Playing Doctor

When I was a kid, I remember having one of those Fisher Price Doctor kits. As a matter of fact, I think it remains a staple in every kid’s toy box!

I remember how cool it was that you could hear your heartbeat with the Stethoscope. Of course, you always had to give every one in your family a “shot!”

Today, my friend Margaret stopped by to drop off the kid’s Christmas presents. Naturally, Ella was excited to see her. She loves Aunt Margaret! She knew that she probably wasn’t going to get to see Ella before her birthday next month, so she also brought her birthday present.

I put the gift bag aside and figured I’d give it to her closer to her birthday. I was standing in the kitchen and Ella found the bag. She looked in it and started yelling “CoCo Mel!” “CoCo Mel!” which is Ella talk for Cocomelon. Aunt Margaret got her a Cocomelon doctor kit.

When you push the bandaid on the “bag” it sings and stuff. She was so excited to play with it, so she got her present early.

Of course, she had to give mommy, daddy, and baby brother a shot. Sam told me she was playing doctor all night. She takes liquid vitamin D in a dropper every day and AJ takes GERD meds in a syringe. So was walking up to him and giving him “medicine” (the shot) like his syringe.

When Sam told me this, I was reminded of an event that happened when I was probably a couple years older than Ella (maybe 5 or 6). I was playing doctor as well…and it put me in the hospital! Remember how Grey’s Anatomy had Dr. McDreamy and Dr. McSteamy? As a kid, I was Dr. McDummy!!

Growing up, when we had a fever, mom used to give us baby aspirin. It was orange flavored and I remember thinking it tasted like candy.

I want to say that the bottle did NOT have a child proof cap on it. I know that because of what happened.

My brother and I had gotten up and we were watching TV. My mom was still in bed sleeping. I grabbed the old Fisher Price doctor kit and we were playing. I told him he was sick and needed medicine. Mom kept the medicine up in a cupboard in the kitchen. It was a high cupboard and I had to work to get to it.

I pulled over a kitchen chair and climbed up on it. I don’t remember much, but I do remember grabbing the baby aspirin and taking my brother’s temperature with the fake thermometer. I said he needed medicine, but I was always the one who ate a baby aspirin. I don’t know how many I wound up taking. I do know that mom found me in the kitchen and I was off to the hospital to have my stomach pumped.

I don’t remember much about the hospital stay or any of the aftermath. I hadn’t thought about this incident in many years. Maybe I’ll call my dad this weekend and see how much he remembers. I can’t even imagine how scary this had to be for either one of them. I wonder if Dr. McDummy’s antics led to the child proof caps?

I’ve Been Yelling At Her For Days

Amazon Alexa Echo

For Christmas, my dad gave us an Amazon Alexa. I know many people have these and use them for a variety of things. On Christmas Day, I set it up and started to mess around with it.

The first issue I had was not being able to remember my Amazon password! I have the app and the password is saved, because I never end us remembering it. After trying about 35 different passwords, I finally just reset it and continued with the set up.

When you first start the thing, she starts telling you what to do. “Ask me to tell you a joke.” “I can help you get to work on time. Ask me about traffic.” “Ask me how long to cook a turkey.” “Ask me what the weather is like.” She just kept cranking out the commands!

Eventually, after messing with it a while, I got to where I kind of knew how to use it. I started asking Alexa questions about everything. Then, I started to ask her to play songs for Ella.

“Alexa. Play Baby Shark.” Boom! There it is. “Alexa. Play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” Ta Da! It’s there. “Alexa. Play the theme song for Paw Patrol.” Instantly it is there. I think to myself, how nice this is. Now, almost two weeks later….. I am OVER asking Alexa for songs!

