Friday Photo Flashback

Time for another Friday Photo Flashback. I was going to say that I am not digging too deep for this week’s picture, but when I realized that it is probably at least 10-15 years old. Is that considered old? You decide.

This is one of my favorite photos of me with my dad and brother. This photo used to come up for both of them if they called me. With each new phone and contact transfer, the photo got more and more pixilated. I wasn’t even sure I still had a copy of the original until I found it saved on a hard drive.

My brother, as you may recall, lives in Ohio. He usually gets up to Michigan a couple times a year. This was taken during one of those visits.

We had obviously gone to lunch or breakfast at Leo’s Coney Island, because we are in the parking lot there. My dad and brother must have drove up to see us. If I had to guess this may be around 2009 because I am wearing my B95 coat (and I still have some hair). I’m guessing that this was springtime as the trees in the background are still green.

What I love about this picture (and many subsequent ones of the three of us) is that there is no doubt we are all related. The older my brother and I have gotten, the more we started looking alike. The older we get, I also feel like we look more like my dad.

What I hate about this picture is knowing when it was taken. I was still with my ex and I’m sure that any time I was allotted to see my brother and father was based loosely around whatever she had to do or wanted me to do. My time with them was never as much as it should have been. To this day, I look back and wish I knew then what I know now. I lost out on a LOT of time with my family.

On the bright side, I feel like my relationship with both my father and brother are stronger now than they have ever been. For that, I am glad. I love this picture and love them both.

Broadcasting Live from the Library

I love the local library. Just recently I have checked out numerous books on tape to listen to on my drive into work. I have also checked out physical books to read as well.

Just like a stroll through the local book store, I love walking up and down the aisles looking for various titles and authors. Many times, if I don’t want to purchase a book, I will take a picture of it at the book store and then request it from the library.

Many people use the library for computer use, to make copies, or just to relax and read. There are also many other things that happen there, too. Monday, I took the kids to a “story time” session.

Ella loved being able to see other kids around her age and made new friends. Getting her to sit still while the stories are being read is a bit of a challenge though. She loved when they got up and danced along with songs, played with scarves, and played with the small parachute. She really had a blast, even though it doesn’t look like it in this picture.

Story time on my day off happens at a library near Sam’s mom and dad. So I packed up the kids and drove over that way with the kids. There was something that I was really surprised to see, smack dab in the middle of the library – a podcasting booth.

Many people have said that I should do a podcast since I have retired from radio. I have said that I really don’t have the equipment or a place to do it quietly. I suppose with the right portable equipment and the use of this cool booth, a podcast would actually be fun to do.

As surprised as I was to see this in the library, it makes sense. As I mentioned, many folks go to the library to do use computers and such. What a fantastic idea for the local library to offer a space for folks to do podcasts in a world were there are more and more podcasts being created and broadcast.

My brother has worked in a library for over 20 years. I’ve never asked if they have one of these, but he works in a major city and their library has many branches, so I suppose they do. What a great idea.

Anyone who says the world doesn’t needs a library really has no idea just how vital they are.

Friday Photo Flashback

It’s another Friday Photo Flashback! Here is today’s photo:

I am unsure of the year on this photo, but I’m going to guess I am 6 and my brother is 4. We are in pajamas, so I am guessing that we are at our house, possibly in our kitchen. I guess that because of the flooring. I know we had paneling in our basement, but before they painted I thought there was paneling in the kitchen, too.

Outside of the terrible paneling, the first thing that jumps out at me is the extremely cheesy smile on my brother’s face. As a matter of fact, that’s why I chose this picture. I chuckled out loud when I saw it. The laughter was brought on partly by his grin and partly by the fact that we are dressed as cowboys in PJ’s!

I love that my brother is wearing sleeper “footie” pajamas! It seems to me that I am wearing some socks that don’t match as part of my ensemble. I’m truly a hodgepodge of whatever was available to wear it seems. I would think that my brother’s hat would match my outfit better, but it must have been too small.

