live. Laugh. Love.

As we welcome 2022, I pray that it is a good year for all of us. May we find it full of happiness and good health. May God bless you and yours in the upcoming year.

Get ready. The Book of 2022 awaits. Grab your pen and turn to page (January) 1.

A Very Happy Father’s Day

As Father’s Day approached this year, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. My oldest son works so much, and when he isn’t working, he’s usually hanging out with his friends. My youngest son hasn’t been here in a couple months, and when I have gone to pick him up, I end up coming home without him. So, if I am being 100% honest, I wasn’t sure if I’d see them this weekend (despite the fact that it was Father’s Day).

So last week, my oldest called and said he wanted to get together. I suggested we go to breakfast or that I could make breakfast for them. He liked the idea and called me again on Saturday. There was a classic car show at one of the county parks, and he suggested we go there. I loved the idea.

So Sunday morning, I ran up to the store to grab some bacon and sausage. By 9:30, when they arrived, I had the meat all fried up, toast in the toaster, and eggs ready to go. We sat and enjoyed breakfast together and we were on the road by 10:30. I had packed the stroller in the car the night before, so all I needed to worry about was packing a diaper bag.

It was a lot hotter than I thought it was going to be Sunday, but we stayed in the shade as much as we could. We walked around and got to see some amazing cars. There was a 1902 Oldsmobile that was taking people for rides throughout the park. One of the funniest things was when my son asked me about this big rubber bulb on one of the cars. He had no idea that it was the horn!

He laughed when I told him! Then we started to notice them on all the older cars. We saw Ford Model A’s, Ford Model T’s, some classic old Buicks and so much more. My oldest loves old cars and it was amazing to hear him spout off the year, make and model as we approached them. There were also a variety of old police cars, army jeeps, and some really unique vehicles there.

There was a car that my son had seen at a car show a couple years ago and he got all excited. “Dad! That’s an upside down van … and it drives like that!” It was actually cool to look at, but even cooler to see driving around!

I wish I had gotten a picture of the inside of that!

It’s always cool to see cars done up to look like famous cars. The General Lee wasn’t there, but Ella got to meet Herbie the Love Bug!

There’s a paddle boat (The Genesee Belle) that usually runs during the summer. It is not running this year yet, because it has to undergo a bunch of inspections. The gal inside the boat told us that because of Covid, and the boat not running, it needed some extra looking over. We were, however, able to go up on the boat and look over the lake.

It was almost noon when we stopped by the boat, and I could see that despite drinking lots of water, Ella was starting to get hot. We had already bought tickets to ride the train at noon, so we decided that we’d do the train ride and head back home. The steam engine wasn’t running this weekend, so a diesel engine pulled all the passengers.

The train cars are all about 100 years old. They have all been refurbished and are quite comfortable. They all have the old wooden framed windows that can occasionally fall down for no reason. We had hoped to ride in an open air car, but they were all full by the time we got to the train. We sat in the car with the windows open.

The train goes about 10 miles an hour and the cars kinda rock back and forth. Since we were close to Ella’s nap time, it was no surprise that she fell asleep on me during the ride. Not even the loud whistle of the train woke her up. It is always fun to hear the engineer tell stories of the train while you are riding. The railroad got it’s name (Huckleberry Railroad) because the story goes that the people riding the train could jump off one of the front cars, pick some huckleberries to snack on, and still be able to jump back on one of the end cars of the train.

When we got back to the depot, we stopped for a few more photo opportunities and left to grab lunch and head home.

When we got back home, Ella was still tired and went down for a nap. I spent some time talking to my sons about the classes my oldest is going to take in college and the golf lessons that my youngest is taking. It was nice to have some quality time and conversation with them. Ella woke up just before the boys had to head to dinner with their mom. Sam woke up for work before they left and made sure that I got pictures of me and the boys and me and all of the kids.

When Sam left for work, it was just me and Ella. We may have over did it a bit as she was running a little fever. So I snuggled up with her on the couch and we watched cartoons together. Before putting her to bed, I grabbed the new book that I got from her for Father’s Day and read it to her…

I absolutely love this book. So simple, yet so meaningful. “My dad love me!” Yes, sweetheart. He does. Very much!

The last book I read to her is another favorite.

I feel like I have been reading her this book forever! It never gets old. As a matter of fact, it means more every time I read it. This is such a short story, but it expresses the love of a parent for their child so perfectly. Here is the entire book without pictures:

I’m sure my sons would think I’m nuts if I read this to them today! I mean they are both cool teenagers now, right?! But this book really sums up how I feel about all of my children, the three who are here and the one that is one the way!