Ella loves it. If Alexa were to make a playlist based off what we’ve asked her to play, I could take it to a preschool class and PARTY!! Here requests include:

  • Baby Shark
  • Row, Row, Row Your Boat
  • The Alphabet Song
  • Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star
  • Johnny, Johnny No Papa
  • Three Little Kittens
  • Five Little Speckled Frogs
  • There Were 10 in the Bed
  • Happy Birthday to You

I am sure there are more, but those are the ones that stick in my head. We can be sitting on the floor or on the couch reading books or watching TV and she’ll just look at me and say, “Row Row Row Your Boat?!” (or any of the other above songs).

“Alexa. Play Baby Shark …..again!” “Alexa! Play Twinkle Twinkle!” “ALEXA! Play the Itsy Bitsy Spider!!!!!”

When the song is over, Ella always looks at me and says, “Again? Again?! Please, Daddy, Again!”

I have a feeling, I will be hearing those songs in my sleep for a very long time!

Please help me when Alexa finally is able to understand her, because she will be playing toddler songs non-stop!!

2021 – What a Year!

At midnight tonight, we’ll start a brand new year – 2022. Some have compared a new year to a book. The book with 365 blank pages – one for each day – and said that the book is ours to write. There is truth to that.

As I looked back over my “book” entitled “2021,” I see that (despite the pandemic and all the crap that came with it) I really did have a good year. Bear with me, he’s the recap:

January

January started with some snow. It actually looks like we should be getting snow again this week. Ella absolutely loved being outside in the snow. It was fun to watch her try to figure out just what all the white stuff was. Today, when she sees it, she get’s excited and yells, “Snow! Snow!”

In mid-January, we scratched our heads and wondered just how Ella was 11 months old! I mean, it seemed like she was just born!

The pressure was on as we closed in on her first birthday. With Covid, we weren’t quite sure if we’d even be able to have a party for her.

February

As we got closer to Ella’s birthday, Sam was just not feeling right. 3 days before Ella’s birthday, we found out that baby #2 was on the way!

This took us both completely by surprise! There was great excitement all over again. The hardest part was keeping it a secret…

Ella’s first birthday was a fun and busy day. We ditched the pink blocks and marked the birthday with a HUGE number “1” balloon. This was followed by a trip to the Sea Life Aquarium, the Build a Bear place, and cake at Nana’s house.

We were glad to be able to get some professional “1st Birthday” pictures, too!

March

In March we got our first look at the baby we now know as Andrew/AJ and announced Ella’s promotion to big sister.

Ella also got her first haircut

March also consisted of many walks around the neighborhood and stops at the park.

April

Big brother, Dante’ turned 19 this month! Before that, Easter fell on my mom’s birthday. We got Ella all dressed up in her Easter dress, stopped at the cemetery to visit grandma on her birthday and then went to Nana’s for an Easter Egg hunt!

Ella is so very blessed to have wonderful people in her life. Aunt Margaret is one of them! (She will kill me for posting this picture, but I just love this!!) She and cousin Marissa came to visit and the highlight was watching them read books together.

We also found out the baby’s gender, but that wouldn’t be revealed until May.

May

Birthday’s have never really bothered me, mostly because I opt for the Jack Benny attitude and say that I am stuck at 39. However, in reality I turned 51. 30 was big. 40 was tough. 50 a bit hard to swallow. Over 50? Well…..I examine my own mortality every day.

The month started warm enough that Ella got to spend lots of time in her sandbox and pool.

We revealed that Ella was having a baby brother and got another look at him on an ultrasound.

Ella and I worked on a special project for Sam for Mother’s Day and we got to visit the Detroit Zoo.

May also brought Ella her first taste of corn on the cob!

June

My second oldest boy celebrated his 14th birthday in June. We got to spend Father’s Day together by visiting Crossroads Village. They had a Classic Car Show there and we walked the village and rode the train. It was such a great day with my kids!

It was SO hot that day!!! By the end of it all, Ella was physically exhausted. June was a hot month and we did get to get out and enjoy walks in the park and a day at the splash pad.

July

By July, Sam was 5 months pregnant and was so sick. The pregnancy was a rough one on her. The heat didn’t help things. Despite that, the middle of summer was packed full of amazing things and our family had loads of fun.

