Christmas in September

To say that the past few days have been stressful is an understatement. There have been some very good moments and I tried to just take them all in. However, something was on my mind all weekend.

I’m not going to get into detail on that. I could, but I won’t. Let me just state that it is stress related to things outside of my home life. Read into that however you wish.

At any rate, after a particularly emotional and crappy Monday that was the culmination of all the things on my mind, I needed something – anything! My Monday evening walk with the kids helped. I was out in the neighborhood, counting squirrels, saying hello to our “puppy friends” and listening to AJ babble and Ella sing.

Sam knew the weekend and Monday had taken a toll on me. She never said it was her plan, but she suggested taking a trip to Bronner’s in Frankenmuth to look for our annual “ornament hunt.” Bronner’s is “The World’s Largest Christmas Store” and I have blogged about it before. You can read about that here:

We packed the family up in the car after Sam got home and we made the short drive there. It was the perfect day to go. Tuesday morning in September. Sure, there were people there, but not the normal crowd that is there. The sounds of Christmas music were playing through the outside speakers as we walked in.

(Johnny Mathis’ version of Marshmallow World was playing as I walked in. I found myself thinking that the Dean Martin version is FAR superior to this version. As a bonus, Dean’s version played before we left!)

I hadn’t thought about it but this was Andrew’s first trip to Bronner’s. He was in awe of all the lights and him and Ella were anxious to touch everything!!

Every year, we get an ornament that marks some big event that happened in the past year. We have an engagement ornament, a marriage ornament, a mother-to-be ornament, and two “Baby’s First Christmas” ornaments. So what big event could we commemorate this year?

Neither one of us changed jobs. We didn’t get a new house or new car. Now that I think about it, the only big thing that happened this year was my vasectomy! I doubt they had an ornament for that, but then again, they have thousands of ornaments for just about every thing! They probably DO have something for that!!! Maybe I will call and ask …

Instead of an ornament, we got a snowman family plaque. You have probably seen what I am talking about. It has mom, dad, and snow-kids.

The one above is not the one we got, but it is similar. So we had them put our family name on it and then each of the snow kids had their name written on them. It came out really cute and we’ll either put it on the mantel or hang it on the main entry door.

Next year, Sam has said that she wants the kids to go and each pick out their own ornaments. I think that is a great idea and a good way to make it a tradition. We want them to have that experience and then every year when the holiday rolls around, they can look back on the ornaments and relive memories.

The kids were both getting a bit antsy, so as soon as the plaque was personalized, we headed out. We stopped for photo ops and walked outside. As we exited the building, there was a huge Santa Claus. Andrew saw it and began to point to it. It was a perfect (and frame worthy) photo.

It was just want I needed to get my mind off all that transpired over the past few days. A welcome distraction with those that I love.

One thing is for sure. Despite all the feelings that are churning around inside me, especially as I think about things, I think on the reasons why I keep going. The people who mean the most to me. I think of my wife and her never ending support and love. I think of my two older sons, and of course, the two little blessings who accompanied me on our trip to “Christmas in September” …

THEY are why I continue to do what I do. THEY are the reason I need to focus on getting healthy. THEY are the reason I am happy.

Hardly Prepared For The Real World

I have made it no secret that Math (Algebra in particular) is NOT my best subject. I did poorly in my high school algebra classes. Yes, I did pass the college Algebra classes I had to take, but it was harder than I could have imagined. It didn’t help that I hadn’t looked at an algebra problem in almost 30 years.

Luckily, my oldest son only needed my help a few times with his math stuff when he was in school. My middle son, on the other hand, brought home some really tough stuff from his summer school class last month. I really struggled to help him. I had my college books, my college notes, store bought aids, and even a friend who is good at math all at my disposal, but nothing really helped. He squeaked by … just barely.

I want to go on record stating that I never really had a problem with basic math. Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division and other basics like finding percentages, figuring out mileage, counting money and making change and balancing checkbooks were all things I did well with. Those basic things are still taught in school today, yet it doesn’t seem to be something people are retaining.

Case in Point:

Normally, before work I would make a pot of coffee and bring a cup with me in the car on my way in. Today, I forgot to make some, so I drove through the local Tim Horton’s to get one. Most of the time, I would just hand the person at the window my debit card and the transaction would be complete. Today that was not the case.