What a truly amazing Father’s Day. I thank God for blessing me with these wonderful children and I pray every day that I can be the Dad that they need me to be. I love them all “as big as the world!”

Well, well, well. Look who’s back…

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This is my first blog since May 18th. I guess this is the longest I have gone between blogs and many have sent private messages wondering if I am doing okay. My good buddy, Max, sent an email asking about me and it took me a while to write him back. Knowing I work in the medical field, and knowing how often I blog, he feared the worst. Needless to say, he was relieved to hear back from me. I figured if folks were worried if I was still around, I’d take some time to write.

It is not that I haven’t had stuff to write about, because I certainly have. I guess I was just having a hard time motivating myself to do so. It has been a very emotional month. So where do I even begin?

When I last wrote, I had just celebrated my 50th birthday. It seems that every time I hit a mile stone birthday, something happens to remind me I am getting older. This birthday, I found myself trying to read and really having difficulty seeing the words. I had Lasik surgery done years ago and I have had no real issues with my vision. I was told that the only thing that they couldn’t correct was if I needed reading glasses. I need to make an appointment to have my eyes checked, but until then, I am reading with these ridiculous readers on!

Speaking of birthdays, I feel bad because two very important ones came and went since I last blogged and they certainly both deserved a full blog. My wife celebrated at the beginning of the month and my youngest son officially became a teenager just a few days ago. Birthdays in quarantine suck. I didn’t get to really do anything for either of them! It will be a week or two before I see my son, so I am planning on doing something for him when he is back here with me.

I got Amazon gift cards from my mother and father-in-law, and from my dad. I decided I’d get some vinyl to play. One for laughs and one for music.

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You can’t go wrong with Frank Sinatra. They remixed his Nice and Easy album and I picked that up.

Next, I found an album I had years ago that is loaded with laughs from the great Soupy Sales.

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Graduation on the Internet

My oldest son graduated this year. You may have seen something about his school, as it made national news. They rented the Drive-in theater in town and showed all of the commencement speeches, staff speeches, and called out every graduate’s name (while showing their pictures) on the three big screens. Sadly, only one car per student was allowed, so Sam and I watched the live stream from home. It was certainly not the way I thought I would see my son graduate.

I emailed the principal and voiced how disappointed I was that only one car was allowed per student. Certainly there were more divorced parents than just me! I had hoped that he would return my email, but that didn’t happen. So, I cheered and cried when they read his name from my living room. He wore his cap and gown to the ceremony, but I haven’t gotten any pictures of him in them. I am hoping that he will come by with them so I can at least get one.

Back to Work

I returned to work two weeks ago. I really wasn’t sure I was ready to return, but the doc thought I’d be okay. The lab where I work is open, but only a few of the staff is back there. The rest are still working in a labor pool at jobs that they are assigned to. When I returned to work, that was where I went. The only bad thing is, the labor pool is going away and that means I will have to take a temporary lay off.

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The thing that scares me is wondering if they will ever call me back. I know of many people in radio who were told they were being laid off temporarily, only to have the companies eliminate those positions and terminate them. This is happening all over as many companies are doing whatever is necessary to keep their business alive. In the weekly trade magazine that comes our for just country radio stations, there is almost three pages of people LOOKING for jobs, while there is just a half page of stations looking to hire people.

Father’s Day

Father’s Day I was up early to meet my sons for breakfast. It was the first time we’d eaten in a restaurant since things opened back up. It was nice to see both of them together. Lately, I have only been seeing Dimitri, as Dante’ is now working and usually hanging with his friends. We had a nice breakfast and I enjoyed my time with them.

When I came home, Sam had Ella all dressed for Father’s Day.

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I received my Father’s Day/Birthday gift from Sam between my birthday and Father’s Day. She ordered me something that was made special for me. She had hoped it would be here by my birthday, but it took a few weeks to make. I was floored by this when it arrived. It was a book –

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She got to design how I looked, and how Ella looked. She said it was hard because her hair was still looking red some days and blonde on others. There were various stories to put in the book. She had Ella point and those were the ones that ended up in the book. She asked me to read it and I could barely make it through. It made me so emotional. It was the perfect gift and I will treasure it forever!!

