Today I finished my 53rd trip around the sun. Birthdays stopped being special to me a long time ago. They are just another day. However, I will tell you that today was a birthday I won’t soon forget. Let me tell you why …
Ella has been talking about my birthday for months. She’s known that mine was coming up and eventually the “next” one. So she told Sam that she was going to get all the stuff for my “party.”
So her and Sam went to the store to order my cake. She told the woman that she was positive that I loved princesses, so this was the cake they brought home:
Ella sang Happy Birthday loud and proud and both kids helped me blow out my candles.
Yes, I did wear the tiara and hold the scepter after cutting the cake.
Sam and the kids got me the coolest card and a book I have had on my Amazon wishlist for some time. Once I get through the library books I have, I will be diving into this one.
They also got me an amazing shirt. The card and shirt go together as they are both from Bluey, the cartoon I just love! Perhaps mom was trying for a Bluey theme, but the princess won out!
We even had princess plates!!
If you are wondering about the tiara and scepter – don’t worry, there is a princess at our house making good use of them!
I also heard from my dad first thing this morning. He got a chuckle out of my cake. My oldest son called me this morning too. My middle son texted on his way home from the bus stop to send birthday wishes. There were countless text messages and birthday wishes on Facebook, too.
As much as I hate counting the years (and still claim to be 39 every year like Jack Benny) it is nice to know that so many folks will take a brief moment out of their day to send a birthday greeting. It’s almost overwhelming, but it is a reminder of just how blessed I am.
This week marked the 29th anniversary of the passing of my grandfather. In 2018, I wrote a blog about him on his birthday. You can read it here:
My dad sent a photo to me and my brother this week of my Great Grandma (Grandpa’s mom) that I’d never seen before. That got me to thinking about the last time I saw my Great Grandma. It was at my high school graduation party where today’s photo was taken.
This is a truly amazing photo, as it marked one of the few times all of these family members were together.
In the front row from left to right – me, my Great Grandma, and my brother (sporting the pink Miami Vice jacket). In the back row from left to right – Grandpa P, his sister Marietta, Grandma D, Mom, Dad, Grandma P, and my Great Aunt Rose.
This photo was probably taken close to the end of the part, as my dad and grandpa have their suit jackets off. My grandpa came wearing what we called his Century 21 coat. For those who don’t remember, the real estate agents from century 21 used to always wear these gold colored jackets.
Here is a story about my Great Grandma that still makes me laugh. We used to call her “Light Finger Louie” because she had a very bad habit of swiping things from people and then giving then to my Grandpa. They weren’t necessarily big or expensive things (most of the time), but there were watches, Zippo lighters, cuff links, and such that would miraculously appear in my grandfather’s hands (or pockets) as he was leaving his visits from Great Grandma!
I think the saddest thing about finding old photos like these is the realization that those people are no longer with us physically. The only ones still around in that photo are my brother, my dad, and me.
I get ribbed a lot about all the photos I take of the kids. This week on Facebook, when I posted about my grandpa, I stated that the reason I take so many pictures is “because one day those pictures, and the memories from them, are all we have left.”
Ok, to be fair, I don’t know what a shamrock smells like. I tried to look it up on Google and got answers like:
“…the fresh scent of lush, green hills kissed by a sparkle of sunshine…”
” …shamrock’s smell like freshly poured Guinness, of course!“
“…Shamrock kinda just smells like dirt and grass…”
For some reason or another mint is commonly accepted as the smell of a shamrock. This could be because of the color green or the Shamrock Shake at McDonalds! I really don’t know.
Anyway, conversations at work one day led to talk of they types of soap people use. (Yeah, we have some real brilliant chats at work!) Someone mentioned these huge bars of soap from Duke Cannon. I was unfamiliar with it, and a bar was given to me. The thing is HUGE!
It is like 2 and a half bars of soap.
As the packaging suggests, it really is a “Big Arse Brick of Soap!” I had to laugh because my one coworker told me her husband uses it and he loves it because it smells good and lasts so long. She said that he gets the charcoal soaps. Why anyone would want to smell like a barbecue is beyond me, and at the same time, why would anyone want to smell like a shamrock shake? My one buddy said he gets his at the Hardware store! “It’s right up front by the register!”
So I took this “brick” home and I have used it a couple times now. It actually lathers up pretty good. It smells good. It doesn’t leave my skin dry like a lot of bar soaps either.
I also like a company with a sense of humor. The limerick is often associated with the Irish. No surprise that there is a limerick on the side of the box –
I was happy to read that a portion of the sales of this soap goes to benefit US Veterans. My dad and my Godfather both served in Vietnam. I have many friends who have also served this country and any company that supports our veterans is ok in my book!
I think I will try out another scent when this one is gone. This one may not be for me …. it says so on the label:
It is time for another round of Turntable Talk, hosted by Dave at A Sound Day. This is the 12th round that I have participated in and it has quickly become one of my favorite “features” to participate in. There has not been a topic that Dave has presented that has not been interesting for me to explore. This round is no exception. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out his site and read the contributions of other music lovers, too!