They are usually pretty quick at Timmy’s, but something seemed to be slowing the line today. There were two cars ahead of me. I saw them pass an iced coffee to the first car and they drove off. The car in front of me tendered their money and the wait began. Almost five minutes later, a hand reached out with their change and then passed out a small coffee cup.

I wondered if the customer was waiting because they had to brew a new pot of coffee. Or maybe they were changing cashiers and they were switching out the till. It just seemed weird that it took that long to get a cup of coffee (or tea or hot chocolate for that matter.) When I got the the window, things became clear.

It was obvious that the gal at the window was a new employee and in training. She was having a discussion with the manager before she even opened the window. Directly to her right was my coffee. It was ready to be handed to me as soon as the money changed hands. I was paying cash, so it shouldn’t be too difficult, right?? Wrong.

When she finally opened the window, she told me that I owed $2.85. I order the same thing every time, so I had $3.00 ready and handed it to her. She typed into the register what I handed her and she placed the three $1 bills in the tray with the others and stopped. She stood staring at the till.

My change was 15 cents. For some reason this seemed to stump that gal at the window. She looked at the till, then at her manager. The window was open, so I could hear their conversation. The manager said, “He gave you three dollars. You owe him 15 cents.” She stood there looking stumped. The manager pointed to each one of the compartments at the bottom of the drawer saying, “There you have 25, 10, 5 and 1.”

Is real money such a new thing to this gal? Has she never seen a dime before? The whole thing was like something out of the Twilight Zone! The manager literally told her “give him a dime and a nickel.” She could have given me a dime and five pennies, two nickels and five pennies, three nickels, or 15 pennies – I didn’t even care if I got my change! Honestly, I would have drove off without the change if they had handed me the coffee!

Finally, this gal delicately grabbed a dime and a nickel and handed it to me with my receipt. She told me to have a good day and stared at me. She obviously wondered why I hadn’t left yet. Her manager said, “I’m sure he would like the coffee he just ordered.” I’m not sure how much longer she stared at me, but eventually, the manager grabbed my coffee and handed it to her and she finally passed it out the window to me.

As I drove off, I looked at the 4 cars that were behind me wondering how much longer each of them would have to wait. I also wondered what kind of grades this 30 something year old gal got in high school math class ….

Celebrating My Children!

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

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

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

Dimitri (holding Andrew), Ella, and Dante’

Dante’

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

Dimitri

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

Not unless there is a miracle

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

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

Ella

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

Andrew

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

My dear children –

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

Love always,

Dad

Her Name Up In Lights – Sort Of

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Heart is Full

Recently I posted a blog that was difficult to write. It was regarding some things with my son. It dealt with some hurt I was sorting through. I am happy to say that I was able to see him today.

He is currently having difficulty with a summer school math class. He asked if he could come over and see if I could help him. I told him that I would do my best, but math – algebra, in particular – was certainly not by best subject.

Last night at work, I had a patient who was a no-show. Honestly, I wanted to pack up and head home immediately. However, there were studies that needed to be scored and submitted, so I stayed and did that. I was able to leave work about two hours early. When I got home everyone was still sleeping, and rather than crawl in bed with Sam (who had Andrew sleeping next to her), I went out to the couch and fell asleep.

When they woke up, they came out and woke me up. I helped Sam with some things and then went to bed so that I could at least have some sleep before my son arrived. I had told my ex to bring him over at around the kid’s nap time so that I could work with him. To my surprise, my oldest son wound up bringing him over.

We got to spend a bit talking about some things that needed to be addressed (some of the things in the previous blog), and just catching up. My oldest son was going to meet me at where we normally do drop off and pick up later this evening.

My son and I spent about 3 and a half hours looking at problems and searching my old college algebra books to see if we could figure out how to do them. I even called my buddy from school who is my “go to” math guy a couple times to see if he could help. We didn’t do fantastic, and I hope that it is good enough for him to pass the class.

Sam left for work about 5:30 and I packed up the kids around 6 to head to the drop off. When I arrived, my son was already there. He is in college, has a job, and is always with his friends, so Ella and Andrew rarely get to see him. Ella knows who he is because of pictures on the wall. She prays every night for her big and little brothers.

