Back to the Grind …

Back to Work …

After three weeks off work, tonight I have to return to the grind. I was lucky to be able to take some time off to be with Sam and the kids. While showering yesterday, I realized that the time I’d be home was coming to an end. Sam joked that I was probably happy to be able to get away from the crying and craziness, but that isn’t true. I know that I am going to miss them and want to be home instead.

I am looking forward to getting back into “the norm”. Things have been “on hold” for a few weeks while I’ve been home. I’m behind on my Bible reading, my classes, and other things, but know that once I am back into the swing of things, I’ll get everything caught up.

One thing about being back at work that will be nice – lack of snacks. Over the past three weeks, I feel like I was always eating! Potato chips, cookies, fast food, and candy seemed to be everywhere. I am glad to be back at work where I have a packed lunch and a bit more control of what I am eating.

AJ

Our baby boy has kept us VERY busy. We took him to the ENT to discuss his lip tie and tongue tie. While in the office he snipped both (which freaked us both out – because they literally just clip them with scissors!) and he has been doing much better. Sam and I discussed things and we’ve decided that he will eventually go to all formula. He has no trouble with bottles and is sleeping much better. He still has the GERD, so he will be on meds to help with that.

Sam has all her pictures saved on her iCloud. She found picture of Ella and took a picture of AJ and they could be twins. It’s really amazing how much he is starting to look more and more like her as a baby.

Ella on top. AJ on bottom. Both about the same age.

He still gets cranky, but he is starting to take time to look around. He’s more and more alert every day.

Great Neighbors

I don’t recall if I blogged about it, but this summer a neighbor had posted on the neighborhood Facebook page that they needed someone to mow their lawn. I reached out and said I would help. She asked whether I had children and explained that I had two sons from my previous marriage, a daughter with my wife and one on the way. She asked if I knew what we were having and at the time I knew it was a boy.

Last week, Sam was on the couch breastfeeding and there was a knock on the side door. She freaked out, because the couch is right by the door! She asked if I was expecting anyone and I told her I was not. When I opened the door, it was the lady whose lawn I mowed. She asked if I remembered her and I told her I did. She told me that she wanted to drop something by for the baby. She had a little gift bag and handed it to me. Ella was standing there saying “Hi” and “Bye Bye,” so the visit was cut very short. I felt bad because I couldn’t even introduce her to my wife.

Anyway, she made a beautiful sweater for AJ. I can’t even begin to imagine how much work goes into something like this, but it is so nice. I can’t wait to get a picture of him in it to send to her.

Halloween Weekend

For Halloween, we had to make sure to let AJ wear his “My First Halloween” onesie. Ella happened to be wearing her Halloween dress, so we snapped a few pictures of them.

As I began this paragraph, I started to write “my youngest son came over…” I realize that I can’t say that anymore, because now AJ is my youngest son!

Anyway, my second born son came over for Halloween weekend. I picked him up on Saturday and he stayed Sunday night to trick or treat. He brought a bag with two or three costume ideas. He decided to go as “an old man.” As he trick or treated, he told people who asked that he was “my dad when he was younger!” That got quite a few laughs.

Prior to trick or treating, I took Ella on a walk around the neighborhood. I had to stop and get a picture of one tree, because it was just breathtaking. So much color to it.

Ella had her first round of Trick or Treating and didn’t quite get what to do. She went as a ladybug and was so cute. At the first house, I got her out of the wagon, handed the bag to her and she walked up to our neighbor. I told her to say “Trick or treat” and hold open her bag. Once the neighbor started to put the candy in the bag, she dropped the bag and grabbed the candy from them! It was quite funny.

We walked just our street with Ella and then took her home. She didn’t get her afternoon nap, so she was getting pretty tired anyway. I then drove Dimitri around the rest of the neighborhood. I was glad we drove, because it got very windy and very chilly as the night went on. My aunt had some things for the kids and actually found us while we were out trick or treating. She stopped by when we got home and got to see them.

Because he had school the next day, I had to take my son back home. My oldest son had gone out trick or treating with his friends and was at his friend’s house. The house is pretty close to ours, so I met them there and he took his brother home. By the time I got home that night, I was in bed and fast asleep!

As far as weekends are concerned, it was a good one! It’s always nice to get to see all of my kids and spend time with my family!

Been a Crazy 12 Days!

October is almost over already and the time is just flying! Since the birth of our son, we have been on the go nonstop and are longing for sleep. Trying to find time to write an update between diaper changes has certainly been a challenge!

Ella is getting used to having a baby in the house. She doesn’t like when he cries, and usually joins in with him. There are things she was able to do before that she really can’t right now. For example, if mommy is laying on the couch feeding her brother, she can’t just run up and jump on her. She also is getting used to the fact that the baby is taking a lot of attention.

