A Brief Personal Observation

While the last couple months or so have been full of wonderful events and happy memories, there is something that is bothering me. I have found that it has always helped to write about things when they bug me, so I am going to just throw a few thoughts out there to get them off my chest (in a round about way).

I’ve been able to really shut a lot of this out of my mind. I have been good about staying focused on the things that I can control and ignoring (in a sense) the things that I cannot control. I have put the negatives away (as much as possible) and tried to enjoy the positives. Every now and then, something happens and things “bubble over” and can make you break down. That happened today.

I was hurt today. Ok, I’ve been hurt quite a few times in the past few months. Let me say, that’s ok. I get it. I understand why and the catalyst behind it. I understand the way things are twisted and turned to make things seem like something they are not. Today, all the stuff just kind of hit me.

Today, as I held my one year old daughter before work. I looked into her eyes as she sat on my lap. She smiled as I put my hat on her head. She giggled as I sat with her. In that moment, I was reminded that this beautiful little girl has an unlimited amount of unconditional love for her daddy. I am perfect in her sight. I make her laugh. I am silly. I will be there to hold her when she hurts herself. I’m her hero. I’m her daddy and she loves me unconditionally.

As she grows, and there are rules to follow and disagreements, I know dad might make her angry. I hope that she will understand that those things are there to keep her safe and because I love her. I pray that she will never ever get to the point where she doesn’t want to see me or not be a part of my life anymore. That is a pain that is unbearable. It hurts terribly.

I don’t even know how to mend that fence. It’s kind of like the Biblical story of the prodigal son. I guess I just continue to love them and hope that one day the “prodigal sons” will return. One thing is for sure, my unconditional love for my children will never cease.

Camera & Corrective Lenses Part 2

Camera Lens

We got back the photos from our “First Birthday/Cake Smash” session and they are so good! The photographer caught some really fantastic shots. There are so many good ones, it will be hard to decide which ones to get printed. She wanted to get some pictures of Ella walking, so we’d stand he close to the back drop and she’d walk forward. One of the photos of her walking looks like she is a model on a catwalk! Check out the sassy “pose” she gave us:

My Sassy Girl!

Sam always has the cutest things for her to wear. For the cake smash, she had a pink tutu, a crown, and a string of pearls. Prior to getting into the cake, the photographer was able to catch some wonderful pictures of her in the outfit.

She looks like she is hula dancing …

Now we just gotta sit down and pic the ones to print.

Corrective Lenses

My glasses arrived. I guess I didn’t realize just how bad I needed them to drive. I guess distance was an issue, too, and I didn’t know. When I put them on and was driving to work, I didn’t really notice a difference, until I looked at the road without them on. It was crazy just how blurry the signs were. I’m glad I got them.

My reading glasses will take a bit to get used to. They are not just magnifiers, like the ones you get in the store. It’s a bit weird still. I have to figure out the right distance to read things at. Eventually, I’ll get it right.

Today, I was trying to read the label of something, so I put the readers on. Ella stood in front of me and got this terrified look on her face. I knew it must have been the glasses that were freaking her out, so I lifted them up and said, “It’s ok. It’s just daddy.” All of a sudden she just broke into this horrible cry. I felt so bad. I have heard that things like glasses, hats, and things will make you look like another person to toddlers, but I never really had it happen before. I guess when she’s around I will squint and do my best to read what I need to.

Happy 1st Birthday, Ella

My wife made the observation that last night we laid our 11 month old daughter down to bed for the last time. She woke up a one year old! She’s no longer our baby. She’s our toddler! My wife also noted that today she realized the truth in the old saying “The days are long, but the years are short.” It is hard to believe that it has been a year, already!

I posted this picture on Facebook today, and it is truly amazing to see how much she has changed and grown in a year.

Sam’s Facebook post really nailed it on the head:

“Ella, you are so strong willed. You are mischievous. You are bold and fearless. You are not afraid of new things or new people. It is even safe to say that you are boisterous and loud. You are already speaking up a storm. You are inquisitive. The only time you are quiet and still is when you are observing or are asleep. You are always alert – your eyes don’t stop moving and your head turns at every new noise. All it takes is watching someone do something and you are right there to copy it and do it by yourself. Ella, Keep being you! Because that is who we love dearly!”