She was in her car seat and I rolled her window down so she could say hello. She asked to get out because she wanted to hug my oldest. Is was so cute. I naturally took Andrew out of his seat too, because my son wanted to hold him. He commented that he had the bluest eyes. He was surprised when I told him he was walking. I told him they are getting big very fast and he should come over to visit more.

It was the first opportunity in forever that all four of my kids were together in one place. My oldest tried to snap a selfie, which was cute, but I wanted a picture of all of them.

We found a place in the parking lot where they could all sit and after a few tries to get everyone looking at the camera – I got one. It is perfect. All four of them together.

My blessings – Andrew, Dimitri, Ella, and Dante’

I am overwhelmed with joy as I look at this photo. I never really understood unconditional love until I became a father. I understand how God loves me, despite all of my faults and screw-ups, unconditionally. I understand it, because, I will always love these amazing kids that way – no matter what.

One of the coolest moments happened after the picture was taken. I mentioned to Ella that the boys had to get going because they were going to stop by a classic car show. She said ok, and when they stood up, as my oldest began to walk, she ran up to him and grabbed his hand and held it all the way to the car!

I was so glad I still had my phone in my hand so I could capture it. He helped her into her car seat and actually buckled her in as I got Andrew in his seat. She looked at him and said, “I love you, Dante’!” which I think really took him by surprise. He said “I love you, too!” and then she told Dimitri she loved him too. What an amazing moment to witness. They both went to Andrew and and he smiled at them, before we all got in our cars and left to go home.

After we video chatted with mommy at work, we decided to take a walk around the neighborhood. Ella was excited because she got to see 4 puppies who were out walking while we were. She had to get out of her seat and say hello to them all!

We came home and it was bedtime, so I helped her brush her teeth ad within minutes of hitting the pillow, she was asleep. Andrew took a bit longer to fall asleep. As soon as they were down, I fixed a salad and began typing this. I’ve only had 3 hours sleep today and really should have just gone to bed …. However, I wanted to share my happiness while I was still smiling about it.

Tonight, I head to bed with a heart full of love, joy, gratitude, understanding, and happiness!

Thanks for reading.

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!

A Fun and Busy Weekend

To say this weekend was not a hectic one would be a lie. In all honesty, the entire month has been busy for Sam and me. Sam has been running back and forth to various doc appointments and helmet appointments, plus helping her folks out with her sister. Both of us are running on little to no sleep. How we are making in through our nights at work and our days at home, I really have no idea.

Sam was up early on Saturday. I cam home and slept about 3 hours before having to get up and get my son. I picked him up at his mom’s house and then we drove to Sam’s parents’ house. She was there with Ella and Andrew helping out with her sister. I picked up Ella and came back home.

It was beautiful on Saturday! There was a lot of sunshine and it was close to 80 degrees. Ella wanted to play outside, so she ran around the yard playing with her toys as Dimitri and I worked on a couple projects. The biggest project was the swing set that Sam bought for the kids. It took about 3 hours to put together and I was pretty impressed with it.

Back in the day, I remember my dad having to dig or drill holes for the swing set poles to set into. Then he’d have to pour cement in them and it had to dry before we could use it. This set was neat. It had “shoes” that went on the bottom of each leg. There was a stake that you “screwed” into the ground and then you bolted the shoe to the stake. That thing is solid, let me tell you! I was pretty impressed.

Ella loves going to the park and swinging on the swings and Andrew had never been on one. We ordered a toddler swing to go put on it (it came with one) so both kids could swing at the same time. They absolutely loved it!!

The kids got to swing for a bit and then we went in and had dinner. We all went to bed early, because we were all wiped out.

Sam had to work Sunday, so she was up for a bit and then went back to try to get some sleep. So I decided to take the kids for a walk before it rained. Ella wanted to take her baby doll for a walk too. So I loaded up Andrew in the double stroller and she grabbed her baby doll and we walked the neighborhood.

What made me really smile was to see the people who were passing by in cars looking at Ella, waving at her and smiling. It was awesome. She really enjoyed being able to walk her baby. After we got home, we played outside for a while. Andrew was so interested in everything. He loved just playing around on the blanket out on the lawn.

