Three Birthday Tributes

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Today I would like to salute three of my closest friends.  I guess, in a way, I am taking the easy way out by including all three of them in one blog.  I am doing it this way because they all celebrate birthdays this month.  So here are some thoughts on three great guys.

Joe – October 15

Joe is my Polish brother.  He says that I am his Italian brother.  The great Red Buttons used to joke that “there is only one difference between the Polish and the Italians – One year of high school!”  We truly are like brothers.  Joe and I met in junior high school.  We had band 1st hour.  It was in this class that I also met Steve K, who you will hear about shortly.  We all hit it off immediately, and have been friends ever since.

In high school, I used to pick Joe up and drive him to school.  He used to run out of the house with a bowl of cereal in his hand.  I remember that cereal was Fruit Islands.  They don’t make it anymore, but the commercials had some guy saying “Ayumma yumma”.  Not sure why, but I will always remember that.

All of the guys I am talking about were in band.  Steve K, Joe, and I all graduated the same year.  Steve M, graduated before us.  Joe and I were band officers.  We were both librarians.  That meant we were responsible for all the music.  We copied it and made sure the parts were placed in the right folders for band members.  Our senior year, Joe was head librarian and I was band president.  We spent many hours after school working on music and hanging with the band director and custodian.  We were probably more of an annoyance than anything!

Bill, the custodian, was such a cool guy!  He invited us to his wedding!  We used to pick a day and he would make sure not to bring lunch that day.  We’d order a pizza from Sorrento’s and eat it in the band room.  We’d sit around telling stories and laughing.  Such fun times!

There was a brief period where I switched from trumpet to tuba.  Joe was the lone tuba player.  I played tuba at the commencement ceremonies for the class of 87, and then played it briefly for marching band.  I was asked by the band director to switch back to trumpet.  He said we needed more trumpets – but now that I think about it, maybe I was just a real crappy tuba player!

It seems like Joe and I have been golfing and bowling together for as long as I can remember.  I remember bowling at this little hole in the wall dump in St. Clair Shores with Joe.  It was always such fun there, and we are still friends with many of the folks we met there.  Eventually we joined a league at Pastime Lanes.  It was there we made more friendships, and I watched him bowl a 300 game.  Pastime is long gone, but we still have many memories there.

Steve K, Joe and I all golfed for Senior Skip Day.  Steve borrowed our buddy Wayne’s golf clubs.  On the first tee, he hit the ball, but the club head broke off the driver.  The club head went farther than the damn golf ball!  Joe and I laughed like hell!  One time Joe and I were golfing in Lapeer and there was an electrical wire that went across the fairway.  What are the odds that one of us would hit that?  Joe did.  He teed off – it hit the wire and dropped like a stone in the fairway.

We used to play pinochle over at Joe’s parents house till all hours of the night.  Their house was just one of many houses that hosted pinochle nights.  Eventually, he and his sister moved into their own place and the card games moved there.  We’d sit around drinking Bud Light listening to 580 CKWW or WCXI and play cards all night.  So many nights of crazy conversations about music, movies, and TV.

Steve M – October 19

Steve and I had probably met before, but we really got to know each other because of Alumni Band.  I remembered that alumni had played once or twice at homecoming while I was still in school.  When I graduated, I wanted to make sure that the tradition continued.  So I bugged the band director and we threw it together.  The first year was a small group.  The second year it was a little bigger. It was a way for us to get together and play and have fun.

Steve and I hit it off immediately.  We both were trumpet players.  I knew his younger brother, Jeff, because he was my brother’s age.  He was also a DJ and did weddings and we loved to talk music.  He hosted some alumni band BBQ’s and was a key part in the success of the group.

I am not sure exactly how we ended up DJing together.  I think it was because he had a light show and I didn’t.  I brought him along and we ended up having so much fun, we kept doing it.  Little by little we added things to the gigs we did.  We both did this stupid Blues Brothers intro to kick off dancing.  I had this bad Elvis wig and would go out and sing to a female wedding guest (story about the wig in a sec).  We had blow up instruments and silly cardboard things we’d hold up while we danced.  We had a friggin blast!!