We’re doing the best that we can to each get one on one time with her when we can. It’s harder for Sam, because she is breastfeeding. I try to take the baby and let him sleep on me so she gets mommy/daughter time. On a recent nice day, I made it a point to take Ella to the park and we had a daddy/daughter day. It was nice to be able to share that time with her. It is important that she knows that she is still very important and that she is still our baby too.

The hospital where the baby was born is still not doing newborn pictures, so we scheduled a day to have some done at JC Penney. Our hope was to get some pictures of the baby and a few with his sister. Sam and I went to Carter’s and found the cutest outfit! I love this little bowtie!

We wondered if we were going to even get to have the pictures done. The day before we were scheduled for pictures, there was an incident at the mall involving a shooting! I don’t know the details, but the entire area was on lockdown the night before. I was glad that we got in, got the pictures, and got out!

We were able to get a few with both of the kids, including this amazing picture

The gal who took the pictures had Sam and I sit in and she snagged a couple family pictures. This one came out so cute.

When AJ is a bit older and more alert, I’m hoping to get a photoshoot with Ella, AJ, and their big brothers.

It seems like we have spent a lot of time at the doctor’s office, too! The day after AJ was born, we had a well visit for Ella and had the doc look at AJ as well. A day or two later, we were getting Ella ready for bed and as she was following me to her room, she missed the top step to the kitchen and fell. She was having trouble walking. She was crying like she was really hurt, so I wound up taking her to urgent care.

They didn’t want to do an X-ray because of radiation. In the waiting room, she had calmed down and was ok until we went back in the room. She hates the doctor’s, so she was upset. She walked a bit to be while the doc was in there and she told us to keep an eye on her. She told us that if she was limping on it or if it bothered her the next day, to call her PCP or an ortho doc. It was 10pm and well past her bedtime, so she came home and slept.

The following day, there was a little limping, but when she got up from the floor and started crying, I figured I’d call the doc. They got us in that afternoon. She took a good look at it and said she didn’t think it was broken. She said she probably bruised her calf and sent us with an order for an X-ray should be need it. She’s doing well and walking around fine.

Andrew gets more and more alert each day. He is having trouble sleeping due to GERD. We went back to the doc to ask her about it. He seems to gag and choke when he is on his back, which is how they tell you the baby should sleep. She wanted to make sure the baby was getting enough food, so Sam went to the lactation specialist at the hospital. After watching the feed, we found out that the baby is tongue tied and that thing that holds your tongue to the bottom of your mouth needs to be clipped so he can move his tongue around. His top lip is also connected very low on the gum, which makes it hard for him to latch during feeding. So we’re heading to a pediatric oral surgeon for a consult on Monday.

Never a dull moment here!

In the days ahead, we will continue to grab sleep when we can. I have one more week off work to spend with my family, and I hope to enjoy every moment of that time.

National Daughters Day 2021

I have been a father for almost 20 years now. It is a role that I do not take lightly. I have spent most of that time raising two amazing sons. Almost two years ago, I became a “Girl Dad” when my daughter was born.

Raising a daughter is VERY different from raising sons. For one thing, you “rough house” a little less. You are more careful about everything. It is totally a different way of parenting, sort of. The lessons you teach your daughter are a bit different than the ones you teach your sons. With boys, you teach them to become men. With girls, as a dad, you protect them. In a way, they learn a bit more from mom about how to become a woman.

I got a bit emotional on my way into work tonight as I thought about just how fast she is growing up. She’s not wearing so many “onsies” anymore. She’s now wearing T-shirts and blue jeans! And crocks! Sam bought her the cutest pair of crocks. When I came home this morning, she was dressed to go to the doctor for her ear surgery follow up. As I looked at her, she no longer was that little baby girl, she seemed to be 5 years old!

They say when you have kids, you begin to realize just how fast time flies, because they are always growing and before you know it, they are 18! I’ve witnessed this first hand with my boys, and now with my daughter. I see her pictures from just one year ago in my Facebook memories and think, “How was she ever that small?” and “When did she get so big?!” I feel like I am being cliché when I say that I wish I had a pause button to slow things down.

Today is National Daughters Day. As I sit here and think about how lucky I am to have Ella as my daughter, there are some things that I want written down. Things that I think it is important for her to know. So here goes:

I love you with all that I am!

I’m crazy about you, sweetheart! You have filled my life with more things that I can ever tell you. Each day I love you more and more. With each new thing you do, you give me another reason to love you.

I believe in you!

I know deep down that you will be an amazing young woman. You are smart. You are inquisitive. You don’t give up. You will make a difference in the world. I am behind you 100%!