I had planned on Dimitri staying until the evening, but I guess he had some dinner to go to. So Dante’ came to pick him up and take him to the dinner. Dante’ is working a lot and going to college, so it is rare for me to see them both together. Even though it was just for a few minutes, it was nice to have them both there. I had to fight them to get them to pose for a picture!

Dimitri helped me put the swing set together and also helped me take down the remainder of the Christmas lights. Yes, I know, it is almost May! That should tell you just how crazy life has been our way. On the days I wanted to get out and do it, it was either freezing, raining, and most recently – snowing! I’m glad they are finally down!

He also helped me move some furniture around. Andrew is having some separation issues. It has been a challenge to do anything without him attached to us. If we are not in the same room with him, he loses it. He’s never really slept well if it isn’t in our arms or in our bed. So we moved the crib to our bedroom, got him his own sound machine, and hoped that he’d start sleeping in it.

Yep. That’s his crib … at the end of our bed! I’m really hoping that he gets into that crib sooner than later. Sam and I would welcome a night of sleep without getting a helmet to the head or kicks in the stomach.

Finally, some big news that is NOT family related…

As a life long Detroit Tiger Fan, it was very cool to hear that Miguel Cabrera joined an elite club on Saturday. He got his 3000th hit! Miggy has certainly made baseball fun to watch here in Michigan. Now, we just need to get back to the World Series – and win it! Congrats, Miggy!!

Friday Flashback – Tile Towers

When my oldest boys were younger, they used to have to do fundraising for their school. If they raised enough money or got a certain number of orders, they won a prize. One time the prize was a Webkinz stuffed animal.

Each animal came with a code. You would go to the website and “adopt” that animal, name them, and care for it. You’d feed it, bathe it, and take care of their room/house. There were games that you could play to win “money” to spend on food, furniture, clothes, and more.

I don’t recall how many of these my boys had, but it was quite a few. I know I would often play the games they had a hard time with to help them “win” money. You couldn’t play without a Webkinz, and I know that everyone in our family had an animal. One of the games was called Tile Towers.

What I didn’t know was that this was a kid version of mahjong. I had heard of mahjong, but never played it. I probably never would have played it if it hadn’t been for this Webkinz game. I found it fun to play and kind of addicting. I remember the music being very catchy, and I started to search online for the music and couldn’t seem to find it.

From what I can see, there is a Webkinz app now, but I didn’t download it. Just seeing the pictures of the game makes me want to play it. On my Kindle Fire, I have a mahjong game I downloaded a long time ago, but I rarely play it. I don’t know, it was hard enough to find matching animals, let alone trying to find a match for these crazy symbols!

I miss the days of sitting on our old laptop with the boys looking over my shoulder pointing out matches “There is a cat there and over there, daddy!” “If you get rid of that pig, you can match the ducks, dad!”

It is such a silly memory, but it’s a fond memory of time with the boys.

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

Toddler Words

Many years ago, Art Linkletter hosted a show called “Kids Say The Darndest Things.” The show was later revamped and was hosted by Bill Cosby. Why was the show a hit? Because it is so true – kids say some of the funniest things!!

I remember a few things my older boys used to say that still crack me up. They used to call the vacuum cleaner a “Latchoom” and Ice Cream was “High Creem.” To this day, whenever we get pizza, I will say “Pee-cah.” Whenever the Little Caesar’s commercial would come on and say “Pizza! Pizza!” my sons would say “Pee-Cah! Pee-Cah!”

When Ella got up one day this week, Sam asked her what she wanted for breakfast. “Bah-Mam-Mah!” was her response. She has been calling bananas “Bah-Mam-Mahs” for a few weeks now. We began to chuckle and Sam made the comment, “Baby, I hope you always call them “Bah-Mam-Mahs!”

She then commented to me that she also hopes that she will continue to call shakes “Ice Cream Pop!”

That phrase started when she snagged my Boston Cooler a week ago. She has fallen in love with shakes and “Ice Cream Pop” has become a standard answer to the question, “What would you like to drink your breakfast (or lunch or dinner)?”

Those along with “Kee Kat” (for kitty cat), “Bahguppie” (for Bubble Guppies), “Cah-chee” (for Cottage Cheese. This was actually worse at one time.), and “Tab-Oh-Let” (for tablet) are words I hope she always says!! They make me smile!!

What are some mispronounced words you remember your kids saying??