One time, Steve had his truck backed into the garage.  He had the tailgate glass up and I went inside to comb the Elvis wig down.  I used to put it on my head and comb it down before I put it on this stupid Styrofoam head I had.  I was in his bathroom combing and I heard the truck start and all of a sudden a huge crash.  I walked to the door of the garage and saw that the tailgate glass had caught the garage door and shattered all over the place.  I stood there, wearing that dumb wig, and asked what happened.  At the time, it wasn’t funny (It was raining, we were running late, when we got the gig, Steve had forgotten his shoes, so I went to Kmart to buy him a pair, it was a mess!).  We look back now and Steve will still laugh, “You were standing there wearing the King’s hair!”  After weddings, it was tradition to grab White Castle hamburgers!  Some of my favorite gigs were DJing for cancer benefits or VFW steak outs. When Steve M was living in his apartment, his crazy neighbor (who we called Fruit Loops) used to always come out when we were loading or unloading for DJ gigs.  I wonder what happened to her….LOL

Steve M, Steve K, Joe, and I spent many nights singing karaoke.  We used to have so much fun.  We’d go to these two dive bars – McGee’s and Grady’s.  We’d drink, sing songs and laugh like hell.  We all had specific songs we used to do.  We used to have these guys who’d get up and sing that we’d make fun of.  There was a guy who looked and sounded like Bela Lugosi!  He’d sing Let Me Call You Sweetheart with that accent!  Then there was “Opera Man”.  We called him that because every song he sang, he’d sing it like he was one of the Three Tenors! I would sing harmony for Steve M on Losing My Religion a lot.  We’d have such a fun time!  Now, he is actually hosting karaoke every week at a few places.  I’m over due to get out and sing!

Steve K – October 28

Steve and I became friends in junior high, in the same class as Joe.  Here’s the thing – we almost didn’t stay friends.  Admittedly, we all kind of picked on Steve.  We razzed him – a lot.  Steve and I both played trumpet.  Now I am not sure why he found my trumpet to be better than his.  I do know that he would often switch his with mine.  Well, one day he was walking in the band room and he dropped “his” horn and bent the bell.  I laughed.  We all did.  I probably said something like “You idiot!  Nice job!” or something like that.  He looked at me sheepishly while I laughed and said, “Uh, Keith….this is YOUR trumpet.”  My laughter stopped and I grabbed him by the throat!  Our band director, Mr. Mest, came running over and pulled us both into the office.

Steve and I were in 2nd hour with each other.  After the “incident” we went to the next class.  I was still upset about the whole thing and kept egging him on throughout the class.  I was calling him names, and just being an ass.  He finally got up and walked over to me as I was talking to our buddy Warren.  He grabbed the desk I was sitting in and literally flipped it over – with me still in it!  It totally took me by surprise! Needless to say, we both were sent to the office.  I don’t know if detention was given or not, but I know we both got “yellow slips”.  This was bad, I just don’t know or remember how bad.

I think our dad’s ended up having to talk to each other about the incident and arrangements were made to take care of the horn. I think we both got a “talking to” by our dads and we stayed friends.  We always seemed to be together.  We sat next to each other in band for as long as I can remember.  I often call Steve “Norton” because he reminded me so much to Ed Norton on the Honeymooners.  He’d say some of the silliest things.  We’d laugh all the time.  That Senior Skip Day, he even golfed like Norton did in that episode of the Honeymooners!

The only real time I got in trouble in band class was with Steve.  The other trumpets always waited for us to bring up our horns.  They never seemed to count the rests.  So Steve and I were talking and saying “Let’s bring up our horns early and fool those guys.”  Well, we were rehearsing for band festival and the band director was in no mood for jokes.  He stopped the music and asked what we were talking about.  When I told him he simply pointed to the door and said “Bye.”  We were told to wait until after rehearsal and then talk to him afterward.  We both felt like crap.  You just didn’t tick off the band director – not when festival was the next day!  We were allowed back to rehearsal shortly afterward, but we both still felt stupid!

