Thanksgiving 2022 Recap

The holiday weekend is winding down and I hope that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Ours was a good day filled with great food and family.

The day started with a quick game of hide and seek.

We watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The kids loved seeing Josh from Blue’s Clues and Bluey in the parade!

After breakfast, we prepared the deviled eggs to bring. Sam said she didn’t have paprika. She chuckled when I told her I never liked when my mom put it on the deviled eggs! Then we all started to get ready to go to Sam’s mom’s for dinner.

The loss of my sister-in-law, Grace, is still very fresh. It helped to have family together. There was a lot of love and great conversation throughout the day.

We had an amazing dinner, prepared by my mother-in-law: turkey, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese and so much more. There was no shortage of desserts either!

The Detroit Lions actually gave us a good game to watch, despite losing in the last 23 seconds. It would have been nice to see them win their fourth in a row.

I got to finally meet my newest niece, Arabella. She is a little cutie! She’s only a few months old, but she’s almost as big as Andrew!

I dropped the ball this year and didn’t really take many pictures. My sister in law snapped a candid of the family as we were leaving which I just love.

I love it because it is typical chaos. It looks like Sam is asking me something and I am oblivious. Ella is waving and Andrew is like, “can we just go home now?”

We came home and relaxed the rest of the night, just enjoying family time.

As I turned off the lights and headed off to bed, I reflected again o just how thankful I am for my wonderful family.

Giving Thanks (Updated)

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!

Updated 2022

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.

What are YOU thankful for??

Gulp!

I had to take Andrew to have a Barium Swallow Test this week. It was yet another test tied to the laryngomalacia. Since he had his surgery, it seems like he is having trouble swallowing food and drink. If you’ve never had one of these, I don’t recommend them. I had one done some time ago and the barium is very thick and “chalky.”

Ella got to have a sleepover at Nana’s house the night before, because we had to be up early to be on the road. Andrew woke up in a good mood, and early enough where I was able to give him some milk before the drive. He was not supposed to have any food or drink three hours prior to the test. We were worried about him being hungry, but he slept the entire way down.

We were the only ones in the waiting room. Every time he heard someone at the registration desk, he’d walk over that way to see who was talking. It didn’t take long to get called back, and he was fairly calm.

When we walked into the testing room, I thought for sure he was going to begin to freak out. They had me sit him in a chair, which he was strapped into. They then pulled down the “camera/x-ray” machine along side of him. They made me put one of those x-ray vests on and I stood in front of him.

We were told to bring stuff for him to eat and drink, but they had an applesauce and crackers there for him. I had brought applesauce, fruit loops, and some other things for him. They mixed the barium with applesauce and I gave him a few spoons of that. Then we added fruit loops to it and he ate a bit more. Then they added some barium to his sippy cup and had him drink from it.

And just like that, the test was over. There was a doctor there monitoring things as the test was in progress. He told me that Andrew was not aspirating and all looked good. I was relieved. Since the test was over quicker than I anticipated, we walked to the food court and I bought us cookies!

Now that this test is over, we’ll probably have another sleep study done to see if the procedure helped with his sleep apnea. I’m hoping so!

As we head into the holiday season, I am excited to see what kind of mischief my two little elves will be causing …

Frosty Fun

We’ve had a few snow flurries in the area over the past few weeks, but nothing that actually stuck to the ground. I snapped the above picture along I-75 on my way home from work yesterday morning. I absolutely love when the snow coats the branches of the trees. It is just so beautiful.

When Ella woke up this morning, she looked out her window and saw the snow on the ground and immediately wanted to go outside and play! She loves to be outside! However, she had to wait a bit because Andrew had an appointment. I got the kids breakfast and packed up the diaper bag so that when Sam finished getting ready, they could get right out and on the road.

I was asleep when they got home, but before naptime the kids did get to go outside.

You wouldn’t know that Ella didn’t want to put her snow pants on by looking at this picture! She would have been more than happy to just go out with no coat on.

Andrew was still newborn last year, so he really didn’t get to go outside to play in the snow at all. This year, it’s a whole new experience for him. The snow made us aware that we need to get him some boots! He was fine running around in his shoes. Look at that smile!

I can only imagine how much fun we are going to have in the snow when there is more on the ground! You can see his hat didn’t last long.

I foresee lots of snow angels in the months ahead! I need to stop and get a new sled for us. I used to love when my dad would pull us around on the sled. There is a small hill close to our house that I want to take them to this year.

I suppose I’ll need to stock up on hot chocolate to warm up with after our Frosty Fun Play Days!

The Great Stall Tactic

Those who have toddlers understand. I posted this on my Facebook page and thought it was funny enough to share here.

Ella is quite smart. She is in the terrible two stage right now. This means there is a whole lot of “I want it NOW!” and “No!”

That being said, bedtime, which used to be quite easy, has become more of a process. What follows is a rough estimate of what happened at bedtime last night.

From My Facebook Page:

(5:00pm) Sam puts Teletubbies on Netflix as a joke. Little did she know that both kids would LOVE it! (Urgh!!)

(5:30pm) Ella is hugging Sam before she leaves for work. “I’m tired. I wanna go sleepy”

(6:30pm) Kids are in pajamas and await video call from Mommy.

(6:55pm) Video chat with mommy. Both kids are fighting over who gets to hold the phone.

(7:15pm) Routine diaper check/change.

(7:30pm) I ask who/what Ella is taking to bed with her. (Usually it’s her princesses or books) “Nothing!” I ask if she is sure. “Yep. Nothing.”

(7:45pm) I tell her after we watch one more Teletubbies, it’s bedtime. “I’m not ready for bed, Daddy.”

(8:00pm) I say it’s time to brush teeth. “One more Teletubbies, Daddy. Then we brush teeth”

(8:15pm) Final diaper check/change. Time to brush teeth. I turn TV off and both kids rush to the bathroom. Teeth are brushed and we head to her room. I ask again if she is bringing anything to bed. “Nope. Just my blanket and Nini (pacifier).”

(8:17pm) We begin to say bedtime prayers, she interrupts. “Daddy, I need Rapunzel, Belle, and Cinderella! (Her Little People Princesses)

(8:18pm) We find the princesses she requested and head back to the bedroom. After getting under her blanket she says, “I need book Belle!” (The Belle from Little People is holding a book. Different from the Belle holding a flower!)

(8:19pm-8:20pm) Andrew and I walk out to the living room and look for “Book Belle” who was buried in a pile of toys.

(8:21pm) We return to Ella’s room. “You found her!”. We say prayers. “Say them again, Daddy.” I ad-lib a version of what I just said. “Amen.” She begs for me to say them again. I tell her God heard us the first two times and that it is time for bed.

(8:25 pm) I turn out the light and say goodnight. “Daddy, where is Tiana?” I ask if she wants the big Tiana (a stuffy) or the small Tiana (plastic bath toy). “Big Tiana”

(8:29pm) I return after a search of the living room with Tiana. “Oh thank you, Daddy!”

(8:31pm) After kissing her goodnight, I turn out the light and start to walk out. “Daddy, I need the white blankie on my pillow.”

(8:35pm) After adding the blankie to the top of her pillow and cover her back up. “Daddy, I want the Paw Patrol Blanket on, too.”

(8:37pm) Paw Patrol Blanket is now on. I say goodnight and close her bedroom door.

(8:45pm) Andrew falls asleep and I put him in his crib. I begin to write this post.

(8:50pm) Ella begins crying. I go in to see what’s wrong. “I need you to sing me a song, Daddy.”

(8:51pm) I sing “You Are My Sunshine” a couple times.

(8:53pm) “Sing me another song, Daddy.”. I sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. “Sing the ABC song, Daddy.”. I do.

(8:56pm) “Sing me one more song, Daddy.”. I choose Vieni Su, a Dean Martin song I used to sing to her as a baby. She obviously doesn’t remember it. I tell her I used to sing it to her. “I believe you, Daddy.

(9:01pm) One more kiss goodnight and I head back to my room to finish typing this! Whew!!

Goodnight, Princess Ella. Sleep well.

Making Spirits Bright

I saw a thing on Facebook that made me laugh.  It said, “It only snows in November because people decorate early for Christmas.” Blame me if you wish, but we needed to brighten things up over this way! 

There has been a lot going on in my life, some of which I have shared and some I have kept to myself. We’re all processing a variety of emotions. With the passing of my sister-in-law, there is an extra bit of sadness. Like the song says, “We need a little Christmas!” So we decided to put up the Christmas tree this weekend.

The older the kids get, the more fun this becomes. Andrew was just a couple months old last year, so he was especially excited to see the tree and the lights. He and Ella both “helped” handing me lights. They were both extra giddy.

I had the lights plugged in as I walked around the tree with them. That way I could make sure they were placed evenly and all areas has the proper amount of lights.

Andrew, as you know, is everywhere. He gets into everything! So we debated waiting until closer to Christmas to put ornaments on the tree. We also debated not putting any on at all. We did decide to put the tree topper on, and Andrew was the perfect helper!

My dad commented on a picture of the tree on Facebook. He said he was taking bets on who was going to know the tree down – Ella, Andrew, or the cat! For the record, the cat has yet to get near the tree, which is really odd.

We brought up the baby gate and set it around the tree. It’s the “look, but don’t touch” gate. The kids can still touch it, but the probability of the tree coming down is a lot less.

I decided that certain ornaments had to go up on the tree. As ridiculous as it looks, all the ornaments are on the tree from about a foot higher than the top of the baby gate and up to the top. In total, there are maybe 12-20 ornaments on there.

Every year, we got to Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth to get an ornament that represents a big even from the year. We got one for our engagement, or marriage, the birth of both kids, etc. We went early this year and at the time, didn’t really have an “event” to get an ornament for. We opted instead for a plaque for the door with a snowman family on it.

When my sister-in-law, Grace, passed away I decided I was going to get Sam and her folks a memorial ornament for the tree. I had seen a few designs in the Bronner’s catalog, and chose this one.

I had hoped to save it until closer to Christmas to give it to Sam, but I can’t control my face. Let me explain.

I took the kids with me to Bronner’s on a day Sam was home sleeping. I kept the ornaments in my car so she wouldn’t see them. Then a day or two later, she was getting ready for work and said, “I was thinking about getting a Christmas ornament with Grace’s name on it for my mom.”

I must have stood there dumbfounded. My face obviously giving away that I had already done it. Instead of just saying, “That’s a great idea. We should do that.” I knew that she would just go and do it. So I walked out to the car and brought inside.

I’m glad it’s inside and I’m glad it is on the tree. Grace already has a special place in our hearts, and now she will have a special place on our tree every year.

If my tree being up brings snow your way, I’m sorry. We needed something help brighten the season, even if it is early.

Another thing I saw on Facebook this week said, “Don’t you just love it when the Christmas tree is the only light in the room?”

Yes. Yes, I do!

Halloween Recap

Halloween 2022 is now behind us. The day started with me and the kids getting our flu shots. I, of course, waited until the last possible minute to get mine for work.

As we drove home, one of the neighbors had put up a HUGE inflatable pumpkin. Ella saw it from the window, and despite the fact that it was raining, insisted that we go down to look at it. Thankfully, it was only a couple houses away. When she got up close to it, she couldn’t believe how big it was!

Sam took last night off from work and we were all able to walk the neighborhood to trick or treat last night. Trick or Treating in our city started at 5pm. We had napped late in the afternoon and by the time we had dinner, we didn’t get out in the neighborhood until around 5:30.

Despite it being a bit misty, the temperatures weren’t too bad. Last year, it was SO cold I brought Ella home early. This year, she was gung ho to do the whole neighborhood – and she had a BLAST!

This was the busiest Halloween I’ve seen in our neighborhood. There were kids of all ages, too! I loved seeing the families who dressed up together. One of our neighborhood families dressed as characters from the Wizard of Oz. It was awesome.

Ella wanted to go to every house! She loved seeing the pumpkins lit up and all of the costumes. What was really sweet was that there were neighbors who recognized us from our daily walks and they would give her extra candy.

We did let Andrew venture out on foot once or twice, but he was running all over the place, so we wound up having to put in back in the stroller. He didn’t seem to mind, however, as that is where much of the candy was …

I was impressed that the kids did the entire neighborhood! When we got home, we took Andrew’s costume off because it had chocolate all over it!! We got in the car and drove to Sam’s mom and dad’s. They had special treats for them when we arrived.

It was almost 8 when we got there and on the drive we talked about how foggy it was! It was truly spooky. It wasn’t that foggy by our house, but it was crazy foggy on the way to her folks. Perfect for Halloween. The fog lasted well into the morning, as a friend posted this picture of downtown Detroit:

When we finally left Sam’s folks to head home, we both decided we were hungry. I veered off the diet as the only thing open was McDonalds. The kids had chicken nuggets, Sam had a Big Mac, and I grabbed a Filet of Fish Sandwich. It was probably not the best thing to eat that late, and probably explains the weird dreams I had, but overall, the day was a great one with the family!

I’m Just Going to Leaf This Here …

Just a few days ago I posted pictures of the colorful trees in the neighborhood. All it took was a windy rainy day this week and many of those leaves have now fallen. As you walk through the neighborhood now, the ground is covered in yellow, red and orange while the trees are more and more bare.

More leaves on the ground meant more leaves to play in for the kids … and me! We certainly have had our share of fun jumping in the piles in the yard. It’s funny how different the kids are in regards to the leaves. Ella wants to be surrounded or buried in them.

Andrew, on the other hand, really doesn’t like to be in the pile much. I tried to get him to sit in the pile a few times, but once he is in there, he wants out! He’d rather pick them up and throw them.

It was just as fun for me to get down and play in the leaves with them.

Of course, it didn’t take long for the two of them to start throwing leaves on me!

The wonderful thing about these moments – they don’t cost a thing. I hope that when my kids look back at these blogs, they will remember with joy the fun that we had just being silly together.

The simplest things can bring about a smile and happiness – and this picture is proof of that:

Never be so busy that you don’t jump in the leaves!

Pictures Perfect

I’m not sure I’d ever have what it takes to be a photographer. Oh sure, many people comment on the pictures I take with my phone and post on Facebook, but they are far from professional.

There is a local photographer close by that has never disappointed us with her photos. She took Ella’s First Birthday pictures, Andrew’s helmet pictures, and recently Andrew’s First Birthday pictures. Her name is Beth and she owns Enjoy the View Photography.

I am always amazed when I look at the pictures she gets. I know the chaos that was happening when the pictures are being taken, yet she is able to grab that perfect split second in time that makes it frame worthy.

For Andrew’s session, she set aside some time for us to get a few of both kids and the family. The autumn colors were not at peak, but the outdoor photos still look fantastic!

She got pictures of the whole family sitting, standing, with Ella on my shoulders, and more. It is hard to pick a favorite and which ones to put on canvas.

Then there were photos of the two of them together. Some truly amazing shots of them sitting, but the one that both Sam and I love is them running from the camera.

There is one of Ella grabbing Andrew and hugging him that makes me laugh …

…and one that makes me tear up….

Beth got a couple solo shots of them, which wasn’t easy with Ella. She was way past being done, however, there is one that just came out perfect…

…my favorite solo picture of Andrew captures him in all his sweetness…

We headed inside to get birthday and cake pictures. Again, Beth was able to get these split second moments perfectly. Andrew was not really about sitting still, but you’d never know it by these pictures.

As far as a cake “smash,” we didn’t really get that for pictures. We got some at home on his birthday, but he was just to careful during the photo session. It was almost like he was saying, “I’d rather not make a mess…”

My kudos again to Beth and Enjoy the View Photography for these wonderful pictures which we will look back and enjoy for years!

Friday Photo Flashback

Here is another installment of the Friday Photo Flashback. This feature started with a writing prompt that asked to find a picture and write about it and the feelings it brought about.

This week I only have to go back a year or so. As I have been watching the leaves change color, I was reminded of the many autumn walks I took with Ella. I remembered just how fascinated she was with the leaves. We often would stop so she could enjoy them.

I may have posted this photo in a past blog, I can’t remember. I just love this photo of Ella!

I love that we were walking and she found this colorful pile of leaves. I recall her picking them up one by one and just being mesmerized by them. Then she just dove into the pile.

I love the hat she is wearing. I hope my wife saved it in the “special clothes” bin. I love the huge smile she is wearing. She is so content. Happiness must be a huge pile of leaves.

I am far from a professional photographer and I am sure that this is no where near professional quality. However, to me, it looks like something a professional would take.

It’s a one of a kind photo. As I see her smiling surrounded by leaves, it reminds me of some special moments with my daughter. It also reminds me of my favorite season.