For this round, Dave’ says, “This time around I’m calling it “First Time’s The Charm.” Let’s look at an artist whose debut really impressed you. It can be one that just knocked you out first time you heard it when it was brand new, or one you went back & discovered later. As long as it showed a band or singer that hit the ground running.“
In talking with one of the other participants this week, I mentioned that with each topic, one choice always seems to hit me immediately. Then I begin to think about other possibilities, and without fail I always seem to come back to the first choice. This time around, I decided not to consider anything else and go with the first thing that came to mind.
It is 1989. In our living room is the shelving unit that contains my dad’s stereo system. One shelf holds the receiver/amplifier while the cassette deck and Sony Mini-disc players sit on top of each other on the shelf above that. Two speakers sit on top of the unit. A turntable sits on a shelf that slides out on the top left of the unit. Under that, on a shelf all by itself is a Sony CD player.
My dad calls me out to the living room and says, “Keith, you’ve gotta hear this!” My dad has certainly played a major role in sharing great music with me. The above phrase was spoken by him to me more times than I can count. Oh, the music he introduced me to! I would have to say that 9 times out of 10, it has always been something that I have really liked. The CD he popped in the player was the debut album from The Kentucky Headhunters.
The group started back in the late 60’s and called themselves “Itchy Brother.” In 1980, the group was almost signed to a record deal at Swan Song Records, which was a small label founded by the band Led Zeppelin. However, Zeppelin drummer John Bonham died that year and the label folded. Itchy Brother disbanded in 1982. In 1985, there was an attempt to reunite the group. This attempt led to a few new members joining while some original members decided not to be a part of the group. Now missing some of the original members, a new name was chosen for the band – The Headhunters. It didn’t take long to find out that there was another band using that name, so “Kentucky” was added to the name.
The group decided to take out a loan to record a demo. That demo included some original songs and some cover songs. They had hoped to press copies of the demo to sell as merchandise at their live shows. It didn’t take long for that demo to get noticed by folks in Nashville. The group was not really interested in signing a record deal, but their manager suggested that they talk with producer Harold Shedd at Mercury Records. They were signed to their deal in 1989 and the demo was released as their debut album “Pickin’ on Nashville.
I hadn’t intended on listening to the whole album that day, but when my dad hit play, I really liked what I heard. While they certainly had a Southern rock sound, it wasn’t really completely Southern rock, if that even makes sense. It is kind of a mixture of country, Southern rock, a bit of blues, classic rock, a little rockabilly, and maybe even a little bit of metal. It was like nothing I had heard in some time. It was a very unique mix of various styles and types of music.
The first cut on the album was a cover of Bill Monroe’s Walk Softly on This Heart of Mine. Bill’s version has a very bluegrass feel to it. The Headhunters had me from the opening guitar lick. Then I was really digging the harmonies of the group. The guitar solo had a rock/B.B. King feel to it, which I just loved. The debut single reached number 25 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles Chart, the first of 4 Top 40 singles for the band.
The second single from the album is probably their best known song, but not quite their biggest hit. It almost didn’t make the album, though. Dumas Walker is a song that is about a Kentucky hangout. The lyrics tell of hanging out there eating a “slawburger, fries, and a bottle of Ski.” Folks in Kentucky knew that a slawburger was a burger with cole slaw on it, and a bottle of Ski is a soda that is a lot like Mountain Dew. The record company wasn’t too keen on it, though.
Producer Harold Shedd felt that the song was too local. He felt like no one outside of Kentucky would connect with the song. He asked band member Richard Young if they would be willing to leave the song off the record. After much discussion, Young says that he convinced Shedd to keep it on the record. He said that Shedd was missing the point – that every place had their own “Dumas Walker’s and they can relate to that!” He was right. The song was a top 20 hit for the band in 1990.
Another thing that helped get the band recognition was CMT (Country Music Television), which was the country version of MTV. The early headhunter videos are a blast to watch. How could anyone possible turn off a video set in a bar with people playing marbles, the lead singer juggling bowling pins, and the drummer banging on his drum kit with no shirt and a coon skin cap on!? Incidentally, the video was nominated for the CMA video of the year in 1990.
Richard Young says that the group had a “magnetism that people just couldn’t resist” and compared it to watching the old Monkees TV show. He said, “People want to be entertained. If you can’t hold their eyes, they will wander.” Watch a few of their videos and you will certainly be entertained.
The third single from the album was another cover song. This time it was a cover of Don Gibson’s “Oh, Lonesome Me.” Gibson’s version is very typical 1960’s country. The Headhunters version kicks it up a notch with a driving beat and video that really fits the “Monkees” description above. This song peaked at number 8 and would be the band’s only Top 10 hit. The fourth and final single from the album was “Rock and Roll Angel,” which is mostly forgettable.
The band enjoyed great success in 1989/1990 because of their debut album. In 1990, they won the Academy of Country Music’s Top New Vocal Duo or Group Award , The Country Music Associations Vocal Group of the Year, and the CMA Album of the Year. They also won a Grammy for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group that year.
Sadly, their follow up album Electric Barnyard was a major disappointment. It was certified gold, but the singles released to radio didn’t get much airplay. Citing creative differences, Ricky Lee Phelps and Doug Phelps left the group in 1992 to form their own band, Brother Phelps.
The band has continued to tour with a variety of different members and their last album was released in 2021. They never really enjoyed much success after that debut album. That being said, I believe their fresh sound really paved the way for (and had a big influence on) some of the more recent country singers who have a more “rock” sound.