We’d spend hours in the car driving around.  I would make “driving tapes” and we’d pile in and spend the night driving around the neighborhood.  We’d cruise Gratiot and look at girls.  We’d drive with the windows down, jamming to our favorite songs and singing at the top of our lungs.  We’d harmonize to Huey Lewis & the News, Jerry Lee Lewis, Frankie Ford, and so many other artists.  It was what we did!

He was with me when I got my first speeding ticket (on my way to Sam’s Jams) and he was with me when I had my first car accident.  I was driving in my ’79 Caprice Classic (ok, my dad’s ’79 Caprice Classic) and it had rained.  I was going to his house to drop him off.  I made the left turn and the roads were wet.  I began to go into a skid (rear wheel drive).  I remembered Driver’s Ed class “turn into the skid”, and I did.  Too bad I was literally in front of a parked car when I turned into the skid.  I slammed into the front of this car!  Steve’s mom called my dad.  I was in shock.  I knew I was a dead man.  My dad drove over and walked right past me and looked at the car.  I heard him mumble under his breath “There’s about $1500 worth of damage here.”  I later said, “You didn’t ask about me at all!” to which my dad replied, “I saw you standing there – I knew you were ok!”

I don’t recall if it was our senior year or not, but we had a band trip to Cedar Point.  I am not a ride person.  Steve, me and Chris walked around most of the day probably looking at girls.  We stumbled on this “You Be the Star” booth.  This was LONG before karaoke was a thing.  You went into a sound booth, put headphones on and sang to an instrumental track of a song.  Then, you got a cassette tape of your recording.  I think we did Twist and Shout, Steve did Mack the Knife (which would become his karaoke theme song), and we all did Hip to Be Square by Huey Lewis.  The song had just come out and he said he knew it, so he sang lead on it.  Chris and I sang the “Hip.  Hip.  So Hip to be Square” lines in the background.  I think I may still have that tape!

At my graduation party, my dad and some of his band buddies set up and played music at the party.  My dad had typed up the lyrics to Weird Al’s parody of La Bamba (Lasagna) and his band played it while me, Joe and Steve all sang it.  Steve was leaving to go to basic training soon after we graduated.  It was sad to know my buddy was going to be leaving.  I’m not sure what happened, but he never ended up staying in the navy.  He did, however, move to one of the Carolinas for awhile.  I’d get in trouble for long distance calls to him talking about stupidity…LOL.  He would tell me all about these silly sweepers he’d hear on a station called The Frog out there!

When he moved back to Michigan, Steve also used to DJ with me.  He would bring these crazy songs I had never heard before and want me to play them.  Sometimes they’d work, sometimes they didn’t.  One day, Steve M and I were DJing at the VFW right by Steve K’s house.  He came to the event.  He was dancing like crazy on the dance floor.  I think his wife wanted to go home and he wanted to stay.  She left and went home.  He had to call her later to come pick him back up because while he was out on the floor dancing he split his pants!  Typical Steve.  Stuff like that happened to him all the time!  That is one of my favorite Steve stories.

He was always my pinochle partner when we played with my grandparents (and when we played with Tonya, Michelle and the gang).  You could always count on him having the Ace of Clubs!  A trickless is when you and your partner take every possible trick in the hand.  Steve and I pulled one against my grandparents once.  It pissed my grandpa (who was very competitive) off!  The next hand, we pulled another one!  That was the end of the card playing that night!  Grandpa was done!  Somewhere, I still have the yellow legal pad with those back to back trickless hands written on it!

One day, we were all playing cards at Tonya’s house and the “F You’s” were flying around the table.  Steve meant to say, “F You and the horse you rode in on”, but instead said “the horse you rode on in.”  I am not sure why that made us all laugh so hard, but it did.  To this day, I say it wrong – because of Steve!  I am sure I could devote an entire blog to some of the silly things Steve has said.