One thing Sam and I chuckled about today was how easy the “monthly” pictures of Ella used to be to take. We could just lay her in the crib and snap a few. She is SO busy now, it is hard to get her to sit still for them! We were able to nab a couple this morning before heading out to celebrate.

Love her oufit – Miss One-Derful!

One of the hardest things to deal with over the past year has been Covid. Because of it, we spent most of our time at home. So many people STILL haven’t had the chance to meet Ella. Quarantine babies (and kids in general) have really had it difficult. The malls may be open, but the playscapes are closed. Playgrounds at the parks have been closed. Many of the interactive stuff at children’s museums are closed. There was NO WHERE to take her except on walks through the neighborhood and occasionally playing outside.

We decided to take her to the Sea Life Aquarium about an hour from us. Legoland is also there, but we figured we’d do something that didn’t require too much “touching.” We were the first in line and got to walk through the aquarium and look at all the cool fish and sea life. She really enjoyed it. There were a lot of fish to observe and the lighting inside was very cool. There was even a place where she could reach in and touch some of the sea life. It took about a half hour to go through, and she really loved it.

We walked the mall for a little bit after the aquarium visit and remembered that they have a Build A Bear there. For your birthday, you get to chose a bear and you pay whatever your age is. She she picked a bear, picked a heart to put in the bear, and walked out with a new stuffed friend for just $1.00! I have a feeling we’ll go back and get a birthday outfit for the bear in the future. For now, she seems pretty content with her new buddy.

Later this afternoon, our plans changed a bit. We were going to have cake here at the house, but we ended up going to Sam’s mom and dad’s for pizza and cake. Yes, I got emotional as I took pictures and everyone sang “Happy Birthday.” I think we all hoped that she would just rip into her cake, but she was rather reserved. She picked frosting off and ate that mostly. Someone eventually gave her a spoon and I think she ate a little cake, but it was mostly frosting. By the time she was done, she had as much frosting on her as the cake did.

It really was a perfect day.

So now, before I close, I need to say something to my baby girl:

My sweet Ella Bella –

Today, you turned one year old. Mommy and I have enjoyed every second of your life. We have watched you grow up so fast! It really seems like yesterday that we were waiting for you to arrive. Now, you are walking and saying words. In the past year, you have brought us so much joy and happiness.

I’m sure that you think daddy’s phone is always ready to take pictures of you, and you’re probably right. You very well may be the baby with the most pictures on Facebook! You have been a bright light in a very dark and scary time, sweetheart. A pandemic, political nonsense, violence, and hatred were prominent throughout the world during your first year. However, your smiling face brought smiles to so many people. I guess daddy thought I might be overdoing it with all the pictures of you I kept posting. You have no idea how many people have told me how YOU helped them get through these tough times! Your smile brought smiles. Thanks to social media, people you have never even met are watching you grow up, and smiling at the new things you are doing. You are loved by more people than you can imagine!! There is something extra special and magical about you. Your personality is one that brings happiness to everyone.

You are our miracle baby. There will never be enough words for me to tell you just how much I love you. I only wish that everyone could experience the joy that I feel when I walk into the house after work and you see me and scream with delight that “daddy is home!” I wish everyone would experience the thrill that I get when you wake up and I walk into your room to get you and you smile at me as you reach for me to pick you up.

Mommy and I were going back through pictures of you over the past year, and it is amazing to see how fast you have grown. With each picture, we relieved special moments and milestones. We laughed and cried. We thanked God for sending you to us. A year’s worth of memories and this is only the beginning. There will be many more milestones. There will be countless new things for you to learn. You will continue to be an amazing little girl. Mommy and daddy will be there every step of the way, cheering you on in whatever you do! We will help you accomplish what your heart desires.

We have so much to celebrate today, and there will be much more to celebrate in the future. Thank you for being my little love bug. Thank you for making daddy feel so loved. YOU are special and I love you so very much.

Happy First Birthday, Ella. May God continue to bless you today and always.

Love you forever –

Daddy.

Camera & Corrective Lenses

Camera Lens

It’s been a busy week. With Ella’s birthday just a few days away, we decided that we should take her to get some professional pictures done. Almost every picture she is in has been taken with our cell phones. We had a professional sitting at JC Penney a few days after she was born and even bought a membership for a year so that future sitting fees were free. With Covid, however, we have never been able to go back. So no 3, 6, or 9 month professional pictures were ever taken. Sam and I decided that we had to get some 1 year pictures done.

