Back to the Grind …

Back to Work …

After three weeks off work, tonight I have to return to the grind. I was lucky to be able to take some time off to be with Sam and the kids. While showering yesterday, I realized that the time I’d be home was coming to an end. Sam joked that I was probably happy to be able to get away from the crying and craziness, but that isn’t true. I know that I am going to miss them and want to be home instead.

I am looking forward to getting back into “the norm”. Things have been “on hold” for a few weeks while I’ve been home. I’m behind on my Bible reading, my classes, and other things, but know that once I am back into the swing of things, I’ll get everything caught up.

One thing about being back at work that will be nice – lack of snacks. Over the past three weeks, I feel like I was always eating! Potato chips, cookies, fast food, and candy seemed to be everywhere. I am glad to be back at work where I have a packed lunch and a bit more control of what I am eating.

AJ

Our baby boy has kept us VERY busy. We took him to the ENT to discuss his lip tie and tongue tie. While in the office he snipped both (which freaked us both out – because they literally just clip them with scissors!) and he has been doing much better. Sam and I discussed things and we’ve decided that he will eventually go to all formula. He has no trouble with bottles and is sleeping much better. He still has the GERD, so he will be on meds to help with that.

Sam has all her pictures saved on her iCloud. She found picture of Ella and took a picture of AJ and they could be twins. It’s really amazing how much he is starting to look more and more like her as a baby.

Ella on top. AJ on bottom. Both about the same age.

He still gets cranky, but he is starting to take time to look around. He’s more and more alert every day.

Great Neighbors

I don’t recall if I blogged about it, but this summer a neighbor had posted on the neighborhood Facebook page that they needed someone to mow their lawn. I reached out and said I would help. She asked whether I had children and explained that I had two sons from my previous marriage, a daughter with my wife and one on the way. She asked if I knew what we were having and at the time I knew it was a boy.

Last week, Sam was on the couch breastfeeding and there was a knock on the side door. She freaked out, because the couch is right by the door! She asked if I was expecting anyone and I told her I was not. When I opened the door, it was the lady whose lawn I mowed. She asked if I remembered her and I told her I did. She told me that she wanted to drop something by for the baby. She had a little gift bag and handed it to me. Ella was standing there saying “Hi” and “Bye Bye,” so the visit was cut very short. I felt bad because I couldn’t even introduce her to my wife.

Anyway, she made a beautiful sweater for AJ. I can’t even begin to imagine how much work goes into something like this, but it is so nice. I can’t wait to get a picture of him in it to send to her.

Halloween Weekend

For Halloween, we had to make sure to let AJ wear his “My First Halloween” onesie. Ella happened to be wearing her Halloween dress, so we snapped a few pictures of them.

As I began this paragraph, I started to write “my youngest son came over…” I realize that I can’t say that anymore, because now AJ is my youngest son!

Anyway, my second born son came over for Halloween weekend. I picked him up on Saturday and he stayed Sunday night to trick or treat. He brought a bag with two or three costume ideas. He decided to go as “an old man.” As he trick or treated, he told people who asked that he was “my dad when he was younger!” That got quite a few laughs.

Prior to trick or treating, I took Ella on a walk around the neighborhood. I had to stop and get a picture of one tree, because it was just breathtaking. So much color to it.

Ella had her first round of Trick or Treating and didn’t quite get what to do. She went as a ladybug and was so cute. At the first house, I got her out of the wagon, handed the bag to her and she walked up to our neighbor. I told her to say “Trick or treat” and hold open her bag. Once the neighbor started to put the candy in the bag, she dropped the bag and grabbed the candy from them! It was quite funny.

We walked just our street with Ella and then took her home. She didn’t get her afternoon nap, so she was getting pretty tired anyway. I then drove Dimitri around the rest of the neighborhood. I was glad we drove, because it got very windy and very chilly as the night went on. My aunt had some things for the kids and actually found us while we were out trick or treating. She stopped by when we got home and got to see them.