One thing I think is important to mention is that the Kentucky Headhunters hit the scene at a very unique time in country music. In 1989, this new group stood out during a time that also saw country music’s amazing “Class of ’89” hit the scene. They were in the thick of things at the same time that Alan Jackson, Clint Black, Travis Tritt, and a dude by the name of Garth Brooks were getting their debut’s as well. The fact that they made waves amongst those guys is a testament to that first album.
It is hard to say what factored into the decline in popularity. Was it hard to get airplay with all of those other big names taking off? Was the music that followed just not good enough? Did the loss of the Phelps Brothers put the nail in the coffin for the band? Maybe it is a little bit of each of those things. The Kentucky Headhunters recorded 9 studio albums, but you really only need to get their debut, Pickin’ on Nashville. It is as good as it gets.
Welcome to another edition of the Friday Photo Flashback feature! This time around we go back to 1988 (and 1999).
In the past it has been fun for me to find a picture and examine the things in the background. The picture I have chosen really doesn’t allow me to do that, because there’s not really anything more than some of my favorite people.
In going through photos, I came across one from my graduation party and it made me smile and sad at the same time.
The photo above features from left to right: Papa Joe, my Uncle Tom, my dad, my grandpa, and Mr, Kanne.
What I love about this picture is the connection to another picture, which connects some friendships. Look at the photo below, which I may have posted on here in the past. It was taken at my first wedding in 1999:
I think it is extremely cool that the two photos are almost identical in that Papa Joe is on the left in the top picture and his son, Joe, is on the left in the bottom photo. Mr. Kanne is on the right in the top picture and his son, Steve, is on the right in the bottom picture. My dad is in the center in the top picture and I’m in the center (center-left) in the bottom picture.
(In the wedding photo: Joe, my brother Chris, Me, Steve, Jeff, and Steve)
Sadly, in the top picture, my grandpa, my uncle and Mr. Kanne have all passed away. My uncle and Mr. Kanne are buried in the same cemetery as my mom and are not that far from each other. I often stop at all three graves when I am there.
Collectively in those photos are 10 men who all played (and continue to play) important roles in my life.
On a humorous note, I can’t help but think that both photos look like a police line up …
“Oh boy. Here goes Keith talking about that Bluey show again. Isn’t that a kid show? Why does he watch that?”
I relate to it! There, I said it. There are so many things about this show that I can relate to! For example, in our house, Sam and I cannot use the bathroom without one or both of the kids being in there with us. Bandit, Bluey’s dad, deals with that …
All he wants to do is poop for crying out loud! Look at that poor dog!
Another example which hold true in our house – the short amount of time it takes to go from clean to disaster.
I swear this just happened to me yesterday! The kids have this bowl of fake fruit and veggies that they play with. They keep all of it in a plastic Tupperware bowl. I literally walked all over the loving room picking up fake cucumbers, broccoli, onions, apples, bananas, avocadoes, tomatoes and more! I put them all back in the bowl and put them in the door of the fake kitchen. I went and got a cup of coffee and returned to the living room to find all of the contents of the bowl on the floor again!
The kids had Disney on the other morning and they were playing the episode called “Dunny.” In Australia, where Bluey lives, “dunny” is a slang term for toilet. The episode takes place in the parents bedroom. The kids are hanging out in bed with their parents and discussing why “dunny” isn’t an appropriate word for toilet.
This episode led to me thinking back to my childhood and I remember many Saturday mornings getting up and going into my folks bedroom. Many times we’d crawl into bed and just goof off. I truly wish I had more photos of those times. I have a few. First, one of my favorite photos of my mom and I (forgive me if I have posted these before).
I remember going in and waking her up. She’d always snuggle us and read books we brought in there. Those Saturday mornings were always so much fun.
My dad used to get in bed with us and wrestle with us. Sometimes he’d pretend to be Moe from the Three Stooges. There would be a “bear” we had to hide from and we’d get under the covers and hide. Sometimes he’d say he’d go check to see if the bear was still there and we’d be under the covers and he’d growl and grab at us from the top of the covers. We had so much fun when he did that!
Just the other morning, Ella and Andrew woke up and it was them, Sam and me in our bed. It was just a lot of silliness and me wrestling or tickling them and hiding under the covers.
I’m not sure what it is about being under covers that is cool. We built a fort with blankets and such the other day and they loved it. Then I started sitting on the floor and covering myself in a blanket and they’d come over and get under the “tent” with me. Sam even got into the fun the other morning!
So yeah, I watch Bluey. I relate to it more than any cartoon or kid’s show before it. The more I see an episode, the more I find myself saying, “I need to do that” or “I’ve done that!”
If you have toddlers, you have to check it out. If you’re an adult, you should to. In my opinion, it is the best.
One final example? Sure. I can’t tell you how many times I have gone into the kid’s rooms after they fall asleep and just watch them. It’s not weird – only parents get it.
Hello, my friends. When I last blogged, we were gearing up for a big snow storm. While we didn’t get as much as they were saying, roads were still dangerous and as a bonus we got our white Christmas. I had to laugh at something I saw on Facebook, and had to share here. This pretty much sums up every winter storm forecast here in Michigan:
Snow was to move in on Thursday night and into Friday morning. Many patients called to cancel their appointments that night, so because of low volume, I got to stay home. It was nice to have extra family time. It is very rare to get that time.
