Celebrating My Children!

In the Bible, in Psalm 127:3-5, it reads:

“(3) Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. (4) As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. (5) Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them”

My quiver has been blessed four times! I am certainly a lucky man to have been chosen by God to be a father to my children. Each of them, different in their own special way, fill my heart and soul.

Dimitri (holding Andrew), Ella, and Dante’

Dante’

My first born. He’s the one who made me “dad” for the first time. He is probably the most like me. He has a love for old music, old movies, and loves information on older celebrities. He is loud and boisterous at times, but is also a gentle soul who loves to help people. His random acts of kindness make me so proud of him. He’s a hard worker who loves to have fun and loves to be surrounded by friends. In a sense, he is my “Mini-Me.” He is currently studying hard with college and continues to thrive!

Dimitri

My second born. He is also a bit like me, but in another way. Now a high schooler, I see him mimicking many of my study “habits,” which is probably not good. I was the same way – waiting till the last minute to do homework or projects, forgetting to do things I need to and only doing the things that I WANTED to do, and never really studying like I should. I try to use those things as “teaching opportunities” with him. He is, however, a typical teenager right now. He is learning how to golf, so I cannot wait to go play a round (and rounds) with him. He has a bright future and in the years ahead, I know he will do great things!

Not unless there is a miracle

After some tests, I was asked if I was done having children. At the time, I was. The doctor said this was good, because based on the test results, I only had about a 4% chance of ever having more children.

After my divorce, and after I remarried, my wife and I discussed children. She is younger than me and wanted children. Knowing what I knew, it would take a miracle to have more. We discussed adoption at one point and even looked into other methods of getting pregnant. Then the miracle came ….

Ella

I will never forget the day Sam told me that we were having a baby. I will never forget they day we found out that our miracle was going to be a girl! I will never forget the day that she was born. For some reason, God decided that I would once again be a daddy and he sent me this beautiful little girl. What a joy it was to relive the first tooth, the first steps, the first words, and all the things that come with having a baby. She is so smart!! She excels at so many things! She her laughter is music to my ears. When she breaks out in song, I could listen all day. I love our moments playing Little People, reading books, and watching Bluey together. She is my sweet princess and I look forward to those special daddy/daughter moments.

Andrew

Another miracle! Ella was about a year old when we found out that Sam was once again expecting. It was truly a huge surprise to both of us! He is the opposite of Ella in so many ways. We never had to baby proof anything with her, but he is always into something. He is WAY ahead of where he should be. He was walking early and no doubt will be talking early. He is doing all he can to keep up with his sister. He is one of the happiest babies. There is something about his smile that just makes everything better. His laughter is just as musical as Ella’s. His first year is flying by and I look forward to teaching him to throw a baseball and those great father/son things.

My dear children –

Thank you for each being so special to me. I am so honored to be your father. I love you with every ounce of my being. I hope that I will live up to the responsibility that God has given me to teach you, to raise you, and to prepare you for life. In the time ahead, I will be happy to listen to you, to help you, or to give advice. I promise to be here for you till the end of my days.

Love always,

Dad

Weekend Ride on the Emotional Rollercoaster of Life

It’s been a crazy past few days. On Friday, we took Andrew to the ENT to discuss the results of his sleep study. He has severe sleep apnea. Usually, this means that the tonsils or the adenoids need to come out to open up the airway. The doc took a look at his and said his tonsils were not too big and he didn’t think his adenoids were a problem either. So he did a scope in the office to look further.

The scope showed that he has laryngomalacia. This is something we are seeing more and more of in the sleep lab. Basically, there is extra tissue in the larynx.

This explains why his sleep is so crappy!! When he falls asleep, that floppy tissue blocks the airway.

Lateral view of child’s face showing blocked air flow caused by laryngomalacia.

So it looks like he will have some surgery to correct this in the near future. It will also mean 24-48 hours in the hospital. This will not be fun at all, as he loves to be on the go. I’m sure sitting in a room all day is not going to be pleasant at all! We are waiting on the hospital to call and schedule the surgery.

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My Godmother/cousin recently had a stroke. She is currently in hospice. I was able to see her over the weekend to say goodbye. It is never an easy thing to do. There were many people in the room, so I kept it pretty simple.

I’m not sure if it is just in Italian families or what, but at some point there was a stretch of years where certain members of the family didn’t speak to each other. I have no idea what it was about but I am sure that it was just stupid. Life is too short to lose that much time. This hits home a lot with my Godmother.