There is a little photography place about 2 miles down the road from us. The gal actually has a studio in the basement of her house.

Her house is on an area of farmland and probably has some amazing scenery for outdoor pictures. Sam’s cousin Katie made an outfit for these pictures. I snapped a picture of Ella in it before we left. It is really hard for me to believe she is going to be one. She looks so big to me and with this outfit, she almost looks like a toddler.

The photographer got just a couple shots of all of us, a couple shots of Ella with me and Sam. Ella was in a good mood and offered up many smiles. We got some of her walking and sitting and we also got pictures of her eating her birthday cake. It will be a couple weeks before the prints are available for us, and we are looking forward to them. We will get a link that we can send to our friends and relatives who want to purchase pictures from the session.

This week before pictures, she was practicing her posing … this was a wonderful shot I caught of her goofing around with the towel from her bath.

What a ham!

One more good picture I caught this week was with her and the cat. It seems like she is forever chasing the cat around. She likes to pull her tail. Normally, the cat will jump and scram as soon as Ella comes close to her. This week, albeit for just about 3 minutes, Ella walked over to the cat and sat down next to her. She actually was able to pet the cat. I have a feeling that as she get’s older, she and the cat will be close friends….

Corrective Lenses

I was finally able to get into the eye doctor today. I had Lasik surgery years ago. It was the best thing I ever did. What an amazing thing to no longer need glasses. Well, after all this time, I have noticed some issues, so I made the appointment.

Today, the doc told me that I definitely need glasses for seeing distance and for reading. I had a feeling this would be the case. I had a couple options: I could get a pair that I could wear for driving with the bifocals for reading all in one pair, OR I could get two pair of glasses. I chose the later. I can keep the glasses in the car for driving and I can keep the readers on me for reading and work.

I told the doc that the readers I have give me a headache and he said that’s because all the over the counter readers are hit or miss. They don’t line up with everyone’s pupils. He took a tablet and took a picture of my face and showed me how the readers I will get will have the pupils lined up so the head ache will go away.

Years ago, I couldn’t wait to NOT have glasses…..now, I am excited to have them again.

What a wacky dream…

Dreams are funny. So was mine last night.

The above is the cover of a journal you can buy off Amazon to write down your crazy dreams. I have often thought about keeping something like this on my bedside table. I actually had a weird dream last night and wrote it down. As you know, you have to write those things down almost immediately or you are gonna forget them.

I looked back over what I wrote and it is just bizarre. So much of it doesn’t make sense at all. It makes me wonder why I dreamed about these things and the people in it. The dream itself is an unstructured mess. There were so many things, I wrote them in a hurry, because I didn’t want to forget about them.

There is really no beginning of the dream. It starts in my house and my grandpa (who passed away in 1994) is there and he wants to take a shower. He can’t figure out how to use body wash, so he is standing in the hallway in a towel asking for a bar of soap.

As I am getting the bar or soap, the doorbell rings and it is my friend, Margaret.

In the dream, I know she is coming over to baby sit Ella. I talk to her through the speaker on the doorbell and say, “Be right there you Old Bastid.” As soon as I say that, my phone rings.

I answer it and my old boss from Honey Radio, Richard D is on the phone. We often called him the “Old Bastid” at work. I answer the phone and that’s exactly what he says to me, “Uh, I believe that I am the only one worthy of the title, “Old Bastid” and he starts laughing. I’m not even sure how he knew I said this!

Now, I am in the kitchen. I’m making pasta for the boys. I am also aware that I need to hurry because I need to leave for work. My son, Dimitri, looks at me and tells me not to use the sauce I used the last time I made pasta. This in itself is weird, because he doesn’t eat spaghetti sauce. I asked him what sauce he was talking about and he pointed to a jar of salsa!

I am suddenly aware of the time and know I have to leave. Sam is in the kitchen doing the dishes and I go to grab a cup of coffee. I notice that the coffee pot is not in its normal spot and ask Sam where it is. She tells me it is on the kitchen counter (which is literally spotless – so I know this is a dream!). I look at this new “coffee pot” and it looks like a humidifier!