Because he had school the next day, I had to take my son back home. My oldest son had gone out trick or treating with his friends and was at his friend’s house. The house is pretty close to ours, so I met them there and he took his brother home. By the time I got home that night, I was in bed and fast asleep!

As far as weekends are concerned, it was a good one! It’s always nice to get to see all of my kids and spend time with my family!

Weekend Review

A lot of people complain about Mondays, but I really don’t because my “week” starts on Tuesday. It is usually the day that I sit back and reflect on the happenings of the weekend.

“Golf” With My Son

I came home from work on Saturday morning and slept for a couple hours before going to pick up my youngest son. As I mentioned in a previous blog, I haven’t really got the chance to see him much, so I was excited to have a day with him.

He is currently taking golf lessons and hopes to make the school golf team. I bought some foam practice golf balls for him to whack around in the back yard. He didn’t bring his clubs, so I let him hit with a few of mine. He’s actually not bad. He tends to overthink on occasion, but when he gets all the mechanics right, he can really connect with the ball.

I’d really hoped to find time to take him on the course this summer, but it never happened. I realize that there is still time and it is actually cheaper with the fall rates, but with the baby due any time, I don’t want to make plans.

I am actually happy that he has taken such an interest in the game. It is one thing that, if he continues, I know we can do together. We don’t get too much time together, and a round of golf would be perfect for spending quality time together.

He’s quite the video gamer, and probably spends too much time playing them. I have a golf game that I play on the XBox that I love. It is a perfect way for me to relieve some stress. I can play a full round of golf in about 20 minutes.

I let him try it this weekend and he loved it, too. I like the game because I actually shoot better on it than on a real golf course! In the game I shoot more birdies than bogies….in real life, it’s the other way around.

I took him home early Sunday because he was supposed to go the the orchard with his mom. Later that night I texted him and asked if he had fun at the orchard and he responded that they didn’t go. That made me feel bad, because it would have been nice to have spent more time with him.

Good Deed

Not my mower….

Our neighborhood has a Facebook group page. On Sunday I noticed that there was a neighbor that needed her lawn cut. After checking with my wife to make sure she didn’t have me running errands, I responded and said I could come and cut it. She asked how much I charged, and I told her I wasn’t going to do it for money. I just like being a good neighbor. We have so many people who help us with little things (more on that in a second), that I like to help when I can.

Come to find out the neighbor’s husband had surgery recently and is unable to do much walking. He can’t really cut the lawn right now. They had someone who cut it for a while, but they were not available this week.

I had been out walking with Ella and saw the house while I was walking. There was a big wood fence, but I wasn’t sure if it swung open. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to get my riding mower in the back yard. So I called her at the number she posted. I asked if that gate moved and she said yes. Ella was playing in the back ground and she heard her.

Once I laid Ella down for her nap, I drove my lawnmower four streets over to cut her grass. As I started to go into the back yard, she came out to talk. Her husband was out in the backyard and she introduced me to him. We had a pleasant chat and she said that was going to leave a bag on the side porch for Ella.

When I got home, I placed the bag on our porch and cut our grass. When Ella woke up, I showed her the bag, which contained some chocolates and a unicorn Beanie Baby. She thought that was so cute. My neighbor didn’t have to do anything at all, I was just glad to be able to help her.

A Step in the Right Direction

Not our step.

Our neighbor two doors down is the best! He helps everyone. When I first moved in with Sam, he was mowing her lawn with his riding mower. One day I was outside with her and he drove up on the mower. He told me to sit down on it and he showed me everything I needed to know to mow. He told me I could come down and use it whenever I needed to. Since getting my mower, I have been able to help him out and let him borrow mine when he is down.

At any rate, we both happened to be outside and I was about the fix the side porch step. I had searched in the garage for some wood screws I thought I had, but couldn’t find them. He walked over and there was some small talk. I asked if he had any wood screws. I showed him the porch and he said he would be right back.

He came down with pieces of left over composite wood from when they built his deck this summer. He also has his saw and corner square tool. He pulled up the old wood, and measured out the size we’d need and cut a couple of pieces from that deck wood. He secured them with some really good screws and the job was done in like 10 minutes. I asked him what I owed him and his answer was the same that I gave the lady whose grass I cut – “Nothing.”