He recently had a stroke.  That being said, he is recovering well.  I have to tell you though, when I heard the news I was scared!  This is my buddy and I can’t imagine not having him around.  When I went to the hospital to see him, I was like all emotional.  I hid it very well, but here is a guy, one of my closest friends,  who was my age (not even 50!) and this happened to him.  I was happy that he was ok, and that the prognosis was good, but just knowing that it could have been a very different outcome freaked me out.  It was an eye opening experience.  I guess that’s why I am writing this blog.

I want these three guys to know how glad I am to have their friendship.  We all share a love of music.  We all have the same taste in movies.  We all love a funny joke or pun. We have all shared silly conversations, as well as deep serious conversations.  I have one blood brother, but I am blessed to have these guys as brothers and friends.  In 30+ years, I have been lucky enough to share laughter and tears with these guys.  All of them stood up in my first wedding and I stood up in Joe’s and Steve K’s weddings.  We can go months without chatting and then pick right up where we left off.  Conversations always include laughter, movie quotes, and a whole lot of love.

Even though two of them have already celebrated theirs, and one is a few days away – Happy Birthday, Boys.  I love you guys!  Thank you for being such amazing friends for so many years!

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Joe, my brother Chris, Me, Steve M. Jeff, and Steve K at my first wedding.

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Beers are overdue!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Par For The Course …

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Do you have something that you love to do, even though you’re not really that good at it?  I have quite a few things that would fall into this category.  The things that pop immediately into my mind for me are singing, bowling, writing, and golf (to name a few).

I have been golfing since I was in high school.  I’ve never been really good at it, but I love to do it.  On Senior Skip Day, my friends and I decided to golf.  Most of my golf buddies and I play with the same set of rules, which contain many “mulligans”.  (For those who don’t know, a “mulligan” is a do-over shot.)  I have played with Joe, Steve, Jeff, Matt, Lee, Chris, Scott, my dad, my uncle, and perfect strangers.  In those many rounds, I have probably lost over 400 golf balls in the woods, 600 golf balls in various ponds, lakes, and rivers, and almost tipped the golf cart at least 3 times.

Over the years, I have continued to go out whenever I was able to, which amounts to about 3-7 times a year!  In Michigan the golf season just isn’t long enough.  To me, there is nothing like being out in nature playing golf.  I love being out on the golf course.  I recently have found the next best thing.

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I am far from being a “gamer”, however, I have found myself playing this game a lot lately.  It has almost become a habit to shoot 18 holes before leaving for work.  I started by just playing single rounds.  These made me laugh because the guy who does the announcing would say things like “Oh, that’s moderately disappointing” or “I’m sure that was not exactly what he had in mind with that shot” when you missed a putt or shanked one out of bounds.

Recently I started playing “My PGA Tour”.  I play a major tournament before leaving for work and for whatever it is worth, it’s kind of a stress reliever, much like actually being on the golf course.  As you play each round, you have a rival player that you are trying to beat, as well.

The graphics of this game are pretty awesome and I love the little details.  You can hear birds chirping, see planes flying overhead, there are “oohs” and “ahhs” from the audience, the crowd offers a “golf clap” when you drop the putt, and the ball leaves marks on the green when it lands.  You can upgrade equipment and clothing with your winning and the more experience you get, too.

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My best round so far has been -15!  I laugh out loud at this, because on an actual golf course I’m lucky if I end at 15 over par!!  If I get a par when I am out on an actual course, I am happy.  If I get a birdie (a rare occurrence), I am ecstatic!!  I have said that if I ever bowl a 300 game or get a hole in one golfing, I’d quit right then and there.  You’ve done it!  You have aced it.  Why go any further!?  It’s such a silly though, but I will often psych myself up when I tee off on a Par 3 hole. “Wouldn’t it be awesome to get a hole-in-one here?”  “Could this ever really happen to me?”  Let me be clear – it has NEVER happened to me for real.  However, in the game it happened twice in the same game!

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It’s also not happened again since!  LOL!  However, I did walk away the winner of the FedEx Cup, which apparently is the big event on this game.

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Sweet victory!!

We bought the Xbox for the boys, for when they are with us for the weekend.  My oldest loves to play Forza Horizon, which is like a racing game.  It’s actually pretty cool and the cars are pretty detailed.  My youngest likes to play Minecraft, The Lego games (Star Wars, Harry Potter, The Incredibles, etc), and some crazy one called Cup Head.  We have Madden football, but I usually have to beg them to play it with me.  Whether I am playing games with them, or just watching them play, it’s fun.

When it’s just me, and I have about 20 minutes, I put in my silly little golf game and de-stress.  It’s the next best thing to being out on the course for real…..

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Daddy’s Little Girl

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The past 16 weeks have been very exciting for Sam and me.  It has been especially nice to have this blog as a place that I can write things down and look back on later.  My last blog told of the ultrasound, finding out the baby’s gender, and how we shared the news.  I am writing today’s blog because something was missing from my last one – I’ll explain in just a minute.

First, let me say that we are overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and congratulations we have received from our friends and family.  It was fun to tease that a gender reveal was coming and watch friends post their guesses on Facebook.  I was reminded how blessed I am to have such wonderful friends as they sent private messages, texts, and called with congratulations.  Thank you all!

So what was missing from the last blog?  It was a lengthy blog, so what could I have possibly left out?  Sam pointed out that I had certainly written about a lot of things that happened over the weekend, however, I really never said much about how I felt.  I shared about watching the ultrasound, how I told my dad and the boys, but how do I feel about it?  What am I feeling?  I don’t know that I can put it all into words, but I will try.

Elation.  Joy.  Excitement.  Delight.  Jubilation. 

I mean, how can I NOT feel these things!?  I was told that there was only a 4% chance of me being able to have a baby, and then, the amazing news that we are having a baby – well, that makes you pretty damn happy!  I’ve been given the opportunity to be a dad again – and this time, I’m having a little girl!

Over the years, I have been an uncle to many nieces, and have loved every minute of it.  I have danced around in a princess crown for them, gone to Peppa Pig World, read girly bedtime stories, and made puppet monkeys talk.  Having a daughter takes things to a whole new level!

First girl

I had always hoped that when I had children that I would have one of each.  I wanted a boy to play sports with and a girl to walk down the aisle.  I was blessed with two amazing sons, who I loved playing catch with.  I love those boys with all that I am.  I was NEVER unhappy that I had boys.  They each have very distinct personalities.  They are both very smart.  As I look at all they have accomplished, I beam with great pride.  I am honored to have been chosen to be their dad!!

12 years later, after many changes in my life, I am once again about to become a father.  This time, I will be “daddy” to a little girl.  What a great responsibility this is!  I will not lie about this – as happy as I am, I am also scared as hell!!!

Scary things

Boys could get away with 2 or 3 pairs of pants.  All you really needed were a bunch of shirts and you could be set.  Girls are different!  They need pants, shirts, leggings, shoes, and many, many dresses!

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I hope Sam knows that she will probably be picking out most of the clothes!  I have a feeling what I think is “cute” really isn’t!

Have you seen the Xfinity commercial where the girl is dressing up her dad??

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I would TOTALLY let my daughter do this!  Now, if I have to do nails or makeup, I have this awful feeling that it will look something like this guy!  I have never had to paint nails before.  I don’t know how to put on eyeliner, blush, or any type of makeup.  I will definitely need a crash course!!!

Let’s not even talk about her hair!  I used to do my own hair, and now I am bald! How on earth am I going to be able to do her hair?  With the boys, I brushed it, combed it, or parted it.  This isn’t how it works with girls!!  Have you seen the gazillion ways to braid hair?!

There is this:

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And this:

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And this:

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And this:

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The braid is hard enough!!  I gotta make a heart, too?!? The pressure is unreal!!!!

Then there is play time.  Very different from boys.  I have never EVER hosted a tea party …

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Whew!  I’m glad there is a book!!!

Another scary thing is diaper changes.

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It’s a whole new ball game for me!  It’s been some time since I changed diapers, and I know it will all come back to me … this time, however, the parts are different!!

Then there is GLITTER!  Man, I really hate glitter!  It stays with you for years!  LOL

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Sports

Sam asked what sports I thought our daughter should do.  Me, being a guy, thought about what I had already done with the boys.  Hey, girls, do these things!!!

T-Ball – How cool are pink bats and gloves??!!

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Bowling – Some of the high school’s have girl bowling teams!  I gotta tell you, these gals bowled better than some of the guys I bowled with over the years!

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Golf – I knew a gal who golfed for the high school team.  She was pretty amazing!  How good was she?  I never golfed with her, because I knew she’d beat the hell out of me!  Golf, like bowling, had scholarships, too, so why not?!

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Sam must have thought I was crazy!  She said that she was thinking about gymnastics – which after she said it, made total sense!  Of course, our girl could do gymnastics!  I can see her at the Olympics!  Our little gold medal winner!  Of course, I won’t let this guy teach her …. this doesn’t look right ….

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One of the things I can see her doing is dance.  My nieces do dance now.  Whether it is ballet or just dance in general, I can totally see our daughter doing it.

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Sam has already warned me that girls in dance class have to have many outfit changes.  Tutus, ballet slippers, tap shoes, bows, leotards, and more!  Yeah, I’ll be out in the audience doing all the moves with her (minus the leotards).

In all seriousness

I won’t lie, raising a child in the world today is very scary.  Hell, it was scary before my oldest was born (9/11 happened just 7 months before he was born)!  As a father, I know that my daughter will be looking to me for many things.  I hope that she sees me as her hero!

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I hope she will see me as her protector and as someone she can always trust.  I hope she will feel comfortable to share what ever is on her mind, and come to me for advice.  I cannot wait to share that special bond and special love that a daughter and dad have.

Things I am looking forward to

  • Her first cry
  • Her first photo shoot
  • Her first words
  • Her first tooth
  • Her first steps
  • Holding her in my arms
  • Singing her to sleep
  • Hugging her
  • Piggy back rides on my shoulders

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  • Reading bedtime stories
  • Holding hands
  • Buying her whatever she wants (Sam says she’s hiding the checkbook)

The list goes on and on.

So am I feeling?

I am overjoyed!  I am ecstatic!  I could not be happier that I am going to be a dad again!!

I am also scared.  I worry.  I am told this is natural.

I am nervous.  I don’t want to fail or disappoint.

I am anxious.  I look forward to all the firsts, all the accomplishments, and milestones.

Final Thought

Over the past 30 years, I have DJ’s thousands of weddings and hundreds of Daddy/Daughter dances!  At weddings, I have watched countless times as two special people shared their moment in the spotlight. At Daddy/Daughter dances, I have watched dads wonder just what their little girl is screaming about when Justin Beiber or Taylor Swift start playing.  I have then watched as they finally get a slow song to dance with their little girl.

As a father of boys, I never understood the bond or the feelings involved with those dances.  I know I have a few years yet, but time will fly and soon enough I will be able to relate to those dads I have watched over the years.  To say I am excited as I look forward to that first dance … is quite an understatement.

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“Hot” Summer Night Perfection

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Here in Michigan, Summer is never long enough.  This year, I am guessing it will feel even shorter.  I say that because we had a whole lot of rain that lasted well into May and June.  Many friends have said that they were late opening their pools or planting gardens because of the rain.  Finally, though, summer is here and it is time to enjoy!

I have many things that I love about summertime:  beach days, golfing, walks through the neighborhood, swimming in a pool, picnics, mowing the grass, and just generally being outside enjoying nature.  One of my favorite things about summer, is sitting around a bonfire with family and friends.

Usually, by this point in the year, we would have about 10 fires under our belt by now.  However, because of the rain and such, we’ve only had two.  We had our first on the 4th of July when we were all out in the backyard watching the fireworks.  We had our second one last night.  It was Sam and I, my aunt, my sons, and some of the neighborhood kids.  It was the perfect night.

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It was cool last night, but not chilly.  It wasn’t so chilly that we needed sweatshirts or anything like that.  We had the tiki torches full of insect repellent fuel and burned some some citronella candles to keep the mosquitoes at bay (the one downside of being outside).  We live in a society where we are always on the go, and relaxing around a bonfire helps us to forget that and actually enjoy life.

Before we were married, when I moved in with Sam, the firepit was the first home project I tackled.  It was actually a very easy and inexpensive.  I think we bought all the supplies (rock, bricks, the ring, etc…) for about $200.  That price will go up depending on what kind of pit you want and how big you want it.  You certainly can spend about $500-$600 on a big one, or one that runs on propane.  No matter what the cost, it is worth every penny!

My first experience with bonfires was back when my parents had a pop up camper and we’d go camping.  They usually got a camp site that had a stainless steel fire pit.  When you are camping, you’re out in the great outdoors!  The stars are a bit brighter, the crickets are a bit louder, and the sounds of the crackling fire cut through the silence of a dark summer night.  My folks would spray my brother and I down with Deep Woods Off or some other brand of insect spray and we’d just sit around the fire telling stories.

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Even though our fire pit is smack dab in the middle of our back yard, and the sounds of the city can still be heard, it is just as relaxing as if you were in the woods camping.  There is something “comfortable” about sitting around a campfire. Gazing up at the stars (or moon, which was awesome last night), storytelling, or just simply sitting and enjoying the peace of it all.  Time is no longer a factor – it’s amazing!

The kids love the bonfires because they mean s’mores!  I used to feel the same way as a kid!  I always found it a challenge to get that marshmallow roasted perfectly.  This rarely happened, and I got used to eating burnt ones!  Gooey marshmallows on a graham cracker with chocolate – how can you go wrong!?  Recently, I tried them with Reese’s Peanut Butter cups – that’s a game changer!!  Wow!!  Yum!

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Bonfires are special.  I really don’t know how to explain it.  It’s quality time with those you care about.  It’s quality conversation.  It’s actually laughing out loud with friends instead of texting “LOL.” It’s meaningful.  It’s making memories.  It’s a great summer night activity that continues into early fall and gets better with hoodie sweatshirts!

Light the tiki torches … I’m already looking forward to the next bonfire ….

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Vacation Review

Vacation is never long enough!  I was off for 5 days last week and while I had some great moments to relax, I still don’t feel like it was enough.  We live in a society where people are overworked and underpaid.  I don’t think anyone would mind if the United States adopted the mindset of France, Brazil, or Finland who average 30 days of paid vacation!

There were highs and lows during my week.  One of the lows was not being able to get my boys for a couple days.  I was supposed to pick them up on Sunday, but due to circumstances beyond my control, I wasn’t able to get them until Wednesday.  I was very happy to get them prior to the Fourth of July.

Without the boys, that gave me some time to get a few things done around the house.  I was able to mow the grass, straighten up the house, and work a little bit in the garage.  I have had some things out there that I have wanted to go through.  I have some boxes out there with books in them.  I probably need to get a book case to put them in, but we really don’t have the room.  Maybe I can put it in the basement??

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On Monday, my buddy Shawn messaged and said he had 18 holes of golf (with a cart) and wanted to know if I could join him.  Naturally, I jumped at the chance.  It’s about an hour drive to Mt. Pleasant and on the drive there, I finished listening to a book on CD I started a while back (The Innocent Man by John Grisham).  There was some concern as to whether or not it was going to rain, but the weather cooperated and I had a good round.  I actually made par on about 6 holes.

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We golfed with a couple radio guys Shawn works with.  There were a lot of laughs and it was a good time.  While in the pro shop, one of the guys pointed out these golf balls with a matted finish.  They are brighter than your normal yellow or orange golf balls.  He kept saying, “You just can’t lose these balls!”  I was curious and got one.  I actually hit it very well.  I hit it off the tee on one of the holes on the back nine and we all saw it go slightly right through a big tree.  We never saw it come down.  We drove up to where the ball should have been and checked the vicinity.  We had all four of us looking for this extremely bright red ball.  “You just can’t lose these balls,” he said again!  Well, I proved him wrong.  It was lost.  We really wondered if it got stuck in the tree!  It was crazy!

Thanks, again, Shawn!  Always a great time on the links with you!

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Thursday was the Fourth.  We normally have a big bash at the house, but with all we had going on, we just didn’t get around to inviting a lot of people.  We ended up with my in-laws and a couple of friends from college (Hope and Matt) and their spouses.  I threw some hot dogs and brats on the grill, cut up a HUGE watermelon, we had mac and cheese, and loads to snack on.

There is a family fun day with many events.  They also have a concert at the amphitheater, which we can hear from our backyard.  Also from our backyard, we have great seats to watch the town’s fireworks.  It is all funded through the fireman’s homecoming carnival.  They also take donations in town.  This year the show was about 25 minutes.  After the show was over, the guests started to leave.  We got the boys to bed, and we sat with our friends Hope and Kevin at the bonfire and BS’d for a while.

Great company and great conversation!

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Friday, there was a bit of drama (which is not even worthy of writing about).  My wife had one big paper that needed to be written for school and she was working on that.  I took the boys to play mini-golf.  There was a place just south of the house that I had never been to.  They have golf and ice cream.  The course has a train/mine theme to it.  It was actually very cool.

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I got the first (and my only) hole in one.  Each of us got one, which always makes mini-golf fun!  The wind picked up as we reached the end and we were lucky to finish before a HUGE downpour!  Must not have been my day, Dimitri shot 40, Dante’ shot 42, and I shot 44.  It didn’t really matter who won, though – it was about having time with the boys.

Whenever we play mini-golf, and I help them with their swing, I still flashback to those days at the Caseville Putt-Putt course.  I remember my dad, or my grandpa, reaching over me and helping me with my grip and my swing.  It’s one of those “generations” things – my dad and grandpa helped me, now I am helping them.

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Saturday I worked on the air at the radio station.  I was on from 9a-2p.  When I got off work, it was 86 degrees out.  I wanted to take the boys swimming somewhere.  There are a couple places that have pools where I could have gone.  One of the places had an indoor pool, which kind of defeats the purpose on a hot summer day.  The other place has outdoor pools, but because of the holiday weekend, they were not doing day passes (they were doing their fireworks that night).

Sam suggested this little place in Davison called Lake Callis.  It’s a little recreation complex with a splash pad, pavilions, and a beach.  I had never been there, so we went.  It was actually a very nice place.  There were many birthday parties going on that day, and it was fairly busy.  We found a picnic table on the beach and went in to the water.  It was not freezing (which is always nice), and the boys swam for a while.

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For no reason in particular, I tend not to swim much in a lake.  Maybe it’s the “lake smell” or the fact that there are fish in there, I really don’t know.  This lake was man made, and as far as I could tell, there were no fish.  The water was warm and swimming with the sun beating down on us was awesome!  It was a bit breezy that day and when you got out of the water, it got chilly!!

It was fun to watch my boys making new friends with other kids out in the lake.  I loved watching them run around at the splash pad.  It was also fun to just sit at the picnic table eating Cheez-It’s and potato chips and talking about whatever they brought up.  It was great father-sons time!  We will definitely be going back there – we had a blast!

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Tonight is my first night back to work – and I am already ready for another vacation!!!