It was PINK! Just like the one above. It has lines on it to show how much coffee is supposed to be in there. I am staring at this thing wondering just how in the heck I am going to make coffee. I don’t even know how to fill the dumb thing! I ask Sam to show me and I am suddenly aware that I am at my dad’s house. This counter isn’t ours at all!

I then notice I am holding an empty salsa jar (so I guess I used it again). I am going to go outside and put the jar in the recycle bin. As I open the door to the garage, I realize that I am now in my grandma’s garage. I know this because it has her old gold olds cutlass in it!

I will always remember it was gold with a white hard top on it.

For some reason, I am now laying on my belly in the garage looking for something that must have rolled under the car. I can see whatever is going on in the front of the house from the garage floor because the garage door isn’t open all the way.

So the dream ends with me laying on the garage floor, in my scrubs. I am watching Margaret and her daughter (my Goddaughter) and maybe her son, all climb into their car to leave. I am waving from under the garage door and then wonder who’s gonna babysit Ella, if she left?!

What a weird dream!!

A Smile Amid Chaos

All you had to do this week was turn on the news, check your social media page, or surf the internet to see the chaos going on in the world. As an American, it makes me sad to see the state of the country. The division within the country is just sickening. Abraham Lincoln quoted scripture when he said:

Facebook was full of friends who stated that they were leaving Instagram, Facebook, and other social media platforms to go to MeWe and Parler (whatever those are!). I utilize the “snooze/mute” and “unfollow” features so I don’t see a lot of the content that aggravates me. However, even taking advantage of those features, I still end up seeing things I don’t want to.

When I am feeling angry or upset at the world, politics, or whatever, I need only turn to the smile of my little girl…..

Ella is oblivious to all the craziness in the world. She loves playing with mommy and daddy. She watches Elmo and reads books. She chases the cat and gets into things she isn’t supposed to. She finds joy in simple things, like me making a stuffed dog “bark” at her.

She got to go outside and sit in the snow for the first time in her life. Even though she wasn’t quite used to the snowsuit and boots – she smiled at the peacefulness of a winter day!

Having her in my life is better than any medication a doctor can prescribe! I love my daily dose of Ella – her smile is contagious!

Keep Smiling!!

Hindsight Really is 2020 – A Recap

The saying goes, “Hindsight is 2020,” and many of us are rejoicing that 2020 is really truly behind us! I often wonder if you were to make a list of positives and negatives of the past year, would one outweigh the other? What about 10-15 years ago? Was that just as bad, but we only choose to remember the good things from that year? I don’t know the answers to those questions.

In talking with my youngest son this weekend, he was talking about the last year and listing all of the bad things from it. I told him that is really is easy to see the bad things, the negatives, or the sadness we experienced. I challenged him to try to find some positives among the negatives. As we drove back to my house, we were able to do that. I told him it isn’t always easy to find those positives, and sometimes there may not be any, but to always look for them.

December 31, 2019

As the world awaited 2020’s arrival there was great excitement. Many said, “This is going to be MY YEAR!” Others looked at the new year as a clean slate from 2019 (which they wanted to be over). I recalled the quote from country singer Brad Paisley, who said, “Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book, write a good one.” We looked at 2020 as a year of happiness, recovery, new opportunities, new adventures, and so much more! 2020 had other plans.

2020

Looking back at 2020, the absolute high point was the birth of our daughter, Ella. NOTHING tops this moment! The blog announcing her birth was one of the most read of the year.

My first daughter. Daddy’s little girl. My wife, Sam, was just amazing throughout the delivery. It was the first time I had witnessed natural child birth and I was in awe of everything. My heart was overflowing with happiness. What a day!

This month, Sam and I were talking about what to do for her first birthday. With Covid, there is not a whole lot we can do. We are probably not going to throw the big party we wanted to, but we are working out plans for something special to mark the occasion.

Covid-19

I can’t even imagine if Ella had been born a few weeks later. By the time March arrived, the whole world was talking about Corona virus and Covid-19. Everything started to shut down in an attempt to “flatten the curve.” Our sleep labs closed and we were deployed to the hospital Labor Pool. During my time there, I heard stories and witnessed things I will sadly never forget. With a new baby at home, my constant worry was that I would bring it home to her. I eventually snapped. The doctor called it Acute Stress Disorder and she took me off work. I was out on FMLA for 6 weeks.