My Baby Girl

The one thing that has been a plus though all of this is the time that I have gotten to spend with Ella. She brings me so much happiness. On nice days, we always try to take a walk around the neighborhood. She loves it! We look at the squirrels, listen to the birds, say hello to neighbors, and just enjoy the nice weather.

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We like to play with her toys on the floor, she likes to bounce in her jumpy seat, we nap together, and occasionally, we’ll watch Bubble Guppies together (she likes the music on that show).

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Sometimes, I will put on my Dean Martin or Frank Sinatra albums and we’ll sway and dance in the living room. Having this precious time with her has been a blessing. With the layoff, I will have more time with her and that will be the positive in a negative situation.

Classes

My DVD’s arrived for my Bible classes. I am currently re-watching the first year (the stuff that I had already done) and will continue with the new classes when I am finished. Just revisiting these classes has been very beneficial for me. I am glad that I decided to return.

I certainly feel like my spiritual life is moving in the right direction. I have a lot of peace right now, despite the uncertainty that lies ahead. I have faith that no matter what is ahead of me …. Every thing will be okay.

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With that being said, I guess that brings you up to date. I hope to not be so long between blogs. Thanks for reading!

I Believe in Miracles …

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So, this is a blog that I have wanted to write since June 15th.  Having something to say and not being able to say it, is annoying and very difficult.  As someone who used to look for things in daily life to share every day on the radio, having something that you need to “hold on to” for awhile is just frustrating.  You watch every word that comes out of your mouth, you can’t let anything slip, etc.  It’s like being the person who is delegated to drive the guest of honor to their surprise party! It has been driving me crazy!

Well, last night, I brought the guest to their party.  To use a VERY old cliche’, the cat is now out of the bag and I can finally share it.  Let me take you back to June 15th….(insert the “flashback harps” sound effect here):

June 15 (The Day Before Father’s Day)

On Saturdays I am up early so I can get to the radio station to be on the air from 9a-2p.  My wife, Sam, had been feeling kinda sick in the days leading up to the weekend.  It was my weekend without my sons, but because Sunday was Father’s Day, I would be getting them the next day.  We had planned to spend the evening out together.  Before I left, she again told me that she was not feeling all that great, and I told her that we could just spend time at home and not have to worry about going out anywhere.  I told her to get some rest and I would see her after the show.

I hadn’t been on the air that long, and Sam said she was going to come up to the station.  She told me that she couldn’t sleep and wanted to come up.  This is not unusual, as she has come and spent the day with me in the past.  When I left for work earlier, I told her I grabbed something small for lunch, so in all honesty, I thought she was going to bring me lunch.  She stated that she had to make a stop on the way, and after she showered, she’d be there.  I asked where she was going and she told me, “Walmart.” I asked her what she needed from there, because we had already shopped the day before.  “I need to pick up a couple things,” she told me.

She called me when she got close to the station and told me she needed a hand bringing something in (lunch, I assumed – cause, you know, everything revolves around food!).  She asked how long I had before I had to talk on the air.  I told her that I had a quick break and then had about 6 minutes before I had to talk again.  I saw her pull into the parking lot from the studio window and did my break on the air.  I walked out to her car and she handed me what looked like a cake box, telling me to be careful with it.

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I asked her why she brought me a cake, after all, I am dieting and I know that cake is not exactly what I should be eating on Weight Watchers.  She said not to drop it or I’d “mess it up” (frosting everywhere, I thought).  So I took the box and we walked back into the building.  When we were walking, she asked how long before I had to talk on the air and by this time it was about 2 minutes.  She told me to wait until after I talked to open the box.

So as the song faded, I turned on the microphone, did a very entertaining break on the air, turned the microphone off, turned to Sam and said, “Can I look at my cake now?”  When I opened the box, I looked inside and was overcome with emotions immediately.  I now understood why she hadn’t been feeling well….

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I must have looked at the contents of this box for 30 seconds before it all really sunk in.  I looked up, in tears (I am not afraid to admit I cried), and said, “Really?!”  Like a 5 year old, I began to jump up and down and then I grabbed her and kissed her and hugged her for a very long time.  I remember looking into her eyes and just being overwhelmed with joy.  This was something that I had not expected at all.  This was a whole new level of happiness.

Sam looked at me and said, she wished that she had got my reaction on video, but she knew if she had her phone out, she knew that I would have known she was up to something.  She’s probably right, I would have probably ruined the moment by questioning her.  As cool as it would have been to share my reaction as a video, I am glad that it was a moment that was shared between us.