For years, I didn’t see her because of an argument that I wasn’t even a part of! Shortly after my grandmother passed away, my dad began to reach out to cousins that we hadn’t talk to. Thankfully, the peace was restored and I was reunited with my cousins.

I remember seeing her for the first time in forever and just hugging on her! I was so happy to see her. We spent a long time catching up. So many years lost to ridiculousness. So many things we both missed out on.

I am kicking myself because a week before, I was thinking about her and meant to call her and catch up. I never did. I regret that. I am grateful to have had a moment with her this weekend to tell her how much I love her.

My Godmother and me at Ella’s baby shower

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I’m not trying to make excuses, but I am an emotional eater. When I get stressed or worry – I snack. I made a lot of mistakes on my diet this week. I found myself grabbing goldfish crackers and “estimating” how many I had. We hadn’t gone grocery shopping, so almost all of the veggies were gone, so I snacked on crackers and stuff I shouldn’t have. I was completely ready to see a gain on the scale, but actually lost a pound this week. This brings my 10 week total weight loss to 30 pounds.

The heat and rain didn’t help much. It was hard to get my daily walks in last week.

30 pounds is progress and I am back on track. Sunday and Monday we got to go out and walk the neighborhood! Ella is making it a bit more difficult as she wants to walk instead of being in the stroller/wagon. He being out, does make it easy to get pictures, but she walks a LOT slower than I am used to.

A ray of morning sunshine

He puppy friend, Louie, was so excited to see her the other day he “ran” to the fence to say hello!

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I went to the store on Sunday and bought some new sand for Ella’s sandbox. We moved it to another part of the yard because where we had it, the sun beat down on it. We moved it to a shadier spot and both kids are playing in it. Andrew really doesn’t understand that the sand is not for eating … one would think that after the third time putting it in your mouth, you’d stop, right?!

The sandbox is just another example of how my kids will grow up to be best buddies. I love to watch them play together. I hope it stays warm for a while longer. I’m not sure just how they are going to handle being cooped up in the house all day in the winter.

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The range of emotions experienced this weekend was overwhelming. I’m hoping that things slow down and return to normal – whatever normal is!

A Busy Weekend!

Where did the weekend go?! It was so busy for me that it flew right by!

Friday night, Andrew had his sleep study. He had it done at my lab, so we all drove together to the lab. Ella got to have a sleep over with her cousins. They all slept with the blankets that Sam’s mom (Nana) made for them. In the morning, Aunt Emmy sent us this picture –

What a PERFECT picture. Her cousins love her so much, how awesome to see them holding her hands.

Meanwhile, back at the sleep lab, Andrew was all hooked up and ready for his night. It went MUCH better than we thought. Any time you are dealing with a child under 5, the hook up can be difficult. The fact that I was in there hooking him up probably helped a lot! He never cried once! After he fell asleep, I was able to get the final couple pieces of equipment on and I only had to go in to fix things a couple times. We neglected to get a picture of him while he was still awake, but we snapped one of him sleeping.

He was a champ! We follow up with ENT on Friday.

Saturday, we all took turns napping. It was a long day Friday and Sam and I were both exhausted and Sam had to work Saturday night.

Sunday, I took this kids to a cute little park. It is at an early childhood center. It isn’t a park I can take them to when school is in session, or there are kids there, but on Sundays, no one is there. There was a variety of things for both kids to do and many were toddler specific. It was completely fenced in, so they could run and I didn’t have to worry about them getting away from me.

While some areas were in the sun, there were many shaded areas where they could play and not worry about sunburn. It was fun to run around with them and let them burn off some energy,

He was so happy to be able to run around. We started with shoes on, but they only lasted about 5 minutes!

The slides are always a hit with Ella! She loves them. They even had some smaller ones for Andrew, but he didn’t quite get the concept ….

He always wanted to climb up instead of slide down the slide!

One of my favorite pictures from the day is the one above. By itself, it is a great picture of Ella. However, I love it because she walked over to this step and sat down announcing, “I’m a Queen, Daddy! This is my Queen’s chair!” I wish I had a crown to give her!

After they ran around for an hour or so, we all grabbed something to drink and sat beneath one of the trees in the shade. I knew it was getting close to lunch time, so before we packed up to go home, I tried to get a selfie. It is harder and harder to get pictures with Ella now … but I was lucky to snap this one.

Priceless memories made!

Share and Share Alike

One of the most difficult things for a toddler to do is share. Teaching them how to share can be just as difficult.

“It’s mine!” “My blanket!” “Stop it! That’s mine!

Walk into any daycare, kindergarten class, or home with toddlers and I can guarantee you will hear those phrases. If not those exact phrases, you will hear variations of them. Sharing does not come easy for those youngsters.

Today, however, my wife posted something that melted my heart. After I left for work, she took the kids out for ice cream. She caught Ella sharing her ice cream with Andrew …

She said that she was proud to be sharing with him. Look at how careful she is feeding him. What a beautiful scene. Sam told me that he was just as sweet. He would clap his hands when he ate and was very patient to wait for Ella to give him his next bite.

So you have the naturally impatient baby who grabs at what he wants, being patient and awaiting his next scoop AND the naturally selfish toddler who opened her heart and shared her treat with her brother. It was as though the two of them had major personality changes – even if it was just for a few minutes.

What a truly amazing moment!

Hello, Louie!

The photo above may be a bit deceiving, in that this blog is NOT about the hit song by the Kingsmen.

It is also not about other famous Louies (or Louis) like comedians:

Louie Anderson

Louis CK

Or trumpet players:

Louis Armstrong

Louis Prima

Or his animated alter ego:

King Louie

Or fictional TV characters like:

Louie the Lilac

Louie De Palma

So just WHO is Louie?!

Well, if you are a regular reader to my blog you know that over the past couple years, my daughter (and now my son, too) like to walk our neighborhood. There is one house where there is an old Bassett hound that is occasionally outside. That dog has been her “puppy friend” for a long time.

We never knew if it was a boy or a girl. We never knew its name. It has been a mystery for some time. Not any more!

Yesterday, as we were walking, her puppy friend was out in the middle of the yard soaking up the sun.

Ella asked to get out of the stroller so she could go up to the fence to say hello. She stood there saying, “Hi Puppy! Come here, Puppy!” The back door of the house opened and a young guy peaked his head out and said, “That’s Louie! He’s too old to be doing a lot of walking. He’ll be ten years old this week.”

I told the guy we had wondered what his name was and were glad to finally know it. Ella must have said, “He’s Louie!” about 40 times and “Hi, Louie!” another 40 times. She was thrilled (as was I) to finally know his name!

We took a family walk this evening when I woke up and got to see Louie again. I think I’m going to go to the store and buy a box of dog treats and a birthday card and have Ella hand deliver it to Louie’s owner for his birthday. That dog has brought many smiles to our walks and “10” is a special birthday!

Her Name Up In Lights – Sort Of

There is never a dull moment at our house! It was a weekend full of some really memorable moments.

Saturday was a laid back kind of day. After dinner, I took the kids for a walk around the neighborhood. It was a bit warm and I was sweating pretty good afterwards. I knew that if I was hot, the kids were probably hot, so I grabbed the hose and let them play with their water table.

Normally, I’d put them in their bathing suits, but I just let them get wet. They had so much fun. The only bad thing is that at that hour of the day, the sun is blocked by the trees, so they were in the shade. Combine that with the fact that the hose water is ice cold, and it didn’t take long before they were shivering!

We have hardwood floors in the house, so I had to mop up the puddles after I stripped them down. By the time it was bed time, they were both pretty tuckered out.

One of the most “exciting” moments of the weekend was provided by Andrew. Ever since he started walking, Sam and I are always chasing him. He get’s into everything. He is so fast, too. You take something away, turn your back, and when you see him 2 seconds later, he has something else he isn’t supposed to have.

We actually started calling him Bamm Bamm because he is forever banging stuff. He’s our little strong man. It’s hilarious to hear Ella yell, “Here comes Bamm Bamm” when ever he walks into the room.

Walking and exploring comes with bumps and bruises. When he was wearing his helmet, it took most of the bumps. Now that he is walking and helmetless, the potential to get hurt is much greater. Case in point (and the “exciting” moment I mentioned a bit ago), He was in our bedroom as Sam was getting ready for work. We’re not sure exactly what he tripped on, but he fell against the bed.

He hit so close to his eye and actually got a nice scrape which was bleeding. We couldn’t really tell how bad he cut was, but it led to a trip to the Urgent Care/ER. I swear, we have been there more times with him in 8 months than with Ella in her lifetime! Thank goodness the cut didn’t reach his eyeball.

The picture doesn’t do it justice. It looked much worse when I left the house to go. By the time we actually saw the doctor, I felt stupid being there. It started to look much better and he was acting normal.

Monday, Andrew turned 9 months old. I don’t remember picture taking being as difficult with Ella. Sure when she was like 11 months, she wanted to movie around a lot, but we always got more than one or two good pictures. I feel like we are lucky to get 1 good picture of him when we try to pose him.

We had taken about 7 pictures of him in his crib with the sign, and later I tried to get a few of him sitting on a living room chair. I had more luck here.

You probably remember my story about the stroller’s front wheel coming off our double stroller a week or so ago. Sam has been on the hunt for this wagon/stroller and decided to just get it. Let me tell you, I absolutely love it. It is so easy to push and it handles all terrains pretty well.

There is an ice cream place by us that does the coolest thing. Every day, a new name gets put up on the board out front. If you have that name, you get a free ice cream cone. Sam and I both follow their Facebook page, and she actually saw it first – Ella’s name was up there on Monday!

After our walk, I took her, Andrew and Dimitri out so she could get her free ice cream. She told me that she wanted chocolate, and I told her that I would make sure she got some! Upon arriving, we did what all the other Ella’s did – got her picture in front of the sign!

The funniest thing was that there were probably 3-4 other parents sitting outside calling their own “Ella’s” for various reasons. Every time she heard her name, she’d look at whoever called it. I had to keep telling her “she wants HER Ella, baby, not you.” When I called her name, another mom had to tell HER Ella the same thing.

Of course, Andrew loved every bit of his vanilla ice cream. I think I wound up wearing a little less than he ate,

I treasure each moment with my kids. I am so grateful to be their dad.

Story Time With Mr. Keith

We are Potty Training Ella at our house. One of the things we do as she is sitting on the potty is read her books. We’ve had this book for some time, I believe Aunt Margaret gave it to her, and I have read it numerous times. For whatever reason, it really hit me as something much deeper today.

It is one of those stories that when you look at it in a deeper sense, you realize just how much the world needs to hear it. I am not trying to infringe on copywrite laws here. I did NOT write this book. I give full credit to the amazing author – Shane DeRolf. Take a moment and read along. Look deeper. There is a lesson here that is so desperately needed today.

The Crayon Box That Talked – By Shane DeRolf

While walking into a toy store

the day before today

I overheard a crayon box

with many things to say


“I don’t like Red!” said Yellow

and Green said “Nor do I”

“And no one here likes Orange

but no one knows just why”


“We are a box of crayons

that doesn’t get along

Said Blue to all the others

“Something here is wrong”


Well, I bought that box of crayons

and took it home with me

And laid out all the colors

so the crayons all could see


They watched me as I colored

with Red and Blue and Green

And Black and White and Orange

and every color in between


They watched as Green became the grass

and Blue became the sky

The Yellow sun was shining bright

on White clouds drifting by


Colors changing as they touched

becoming something new

They watched me as I colored –

they watched me till I was through


And when I finally finished

I began to walk away

And as I did the crayon box

had something more to say


“I do like Red!” said Yellow

and Green said, “so do I”

And Blue you were terrific!

So high up in the sky


“We are a box of crayons

each one of us unique

But when we get together

the picture is more complete”

“Each one of us” is “unique!”

Mr. Rogers used to say, “You are a very special person. There is only one like you in the whole world. There’s never been anyone exactly like you before, and there will never be again. Only you. And people can like you exactly as you are.”

Take that a step further and realize that even though each of us is different and unique – we can do amazing things “when we get together.”

Happy 246th Birthday, USA!

My family and I had a nice weekend celebrating America’s birthday.

My wife had to work Sunday night, so she came home and slept for part of the day before getting up to get ready for the festivities. As I have mentioned in the past, our city puts on a nice little fireworks show that we can watch right from our back yard. Because of this, the Fourth has kind of been “our” holiday.

Most of Sam’s family had planned to be up north at her dad’s cottage for the holiday. Her mom was going to be home with her sister and asked if it would be ok to come over. We had no plans, so we were more than happy to have them come over. It wasn’t long before the rest of her family decided that they were going to come over, too!