Finding the positive in a negative – I got to spend 6 weeks with my daughter. There are countries that allow both parents to stay home with their newborn child for a year when they are born. I wish the United Stated allowed that. There are so many wonderful moments that happen in that first year. It is a shame that we have to go back to work while our babies are still so young.

Another positive: As the curve flattened, I officiated my first wedding for my friend, Theresa from high school. To say I was nervous is an understatement, but all went well and I didn’t mess anything up too bad. It was nice to see other friends from high school at the wedding, too. It was a bit weird, as there were many masks in the crowd, but that had kind of become the “norm.”

Division and hate

2020 brought more division and more hate. There has always been division in politics, but it seems that both parties hatred for each other was over the top. I’ve heard a lot of mudslinging in ads, but the stuff being said was brutal. The politicians seem to have forgotten who they are supposed to be representing and working for – the people of the country!

Everyone was offended by everything in 2020. Social media was full of arguments, name calling, and much more. Really, the media just continued to “feed” the public and make everyone more angry than they were to begin with. Jim Morrison of the Doors once said, “Whoever controls the media, controls the mind.” Noam Chomsky takes it a little further:

I had to finally stop watching the news, and scroll past so many posts from friends. I couldn’t take it. It is totally ok for you to be passionate about your beliefs and your political stance. If it is different than my stance or beliefs, that’s ok, too. You and I can agree to disagree. I was saddened that so many friendships were broken because of the difference of opinion. Friendships that have lasted 30+ years ended because of this, and that breaks my heart. If only more people thought like Thomas Jefferson:

Blog Milestones and Hits and Misses

In 2020, I celebrated two years of blogging. I wrote my 300th blog. I still wrote many movie blogs and music blogs. The music blogs slowed as I started to neglect Tune Tuesday. I tried something new with Friday Movie Quotes, but that didn’t seem to go over too well, so I stopped. Most of my blogs were ramblings about my life and of course, my daughter.

The other blog that got a lot of views was my recent blog about the loss of my friend, and high school band director, Tom Shaner. I posted a link to this on my Facebook, and his daughter also shared it, so many people I didn’t even know read it. I received a private message from his brother who told me that he really appreciated my blog and how it enlightened him on the impact he had on his students. When I finished writing that blog, I didn’t think it did him any justice, but that private message proved otherwise.

Conclusion

As I look back on 2020, I see life’s “circle.” The high point of the year was the birth of my daughter, while the low point of the year was the passing of my friend, Tom. Life and death. A new life enters the world, while an old one leaves the world. Happiness and sadness. As life moves on, the circle continues. We see new births and new deaths.

A pastor once told me that birth is the beginning of death. You begin to die the moment you are born. There is truth to that. So as we look on the new “book” that is 2021, and we begin to write on the blank pages, let’s try to remember the words of actor Michael Landon:

Here’s to a Happy New Year for all of us!

Covid Christmas Memories

I think you would agree that Christmas was a lot different this year!  In a way, it was sad because it was Ella’s first Christmas and it should have been spent visiting grandparents and family.  Thank goodness for video chats!

My dad met me at my work the Monday before Christmas and brought all the gifts for the kids.  I loaded them up in the car and brought them home after work and placed them under the tree.

I was lucky to have both my sons over for Christmas Eve.  I picked up Dimitri on the 23rd and brought him to my house.  Dante’ had to work, so he drove up after work.  They spent the night, so Christmas Eve morning was our Christmas.

My brothers are still sleeping, so I’m here to inspect all the presents!

Naturally, Ella was up before anyone else.  Dante’ and Dimitri were up late.  Dimitri was up about 9, and he woke Dante’ up for presents.  Lol – he was exhausted.  At home, normally he isn’t up until after noon!  He literally opened presents and went back to sleep!

Dimitri nabbed a cool gaming chair and new bed, while Dante’ was loaded up with gift cards.  We video chatted with my dad as they opened their gifts from him, so we didn’t get any pictures of them opening his stuff.

The aftermath!

Ella made out pretty good!  My dad bought her this cute little princess tent! 