I am almost 100% sure that the guns we are holding were made of metal. These would have been smaller than the ones I would play with when I was 11 or 12, but metal none the less. I have to crack up at the ridiculous looking belts with holsters. I am sure that they made of cheap plastic and probably ripped from the belt after a few times of placing the guns in them.

I don’t recall if these were a Christmas or Easter gift, but I’m sure that they were received on one of the two holidays. I wish I knew more of the story surrounding this photo.

Friday Photo Flashback

This is a “feature” I started a couple weeks ago with a Daily Writing Prompt. It’s been fun to find a photo to write about each week. This week, I went looking through the “photo files” and found this gem:

Pictured in the photo from left to right: me, my brother, and my dad.

I am sure that this photo was taken in our old house in Sterling Heights. My brother looks to be about 6-9 months old here. My mom is obviously taking the picture. I have many wonderful memories of crawling into my parents bed on Saturday or Sunday mornings and reading books, or wrestling with dad.

The first thing that jumps out at me in the picture is the gold satin bed spread. I remember it so well. I remember sliding off the bed numerous times because of it. I don’t recall how long my folks used that bed spread, but I recall it being a staple in that old house.

I love the look on my dad’s face here. I almost feel like my mom interrupted some sort of silly game he was playing with us to take this picture. In one game, my dad would pretend to be a bear as we hid under the bed spread in our “tent.” He would roar and grab at the bed spread and we would scream “It’s a bear!!”

Today, if you put a picture of me and my dad next to each other – there is no doubt that I’m his son and he is my dad. As I look at him in the photo, I don’t really see “me” in his face. Ok, the eyebrows – we both have huge eyebrows.

My brother is so little in this picture. I can see a little of each of my boys as babies in this photo. Just like with my dad, the older we have gotten, the more we look alike. You just don’t see that in this photo. We look very different.

I chuckle out loud when I look at myself. I really have no idea what I am doing in the picture. The whole angelic “eyes closed and hand on my cheeks” thing … I wonder what I am thinking in this picture. I look back at all that hair I had and I miss it. I remember my mom giving us a bath and then blow drying my hair while running a brush through it to give me a poofy “Elvis” hair style. There’s the old joke that says, “I used to have very wavy hair … now all that is left is the beach!”

In the same folder as the “featured” photo is one taken the same day. Whether minutes before of after, I do not know. It is a picture that I had forgot about until recently. As much as my brother and I fought with each other growing up, I just love this picture of me laying on my back cracking up, while my dad hold him on top of me. It seems that the brotherly love began right from the get go.

Friday Photo Flashback

Recently, I did a blog based on a writing prompt that suggested finding a photo and blogging about the memories that it brings back to you. I enjoyed doing it and thought I would try to do one every Friday. I’m not sure I’ll have enough photos to post, but we’ll see.

The above photo is on my brother (left) and me (right) in our old house in Sterling Heights. The photo is probably taken around 1976. If I had to guess it is probably shortly after Christmas.

It is very easy to focus on the main action in the picture. We are obviously pulling on Stretch Armstrong. I remember seeing ads for Stretch as a kid and asked for it for Christmas or my birthday. It was one of my favorite toys. What I found interesting was looking at the things outside of the center of the picture.

At the bottom is a yellow airplane. I recognized it immediately. In one of my early blogs I talked about the Fisher Price “Adventure People.” The plane is from one of those sets.

What I remember about those “Adventure People” is that eventually, their heads wouldn’t stay up. They always fell down to the chest.

To the right of the plane are some boxes. I wish I could make out what they are. They certainly look like they may be from toys or gifts, which is why I think this might be around Christmas.

Behind me in the picture is yet another “Adventure People” set. It was hard to make out, but I remembered it once I realized what it was. It is the FP Rescue Truck. If you look carefully, you can see the red “bucket” ladder in the picture.

Behind my brother is a book case. On the bottom shelf, it looks like there might be some of my dad’s school books to the right. To the left of those is some series of books with white covers. I’m not really sure what those are.