After Sam got up and we all got ready, we posed for our annual “Family Fourth of July selfie. I’m sure that we did this long before Ella was born, but they have meant more with her in them. I went back and found the pictures from the years before and put them back to back to back. This year, we forgot to look at the year’s prior so we could all be standing the same way, but we got every in it and looking at the camera. Here is July 4th – 2020, 2021 and 2022 (with the addition of Andrew):

Sam had looked back at her Facebook memories and there was a very cute picture of Ella walking down the sidewalk with a flag in her hand. We tried to recreate it with her this year, and then had AJ try it, too.

She had on the cutest outfit! Her shorts are an American flag!

I love the way Andrew looks here! He was waving the flag as I took the picture.

Sam’s folks brought hot dogs and we cooked them up on the grill. There was fresh pineapple, watermelon, and homemade cookies. Best of all, there was family. My nieces and nephew were over and Ella and Andrew had a blast playing with them. Aunt Emily brought glow necklaces, glow bracelets, and glow sticks so each kid was lit up pretty good.

I fogged the back yard with some spray I had never used before. It was made by Coleman and it is meant for camp grounds. It was great, because I made it through the night without a mosquito bite. I wish it would have repelled the flying beetles that seemed to be all over the place, though.

Around 10, we all gathered up our chairs and went out to the back of the yard to watch the fireworks show. Our town put on about a 30 minute show, which lit up the sky! At first, Ella was loving it. “Wow! Fireworks! Amazing!” she yelled. But after about 10 minutes, she was ready to go in the house. Andrew was ready to be done, too. Sam went inside with them, and the nieces and nephew.

I was actually standing in a bad spot when I took these pictures. You can see the tree in the left of the shot. If you get closer to the end of our back yard, you get a pretty clear view of the entire show.

The hardest part of the night is when the show is over and folks are trying to leave. Our street is full of cars leaving from the show. Eventually, all the family left and Sam and I were able to get the kids down to sleep. It was almost midnight and they were still up!! I don’t think they’ve ever stayed up that late before.

All in all a very nice Fourth with the family. I hope you and yours had a great holiday as well.

Happy Birthday, America!!!

“Almost” Twins

I was looking through some pictures today, hoping to find a good one to post for a “Throwback Thursday.” I stumbled on a picture of me when I was Andrew’s age.

As I stared at the picture of my younger self, I actually felt like I could see some of Andrew’s features in my face. Maybe I’m crazy, but they are there. See for yourself:

Ok, I know Andrew has blonde hair and mine is much darker. Andrew has blue eyes and mine are brown. The shape of the nose, the cheeks, the eyebrows? Maybe…. I don’t know. Maybe I am over thinking it.

It is very cool to see the two pictures side by side. Now, Ella at 8 months?

Yeah, she is ALL mommy!

Summer Kick Off

Sunny Days …

Summer has come and it is bringing on the heat!! One Michigan TV station may have slightly over exaggerated on the “First Day of Summer” temperature …

Well, it was sunny and it was hot – but not THAT hot!!

We reached the 90’s today and those hot temps hit early. No neighborhood walk today – it was just too hot. Instead, we set up a bunch of water stuff for the kids. We had the kiddie pool, the water table, and the splash pad. Both kids loved it. Ella is all about getting right in and getting wet!

Andrew is still a bit shy. He likes to splash in the water table, but is not quite sure about the splash pad.

We played outside for about and hour and then headed inside for lunch. We had hoped to do a picnic lunch out in the yard, but the splash pad made the ground a bit too wet. It was probably best to go inside, as it was really getting hot.

I’m really looking forward to the rest of summer!

Weigh In …

Today was weigh in day. I’m posting so I hold myself accountable. As I mentioned in a previous blog, I went off the wagon on Father’s Day and grabbed some ice cream with Ella. I was careful and counted the points for it.

As I stepped on the scale today, I was down four pounds. Total weight loss is 13 pounds. I will continue to focus and drop weight. I have to get healthy. I will take advantage of the weather and get out and walk when I can. Those walks seem to help!

Ordering Tacos…

One funny story and I will wrap for the day. Yesterday we made tacos for dinner. I asked Ella what she wanted on her taco. She told me she wanted “meat, lettuce, and cheese.” As I was making it for her, she tapped me on my back and handed me a package of fruit snacks and said, “Daddy, put gummies on my taco?”

Who am I to judge taco toppings …

Yes, she had her “gummies” on her taco.