I then asked why there were two pregnancy tests.  Sam said that as she read the instructions on the box, it said that it would take 3 to 4 minutes for the test to give the results.  She said that the first test read “pregnant” almost immediately … so “it had to be wrong”.  So she went to Rite Aid, bought a second test, and got the same results!  The rest of the items in the box, were what she stopped at Walmart for.  She wanted to be sure she told me in a way that I would never forget.  She did.  What an amazing Father’s Day present it was to find out that I am once again going to be a father!

Later that night

After the show, we drove down to see my Dad and Rose, since I wasn’t going to be able to see him on Father’s Day.  On the way down, Sam asked if I was going to tell my dad.  I told her that we should probably wait a bit.  As we sat there at his kitchen table drinking coffee and chatting, my phone “dinged” that I had a text message.  I looked at it, and it was from Sam (who was literally sitting right next to me!) that said, “Just tell your dad!”

My dad does not like getting gifts.  He’s always been the “if I need it, I’ll buy it” kind of guy.  I brought him over a Father’s Day card, and that will even bring about the “you didn’t have to buy me anything” comment.  So, I told him we had a “gift” for him and told him “We want you to know that you’re going to be a grandpa again.”  (If we had planned it, we probably could have done something cool to tell him, but since it was spur of the moment, this was the best I could do).  It almost scared me the way my dad jumped – ok, leaped – out of his chair and hugged me!  He was so excited.  As he hugged me, I could see Rose across the table clapping her hands quickly and then grabbing Sam to hug her.  They were SO happy.  Just another “perfect” moment to wrap a perfect day.

Oh, and my dad being my dad, said, “I hope it’s a girl!” which made me laugh hard!  He went on to explain, “You know I love my grandsons!  I’ve just never had a granddaughter.”  He didn’t have to explain, I knew why he said it.  Before my son’s were born, my mom had always hoped for a granddaughter.  My dad never said what he hoped it was, “just as long as the baby is healthy” was his response.  I think he was a bit like me – wanting a boy to carry on the name, and a girl to dance with.  I think he’s ready to spoil a granddaughter.

Waiting to tell…

Naturally, it was hard NOT to tell everyone.  There were a few people who were privy to the news.  Sam’s folks knew, siblings, and some close friends.  We had a situation come up where we had to tell the boys a little earlier than we had planned.  We had hoped to tell them a little differently than we did, but that didn’t happen.  Needless to say, they were both very surprised.  Dimitri was happy because he was “no longer the youngest.”  Dante’ said he was happy, too.  Even now, they are still asking questions.  Today, Dante’ asked if I wanted a boy or a girl.  We’re going to ask them to see what name suggestions they might have – they may have more than us!

The Ultrasound

We’ve been counting down the days to the ultrasound, which we finally had done on Wednesday.  Our doc called it the “fun” ultrasound.  This was not the “official” ultrasound, and it was just to “get a look” and “hear the heartbeat.”

I’m not sure why this process always makes me nervous.  We sat in the room and waited for the doctor to come in.  Time moves slow as you wait.  I could feel myself getting anxious.  I found myself saying little prayers off and on as I waited.  The doc came in and asked us a bunch of questions.  He finally grabbed the gel and prepared to show us our baby.  He placed the wand on Sam’s belly and moved it around……and around ….. and around…. and we saw ….. NOTHING.  Gotta tell you, I was freaking out (Sam said she was, too, when we got in the car!).

Then the doc made a comment that the ultrasound tech who used the machine last always “screws up these damn settings” and told us to hold on a sec.  He adjusted some knobs and then moved the wand around again, and there was our little “Baby P.” (Sam has called the baby that since we found out – Baby Pizzo)  The doc said that the baby was really moving around and was having a hard time getting a good picture.

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After the doc captured the baby, he typed “Hi Mom and Dad” on the screen and let us hear the heartbeat.  It was a perfect 160.  What an amazing sound!  I don’t care how many times I hear that, it is one of the most emotional and wonderful sounds!  Unlike at the radio station, I was able to hold back tears as I listened to our baby’s heartbeat.  It became very real, very fast.

I was just as emotional with my two sons, but this one is truly a miracle.  Let me explain.  Not too long ago, I had the need to see a urologist.  Some tests were run and we were basically told that our chances of ever getting pregnant was about 4%.  As a man, this is not something you feel all that great about.  As a matter of fact, you feel really incapable and inadequate.  You can only imagine how surprised we were to find out that we are going to have a baby.  It really is a miracle!