On the next shelf up is a series of blue books which I remember well. I cannot remember if they were from Reader’s Digest or World Book or some company like that, but they had all kinds of historical stuff in them. Some were about cars, some where about movies and TV, and others were about politics. I loved looking through those and looking at pictures of old movie stars.

On the shelves above that one I can see book bindings from some of my mom’s “beauty” books, cook books, a three ring binder, a couple Bibles, and paperbacks. I’m not sure why there is a green teapot on there!

On the bottom left there was a cabinet. I want to say that is where you could find some of the family photo albums. One of them probably held the picture that is the subject of this blog.

Above the cabinet door is a shelf that is loaded up with 12 inch Vinyl records. Even though I can’t see them, I can name albums that are on this shelf! They were the ones my dad played often. The Beatles Let It Be, Roy Orbison’s Greatest Hits, Elvis In Concert, The Best of Lenny Dee, and about 20 compilation albums.

On top of the albums, there are some loose gloves (suggesting winter time), and what seems to be VHS tape holder. I know that is not what it is, because we didn’t even have VCR’s at this time. If I had to wager a guess, those drawers are probably holding 8-track tapes. (My dad used to record his own for us to listen to in the car.) The Phonograph turntable is probably on the shelf just above those albums with two speakers sitting next to it.

As I look at this picture I wish I could walk through it! While I don’t recall the layout completely, I do remember that my room was all the way at the end of the hall. I know behind me in the picture is the hall closet, my parents room would be at the end on the right, the bathroom is also on the right (you can kind of see the counter with a bottle of what looks like hairspray on it), and on the left across from the closet – my brother’s room.

I vaguely remember things about that house, as I was only there for 6 years of my life. I would love to be able to walk back through it and just take it all in. I’ve probably forgotten so much about it.

It’s actually neat to look beyond what was being captured on film. I wish that these old photos were clearer, so I could really dive into the things in the background.

Cast the Movie of Your Life

The Word Press App on my phone will offer a daily writing prompt to bloggers. I subscribe to a few “prompt” emails and such, and they can certainly be thought starters. Today’s prompt was one I had considered before and I may have even been asked a similar question by a Facebook friend. The prompt:

They are making a movie about your life. Cast it. (Keith adds – with any actors living or dead)

My thoughts on this are to jot down what comes to mind immediately for some (not all) of my family, and a few friends (other friends may request I suggest an actor/actress for them if they really want me to). I will then continue to ponder the question and see if, after thinking it over, I would change any of my choices.

Me

Dom Deluise – No Brainer. This has always been my answer to this question!

My wife, Sam

This was tough. I tried to think of who might look like her and carry herself like Sam. Toss up between Charlize Theron and Olivia Wilde.

My Dad

I’m not sure there would be any better than Jackie Gleason to play my dad

My Mom

Who in the world could play my mom? Tough question and still not really sure, but I forced myself to pick someone. At times, Cathy Bates’ facial expressions remind me of her, so for now – that’ my pick.

My Brother – Chris

Really difficult pick. So just because it will either make him laugh (and he needs that, because he is recovering from Covid) or it will make him mad… William Shatner (Because I wanted to post this stupid picture!)

My Grandma and Grandpa P

Estelle Getty on Golden Girls WAS my grandma! I always felt Abe Vigoda looked like my grandpa, so there ya go.

My Grandma and Grandpa D.

I have always felt like at times, Betty White reminded me of my grandma. My grandpa was tall, a bit heavy, and always smiling. John Goodman reminds me of him.

My best friend, Jeff

Another no brainer. I’ve said for years that he reminds me of Robin Williams.

My friend Steve K.

Steve always has some sort of crazy fact that seems unbelievable to tell. So, he would be John Ratzenberger – but John Ratzenberger AS Cliff Claven from Cheers.

My friend Joe K.

Joe is probably one of the smartest guys I know. At first, I couldn’t get Jeff Goldblum out of my head, and then I though Rainn Wilson is a bit more “Joe” to me.

My friend Steve M.

Steve and I wear our hair the same. My first choice was Vin Diesel, but then I though Michael Chiklis looked more like him (and he played Curly in a Three Stooges movie, so he wins).