We celebrated America’s Birthday, Ella had her first visit to the public library and bowled for the first time, and we all visited the Saginaw Children’s Zoo.

August

As Summer drew to a close, we continued to squeeze as much into it as we could. I got to spend a perfect day doing a daddy daughter picnic, my name was finally on the board at the Corner Cone for a free ice cream, Ella spent lots of time drawing with crayons, and our stress levels were through the roof as we took Ella in for her ear tube surgery. We also got another peak at AJ and had a visit from my brother.

September

Fall! My favorite season of all. I was glad to be able to get together with Margaret, Walt and my buddy Chris at Margaret’s house. Since she’s already mad at the one picture I posted, I’ll just share the one she told me I could share. Hopefully, that makes things a little better….

We always love going to get pumpkins and decorating the front of the house for fall. Ella seemed to like it, too.

Ella and I also got to take one last trip to the Saginaw Zoo before it closed for the season. It was a great day for us, and Sam actually got to relax a bit.

October

We had been told more than once that there was a possibility that the baby would come before his due date. He held out almost until the date! Just two days before he was born, Ella and I got to go outside and enjoy the fall colors.

On October 11th, AJ entered the world. I watched in awe as my son was born and all the pride of being a daddy again filled my soul. We weren’t sure how Ella would handle it, but she welcomed him with open arms.

They still did not have a photographer at the hospital, so we went to JC Penney to have some newborn pictures taken. AJ looks spiffy in his outfit!

While this wasn’t Ella’s first Halloween, it was the first real Trick or Treating adventure for her. She was happy that big brother was there to walk with her. AJ was obviously way too young to attempt to go out this year.

November

Fall walks are among my favorites. I love looking at the colors. Ella and I took many fall walks and there were many instances where she’d just play in a pile of leaves! AJ kept us all busy and so it was just Ella and I making the trip to Bronner’s to get his ornament for the Christmas tree. We enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving at home and got the house ready for Christmas.

December

The final month of the year brought many happy memories. Professional Christmas pictures, my annual reading of Dickens, AJ turned 2 months old, a visit from Papa and Grandma, Christmas Eve with my boys, Holiday lights at Crossroads, our first Christmas as a family of four, and the anticipation of a brand new year.

Blog highlights included my entries to the 2021 Song Draft, salutes to Soupy Sales, my grandpa, and Ernie Harwell, a guest blog from my pal Max, silly blogs about hats and Bernie Sanders’ mittens, fishing memories, my favorite Twilight Zone episodes, and a blog about an amazing cartoon Dog Dad.

There were many sad moments in 2021. I lost classmates and friends to cancer, heart disease, and of course, Covid. If the past two years have taught me anything, it is that life is precious and another day is not promised. You never know when it will be the “last picture,” the “last phone call,” or the “last visit.” It takes me make to that quote that my band director wrote on the grease board my senior year. I have quoted it many times. “Live every day as if it were your last. Someday, you’ll be right.”

Life is too short. Live. Laugh. Love.

As we welcome 2022, I pray that it is a good year for all of us. May we find it full of happiness and good health. May God bless you and yours in the upcoming year.

Get ready. The Book of 2022 awaits. Grab your pen and turn to page (January) 1.

No More “Bloobies”

When my oldest son was growing up, he called the vacuum a “latchoom.” Both of my oldest sons called pizza “Pee-cuh.” Naturally, as they got older, they began to call those (and other) things by the correct word. When that happened, it always left me sad. That same thing happened today.

Every since she started eating blueberries, Ella has called them “bloobies.” I just LOVE that! When we would bring her breakfast to the table, she’d tell us what everything was on her plate.

  • Bloobies (Blueberries)
  • Strawbies (Strawberries)
  • Nana’s (Bananas)
  • Cockeese (Cottage cheese)

It was amazing when she started saying those words and knowing what they were.

When I woke up for work today, Sam said, “Guess who is saying ‘blueberries’ now?” She looked at Ella and said, “Tell daddy what you had for breakfast today?”

“Blue Berries,” she said. There it was. Clear as day. Ok, it may have been more like “Blue Bear-wees,” but it was definitely NOT “bloobies” anymore.

Sigh. My little girl is growing up so fast.

You know, I kinda like the word “bloobies.” I may just have to always call them that from now on ….

Christmas 2021 Recap

Another Christmas has come and gone. I hope that you had a Christmas full of wonderful memories! This Christmas was full of a lot of joy for us, but there were some things that left me sad. I will attempt to recap and keep it as happy as possible. Many of my Facebook friends have already seen these pictures, but that’s ok.

Thursday, December 23

After working the night before, I slept for a couple hours and went and picked up my son. His brother was working that night and was coming up after work so we could celebrate Christmas Eve Morning together.

My dad and Rose came over that afternoon. Neither had met AJ yet, so it was extra special to have them here. When then walked in, Ella ran to them SO excited. She was so happy to see them. She loves them both so much!!

There is something that is so amazing to me to see my dad hold his grandchildren. There is a special light in his eyes. There are almost tears. It is so special. He always kisses them gently on the head and talks to them.

Dad and AJ

Ella was all about Grandma Rose that night! Grandma made her a Mickey and Minnie blanket, which she just loves. One of my favorite pictures from that day is the two of them snuggled up on the chair with her blanket.

Ella and Grandma Rose

My Dad, being the silly guy that he is, heard Ella saying some of the alphabet. He immediately thought of “Violent is the Word for Curly,” the Three Stooges short which features the “Swingin’ the Alphabet” song.

B A Bay, B E Bee, B I Bicky By …

So Dad had to sing it to her …

Dad’s chart was a bit off….

I was glad to get the chance to visit with them, and I am glad that three of his four grandchildren were there for him to see. Papa and Rose were very good to all my kids!

Dad and me – wish the lighting had been a bit better

Dad and Rose left around 7, and Dante’ called about 8 to say he’d gotten off work and was on his way. I was exhausted and was actually on my way to bed when he called. He asked me to stay awake, so I did. He came in and gave he the biggest hug. We had some leftover pizza, so I told him to dig in and not stay up too late!

As I crawled in bed, my heart was full.

Christmas Eve

I’m sure the day is coming when the kids will be up at like 4am to open presents! We were blessed that they didn’t wake up until after 8am! I had to laugh, though, because ever since we put the tree up, there has been a gate around it. It served two purposes. First, it kept that cat out of the tree and second, it kept Ella from pulling on the ornaments and the lights.

When she woke up and came out the the living room, she walked over the the tree and saw all the presents under the tree – and no gate. She literally just stood there – not really sure what to make of things.

Ella – perplexed

After a few minutes, Sam said it was time to go in and wake up the boys. They were already going to be leaving earlier than I thought (so Dante’ didn’t have to drive in the dark), so we wanted to get things going. We told Ella to go in and wake them up.

She ran into their room yelling, “Wake up, Bruh! Wake up, Bruh!” It was quite funny to watch my older boys stir in bed … all they wanted to do was stay asleep. Dante’ asked to sleep for another 30 minutes. I told him, “You’re sister isn’t going to wait 30 minutes and wants to open presents!” Against their wishes, they crawled out of bed and joined us in the living room.

Last year, we had to help Ella open her gifts. She wasn’t quite where she understood how to do it yet. This year, however, she was able to jump right in and rip open her gifts!

Ella – wearing the very cute PJ’s that Sam’s dad got for her

It’s neat to see how the various kids react to Christmas now. Dante is 19, so he’s very laid back. Dimitri is 14 and it depends on what he’s opening as to how excited or how much emotion he shows. Ella, she’s excited for everything. Andrew has no clue as to what is happening.

The boys

The boys are SO hard to buy for. They never seem to have any real ideas for me. Dante’ is kind of at the “gift card/money” stage. He’s happy with those. Dimitri really liked this golf game I had for the Xbox, so I made sure to get it for him to play at home.

Par for the course …

Ella, being the helpful big sister, helped open up AJ’s presents.

AJ watching sissy open gifts for him

Of course, I had to put together Ella’s basketball hoop, so she could slam dunk a few before dinner.

Two points!

After a hearty breakfast, the boys went into their room and played games for a while. Knowing that they were going to be leaving early, I made sure that dinner was done early. Keeping with my family tradition, I made ravioli with my homemade sauce. I made sure to send a jar home with the boys, as Dante’ loves it.

Personal note: I used a bit too much wine this time. I felt that it was sweeter than normal.

About 3, the boys had to leave to go home to their mom. Ella was napping when they left. When she woke up, I picked her up out of her crib and as we passed the boy’s room, she said “Bruh”? “Bruh”? It ripped my heart out. All she wanted to do was see her brothers! Sadly, I don’t think they really know how much she loves them and how important they are to her. This was the saddest moment of the entire weekend for me.

A Christmas Eve tradition for Sam and I has always been to do the Drive Through Holiday Lights display at Crossroads Village. For $10 a car, you get to drive through and see the many Christmas lights that they have on display. When the kids are older, we plan on going and doing the Christmas train ride, which is truly amazing, but for now, we just drove through.

When we arrived, we got Ella out of her car seat and let her sit on Sam’s lap as we drove through. She was so excited. As we got close to the lights, she’s yell, “Here we go, Mommy! Here we go, Daddy!” It was so cute. Sam made the comment that she loves seeing things through Ella’s eyes. This is so true! We’ve been through there every year, but this year was so much more exciting because of Ella!

Sleigh ride!

We thought about driving downtown Flint, which has some great lights, too. We decided against it, as it was getting late and the kids were tired. We went through out bedtime routine and got the kids to bed just in time for me to play Santa. I had a few things to put together so that they were ready for they kids when they woke up Christmas morning.

Christmas Day 2021

Sam wanted to be in the living room so she could record Ella seeing her presents, so I got her out of bed and asked Sam if she was ready. She said she was, so I sent Ella running into the living room. The video is priceless. The smile on her face is something I will never forget. We got her one of those Little People Jungle Rainforest things. It came with animals and makes noises and everything. It is HUGE and takes up a good part of the living room.

Here’s the monkey!

AJ’s Santa gift was a very cool floor chair. It allows him to sit up while on the floor and it’s a lot better than those Bumpo seats.

Sitting pretty

I love that both kids had “Santa” jammies for Christmas morning. Sam and I actually got matching PJ bottoms to wear that morning, too. AJ was wide awake and just taking in all the sights. I love this picture of him and Sam. What I love about it is that just above Sam’s right shoulder is a picture of Ella on her lap and in this picture AJ is on her lap.

One of Ella’s favorite gifts was a Leap Frog Tea Party set. The pot talks and it came with cups and cake.

Must be good tea!

I joked many times about having tea parties with my daughter. I am excited to say that we’ve had our first already and I am looking forward to the next one!

Yummy!!

It was daddy’s turn to help AJ open gifts. So I grabbed his stuff and we opened them up. I was as surprised as he was! LOL. Sam got him a very cool “Floor time” pillow with lights, sounds, and more.

Wow!! What’s this, daddy?

It made him like floor time a lot more….

Mesmerized

Before we all showered and got dressed to visit Sam’s folks, we attempted to take a family selfie. We have a camera that I could have set up with a timer and all, but with my cell phone, I could snap 5-6 pictures in the time it would take to get one on the camera. Good thing we went with the cell phone – because it only took us about 57 tries before we finally got this one.

Merry Christmas!

Since it was AJ’s first Christmas, we had to be sure to get a picture with him in his “First Christmas” outfit. Sam came up with the silly saying on the board and it made me chuckle!