I had already taken Friday off. Usually my boys will come over and spend the night and we do Christmas Eve morning as our “Christmas.” Because of the storm, we decided it was best to postpone things until the Monday after Christmas.
On Christmas Eve night, we usually go to Crossroads Village and do the drive through light display. It’s not too far from us and it is always a beautiful sight. On certain nights, you can board the train and see more lights, but the drive through is neat because you get to go through the little village. They pipe Christmas music through the speakers and every thing is just beautiful.
We got the kids dressed and ventured out. It didn’t take long to see just how bad the roads were. We hadn’t been out since the storm, but the roads were just awful. We take many back roads to get there and the wind was blowing across the fields and made the roads solid sheets of ice. It was actually pretty scary. I would have kept driving, but Sam told me to turn around and go back home. That’s what we did.
Earlier in the day we made cookies for Santa. Ella told Sam that Santa should drink milk from a “fancy” cup, so we put it in a wine glass. A few years ago, Sam’s sister Grace (who passed away earlier this year) made a Christmas plate. We have decided that as part of our Christmas tradition, Santa’s cookies would always be put on on that plate.
We placed the cookies on the plate and started to get things ready for the rest of the evening. We had to get the kids in their Christmas pajamas, they had to brush their teeth, and Santa had to get ready to build some stuff. After walking to the living room to gather up a few things, I walked back in the kitchen to see Andrew standing on Ella’s step stool – eating Santa’s cookies!!! Smart kid!
Once the kids were in bed, I went to work. I only had to put together a couple things, and I love being Santa. Ella got a Frozen Castle (she calls it the Elsa and Anna castle) and Andrew got a vacuum (he is all about the vacuum when we clean). They also each got a book from Santa and the rest of the gifts were from mom and dad.
It was nice to see the tree lit, with presents under it, and the baby gate out of the way!!
Honestly, I anticipated that Ella would be the first one up on Christmas morning, but instead, it was Andrew. We actually had to go in and wake Ella up. She seemed uninterested in getting up until we reminded her that it was Christmas and Santa had come.
Andrew loved his vacuum and played with it all morning. It was a hoot to see him “cleaning” the rug!
Ella loved her princess castle and when she got a princess dress, too, she had to put it on!
She was so into it and had all her princesses playing on the castle. I was lucky enough to capture this very cool picture of her playing –
I just love it! She had no idea I was taking this.
We were invited to Sam’s folks for Christmas dinner, which is always nice. My mother-in-law always puts out a big spread with ham, turkey, scalloped or potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and a ton of desserts. My nieces and nephew were there, so the kids all got to play together. It’s always kind of crazy with all of Sam’s siblings there, so I neglected to get any pictures.
Andrew gave us a memorable moment while we were there. Sam’s folks have one of those thin Christmas trees. Andrew, of course, is always curious. While my back was to him, he grabbed something on the tree (probably the string of lights) and started pulling. Naturally, the entire tree came crashing down on top of him!! When I turned around I couldn’t even see him! Thankfully, only one ornament broke. That boy is something else!!
I’m not sure when we left but it was later in the evening and Sam and I were talking about being a bit hungry. We decided to be like the Christmas Story family and we ordered some Chinese food and grabbed McDonald’s for the kids. As crazy as it sounds, we may need to do that every year because it was delicious.
On Monday, the boys came over in the morning. I made up some chocolate chip pancakes, sausage links, eggs, toast, and coffee for me. Ella and Andrew don’t see their big brothers often enough, but they seemed glad to see them.
My dad and Rose came over a bit later and I was glad that my dad got to see all his grandchildren. He brought Ella a Little People Barbie apartment, which is huge and now serves as a “neighbor” to Elsa and Anna’s castle. He brought Andrew some waffle blocks and a bowling set. The boys are older now, so the each got an envelope with cash, much like his mother (my grandma) used to give my brother and I.
As crazy as it was to get everyone together, I am so glad to have gotten this picture with my dad, Rose, and the kids.
As I stated in my Facebook post, it is never long enough when we get together, but I do treasure the time with them.
I am so glad to have had time with my wife, my children and my dad over the holidays. God willing, we will all be able to do it again next year.
It’s time for another edition of the Friday Photo Flashback. This one has a holiday theme to it. My best guess is that it was taken between 1972-1973. I make this guess based on the contents of the photo. Let’s Flashback to a Christmas morning ….
The above photo is of yours truly many moons ago. It is Christmas morning. The tree is out of the camera shot, but would be to my left, probably right in front of my mom.
As a kid, I don’t really remember unwrapping many presents. Usually, my dad played Santa and when my brother and I got up, the toys were already put together and in front of the tree. That may have been the case here as I don’t see a whole lot of wrapping paper.
Observations from the picture:
My mother is so young and beautiful in this picture. I don’t remember the robe she is wearing at all. If it wasn’t for this photo, I don’t know that I would have ever seen it before. I love that she is smiling while watching me.
I don’t recognize that couch at all! This would have been taken at the first house I remember. We lived there until the winter of 1976. I know that the tree would have been right in front of our living room window (again, just out of the camera shot).
I am obviously wearing two piece PJ’s, but only wearing the pants. That looks more like a regular T-shirt than a PJ top. It is possible, although I can’t really tell, that I am either wearing slippers OR those pants have footies on them. Hard to say.