She absolutely loves playing in it!

It’s like her own club house!

She got to open one of our presents to her that day…it’s the cutest puppy that she can bounce and spin on.

Later that day, Sam’s mom dropped off the gifts for Ella and the boys.  The boys got some amazing Nike hoodie sweatshirts and Ella got a Minnie Mouse car that she can ride on or walk with.

It makes all kinds of noise!  Each button makes a different sound and the horn has like 4 or 5 different horns.  I’m sure in a month or two I will pull the batteries out!

The greatest thing about Christmas Eve was spending it with some of the greatest gifts God ever gave me: Sam and my kids!

The boys went home Christmas Eve evening so they could be with their mom Christmas morning. After Ella went to bed, I got to work putting Dimitri’s bed together and building Ella’s big gift from us.

With all the time we are spending indoors, we wanted to get her something we could play with inside and eventually outside.  We bought her this really cool swing and slide.

She loves to swing! She loves to go down the slide, too!  It’s funny that she’s already doing things her way!  She wants to climb up the wrong way!

One of my closest friends, Margaret, had asked if Ella had a toy box.  She ordered the perfect one and hand delivered it last weekend.  It’s also a fainting couch!  Lol.

Our little princess was right at home with it….

As different as the holiday was, it was still full of good memories!  I hope you and your family had a blessed holiday season.  Happy New Year!

Whoop! Deer it is!!

A Surprise Visitor

Here we are less than 2 weeks away from Christmas. No doubt things have gotta be pretty hectic up at the North Pole as they prepare for their long night of massive deliveries! That, however, didn’t stop a jolly old elf from making his way to our house this weekend!

Recently I mentioned in a blog how sad it was that Santa is being placed behind glass or in snow globes due to the pandemic. Many Santa visits are being done virtually on the computer. Sam and I were a bit disappointed that because of the pandemic, we may not be able to even get Ella’s picture with Santa. Someone must have sent word to the North Pole, because we had a special visitor drop by the house Saturday afternoon.

I’m not sure where he parked his reindeer, because I didn’t see them. I heard sleigh bells on the porch and when I opened the door, there in the flesh was Santa Claus! We let him in immediately, and apologized for not having milk and cookies because we hadn’t done our grocery shopping yet. Believe it or not, this didn’t phase him at all!

He made himself at home, sat down in a comfy chair and began his visit with Ella. At first, she wasn’t sure what to make of him. She sat on the floor next to him, looking up and giving him the once over…

It didn’t take but a minute or two for her to figure out he was the real deal! She proceeded to crawl up on Santa’s lap and tell him everything on her Christmas list! She may have added a few things to her list at the spur of the moment, I mean, she had his undivided attention, so you may as well shoot for the moon!

After some time, and very good conversation, Santa got a call from Mrs. Claus and he had to be on his way back to the North Pole. He mentioned he had to stop on his way back for egg nog and reindeer treats. Before he left, he passed out candy canes, and thanked Ella for being such a good girl all year. He reminded her to be in bed nice and early Christmas Eve. With that, he wished us Merry Christmas and was on his way.

He was gracious enough to let us snap some pictures of his visit! I mean, it’s not every day Santa makes home visits!

I have to be honest … I think this is the start of a wonderful friendship…

Your Birthday #1

I have always enjoyed looking back at things from the past. When I worked at Honey Radio, I produced the Top 12 and 12 every weekday. We’d always have plenty of information about dates in history. No matter what year we were focusing on, we’d talk about how much a new vehicle cost or the price of milk or bread, the price of gasoline, or the cost of a new home. These pieces of information added extra nostalgia as we counted our way up to the #1 song in the City of Detroit on whatever day (and whatever year) we happened to be focusing on.

I mention that because our daughter Ella turned 10 months old this week.

It’s truly amazing how fast this time has flown by.

American Woman by the Guess Who was #1 on the pop charts when I was born. I guess I have known that for as long as I can remember. I decided to look and see what the #1 song was when Ella was born. Let’s just say that I hope she never really wants to know.

The song that was at #1 is called The Box by someone named Roddy Ricch. I’ve never heard of him and I’ve never hear the song. I looked it up. I read the lyrics. Sigh. Good Lord…

At any rate, if you don’t know what song was number on when you were born … you can find out here: