A Blog I’ve Been Avoiding

After much thought, I have decided to sit and write about something that is really hurting me. I am writing this for the sole purpose of talking about it in hopes that it will calm my inner soul to “get it out.” Please bear with me.

Today is my second son’s birthday. He is 15 today. He lives with his mother (my ex). I’m supposed to see him three weekends a month. I’m not sure exactly when it all started happening, but at some point those visits were based on whether or not he wanted to come over.

A few days before I was texting him to ask if he was coming over. He would answer on occasion, but not always. His mother told me a few months ago that she assumed I wasn’t asking him to come over. She suggested a text conversation that included my son, her and me. Since then, I have texted and asked him if he was coming over and wouldn’t get a response from either one of them.

The last time he was over was early May. When we got Covid, I texted to say that it might be a week or two before he should come over. After getting clearance to go back to work, I texted and said, “Cleared to go back to work. Hope to see you this weekend.” A few days later I texted to see if he was planning to come over. This text he responded to. “No Thanks.”

On my birthday, I received a call from my oldest son, but never heard a word from my second oldest. I sent him a text on the first weekend of June asking if he was planning on coming over and got no response this time.

My oldest son has a Facebook messenger group that includes his friends, his friends parents, his brother, and my ex and I. They are always communicating on this thing. Lately, each family has been hosting a get together every weekend. One family has a pond in their back yard that they can all swim in. My sons were there the second weekend of June, so again, no visit.

Father’s Day weekend there was a fair in town and they were discussing going there. I believe they went Friday and Sunday, but had talked about going Saturday, too. My oldest son stated that he worked on Saturday and so they planned on just Friday and Sunday – Sunday, of course, being Father’s Day.

With the group discussing the fair, my ex chimed in and said that the 4 of them (her, my sons, and her boyfriend) should go to the fair in the morning. Then she suggested they “Chill before we do the Father’s Day dinner.” Because of this, I didn’t text my son to see if he was coming, because they obviously had plans.

I had to wonder, though, shouldn’t the “Father’s Day dinner” be with their father?! Apparently not.

On Sunday, my oldest son called me to wish me Happy Father’s Day. He asked what my plans for the day were. I told him that I didn’t know what I was going to do. I said I might head to the store, but other than that, I’d be home. Deep down, I expected him to ask if he could stop over, but he didn’t. It was ok, I knew he had plans.

I never heard from my other son.

I didn’t text this week to see if he was coming. I knew his birthday fell on Saturday and that his mom probably had something planned for him. There is certainly no way, he’d want to be with me. So I dropped a birthday card in the mail earlier in the week. I am sure that it has already arrived. I’m not surprised that I haven’t gotten a “Thank you” yet.

I cannot describe how much it hurts to be shunned by your child. I have reached out so many times, without getting a response. I understand that the divorce wasn’t easy for him. Hell, it wasn’t easy for any of us. But in the end, it was the thing that had to happen. When he uses phrases that his mom has used in conversation with me, like “your other family” and such, I know where they came from.

I saw a quote as I debated whether or not to write this blog:

“I wish I could give you my pain just for one moment. Not to hurt you, but rather so you can finally understand how much you hurt me.”

He is a teenager. He’s got a lot of things going on. He has depression. He has had a very rough year in school. There are a whole lot of feelings he is sorting through. I will hope and pray that one day – when he is ready – we can once again have a relationship and move past all of this stuff. That’s all I can do. It really is up to him.

The hurt is real for me. He is my son. I love him. I will never NOT be his dad, despite what others may be telling him. I will be here for him. In the meantime, I will continue to reach out.

It is also is important not to let these things interfere with or disrupt my life with my wife and other children. They need the best of me. I need to provide for them, too. I have to be a good father and husband to them, as well – and I will.

So there it is. It’s out. I hope that writing down at least some of my thoughts will help me. Thanks for listening/reading.

We now return to your regularly entertaining blog….

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.

My Father’s Day Weekend

Father’s Day began for me on Saturday morning. We celebrated Saturday because Sam had to work on Sunday.

When I returned home from work, my kids were already up and waiting. Sam had texted me that Ella was anxious for me to come home to get my present. Ella was excited because she had seen something in the store and wanted to get it for me weeks ago. Same ordered it online so it would be here for Father’s Day.

Ella and Andrew got to play with markers (which only happens on special occasions) and decorate the gift bag my gifts would be in. She was so happy to hand me the bag.

She waited for me to reach into the bag and could hardly contain herself. When I pulled out her gift to me, she shrieked with excitement! It was really the perfect gift.

We watch Bluey together all the time. It is probably my favorite cartoon that she watches. Bandit, the dad on the show, is what ALL dad’s should be! He’s awesome. This book is just wonderful. We read it before bed last night. I don’t know who was happier about this book – Ella or me!

Andrew got some help from mommy with his gift. As I have mentioned, I’m an older dad. One of the reasons I started this blog was to write my memories and such so that in the event something happens, the memories are here. Sam took it a step further for Andrews’s gift to me.

I’m not sure who came up with the idea for books like this, but they are great. I had originally gotten one of these for my mom to fill out before she passed. She was just too sick and too tired to ever really do it. I wish she’d been able to do that.

At any rate, there are a lot of thought provoking questions in this book and Sam thought I could take it with me to work and fill it in when I was on breaks and such. I love the idea!

After nap time, the family drove up the road to look for some new pajamas for Ella. She’s starting to not fit in her current ones. We went to the Carter’s store and looked around. She was forever handing Sam and I things for Andrew or herself that she found on a rack somewhere. The funniest thing of the trip was a foreshadowing of Ella in her teen and adult years. She kept asking for shoes and even began to make a pile of ones she wanted!

Just the beginning …..

After our shopping trip we came home and made dinner. I didn’t want Sam to have to take me out anywhere, so we made chicken on the grill. We also made corn on the cob and other sides. It was the perfect way to wrap up the day.

I was out grilling the chicken and I was using a brush to put BBQ sauce on a few of the pieces of chicken.

As I am doing this, Ella is standing there watching me. She see’s me dipping the brush into the BBQ sauce and putting it on the chicken. She then says, “Daddy! You’re painting!” Priceless!

Sam kept telling Ella to say, “Happy Father’s Day” to me and it kept coming out “Happy Mother’s Day” which just made me laugh even more.

On Sunday, or “Father’s Day in real life,” as Bluey might say, we had a wonderful breakfast. I made everyone eggs, sausage, and fruit. Ella stated that it was “Deeee-lish-ous!”

We called my dad to wish him Happy Father’s Day. My oldest son called me to wish me the same. Sadly, I never heard from my second oldest son. That’s a whole blog in itself and I will spare you those details for now.

After Andrew’s nap, I decided to take the kids to the Barnes and Noble. I wasn’t sure that there was anything I wanted for myself, but I though we could pick up some new books for them.

While we were walking Ella and I were just talking. Andrew was in the stroller and Ella was walking next to me. I don’t remember what we were saying, but a woman stopped me and said that she wished she had videoed the exchange we were having. She said she was very impressed with how we were interacting. She reminded me of a teacher or something. Ella then said hello, grabbed a puzzle with dogs on the box and showed the lady.

The lady, without skipping a beat, got down on the ground and they counted dogs together, asked about the colors of the dogs, and talked about what “doggies say.” It was so cool to see. She thanked Ella for showing her and Ella put the puzzle back. The lady was so impressed with how polite Ella was. Proud parent moment.

After we got home, we had lunch. Sam took Andrew into our room when it was his nap time. Sam suggested that since one of the local ice cream places had free cones for dads on Father’s day, we should go. We wound up going somewhere a bit closer, but it still worked out because dads got a free scoop of ice cream there, too!

Ice cream is not exactly on Weight Watchers, but I had some anyway and ate carefully the rest of the day. Ella asked for “white ice cream with sprinkles” and that is what she got!

Dad may or may not have had to help her on occasion because it was melting faster than she could eat it!

She talked to everyone who came to the ice cream place! She recommended getting banana ice cream to many, even though she was eating vanilla. She was a real hoot. The owner came out and asked how her ice cream was and she said it was the “best ice cream ever!”

After the ice cream, dad decided to walk the neighborhood. Sunday, she didn’t want to ride in the stroller. So we walked together. The workout was a bit less intense than I had hoped.

About half way through the walk she tripped and skinned her knee pretty bad. So I wound up picking her up and finishing the walk with her on my shoulders. That brought the heart rate up a bit and I probably burned off about half of the ice cream calories!

When Sam left for work, it was just me and the kids. We were playing on the “nugget” and having a blast. Andrew was climbing up like nobody’s business. Once he was on the top, he would start to walk off it. Most of the time, I was there to catch him. There were a couple times where he’d do this little stuntman fall. He is fearless!

Thank you to my wife and my kids for making the weekend such a special one for me!

Weekend Wrap Up

Saturday Sam and I took the kids out to eat at a local pizza place. They have a patio, which allowed us to eat outside. The weather was perfect. It was sunny, but not too hot and there was a nice breeze. Of course, there was plenty of cottonwood flying about, which was only a problem if it landed on our food.

Eating outside also allowed for Ella, who isn’t really great about sitting still, to wander a bit. There was a family who came out the patio and sat a table or so away from us. I guess the kid hurt himself, and Ella really wanted to help him. She said, “Kiss and make it better?” We told her that the boy’s mommy would do that for him.

She was walking around like she owned the patio. In one photo I snapped, I swear she looks like she is walking a model runway. She looks like a movie star with her sunglasses and all.

Sunday and Monday both allowed for neighborhood walks, but there were also showers and storms.

Tuesday started with “weigh in” for me. I was thrilled to see a 3 pound loss this week, bringing my total to 9 pounds in two weeks. I hope to keep seeing weight loss.

After breakfast and a few errands, I took the kids for our neighborhood walk. It’s become a thing to count squirrels, birds, cats and “puppies.” Ella sings through the entire walk, saying hello to everyone we meet. Tuesday, there was a guy riding his bike who passed us about 4 times. She said hello every time. LOL

When we got home, she wanted to swing on the swings, until she heard loud yelling and noise from the back of the house. It was field day and the kids were out with bounce houses, outdoor games, and kickball.

Both kids absolutely loved watching the kids play. Ella said hi to all the kids sitting on the bench and they were very nice to her. I think Andrew got the biggest kick out of it though. His smile as he stood against the fence was priceless.

Sam said if it was warm enough to put them in their bathing suits and let them play with the water table and little pool. The two of them had a blast. As much as Ella gets to where she doesn’t want Andrew around her, outside she welcomes him as a playmate. They splashed together, she poured water on him, and they got muddy together.

The only time they were really unhappy today was when it was time to come inside and nap.

Looking forward to the rest of the week and Father’s Day weekend.

“My Hat!”

This is just one of those stories that I wanted to document for my kids. It is all about a silly game that I never thought would be the hit that it is with them. Now, Ella asks for it ….

One day Andrew was crying and I started to try to do things that would make him laugh. My mother-in-law made a few tiny “Nana Blankets” for Ella. This used to be the blanket I would put in front of my face to play “peek-a-boo.”

I began to put it on my head and he would just stare at me. Once he started to be able to stand on his own, I would put this blanket on my head and he would start smiling and eventually he would reach up and pull it off.

When Andrew pulled it off my head, I would yell, “My Hat!” This would make Andrew laugh out loud. Once that happened, it started to crack Ella up, too!

It got to the point where they would both be laughing out loud. Ella would come over and start ripping the “hat” off, too.

Now, I have to tell Ella whose turn it is to grab “My hat!” And I HAVE to say “My Hat!” or Ella gets mad. As I said, she will bring over the blanket now and simply say, “my hat.” This means it’s time to play.

It is a good game to redirect Andrew. If he is walking around and about to get into something, I grab the blanket and put it on my head. He will immediately start to walk toward me to get the “hat.”

This is a game that gets old for me after about the 20th time, but as long as they keep grabbing it and laughing about it, I will continue to do it. I love to see them laughing!

Memorable Memorial Day Weekend

I hope this blog finds you well rested after the holiday weekend. It was a relaxing weekend for us for the most part. We had lots of outside time and actually got to enjoy some family time.

Andrew will be walking on his own and without any help VERY soon. He’s taken some steps randomly here and there. Yesterday, he took like 10 steps from the couch to where the cat was. That’s the most I’ve seen him take so far without falling.

He had some lasagna the other night for dinner and he was so soaked with sauce, we had to give him a bath, Afterward, he was sitting in the living room and I had to laugh that his hair was like Alfalfa from the Little Rascals.

One day while he was napping, Ella and I went for a walk around the neighborhood. She always asks to see her “puppy friend.” Lately, the pup has been up on the back porch. She was so happy to see it closer.

When we got closer to home, I noticed the smell of lilacs. Sam planted them when she moved in about 7 years ago and they are getting so big. They smell just amazing. It’s always a spring highlight when they bloom.

She got some mommy daughter time this weekend, too. Mommy took her out Monday morning for donuts. She got to order donuts for everyone. She knows dad likes Boston Cream, mom likes chocolate dip, and she loves Tim Bits. She loved sitting at the picnic table watching the cars go by before bringing home my donut.

Still in PJ’s! Eating Tim Bits with Mommy.

Andrew’s high chair needed a good cleaning. The last few meals were messy. So Sam took it outside and used the hose to clean it up. This caused a big pool of water to build up on the driveway, which Ella immediately wanted to play in!

Sam knows she loves the water, so she got Ella (and Andrew) a new water table. I spent the day putting it together so they could play with it. It came with plastic fish, turtles, and buckets. I’m sure they will have a lot of fun playing with it. Now, we just got to get Ella to share!

After the lawnmower fiasco (see previous blog), we stayed home and enjoyed the remainder of the holiday. We threw some brats on the grill and afterward, had ice cream. All in all, it was a nice family weekend.

His First Graduation

Back in April, our son Andrew began his helmet journey. I blogged about it here:

Originally, we were told he’d probably be wearing it until July. With each measurement that was taken from the beginning, his head continued to reshape itself quickly. Today, he was measured by the clinician and we were told that he would no longer need to wear it daily. Today was his Helmet Graduation!

Over the past 7 weeks, he wore the helmet 23 hours a day. In the hour that it was off he had to have a bath to wash his hair (which smelled like sweaty helmet). The helmet had to be wiped clean before it could be put back on.

In the time he has been wearing the helmet, he has become more adventurous and is standing on his own and has even taken a step or two. There have been plenty of falls over the last 7 weeks and the helmet had brought some great protection for his head. Both Sam and I realize that now that the helmet is off, the possibility of a good bump on the head is more likely. We’ve joked that the helmet saved us a few trips to the ER.

It’s actually weird to see him without the helmet for so long. We got used to seeing him in it. Now, we can actually hold him and snuggle him forehead to forehead. It’s not such a chore to kiss him on the cheek. The hugs feel closer because that “barrier” is no longer there. It’s fantastic.

Today he had his helmet graduation. When he graduates high school, his helmet and graduation certificate will be on full display at his graduation party. It will be a reminder of one of his first hurdles that he jumped over successfully. I’m proud of our little boy today!

Well Rounded Indeed!

Back – But Not 100%

Despite the few blogs I had scheduled to be published, I really only got to jump on here to blog a couple times over the past few weeks because of Covid. So I figured I would fill you in on what’s been happening …

Daddy Daughter Pirate Adventure

Prior to my Covid diagnosis, I was planning on taking Ella to a Daddy/Daughter Pirate adventure. I took the Tuesday off and worked Monday night instead. The Sunday before, I didn’t really feel great. I felt like I was getting a cold. Ella was diagnosed that Friday with a double ear infection. I was worried we wouldn’t be able to go because she was sick.

Monday I felt a bit worse and took a home Covid test. It was negative and I went to work. While at work, I just felt stuffed up. I was coughing a bit, and just achy. I went home and slept. When I woke up, I was still hoping to get to go to the Pirate adventure, however, I just felt like crap. My wife talked me into going to Urgent Care, where they swabbed me and gave me the Covid and Flu diagnosis.

It rained Monday and they called Tuesday to tell me that they had moved the pirate adventure to the next day. It didn’t matter, I wasn’t going to be able to go.

Mother’s Day

I’m glad that I planned ahead this year. So often, I wait until a couple days before to go out and get cards and presents. This year, I ordered Sam something online and had hoped to get her a few other things, but thanks to Covid, I was only able to give her the gift I ordered.

I saw this Facebook and thought it was perfect. It was a framed sign, printed on burlap that said, “My greatest blessings call me Mommy.” Under that I was able to put the kids names and birthdays. It came out better than I thought.

Because we both were in quarantine, we had to place our grocery order online and have it delivered. Because I couldn’t get her a cake, Sam ordered one and we had it after dinner. We were able to spend a little bit of time outside in the sun, hoping the extra vitamin D would help with the Covid.

Mother’s Day 2022

The Kids

Thank goodness the sun has been out a lot this week. The kids have been loving being outside on the swings, playing in the yard or taking brief walks around the neighborhood.

Nana stopped by with some clothes she got for the kids on day and found Ella some “Princess Dresses.” She puts one on and then takes it off so she can put the other one on. I’m not sure what she was doing when I snapped this picture, but I love it. I can’t wait to be able to dress up for a daddy daughter dance!

Earlier this week, Ella was outside with Sam and heard a bird. She told Sam it was a “Nutpecker!” Sam did a double take and asked her again what kind of bird it was. Again, the answer came back, “Nutpecker!” I’ll just add that to the list of wonderfully funny things my daughter says. Nutpecker = Woodpecker.

Andrew turned 7 months old this week. He’s been crawling all over the place and is doing everything he can to stand up. He will pull himself up with the help of couch cushions, toys, pillows, you name it. He is able to stand for 30 seconds at a time, but then usually falls. It drives us crazy. Case in point:

Ella got a Doc McStuffins doctor kit. It comes with the typical doctor toys – stethoscope, otoscope, fake shot, thermometer, bandage and bag. Take a look at the shot, which is the second from the right in the picture below.

See how it is flat? Ok, good. Andrew was standing up next to me on the floor. I was sitting and he had pulled himself up and was standing. He quickly turned and fell and faceplanted right on the corner of that shot. Almost immediately, under his eye (at the top of his cheek bone) began to bruise. Then it began to swell. There was a huge bump under it. At first I thought he broke his cheek.

With 30 minutes before the Urgent Care closed, Sam ran him up to get checked out. He had a hematoma under his eye. Basically, it was bleeding under the skin. So he got his first shiner.

We were told to call his doc and follow up. The doc stated that she didn’t need to see him, but we should have him looked at by an eye doctor to be sure nothing was wrong on the inside of the eye. So he also had his first visit to the eye doc this week.

The good news is that the eye looks great and he will be fine.

He followed up with the Orthotics folks today about his helmet and they said he is progressing so well that he probably will be able to get the helmet off in a couple weeks. This is fantastic news, since we were planning on him having it on through July.

My Crazy Co-Workers

I was cleared to return to work today. The afternoon tech was off, so when I walked in I was the only one in the building. When I walked into the tech room, I was greeted with a masterpiece created by my co-workers.

They basically went through my Facebook page and found every ridiculous picture of me and created a “Covid Keith” board. It certainly made me laugh. I also realize that I make a lot of silly faces. There is a story behind the Alfalfa picture that I will share another time.

I suppose things are sort of getting back to normal-ish.

My Kids – Posers?

One of the things I love about Facebook is the ability to meet others who share the same interests as me. I belong to many different “fan” groups and have connected with some very cool people through those groups.

Some time ago, I saw a painting of Moe Howard that I thought was very well done. I’m not sure exactly where I had seen it, though it may have been in Moe’s book. At any rate, through one of the Three Stooges groups, I found that the artist was a member. Her name is Belita William and she painted the amazing portrait when she was in her teens!

Moe, Belita, and her painting.

She and Moe became friends and they were in contact with each other until he passed away. Moe liked her work so much, he had her paint him a portrait of President Kennedy.

Moe, JFK, and Belita

I was surprised to find out that she had also painted a portrait for Larry Fine, as well. This is another picture I had seen somewhere prior to learning she painted it.

Larry and his painting

Belita is very talented and I am in awe of her talent. She has painted portraits of her children, church members, and many others. Here are just a few examples of her fantastic work.

To make a long story short, Belita and I became Facebook friends shortly after connecting through the Stooges group. She has often commented on photos of Ella, Andrew, and my kids. I was truly surprised when she reached out to me privately recently.

“Hi Keith. Your kids are gorgeous. Maybe you might consider portraits.”

I won’t lie, it is certainly something I would love to do. She talked about pricing and such and it is something that I definitely want to save up to do. It may take a while (thank you highest inflation rate since 1981!), but I really think this would be an amazing and one of a kind way to capture the kids. I am sure that she would do a wonderful job.

When Ella was first born, one of my co-workers said we should enter her in a “Cutest Baby Contest.” Others have said the same about Andrew. As a parent, you are biased. I mean, you KNOW how cute your kids are, right!? Sure they are “model” material! Sure they would be perfect for a portrait! Absolutely they could be in a magazine ad! You always think that, but when someone reaches out to you and actually asks to paint them (as Belita has done) or asks to use them in promotional material (like Andrew was by the place where he got his helmet), it makes you feel pretty darn good!

Thank heavens they got their good looks from their mommy! LOL

Nice Day For A Birthday and a Half

Monday is usually my day for getting stuff done. I do laundry. I fold laundry. I load the dishwasher and run it. I pick up the living room and vacuum. I clean up the kitchen and clear the counters. None of that got done today.

My day started with getting Andrew out of bed, fixing him a bottle, and putting his helmet on. Ella was up shortly after and mom brought her home pancakes from McDonald’s for breakfast.

It is Andrew’s 1/2 birthday (he is six months old today). We measured him, weighed him, and put him in his special onesie and took our Milestone pictures. We decided to take his pictures in his helmet so we’d remember it.

Today, my oldest son turns 20. He spent the day with his friends bowling and then playing games at his house. He is usually a late sleeper, so I waited until about 11 to call him. I used video chat and when he answered he had his mask on and was obviously in class at college! I felt bad that I interrupted and told him I would call him later!

The temperature outside was about 60, so I decided to take the kids on our first walk through the neighborhood. It’s a bit different with the double stroller, but it was just perfect. We got to see neighbors outside with their kids, raking up leftover fall leaves, and just relaxing on their porches.

It felt good to walk. I know that walking really helped me drop some weight last year, and I hope it will again this year. I just hope Ella will allow me to push her in the stroller. She loves being able to just walk.

Andrew seemed to really enjoy being outside. I bundled him up in a sweatshirt and covered him in a blanket and he cooed through most of the walk. He started to doze at one point, but he made it through the walk taking in all the sites.

When we were walking up the driveway, my oldest called me back on the video chat. He was excited to be out of class and was going to check out the video game store. He got to see his brother and sister and couldn’t believe when Ella said, “Happy birthday, brother.”

After lunch, the kiddos napped – Ella in her crib and Andrew in my arms. Tonight is the first night he has to sleep with his helmet, so I’m anticipating a rough night. He has been doing well with it, so I hope I am wrong.

My favorite moment of the day was captured by the camera. Ella wanted to get her picture taken, too, when we were getting Andrew’s taken. So we put her in the crib next to him and I caught this magical moment….

Precious!