There is a pretty amazing quote that says, “Where there is great love, there are always miracles.”  We are SO excited and are looking forward to the months ahead as we await the arrival of our miracle. In the time ahead, we will begin planning on creating the registry for the baby shower, highlighting name possibilities in the “baby name” book, building cribs and swings, stocking up on diapers, and watching Sam’s belly grow.  I am a bit out of practice, but I will make sure to have my “Italian” lullaby songs memorized so I can sing the baby to sleep.

A friend of mine texted today, after Sam shared our news on Facebook, and said, “Dude! Congratulations!  You know you are starting all over again, right!?”  Yes.  Yes, I am.  It’s kind of like re-reading a book you love, or re-watching a movie or TV show you love.  I enjoyed this ride before, and I am going to enjoy it all over again!

This news is proof that you should NEVER give up because you truly do not know what lies ahead.  A few years ago, I was at the end of my rope.  My life was dismal.  I almost called it quits – permanently.  Thank God, I didn’t!  Look where I am now!!  I have found true love.  I married my best friend and soul mate.  We have found happiness and overwhelming joy together and NOW are adding a child, who we love unconditionally without even having seen their face!  WOW!

Let me end with one final quote:  Jon Bon Jovi says, “Miracles happen every day.  Change your perception of what a miracle is, and you’ll see them all around you.”  Our baby is a miracle – and my life is a miracle!”

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Tune(s) Tuesday – “It Won’t Be Like This For Long” and “Then They Do”

Let me preface this blog by saying I had an absolutely amazing Father’s Day Weekend!  Friday, I spoke with someone about some future possibilities (a future blog), Saturday I got the best unexpected surprise (which is another future blog), and Sunday, I spent time with my sons.  Past Father’s Day’s we have gone to ball games, the zoo, Outdoor Adventures, etc… This Father’s Day was a bit more low key.  We went to the movies together and saw this Pokemon Detective Pikachu movie  (which despite knowing a thing about Pokemon, I thought was a good film).  Afterward, we went to the Sloan Museum in town to see the Robot Zoo exhibit.  We also spent a little time in Barnes and Noble (getting ideas for my youngest’s birthday and checking out what they had on vinyl.

While I sat there waiting for the movie to start, I was looking at my sons.  They are out of school for the summer and they will be in 12th and 7th grades next year.  It is almost unreal how fast time has flown by.  Today’s tunes are fantastic songs that are great not only they tie in with Father’s Day, but they are a reminder to enjoy every moment – because time waits for no one!

It Won’t Be Like This For Long – Darius Rucker

This song was a hit, despite the bad reviews it received in industry magazines.  I always liked it, probably because I could relate to how fast my kids were growing up.

He didn’t have to wake up
He’d been up all night
Lying there in bed listening
To his newborn baby cry
He makes a pot of coffee
He splashes water on his face
His wife gives him a kiss and says
It’s gonna be OK
It won’t be like this for long
One day we’ll look back laughing
At the week we brought her home
This phase is gonna fly by
So baby just hold on
It won’t be like this for long

 

Four years later ’bout four thirty
She’s crawling in their bed
And when he drops her off at pre-school
She’s clinging to his leg
The teacher peels her off of him
He says, “What can I do?”
She says, “Now don’t you worry
This will only last a week or two”

It won’t be like this for long
One day soon you’ll drop her off
And she won’t even know you’re gone
This phase is gonna fly by
If you can just hold on
It won’t be like this for long

Someday soon she’ll be a teenager
And at times he’ll think she hates him
Then he’ll walk her down the aisle
And raise her veil

 

But right now she’s up and crying
And the truth is that he don’t mind
As he kisses her goodnight
And she says her prayers
He lays down there beside her
‘Til her eyes are finally closed
And just watching her it breaks his heart
‘Cause he already knows
It won’t be like this for long
One day soon that little girl is gonna be
All grown up and gone
Yeah this phase is gonna fly by
So he’s trying to hold on
‘Cause it won’t be like this for long
It won’t be like this for long

 

Then They Do – Trace Adkins

This is the same kind of song as the one above.  What I love about this one is the “Twilight Zone”-ish ending to it.  What I mean by that is that as parents, sometimes we just wish our kids will grow up – and then they do.  You get what you wish for, but sometimes it takes getting the wish before you realize it is not what you wan. It’s a reminder that sometimes all those little things that maybe drove us batty, are the things we really love about our kids.  Time moves forward – and moments come and go.

This can also be said of loved ones who are no longer here.  The stories that my grandma and my mother told over and over – at the time I remember thinking “this story again?!”  Now, I’d give anything to hear them tell those stories again.  Treasure each and every moment with your kids!  Enjoy even the things that drive you crazy – because soon, they grow up and you’ll want those moments back.

In the early rush of morning,
Trying to get the kids to school:
One’s hanging on my shirt-tail,
Another’s locked up in her room.
And I’m yelling up the stairs:
“Stop worrying ’bout your hair, you look fine.
“Then they’re fightin’ in the backseat,
And I’m playing referee.
Now someone’s gotta go,
The moment that we leave.
And everybody’s late,
I swear that I can’t wait till they grow up.

 

Then they do, and that’s how it is.
It’s just quiet in the mornin’,
Can’t believe how much you miss,
All they do and all they did.
You want all the dreams they dreamed of to come true:
Then they do.

Now the youngest is starting college,
She’ll be leavin’ in the Fall.
And Brianna’s latest boyfriend,
Called to ask if we could talk.
And I got the impression,
That he’s about to pop the question any day.

I look over at their pictures,
Sittin’ in their frames.
I see them as babies:
I guess that’ll never change.
You pray all their lives,
That someday they will find happiness.

Then they do, and that’s how it is.
It’s just quiet in the mornin’,
Can’t believe how much you miss,
All they do and all they did.
You want all the dreams they dreamed of to come true:
Then they do.

No more Monday PTA’s,
No carpools, or soccer games.
Your work is done.
Now you’ve got time that’s all your own.
You’ve been waitin’ for so long,
For those days to come.

Then they do, and that’s how it is.
It’s just quiet in the mornin’,
Can’t believe how much you miss,
All they do and all they did.
You want all the dreams they dreamed of to come true:
Then they do.

Ah, then they do.

Father’s Day Reflections -2019

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As Father’s Day approached, I found a few minutes to reflect.  In a world where you hear constantly about “deadbeat dads”, I am lucky enough to have a dad who played a HUGE part in my life in SO many ways.  I have blogged about his musical influences on me (Which you can read here: https://nostalgicitalian.com/2018/03/30/my-biggest-musical-influence-dad/) and wrote a blog for him on his birthday (which you can read here: https://nostalgicitalian.com/2018/11/01/birthday-tribute-to-fred/).  I was truly blessed with a great dad.

One of the hardest jobs in the world is being a parent, I’ll be the first to admit that.  I will also say, though, that while it is a difficult job, it is also one of the most amazing things a man can do! As I look at my two sons, I consider myself blessed.  Being a father is one of the most satisfying, frustrating, fulfilling, and life-affirming things I have ever done!  I have been a dad for almost 18 years, and as I thought about my boys, I began to make a list of the things I love about being a dad.  I thought I would share that list with you.  Perhaps you can add to it or relate to mine.

Things I Love About Being a Dad

  • Your kids think you know it all.
    • If I had a dollar for every time my kids have asked me a question about something…LOL.  Many times, you know the answer, but sometimes, they ask you something that throws you for a loop!  They truly believe you are the smartest person alive!
  • Playing catch.
    • One of my favorite memories of my dad and I was playing catch in front of our house. I remember the first time he threw his “submarine” pitch to me and how much my hand stung when it hit the mitt!  Throwing the ball around with my sons is something I will never get tired of doing!
  • Coaching – Sports.
    • I was lucky enough to coach both of my sons in T-ball and baseball.  I truly wish they had both continued to play ball, but as they grew older, they lost interest.  I also helped the coaches out when my oldest son was on the bowling team in middle school.  I loved watching them play soccer and taking them to the driving range to hit golf balls, too. I only got to really go fishing with them a couple times, but I hope that it happens more in the years ahead.
  • Throwing them around in the pool.
    • We lived at one place that had a huge pool.  One of the thing I never got tired of was picking the boys up and tossing them back into the water in the summer.  I also loved letting them push me in the pool, thinking they had surprised me, when all along I was waiting for them to do it.  My oldest is as big as me now, and he still wants me to throw him around!  Pool fun is always great as a dad!
  • Your kids think you are the strongest person!
    • I remember arm wrestling with my dad and being amazed at how strong he was.  I remember “helping” my dad move things and struggling with my end of it because it was so heavy.  Dad wasn’t phased at all, though.  As kids, we are always amazed at how strong dad is!
  • Rocking and singing them to sleep.
    • Whether it is at the beginning of the night or in the middle of the night, I never grew tired of rocking my kids to sleep.  Holding them with their head on my shoulder and singing Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra songs is forever etched in my memory!  The songs changed from son to son, but some remained the same.  I used to sing “Bouna Sera,” “On An Evening in Roma,” “Watching the World Go By,” “Vieni Su,” “Cruising Down the River,” and other songs.  I used to love when they would sing them to me, too!
  • You become aware of your bad habits.
    • My dad used to smoke.  He used to say, “Don’t ever let me catch you doing this!”  He eventually quit cold turkey, whether or not it was because of my brother and I, I don’t know.  I do know that you are extra cautious about doing things or saying things you don’t want your kids repeating.  My dad always tells the story of driving while I was in the car seat behind him  Someone cut him off and he yelled, “You stupid prick!” and I said, “What did those pricks do, daddy?!”  “Sticks – there were sticks in the road!” was his response.  HA!
  • Play time and using your imagination.
    • I remember my dad coming into the bedroom and pretending to be a bear while my brother and I were under the covers.  I remember him pretending to be a wrestler and bouncing us on the mattress.  I remember pretending that way with my sons, too.  I remember playing superheroes with towels tied around our necks for capes!  So much fun!!!
  • Embarrassing them.
    • This gets more fun as they get older.  My dad did it to me.  I do it with my kids.  Just recently, we were walking down the street to go to the city fair.  On the walk I started skipping and both kids were like, “Dad!  Stop it!”  This one car was playing some song with a really loud bass, so I started dancing.  Again, “Stop it!” When the petting zoo came into view I screamed, “Oooo!  Look at the baby goats” and started running toward them.  They were so embarrassed!  It’s what dads do!!
  • Introducing them to things from your childhood.
    • For me, dad introduced me to a lot of music and such.  For my sons, I shared movies and music, but thanks to technology, I was able to share with them the Atari 2600!  They had some retro Atari that was loaded with 200 games or something one Christmas.  My oldest loved it.  He was always playing Maze Craze!  We used to hit the thrift shops and I would love when there was some old toy from my childhood there!  Of course, I passed down the Three Stooges to them!  I also introduced them to the Classic Scooby Doo cartoons, Hong Kong Phooey, and the Muppets.
  • True and unconditional love.
    • It’s a mutual thing.  I have never felt such an unconditional love for someone or from someone, until I became a dad.  Holding each of my boys for the first time, you melt!  The love just gushes out from you.  It is an amazing thing.
  • Hearing “I love you” from them.
    • This kind of goes with the above item.  As if you can’t love them any more, the minute they tell you “I love you” is just an amazing, emotional, and wonderful thing that you will never forget.  I still have voicemails from both boys as toddlers on my phone.  I need to find a way to get them into an MP3 or something.  I never want to lose those!
  • Halloween
    • There were a few years I worked nights and missed out on taking them out trick or treating.  I was able to be at all of their Halloween parades at school.  I loved being able to help pick out costumes with them.  Pulling them around the neighborhood as babies was something very fun.
  • Gibberish talk.
    • As parents, we all do this. Especially when they are babies.  I wish I could remember all the things I said to my kids, I don’t.  I know there were gibberish phrases that I used for each boy, though.  I used to love saying them to make them smile.
  • Making them laugh.
    • My kids were always my best audience.  “Do it again, Daddy!”  There is nothing like making your child laugh.  Their laughter is like music!  Even as they grow up, I still love listening to them laugh.  They may not laugh at it everything like they used to, but that’s ok.  It’s still fun to make them laugh.
  • Roughhousing.
    • It’s a bit different now that they are older, and have the potential of kicking my butt!  I love when they want to rough house!  I remember my mom yelling at my dad, “Stop that rough housing!”  Why?!  It was fun for all of us!
  • Being silly.
    • Adulting sucks.  Sometimes, you just have to be silly!  Being a dad allows you to be silly.  Silly is good.  Sometimes, you have to break away from the serious and embrace the silly!
  • Letting them win.
    • Oh how many games of cribbage did my dad let me win?!  With Uno, he wasn’t so nice.  I think he used to love putting down that Draw 4 card – much like I do with my kids today!  Sure, I have let them win occasionally, and there is some satisfaction in watching him and his brother brag about how they beat dad at the game.  Every once in awhile, though, you gotta show them you can beat them at it too!
  • “Caving” at the store.
    • I don’t do this as much now, but I used to.  You know how it is – you go to the store and there is that “can we get this?” or “I need this!”  All too often, I would cave and buy whatever it was.  Now that they are older, they understand a bit more when you tell them you don’t have the money to buy that right now.  they younger they are, the easier it is for dads to cave!
  • Getting beat at video games.
    • I love spending time with my boys.  They love their video games.  They have this one called Super Smash Brothers.  I really don’t understand it, but the gist is that you are a character (there are many) and you beat each other up until someone wins.  They kept asking me to play, so I did.  They wiped the floor with me.  Both of them were laughing as they beat the snot out of my character.  I was just pushing buttons trying to make it hit or whatever.  All of a sudden, my character started to light up and did this crazy punch/kick thing!  My youngest said, “Dad, you figured out how to use the special!”  There was some special move – every character has one!  They just neglected to tell me about it and let me lose!  LOL!  Smart boys!!  I don’t care whether I win or not, I just enjoy the time with them.
  • Carrying them on my shoulders
    • I remember as a kid, loving when my dad carried me on his shoulders.  I used to hold on to his hair!  My boys did the same thing!  I would give anything to be able to carry my sons again on my shoulders.  I used to love walking through the store with them up there.  I loved taking walks in the park with them up there.  I wish I had more pictures of them up there.
  • Snuggling/Hugs
    • I have always been a hugger.  I love hugging my kids.  I miss the days of snuggling up next to them for a nap.  I miss holding them while we watch TV.  I remember many times trying to get up from the couch, trying not to wake them because they fell asleep.  Those moments are so special for a dad.  I love when they come up and hug me for no reason.  It is still an amazing thing.
  • “Pull my finger”
    • This is probably the one thing that is exclusive to dads.  Not many moms do this!  Farts, dads, and kids mean laughs.  It’s probably such a huge annoyance for moms.  Dads fart.  Kids laugh at farts.  I remember one time my friend and I were outside in the front yard playing with Matchbox cars.  Dad came home from work and as he was walking in the house he made the “finger gun” with his hand and “shot” it as he farted.  We still laugh about that!  The fart will always be a funny thing that dads and kids both laugh at together.
  • Looking at your relationship with your kids and being able to connect it to memories you shared with your dad.
    • Go back and read how many times I mention something I love about doing with my sons, and how many times I can connect them with something my dad and I shared!
  • The “bond” that is eternal.
    • There will never be anything that can come between me and my kids.  I love my sons with all that I am.  They are my flesh and blood and will forever be my little boys.
  • The firsts and lasts
    • Those firsts stay with you forever.  The first steps.  The first words.  The first day of school.  The first concert.  Both of my sons are still in school, but if social media is an indicator, the last day of school is just as emotional as the first!  Watching each of my sons get on the bus for the first time was very emotional for me.  Big days – big emotions.
  • Artwork
    • Back when I had an office at work, I used to have countless drawings that they did in school.  I used to have a macaroni bee that my oldest son made.  The noodles eventually broke on it.  I still have some paintings they did and the coffee mug coasters that each boy made me for Father’s Day in kindergarten or first grade.  Those little things hold special meaning for me.
  • Bedtime Stories
    • It starts as you reading to them.  I don’t know how many times I read “Goodnight Moon” or “I’m Thankful Each Day” to my sons, but I enjoyed it every time.  I am sure there were other books, too.  “Snowmen at Night” was a favorite, too.  I used to love when they would read to me!  I wish the video games weren’t so accessible, because I really wish they would find more time to read.  I loved when they would tell me about a story of book they read in school.
  • The emotions that they make me feel.
    • They make me proud.  They make me happy.  They make me cry (both happy and sad tears).  They make me worry.  They make me thankful.  They make me feel a never ending love for each of them.  I am not ashamed to admit how emotional I have gotten watching them in a play, a band concert, a baseball game, or during an awards ceremony.  God help me, when they graduate, get married, and have children – I can barely hold it together now!!

I am sure if I had a few more minutes, I could add many more items to this list.  Being a dad is the greatest thing I have ever had to do.  My sons have been tremendous blessings to me and fill my heart with joy and laughter.  I love them so much.  If and when I am blessed with another child, I will look forward to reliving some of the things mentioned and creating new memories with that child, because being a dad is one of the coolest, most special, and fulfilling things I have ever done, or will ever do in my lifetime.

Happy Father’s Day!

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