Got him smiling and everything!

After the kids napped, we went to Sam’s folks for Christmas dinner. Sam’s mom put out an amazing spread with turkey, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, and so much more. I’m not sure why we didn’t get any pictures while we were there, and I am sad that we didn’t. We are so grateful for them and enjoyed family time together.

After we got home and got the kids in bed, Sam and I crawled into bed. Before I drifted off to sleep, I thought back over the many memories that were made and thanked God for the many blessings that He has given me. I am truly a lucky man.

December 26

Having the Christmas tree up was driving Sam crazy. Not because it was up, but because we literally had to move Ella’s toys out of that corner of the room. All of her toys were moved in front of the fireplace and it just seemed like we were always tripping over them. Long before Christmas, it was clear that on the 26th, the tree was coming down!

I spent the morning taking down ornaments, unstringing Christmas lights, folding up stockings, and putting them all downstairs until next year. Before I finished, there was one picture we had meant to get of Ella that we hadn’t gotten. So I hurried out to the garage and got the props ready before Ella and I walked the neighborhood. Here is the picture we had hoped to get earlier in the season ….

Hauling her Christmas tree

It’s back to work tonight for me, at least for a couple days. Looking back over this holiday weekend makes me smile. There are so many wonderful memories forever saved in snapshots that I will look back on often. Life is good. I am blessed.

Twas The Weekend Before Christmas …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I was really surprised that she remembered the house!

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

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

It really was the cutest thing!!!

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

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

My Side Porch Looking In

In 2003, the country group Lonestar had a hit with a song called My Front Porch Looking In. In it, the singer talks of the wonderful views from his porch as well as the various things he has seen in life. His favorite view, however, is from his front porch looking inside his house.

I’ve always been a fan of that song. There is no greater feeling than coming home and seeing the kids through the window. It doesn’t happen much for me now, as I come home in the early morning and the kids are often still asleep.

Instead, the lyrics of this song ring true when I leave for work. My daughter used to run to the window after I locked the door to leave for work. I would walk to the window and she’d put her palm against the window, and I’d put mine up to hers. Sometimes she’d put her pointer finger up against the window and I would point right up against hers. We’ve since moved the couch in front of the window, so she really can’t run up to it any more. Now, she has to climb up on the couch to “high five” or “point at” me. It always makes me smile.

Yesterday, before work, she came to the window, and Sam held up her brother so I could see both of them. I’m not going to lie, I started to tear up. I hate leaving for work. I miss my family when I am away. I was able to snap a picture of them before I left…

Ella looks sad in this picture because she had actually slipped and fell before I left, which made me hate leaving even more! It may seem silly to some, but I will continue to go to the window every time I leave for work, whether she “high fives” me or not. There is something so very special about looking at my family from the side porch looking in ….

Santa and Snowballs

Hard to believe that we are just 10 days away from Christmas! The past four days have been full of pre-holiday fun!

On Saturday, AJ turned two months old. It seems like I just posted about his birth, but here we are 2 months later. It’s been fun to watch his personality start to come through. He is cooing a lot now and we are starting to get smiles from him. My wife, who always gets the cutest clothes for our kids, had the perfect outfit for his two month photo shoot.

Originally, those PJ’s were supposed to be used in the Christmas pictures we had taken. We weren’t allowed any outfit changes there, so we just used the sweaters that the kids had.

Ella also had a pair of Christmas PJ’s that she was going to wear for pictures, as well as a very cute dress. We actually had her put the dress on one day and I got a couple nice pictures. It didn’t take long for her to express her dislike of the dress, however, and she took it off. We’re not sure if it was the frill on it or what, but I’m glad we got at least a few pictures in it.

We decided that we were going to take the kids to get their picture with Santa. We weren’t really sure about going to the mall and waiting in line and all that. We saw where Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops had a contact-free Santa photo opportunity and jumped on it. We made an appointment online and it was a very quick process.

I guess we thought that there would be a chair next to Santa, and we hoped that Ella would be able to hold her brother in it. There was a bench, however, and neither of us was comfortable with Ella holding AJ on it. So we all got to be in the picture! Even though Sam and I weren’t necessarily dressed for it, the picture came out ok. Best thing about it – it was free!

The highlight of the past few days has to be yesterday. Sam’s mom bought Ella some “indoor snowballs,” to play with.

They are basically big cotton balls. They don’t hurt and they have enough weight to them that you can actually throw them.

At first, she wasn’t really quite sure what to do with them. We were out in the living room and I was sitting on the floor with her. I grabbed one and threw it at her. She would go and get it and bring it back to me, and hand it to me to throw again. So I decided to toss one to Sam, who threw it at me. When I got hit, I overreacted and pretended to be thrown to the ground. At that point Ella picked them up and started to charge at me with them and knocking me over.

Eventually, we had our snowball fight. She mostly charged at me and pushed me down, but when she’d throw one and hit me, I’d be falling to the ground. We must have played for 90 minutes. It was constant chuckling from me and loud boisterous laughter from her! My God, her laugh!! What joy that brought to me! Sam even commented that it had been some time since she heard her laugh like that!

For 90 minutes, I was 5 years old. It was silly. I was fun. It is a memory that I will treasure for the rest of my days.

Christmas “Cheese”

Over the weekend, Sam and I took Ella and AJ to get Christmas pictures done. We scheduled them a few weeks ago. We had a few different outfits that we wanted to get their pictures in, but we weren’t able to do more than one. We went back and forth as to whether or not we wanted to take them in their PJ’s or the dress outfits. We opted for the dress outfits and they came out great. So why only one outfit?

There was some sort of water main break at the mall and they closed the mall for a couple days. So they rescheduled people’s appointments for the weekend. In essence, they were double/triple booked. Our appointment was at 11:30am, which should have been the second appointment of the day. There were two families in there when we arrived for our appointment. The lady that was there was obviously already frazzled. She stated that her help had not arrived yet.

She had finished the first set of photos and the parents of the first child were in front of a computer clicking their favorites as she took the next family back. That second family had like 4 kids and they were doing family pictures as well as individual pictures. We were basically told that it would be a bit before we got called back and that we could walk the store, which we did.

It was not easy keeping Ella and AJ happy, though. We were close to lunch time and nap time, so the longer we waited, the more cranky they could become. It was closer to 12:45p by the time we got to go back. The entire time we waited, Sam and I were getting ticked. We thought for sure that because they were so overbooked, we’d be rushed in and rushed out. Thankfully that did not happen, and we got some really nice shots.

Kudos to my wife for this idea. You wouldn’t know that Ella would not really stand still for pictures. She was running all over the place. We love the one above because it looks like she is pointing at AJ.

The photographer asked her to give her brother a kiss, which she did. What makes me laugh is that he is still in the “return to Santa” box, which almost makes it like she is kissing him goodbye.

We got a couple of each of them alone, too, which came out nice.

Next up, pictures with Santa. Cabela’s has contact free photos and we’ve made our appointment. Hopefully, those will go well.

Do You Hear What She Hears?

Since having her ear tubes put in, my daughter’s vocabulary grows daily! This morning when I woke up, she was counting to four! She is asking for foods by name now. I had forgotten just how amazing it is to witness.

There is a set of train tracks that is maybe a quarter mile from our house. Every night around 8ish, a train comes rolling through and Ella hears it. Sam had told me that she will tell her “Shhhh! Here it comes, mommy!”

We were all sitting in the living room before I had to get ready for work today and I could hear the train in the distance. I got excited, because I couldn’t wait to see what she did. Sure enough, as the train blew it’s whistle, she smiled and said “Here it comes, Mommy! Here it comes, Daddy! Choo choo!” It totally made my day!