Needless to say, that step is about as secure as it has ever been and I am grateful for such great neighbors.

Questions and Answers #3

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The Facebook “Memories” feed can be a good thing or a bad thing.  Sometimes, I am reminded of times in my life where I was just going through the motions, pretending that all was right in my world, when it wasn’t.  Sometimes I get sad to see picture of my son’s as toddlers and am reminded of how fast they grow up.  Sometimes, I will smile at things from my past radio career and sometimes I smile as I see reminders of the good things that have happened over the past few years.

This blog is just over a year old, and this week I was reminded by Facebook that I asked my Facebook friends to ask me questions they wanted me to answer.  I looked back through my blogs and realized that the last time I did a “Q&A” blog was in October, so I once again asked for Questions…..what follows is the answers to those questions.  (If a non-Facebook friend and follower ever has a question you’d like answered, feel free to ask in the comments.)

Melanie

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Melanie was my next door neighbor in Flint, MI.  Our street was literally behind K-Mart.  Her question, which was probably meant as a joke, is “Do you miss living behind K-Mart in Flint?”  I say she probably meant it as a joke, because the neighborhood, which used to be a very nice one, is a far cry from what it used to be.  The crime level in that part of town is much higher than it was when we were living there.

I have to be honest, I do miss that house.  It was the first home I ever bought.  It is also the home I brought my first son home to.  I remember painting the nursery in tan and putting up all the Noah’s Ark themed borders, building the crib, etc.  I remember watching my dad and son play catch in the backyard.  I remember my mom, who was still in the middle of her cancer treatments, laying on the floor and playing with my son.  I have so many great pictures of her with him in that house.

I remember the old shed in the back and the swing set I built for him.  I remember almost setting the house on fire with the barbecue and ripping out the fence that was between our house and Melanie’s old house.  I also remember pulling my son in his birthday wagon around the neighborhood on summer days.

I also remember the great neighbors we had.  As I said, Melanie and her husband lived next door and were always good neighbors.  On the other side, Jerry lived there with his daughter Terry Sue.  Her kids Jerry and Stephanie would often come over and they’d play with my son.  I would often talk with their Aunt Diane, too, who lived just down the street.  Jerry was a nice man.  He was always willing to loan me a tool if I needed one, or help me with my lawnmower.  He’d often be the guy who cleared my driveway with his snow blower in the winter.  Sadly he passed away shortly after we moved in.

Next to Jerry was Harry and Myrt.  They were an elderly couple who were from down south.  Harry loved to talk politics.  Myrt always made us candy at Christmas time.  You could always find them on the porch drinking sweet tea, and always a pleasure to talk to.  Another elderly couple lived across the street when I first moved in, Ed and Margie.  They were such great people, he was always riding his bike around the neighborhood and always smiling.  We were so sad when he and Margie passed away.

When Melanie moved away, we were blessed with another wonderful couple as neighbors – Jamie and Jason.  Their plan was much like ours, this house was kind of our starter house and we had hoped to move once our son came.  They moved before we did and that was when things started to go bad.  Their old house had a milk chute.  It was next to their side door.  The guy who moved in was probably about 24, and he was up at all hours of the night.  He was renting the house from his aunt and we found out he was using the house to sell drugs.  There were people up and down the driveway all night.  They’d drop their order in the milk chute and come back to get it later.  He never threw anything away and there were bags of trash all over the back yard.  I’m still not sure what exactly happened to the guy, but he suddenly disappeared.  I have heard rumors, but never really found out more.  It wasn’t long after that, we moved away.

James

Downrock

Again, probably meant as a joke, but he wants to know my “take on breakdancing”. Here is my take – I can’t do it.  I can do the Curly Shuffle and the Box Step (thanks to high school gym class).  I am amazed that people can do this.  There is talk of it being an Olympic Event, so it must something that interests people.  If I had the chance to take dance lessons, I would opt for ballroom dancing over break dancing.

Marcia

Marcia is a dear friend from elementary school and always loves to ask questions.  Today, she asks “Who was your favorite teacher at Carlson (our school) and why?”

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I moved to the district in 2nd grade.  Any time a kid moves and had to change schools, there is stress involved.  I remember Mrs. Cook being a very sweet lady and made the transition much easier.  I only had her for about half a year, and remember that I liked her very much.  However, if I had to pick a favorite elementary school teacher, (meaning someone who’s class I was in) it would have to pick Mrs. Gallop.

I remember her being very fun.  While I don’t remember many specific things, I remember she made me laugh a lot.  I had a great respect for her and I remember not wanting to ever disappoint her.  Two distinct memories I have of her class both involve reading.  I remember she read many books to us.  It was one of my favorite things about the class.  I remember her reading us “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing” by Judy Blume.  There was a sequel she read to us to about the main character’s brother Fudge.  She always was very animated when she read them.  I have those books on my shelf, as I bought them for my sons.

I also remember her reading James and The Giant Peach by Roald Dahl.   I remember there was a swear word in it (ass or damn, I think) and she prepped the whole class.  “There is a bad word in this story.  I really don’t want to read it, but if I do, remember that it is not nice to say words like that.”  When she said it, some gasped and some chuckled.  She just kept on reading …

Fourth grade was probably my favorite elementary school year.  Mrs. Gallop was instrumental in that.  She was so much fun and made learning fun.  Years after I graduated, I was working for the district as a custodian part-time.  She had moved up to either principal or assistant principal at the middle school.  She was in her office and I remember walking in and saying hello.  I told her she probably wouldn’t remember me, but when I told her my name, she said “Of course I remember you.  You had just got your glasses over the summer and you told me that you were so glad you could see the board, and your friends, and me!”  How she remembered that, I really don’t know.  I assumed she was just saying she remembered me to shut me up, but I had gotten my glasses over the summer, so she remembered.

I may or may not have looked for her on Facebook, some teachers who have Facebook accounts don’t use it to connect to former students.  At any rate, she is not my friend on there.  I have written about teachers in the past, and I firmly believe that they make a difference each and every day in the lives of their students.  They play such an important role.  She was such a wonderful lady and I was lucky that I was in her class.  If any teachers from the district still keep in touch with her, please let her know that I am forever grateful for the laughs, the learning, and for making me feel like I mattered.

Joseph

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Joe is one of my oldest friends.  We met in band class in junior high.  One of the things we have in common is our love for music.  No surprise that his question is “What was your favorite piece of music to play in band?”  I responded and asked if he meant concert or marching band.  He said it was my choice and that he would “go easy on” me.

Trying to pick one song out of four years worth of music is quite a task.  I thought about it a lot before writing this.  I have narrowed it down, but cannot pick just one.  I also looked at both marching band and concert band separately.  I hope you don’t mind, Joe, but here are the Top 5 for each:

Concert Band

5 – The Seventies Medley

4 – Armed Forces Salute

3 – Hall of Fame March

2 – Tin Pan Alley

1 – Four of a Kind

Marching Band

5 – Washington and Lee Swing (for sentimental reasons)

4 – Artistry in Rhythm

3 – Doggin’ Around

2 – We Got the Beat

1 – Sing, Sing, Sing

It was far from easy to do this, Joe!  I also realize I can probably write an entire blog about this.

Vince

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Vince asks a question that I used to get often when I did Career Day presentations at schools while working in radio.  He says, “Radio call in prizes … Ex: Caller #20 wins tickets …. are they legitimate? If yes, is there a strategy to calling in?”

The quick answer (at least in my experience) is yes.  Before I explain, let me talk a bit about contesting.  When I first started in radio, access to the internet was not really a thing.  We used to have many trivia books and often asked musical questions or questions we found in those trivia books to give away prizes.  When Trivial Pursuit came out, we had the boxes of questions in the studio to ask.  It’s hard to do those kind of things today because so many people can Google the answers and it is just not fun to do any more.  I’m not sure why the “be caller # ___” contests have become so popular, to be honest.  I really dislike those contests.  There is no entertainment value to it at all – and it is not fun for the DJ.  When I was at Kiss-FM, we had 6 requests lines, today, it’s usually 3.  So the DJ has to literally answer the phones, “You’re caller number 1 (click) you’re caller number 2 (click) you’re caller number 3 (click)” and so on….

Many stations use their frequency to pick the caller number – 95.5 looks for the 95th caller, 89X looks for caller 89, etc.  How is this entertaining for the listeners who are not playing?  The answer is – it isn’t.  As far as a strategy, I don’t know of any.  Back in the day, you used “speed dial” to get in and just keep redialing.  Today, with cell phones, there is no speed dial.  It’s the luck of the draw.  There are people who we call “contest pigs” who literally sit and listen for radio contests up and down the dial.  They spend all day dialing to win prizes.  There are two things radio DJ hate about those winners – first, when they tell you “I was caller 1, 7, 18, 33, and ….” we usually edit that out of the call for play back on the air.  We don’t want other listeners to know that they couldn’t get through because you and your family were monopolizing the phone lines.  The other thing we hate is when we finally get a winner for a very cool prize and they act like they could care less.  “Hey, Vince!  You just won $15,000!” and their response is an unemotional “Gee, thanks.  Do you like write me a check or something for that?”  That’s the response you expect from “Congrats!  You just won a free taco and tickets to the flower show.”

I don’t do radio full-time any more, so contesting is a bit different now.  Many stations run company wide contesting now.  They’ll tell you this in their promo mentions.  Basically, a company who owns stations throughout the country, all the stations are giving away the prize and all the listeners from all the stations have a chance to win it.  The odds are just a tad worse than when there is a local contest.

Aaron

Of all the questions asked, Aaron asked the most difficult: “If you had to pick your top 5 or 10 1980’s (your choice) movies for a must see list what would they be?”

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For the record, I literally went year by year from 1980-1989 thinking I could narrow it down to 5 or 10.  Then I thought “I can’t do this!” and thought if I divided it into genre, I could make it easier.  That actually made it more difficult.  If anything, it made me realize how many great movies were made in the 80’s.  It also made me realize that some could easily fall into more than one genre.

So, Aaron, from my list here are some “must see” flicks from each year:

1980 – Airplane!, The Blues Brothers, Caddyshack, The Shining, Somewhere in Time, The Empire Strikes Back

1981 – Arthur, Cannonball Run, History of the World Part 1, Night Hawks, Private Lessons, Porky’s, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Stripes, Zorro – The Gay Blade

1982 – 48 Hours, Creepshow, ET, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

1983 – A Christmas Story, The Dead Zone, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Trading Places, War Games, Doctor Detroit

1984 – Beverly Hills Cop, Footloose, Ghostbusters, Johnny Dangerously, The Karate Kid, The Natural, Police Academy, Revenge of the Nerds, Terminator

1985 – Back to the Future, The Breakfast Club, Clue, Fletch, A View to a Kill

1986 – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Golden Child, One Crazy Summer, The Three Amigos, Top Gun, The Color of Money, Aliens

1987 – Good Morning Vietnam, Fatal Attraction, La Bamba, No Way Out, Planes Trains and Automobiles, The Princess Bride, Robocop, The Untouchables, Adventures in Baby Sitting, Spaceballs

1988 – The Naked Gun, Rain Man, Scrooged, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Coming to America, Big, Beetlejuice

1989 – Batman, Dead Poet’s Society, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Weekend at Bernie’s, Tango and Cash, UHF, Uncle Buck

After spending way too much time trying to sort them….It was just easier that way.  I had hoped to expand on all of these.  I am sure that I left MANY off.  I even edited the edited list to get to these.  Some of them are on the list because they are personal favorites.  How about you, Aaron (or any other reader)…if you had to pick 5 or 10, could you do it??

Thanks to those who sent questions!  It’s always fun for me to answer them!

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