The first thing I noticed when looking at the photo was that big boat next to me. It took me only one broad search of “Little People Boat” on Google for the toy to come up. According to Google, this would have come out in 1972.
I have blogged about Little People before, but not sure if I mentioned this set. I remember that flag so well. It was literally a plastic triangle on a long spring! I forgot about those crazy deck chairs and the life preservers. You can see one of those and the little blue boat on the floor in front of me.
To my left in the picture, was a favorite of mine – the Little People Airport.
The jet is to my right in the picture and the cars and such are scattered about. I remember that helicopter so well.
I wish I had one of those programs that brings out of focus pictures back in focus! From what I can read off the box behind me it says, “Push ‘Em Car.” I wasn’t sure if it said “cart” or “cars.” I did a search and what came up was a toybox. It is VERY possible that is what it is.
The one in the picture of me is not a Mickey Mouse one. Only two kinds came up in a search – the one above abd a generic one. The box behind me in the photo looks like it has monkeys on it. I wish I could make out what they are!
The last thing that I can make out was the book in the bottom right of the picture. I could barely make out “Zoo Keeper” so I typed that into a Google search. Imagine that, the book showed up! It’s called Zeke Zoo Keeper! I don’t remember it at all, but there it is!
I wish that I had more photos of the stuff we had under the tree. I guess without them, the proof is there that it really is never about the gifts you receive, but the experiences. Sure, I can remember some of the gifts I got for Christmas, but many of them are long forgotten. It is the memories with family that I will always remember.
The first episode of the Price is Right hosted by Bob Barker
Gas that only cost 36 cents a gallon
Nacho cheese Doritoes
Time Warner launched HBO
Oakland A’s were World Series champs
Dallas Cowboys won Superbowl VI
The Godfather hit movie theaters
My baby brother was born
The story goes something like this – my mom and dad brought my brother home from the hospital after he was born and introduced us. My first response was “I don’t want him. Take him back!” And so begins the relationship of two brothers who couldn’t be more different.
Back in 2019, I asked my brother Christopher to write a little something for this blog. I went back and reread it today and found myself laughing again. It is worth sharing again.
Now that he has been older than me for 13 years (I’m stand on Jack Benny’s position that I am 39!), I wanted to find a special way to salute his 50 years on this planet. So, how about some photographic memories (in as chronological order as I can get):
I’d say the above photo is early 1973. He is obviously still too young to be that big of a problem to me.
This might be 1974. I’m not sure, but it seems like this may have been an outfit my mom liked me in. I think it is the same one I wore in a professional photoshoot.
Sure looks the same to me. Despite the terrible outfits, I love this picture of my brother and me.
Sesame Street was such a big part of our lives. I guess Chris really liked Big Bird. This picture cracks me up because I have mismatched PJ’s on! I may have to revisit this one for a Photo Flashback!
One of the first family photos I remember. We were at my dad’s work open house. Nice shirt, Chris!!
My mom made that ceramic Yoda for my brother for his birthday!
Christmas cheese! This might be the only picture of Santa with both of us. I could be wrong.
HA! We made these hats.
This was a Halloween costume I wore one year. Then they had some play at school and we recycled it for Chris.
I have posted that one before – fishing in Caseville! LOVE this picture – but hate my outfit!
Chris and I in matching shirts at my grandma’s house.
Terrible picture of both of us – but the look on his face cracks me up!
ANOTHER terrible photo!! Not sure about the ugly flannel shirts or our hair!!!
From my first trip to Columbus. I think this was the trip we had professional pictures of us taken for our folks. Thankfully, I cannot find those pictures!!
My aunt and uncle had a place on the lake and had a big picnic every year. Always loved going to them and it was always an added bonus when Chris was able to make it.
Best man at my first wedding.
A favorite photo of my brother, me and my dad – 2010
Again in 2013 – Christmas Eve I think
First anniversary trip in 2019 to Cleveland. My brother met up with us for dinner … somewhere in Ohio!
He’s quite a good Uncle to his niece and nephew. 2020
Family Photo shoot 2021
I have so many wonderful memories with my brother! We had a lot of fun growing up together. In recent years, we’ve become closer and I am grateful for that. I’m proud of his successes and am thankful that we are family. I wish you a wonderful day full of smiles and happiness.
Thank you for being such a wonderful friend, a support, and caring brother. Thank you for loving my family. Thank you for being such an amazing uncle. Thank you for taking us all to Disney (You are doing that, right?!)
Here is to another 50 years! Happy Birthday, Christopher. I love you, always!!
When I worked on the radio, we would often “recycle” bits. We would take something we had done in the past and “re-run” it, often updating it to be current. This blog is actually a recycling of an earlier Thanksgiving blog from three years ago, updated for 2022. I have gained many new followers over the past few years, all of this will be new to them. For those who have been with me from the beginning, I hope you don’t think I am being lazy. By recycling this, I am reminded of just how blessed I am!
The blatant truth is that we should be thankful for everything in our lives. One of my favorite Bible verses is I Thessalonians 5: 18 which reads “In everything give thanks”. That means good things and bad things – and that’s sometimes hard to do! Believe me, I know from experience! Well, here goes…my list, in no particular order:
Things I am thankful for
My parents. Let’s face it, without them, I wouldn’t be here. I was blessed with a mother and father who raised me right. They supported decisions (good and bad) and were always there for me. Even though my mom is no longer here, her presence is ever-present. Dad is always around to talk music, old movies, and more. As with most holidays, he will be the first call I receive this morning. Laughing with him is always something I am thankful for. The kids always look forward to their Sunday morning video chat with Papa, too!
My wife. Without her, I wouldn’t be here either. She saved me and I am forever grateful. She came into my life at a very turbulent time – first as a friend, and then as someone much more than that. She made me smile and laugh during a time where there was little or no happiness. She cried with me and was a great support through very dark days. Thanks to her, I have found an unconditional love. I cannot imagine life without her, nor would I want to. She accepts me with all my faults and quirks. She makes me feel special. She makes me fall in love with her more each day. She completes me and I am thankful to have her in my life each and every second of the day.
We’ve experienced many changes over the last couple years. With the addition of our two kids, life is a bit more stressful and we’re a bit more tired. The “us” time has been lacking a lot. I need to make it a point to make more “us” time. I need to make sure that I don’t let all of the stresses in life make me forget how important she is to me. I need to step up – listen, love, and support her in ways that she truly needs.
My daughter, Ella. When I originally wrote this blog, she wasn’t even born yet. What a joy Ella is to have around. Her personality shines through now. It has been fun to watch her blossom into a toddler. She is so smart. Her imagination flourishes. I love sitting on the family room floor and “playing princesses” with her. I love watching Bubble Guppies with her. I could listen to her sing the songs from Frozen all day. She will forever have me wrapped around her finger! I’m so thankful for my princess.
My son, Andrew. He is the busiest baby I have ever had! Wow, do I wish I had his energy! Talk about a one track mind! He is forever grabbing for cell phones, TV remotes, and whatever toy Ella has. He was walking early and he hasn’t stopped. Now he is climbing all over the place. It is funny to see the relationship that he has with Ella. They truly love each other, but at the same time, they love to aggravate each other, too. It is rare to see him without a smile on his face. He’s a handful, but I wouldn’t change him for the world!
My sons, Dante’ and Dimitri. They could not be more different from each other. They both have their own talents. They remind me so much of my brother and I when we were growing up! They are creative. They are silly. They are loving. They are smart. They make me laugh and drive me crazy! I miss them when they are not with me and I love when we are together. I love to think back and remember the things they did as babies and I love to think about what they will do in the future. They make me proud of all their accomplishments. It is crazy to see how much they have grown. Dante’ is working hard and going to college, and Dimitri is in high school. I’m thankful for both of them.
My brother. Just like my sons, we couldn’t be more different. Growing up, we tormented each other! He has listened to me complain about life. He has offered advice on more than one occasion. He, in my opinion, is the more successful of the two of us! He has written – and published – books! He has made his way up the ladder at his job and is now a “big wig”. I am envious of him. Over the years, we’ve grown closer and are working separately (and together) on a project that will honor our mother. This project will only bring us closer – which I look forward to very much. Some of the stuff I have written for the project has been posted on this blog. There is still work to do, and it is slowly coming together. We really need to get together and see where we are at with things.
He has been an absolutely amazing Uncle to the kids. Ella just might have him wrapped around her finger, too. There always seems to be some package arriving for her or Andrew with Disney loot in it! Despite the miles, they kids love being able to video chat with him when they can.
My job. It’s really an amazing thing to help people. So many patients come in to our lab who are struggling with poor sleep, insomnia, apnea, narcolepsy, and other sleep disorders. To be able to offer advice, help them get therapy, and in some cases, save their life, it is pretty satisfying. I am lucky to have some pretty cool co-worker friends, too.
My education. For years, my mother begged me to go to college. She had sadly passed away before I finally enrolled in classes. I am grateful to have had some of the finest instructors and professors to guide me and teach me in my journey. Not only did I gain a degree, but I made many new friendships with classmates and teachers. I still hope to one day further my education.
My friends. Napoleon Hill said, “That man is rich indeed who had more friends than enemies…” I am truly a rich man! I am lucky enough to have made many friends throughout my life. Many of them I have known for over 40 years! So many good times! So many good memories! I am thankful for each of them!
My enemies. Yes, my enemies. First of all, they make me more appreciative and thankful for my friends! Second, they actually help me, too. How? Here is a great quote (I wish I knew who said it) “Your enemies evolve you at the core. They force you to defend and endure more than you thought possible.” Yes, my enemies may be full of hatred toward me. They may spread rumors about me. They may discredit me and bash me, but I am stronger because of their ignorance and loathing. Over the last few years, I have gained lots of strength!
My faith. It may not be important to you, but it is to me. I am thankful for God, His Word, His Son, and all that He has done for me. I am thankful for His unconditional love for me. No matter how many times I mess up, He is still there for me – loving me. That just amazes me.
Modern Medicine. We are blessed to live in a time where medical advances are curing diseases and saving lives! While there is a long way to go, and there are still many diseases that need a cure – we continue to make progress. I am thankful for the great minds who strive to find the answers, treatments, and cures. I hope to see cures for things like cancer in my lifetime.
Coffee. I was 12 when my grandpa introduced coffee to me (it was probably more cream and sugar than coffee, but I liked it.) Coffee has helped me through many overnight shifts on the radio, many 12 hour shifts in the sleep lab, and is just perfect to drink on a chilly autumn morning. I am also thankful for some of the wonderful flavors.
My country. I am thankful to live in the United States of America. I am thankful that we live in a country that allows us many freedoms. While I have not visited every state in the union, I can tell you that on a recent road trip, I was in awe of the beauty that I witnessed while driving. I am thankful and proud to be an American!
Cameras/Photographs/Videos. How many precious moments and memories have been captured by cameras? Without cameras how many things would be forgotten? Think about all of the historical pictures that have meant so much over the years. Now think about how looking at old family photos can immediately place you back in that exact moment with loved ones! Think about how awesome it is to watch an old home movie and hear the voices of loved ones who are no longer here. I am SO thankful for the memories that have been preserved for me on film.
I sometimes look like the crazy dad. I seem to always be taking pictures of the kids, but I do that because I want to remember these times. I don’t ever want them not to have pictures of themselves or their relatives.
Dreams and the ability to dream. I am thankful that every now and then, I will have a dream where I am once again talking with my mom or my grandparents. In the original blog, I mentioned that in my Facebook Memories for that day I mentioned a dream I had where I was hanging out with Frank Sinatra & Dean Martin – only in dreams!! The morning of the baby shower, I dreamed about my mom. Dreams are really interesting things!
My Past. Sometimes looking back at the past can be painful. Hindsight is 20/20, right? It’s always easy to look back and see the mistakes you have made and kick yourself for making them. I look at it another way – I am who I am today because of my past. The things that have happened to me along the way – both good and bad – are a part of who I am and have played a role in who I am today. Yes, I can look back and see people or events that disgust me, but without them – I’d be a very different person.
Air Conditioning/Heat. As someone who loves to go to museums and such, I always wondered how people got along without AC in the summertime or heat in the winter! I can’t imagine having to wake up in the middle of the night to add more wood to the fire or wood stove. I also can’t imagine working 8 hours a day in a place without AC! I am very thankful for those two modern-day conveniences!
Sunrises and Sunsets. One of my guilty pleasures is sitting and watching the sun come up or go down. When I lived on the west side of the state (Michigan), I was lucky enough to live right off the water. I would often go to the beach and just watch the sun set over the lake. It was majestic and beautiful! I am so thankful for these two simple things. Today, with my schedule, I tend to see more sunrises than sunsets.
Laughter/Humor. I love to laugh and I love the sound of laughter! I also love to make people laugh. I am so thankful for things that are funny and things that make me laugh. Charlie Chaplin said, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.” Milton Berle said, “Laughter is an instant vacation.” Another great quote is “Life is short. Spend it with people who make you laugh and feel loved.”
Music. I am thankful for music in SO many ways. Music, is one of those things that can evoke all kinds of emotions. A song, just like an old photograph, can take you back in time. In radio, we used to play what we called “Oh Wow” songs. Those songs that make you say, “Oh wow! I haven’t heard that in forever!” or “Oh wow! That reminds me of my senior prom!” Music is one of life’s great things! It can convey things with or without words. One of my favorite quotes, which is attributed to Hans Christian Anderson, is “Where words fail – music speaks.” SO True! I am thankful for some of the many music blogs I follow. They often remind me of some of those “Oh wow” songs!
The Kindness of Strangers. I have benefited from the kindness of strangers more times than I can count. We saw a brief surge of random acts of kindness when the movie “Pay It Forward” came out, and it is a shame that those acts have fizzled out. The world would be a better place if we took a moment and thought of others. There have been plenty of times where someone in front of me has bought my coffee at the drive-thru window, and I have returned the favor. I remember one time seeing an elderly gentleman eating alone in a restaurant. He never knew who I was, but I saw his World War II Veteran hat. I bought his meal and told the waitress to tell him that I thank him for his service. Random acts of kindness are not just something we can accept – they are something we can do.
Those who have served in the Armed Forces. We live in a free country because of the men and women who have served in the various branches of the military. I am thankful to each and every one of them. I know that our freedom came with a price and so many men and women paid the ultimate price for me – and you. Those that have served, no matter what branch and no matter if you were in battle or not, you are a hero! I am thankful for you and your service! I have friends and family who all served, and I am thankful for these heroes!
The Changing Seasons. Here in Michigan, I get to see them all! Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. The first snowfall is beautiful. Ice storms can be hell! Springtime showers and the grass turning green is a reminder of things becoming new again. Summertime is never long enough, but getting the chance to swim at the pool, golfing, and the smell of fresh-cut grass can always make me smile. Fall is my favorite season! This year we got hit with some early snow, so the joke is that Fall was the best “three days of the year”! The crisp cool air of autumn is perfect for bonfires. I’m sad to admit that we didn’t get to have any bonfires this year. The leaves changing colors makes for some spectacular rides on the highway. At any rate, I am thankful to get to experience each one of the seasons.
Spell Checker. Without this, I really don’t know what I would do! I remember all those spelling tests from school! The problem is, as I get older, I seem to have forgotten how to spell. Spell Check is one of those great features that got me through many a research paper in college. It can also be very helpful here in my blog. Of course, sometimes, you can misspell a word that is the correct spelling of another word, so it isn’t foolproof. I’m thankful for it anyway!
The often overlooked necessities. I could easily make these each an item on this list. I guess these are often things that are taken for granted. For example, my home. I am thankful to have a roof over my head to protect me from the elements. I am thankful for the clothes that I wear. I am thankful for fresh water and hot showers. Those two go together and, while it is often taken for granted, there are those who do not enjoy those simple things. I am thankful for electricity. While there are times I think it is cool to sit and read a book by candlelight because of a power outage, I’d rather have the light – and everything else that uses it. I am thankful for a good meal. Sometimes that meal may consist of a simple bowl of cereal, but the fact that I have food to eat is something that some people don’t have.
Bad Days. As much as we’d rather not have them, it is important to remember that when we have them, they remind us of just how awesome the good days are! I am thankful for bad days, but even more thankful for the good ones! I am also thankful that in the big picture – I have had more good ones than bad ones.
The Internet. It’s funny how we lived so long without it, yet we can’t really live without it today! I mean, without it, you wouldn’t be reading this! I am thankful for it and the good things associated with it. I am thankful to be able to connect with family and friends across the miles with social media. I am thankful that at any moment, I can open up Google and find an answer to a silly question. I am thankful that my kids and I can use it instead of encyclopedias to do research. So many things are at our fingertips because of the internet.
A good book/movie/TV show. I really enjoy being able to get lost in a good story. I love to read, but sadly don’t really get the time to do it as often as I’d like to. Same with a good movie. With movies, there are very few new movies that appeal to me. As most of you know, I prefer older films (you know, the ones that are so good some jerk in Hollywood decides to remake it and ruin it). I don’t need to see 20 minute sex scenes, car chases that are impossible to believe, blood and gore, or violence. I want a good story – and a good story is something that Hollywood has seemed to run out of. When it comes to TV, I rarely watch new shows. Most of them are “reality” based anyway and just garbage. I guess that’s why I am thankful for TV shows on DVD. Ok, last year, I kinda dissed on reality TV, and I should clarify that I mean talent shows, dance shows, and shows with singers in masks. To me, these are just a waste of my time.
My cat. There is no doubt that she is truly my cat. I know she doesn’t bug Sam like she does me. She takes every opportunity to come up by me when I am on the couch, a chair, or in bed. If they kids go to bed and I play my golf game, she is right next to me. She loves for me to pet her. As annoying as she can be, I really love her.
The five senses. I can’t imagine going through life not being able to see my children or my wife or some of the wonderful things I have already described. I can’t imagine not being able to smell fresh coffee brewing or my spaghetti sauce on the stove. I can’t imagine not hearing the sound of my children laughing. I can’t imagine not being able to taste a juicy steak. I can’t imagine not being able to feel a hug from my wife. I am SO thankful to have the ability to have all five senses!
Forgiveness. I am thankful for forgiveness. Sadly, it is one of those things that is rare today. It is, however, one of the great things taught in the Bible and throughout history. It is also one of the hardest things to do. I have trouble with it too on occasion. I am thankful that there are friends and family who have forgiven me for past transgressions.
Acceptance. I am thankful for those people in my life who accept me for who I am. They don’t try to change me. There may be things about me that they don’t like or agree with, but they love and accept me as I am. I try to do the same for others.
Encouragement. I would not be where am I today without the encouragement and support of others. It may have been the smallest gesture or a simple sentence in conversation, but the encouragement of others helped me to get through some tough stuff and I am thankful for that.
Change. This is hard for me to be thankful for, but I am. I have to be honest, I hate change! I am a creature of habit. When I lost 85 pounds, I did it primarily by eating the same meals every day. I do not like change, but I know it is important. There were many times over the last couple years that I had to step out of my comfort zone and accept it. I am thankful I did. Change is good – most of the time.
My Therapist. She, like many others, helped me to cope as life offered many challenges. She helped me sort out some feelings. She helped me to see things that I was completely unaware of. She helped me deal with the things involved in my divorce. She also is responsible for my blogs. I used to blog all the time, but was basically told that “no one wants to read that stuff”. I stopped writing. My therapist is the one who suggested keeping a journal. When I told her I used to blog, she asked why I stopped. When I told her why, she suggested starting back up. I told her I didn’t know what to write about. She basically said, “Write about whatever you want! It doesn’t matter if you are writing for others or writing for yourself. If you like to write – WRITE!” From the length of this blog – you can see that I like to write.
Facebook memories. This is a two-edged sword. It is a daily reminder or good things from the past, as well as times with people no longer in my life. I am thankful for it just the same. Many times it is a simple one liner I posted as a status, while other times it is my thoughts about my boys school events. Some pictures bring back good memories, while others bring back sad memories. I smile at the good ones and try to forget the bad ones, but again remind myself that I am who I am today because of the past.
I once believed that it was ok to let some of those memories pop up every year. However, now, I have found it is better to delete some of the past photos with people from the past. If my kids are in those photos, I leave them, but I have deleted quite a few pictures and posts that mention certain people. Why should I let that crap remind me of when I was miserable.
Pumpkin Pie with Cool Whip. Ok, so I finally had dessert while I was writing this. I love a good piece of pumpkin pie topped with Cool Whip.
YOU. Yep. I am thankful for YOU. You are reading this and I appreciate it. I am thankful for my followers and for those who read my stuff. Thank you for being my friend. Thank you for following this blog.