My friend Margaret M.

She’s Italian. She’s fiesty. She is strong. She is an expert at inserting profanity into conversation. Without a doubt – Marisa Tomei.

My friend, Chris B,

Tall and funny = Conan O’Brien

Uh …… I’m Stumped

Now, as far as my kids …. I’m just not sure. My older boys (Dante’ and Dimitri) have personalities that are very established. Ella does in a sense as well. Andrew is just a smiling happy baby. How do I begin to pick who will play them? I just don’t know….

It’s my blog and my rules. Let me think a bit on this ….

If I left you out …. and you want me to think about who will play you – let me know. In the meantime ….

Go ahead and cast YOUR life. Who would play YOU?

Flashback Friday

Every few months I have to take the pictures I take on my phone and transfer them to an external hard drive. I do this so that I always have room on my phone to take pictures. As I was scrolling through the photos on my phone, I saw some of the ones I took on Easter, which reminded me of a blog idea I had hoped to blog, but forgot.

Back in the day, whenever we went somewhere for a holiday, we always dressed up. In all honesty, I still feel “out of place” when I don’t dress up for holidays. It just seems like people don’t do that anymore. Holidays are more “casual” today.

I will never forget one Easter, someone bought my brother and I matching outfits. When we see the pictures we call them the “Leisure Suits.” They are cheesy. You can tell it is the late 70’s or early 80’s because the collars are so big they’d poke your eye out if you got close to us.

Taken at our house. Look at that couch!!

We’d go to both sets of grandparents houses on Easter. Naturally, we had to pose for pictures. You can tell we are at my Italian grandparent’s house in the next picture, because for some reason we had to go outside and take a picture next to her statue of Mary.

My brother is sporting a Beatles haircut in this picture.

We’d then go over to my mom’s parent’s house. There would be more family photos taken – usually in front of the fireplace.

I love this family picture. I remember that eagle on the wall so well.

For some reason, my folks didn’t take too many pictures on Easter morning, but there is one that I treasure.

I’m not sure when this was taken. It could be the same year as the suits, or maybe a year after. I can’t tell. Here, again, my family loved getting us matching clothes – I can’t make out what is on these pajamas, but they are obviously the same.

I wish I some of these pictures were more clear. I’d love to compare them with my kids at that age.

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.

Twas The Weekend Before Christmas …

Three more days until Christmas. I don’t even know where the time has gone, but the holiday is FAST approaching! This past weekend I was pretty busy, and at the same time there were plenty of wonderful family moments together.

After working four days and coming home, I feel like the kids have grown and are doing things that they weren’t just a day before. I’m not sure if it is the fact that he recognized my voice or my face, but AJ was smiling and babbling so much this weekend. Those baby smiles are exactly what I needed this weekend.

Saturday night, Ella and I were playing on the floor and Sam reminded me that I’d wanted to build a “fort.” So I pulled two chairs together and grabbed a comforter and tossed it over the chairs – instant “fort.” As a kid, I used to love when we’d sit in the fort and read books. Ella loved coming in … and going out. She was in and out and in and out. Believe me, it wasn’t easy to get her to stay still long enough to take a selfie…

This weekend we gave both kids a bath. Sam grabbed Ella and AJ’s bear PJ’s and gathered them up to read….

What book did we read first?? Well, of course, it had to be….

On Sunday, we placed a Meijer order for groceries. On Christmas Eve, it’s sort of been a tradition to have ravioli for dinner. Grandma always made them, and it is a tradition that I have tried to keep going. I refuse to use sauce in a jar for the holidays, so I made a list of everything I needed and spent the afternoon making sauce.

If you are new to this blog, let me explain. I have been trying to duplicate my grandma’s sauce for years. I have gotten close to doing so, and I have yet to master it. In doing so, I have kind of come up with my own sauce. I don’t tweak too much every time, because I don’t want to mess it up too much. This time around, there may be just a tad too much wine in it. Oh well….I will make a note of it and try again ….

While the sauce was cooking, Sam gathered up all the presents to wrap them as Ella took her afternoon nap. It’s always interesting to divide up the gifts. Ella and AJ will get TWO Christmases. We wake up Christmas Eve morning with my sons and open gifts, and then we wake up Christmas morning and open more. Sam bought some two sided wrapping paper from Sam’s Club. Being the smart woman that she is, she wrapped the gifts to open on Christmas Eve with one side and the Christmas Day gifts with the other side. She is brilliant!

After the sauce had simmered about 6 hours, Sam and I decided we’d take a short trip up to Frankenmuth to drive through town and look at Christmas lights. We put on the Christmas station, loaded the kids, and went for our drive. When the kids are a bit older, we want to go and just walk around town. We will definitely pile the kids into one of the horse drawn carriages and ride around town! For now, we just drove around.

We stopped at Bronner’s, which had all their lights outside lit up and it’s always neat to just drive through the parking lot. We weren’t the only ones who were doing it either. They have plenty of things around the parking lot that can be good for picture taking. I was afraid that Ella might run into the road/driveway that was by some of those, so instead, we went to a few that were well inside the lot. She loved it!

We had a feeling that winter time was going to drive Ella crazy! She loves to be outside. There is only so much that she can do in our house. We’ve been trying to limit her TV/Screen time, so she’s getting bored. Before I laid down for a nap before work, we grabbed her boots and coat and we went for a short walk around the neighborhood.

There is still a little bit of snow on the ground, but it will more than likely be gone by Christmas. We left without her gloves, so her hands got cold when she was picking up the snow. As we walked, she realized that we were at the house where her hound dog friend is usually outside during the summer. She kept asking where the doggy was, and I had to tell her it was probably too cold for her friend to be outside.

I was really surprised that she remembered the house!

When we got home, her hands and nose was a bit chilly, but she warmed up quick as mommy had lunch ready for her when we arrived.

There was a knock on the side door before I headed off to bed. The UPS man brought the kids a package from my brother. He had told me to watch for it. Inside were pajamas for AJ and a HUGE Daisy Duck stuffed animal for Ella. I had called him a week or so ago and told him that she was all about Daisy. She was so surprised when she saw it. I wish I had gotten pictures of her initial reaction. She had hands over her eyes and was so surprised. Then she grabbed it and hugged it!

It really was the cutest thing!!!

HA! I just looked at that picture and in it, you can totally see how I messed up hanging the stockings! Last year, we had 5 (Me, Sam, Dante’ Dimitri, and Ella). This year we added the small “My First Christmas” stocking for AJ. I use those 3M hooks to hang the socks. Somehow, I marked off 7 spots instead of 6, so there are three on one side of the fireplace and three on the other and a big space in the middle. URGH. I must have looked at it 5 times before I actually attached the hooks, but I never realized there were 7 spots! THAT is why I rarely build anything from scratch …

3 more days …. I’m looking forward to the holiday….

A Special Addition to the Tree

This is one of those blogs that is overdue. It’s a “Thank You.”

One of the things that I love about Christmas is decorating the tree. Most of the ornaments each have a special memory. As I have blogged about in the past, we try to get one new ornament every year that signifies a big event from the year (our engagement, our wedding, the births of our children, etc…). As more of the memory/event ornaments go up, we remove the generic bulbs.

Along with the ornament for AJ’s First Christmas, there is another special ornament on the tree this year. I thank my brother, Christopher, for that.

He has a friend who took this picture of my mom and my son and made this ornament for me. The photo was taken in 2002 when my son was just 2 days old. Dante’ was her first grandchild and she was thrilled to be a grandma. I remember she slept in the waiting room the entire night as we awaited his birth. I had seen my mother smile before, but the smile on her face was like no other when she saw him and held him for the first time!

This picture was taken right around within minutes of one of my favorite pictures of my mom and Dante’:

The ornament is a wonderful addition to the tree this year. It makes me so sad that mom never had the chance to meet her three other grandchildren. I hope with each passing year, as my kids see this ornament on the tree, they will ask questions and want to know more about her. I will love sharing stories about her with them.