I think you are beautiful.

Look at you! Your beauty, your smile and your laughter light up the room – and the world! You are beautiful inside and out. Use your beauty to share love and kindness.

You changed me.

Ella, the day you were born, my whole life changed. I felt things I never knew I would. Holding you for the first time, brought me to tears. They were happy tears! For nine months, your mommy and I prayed for you every day. We continue to do so. We wondered what you’d look like. We wondered about what your personality would be like. We wondered and speculated about so many things. You have exceeded all we could have ever imagined! All because of you, I love your mommy 100 times more than I ever thought I could. You have made me a better dad, a better husband, and a better man.

No matter what – you can ALWAYS come to me.

As you get older, you will have many questions. You will have to make difficult decisions. No matter what you are facing, you can trust me. You can tell me anything. Nothing that you are dealing with will ever make me stop loving you. Know that whatever you are going through, I will help you get through it. You can always talk to me and I will always be there to help you.

My sweet Ella, Happy Daughters Day! In closing, let me share some things that over the past year or so I have copied and hoped to maybe share in a scrapbook or a letter. Now is as good a time as any to put a couple of them in one place. I hope one day, you can read these words and know that they express the things your daddy just couldn’t put into words…..

A Father Loves a Daughter – Kristen Rose

A father loves a daughter
Like no other love on earth.
From the day that he first meets her
Nothing can compare her worth.


Forever are they bonded
With a love that never fails.
For always he will hug her
And kiss goodnight with fairy tales.


He will love her and protect her
With strong arms just in case
But will also hug her tenderly
With a fatherly embrace.


Eskimo kisses touch her nose
With a giggle and a squeeze
And that sparkle in her little eyes
Could bring him to his knees.


What more could any father want
Than a daughter so sweet and pure
There’s nothing in this world so rare
Of that he can be sure.


A father’s love is so unique
It cannot be replaced
He will always treasure times with her
And the memories embraced.

Daughter – Author unknown


A daughter is a wonderful blessing,
A treasure from above.
She’s laughter, warmth and special charm,
She’s thoughtfulness and love.

A daughter brings a special joy,
That comes from deep inside.
And as she grows to adulthood,
She fills your heart with pride.

With every year that passes,
She’s more special than before.
Through every stage, through every age,
You love her even more.

No words can describe the warm memories,
The pride and gratitude, too.
That comes from having a daughter,
To love and to cherish… just like you!

I love you, Ella. Thank you for being YOU! Thank you for being the most amazing daughter a daddy could ever have.

A Positive Post

A friend of mine saw a recent post and sent me a private message to say that she hoped everything was ok. I figured it was time to share a positive post.

My Boys

I’m excited for this weekend. My youngest son will be with me Saturday and part of Sunday. He’s been going through some rough times and he has chosen to stay with his mom a lot recently. I am hoping that I get to spend some quality time with him and connect.

My oldest son calls me 2 to 3 times a week, usually while he is working and when I am driving into work. I look forward to those calls. He is 19 now and he delivers pizzas. He is often on a delivery when he calls. Sometimes we only get to chat for 5-10 minutes, while other times we talk for 30. Sometimes he talks about really deep stuff, while other times it is light hearted and goofy stuff.

The other day he called to tell me he was sad about Norm MacDonald passing away. We used to watch the Celebrity Jeopardy clips on YouTube and laugh a lot at him as Burt Reynolds. He also told me that he received his acceptance letter to the community college in town. I couldn’t be more happy for him and more proud! He has come a long way!!

Today he called and we talked about history and how everyone seems to want to erase it (deep stuff). We talked about Rosa Parks and Harriet Tubman and other historical figures and why it was so important to know history so we could learn from it. It’s funny because I remember the first “deep” talk I had with my dad and how much more I connected with him. He obviously feels the same way because after he hung up I received a text that said:

“That was a great talk today. Having these discussions with you means a lot to me. No matter when we have a conversation and no matter what the topic is, I’m always happy about the outcome of it all. I love you and hope to see you tomorrow.” (He is hoping to be the one to drop his brother off to me.)

All I could respond with was the truth. I told him he had no idea how important those conversations are to me, too!

Getting In “Touch” With Me

One of the things I have been working on is trying to “connect” with myself. Lately, I have been kind of disconnected and in my own world. That world has been full of stress and worry (as noted in previous blogs). I not only feel disconnected from myself, but at times from everyone. This has not been fair to the people in my life. So in discussing things with my therapist and my doctor. I am trying to take moments throughout the day to reconnect.

I need to be aware that I am “present.” Walking barefoot on the grass and doing things that really connect with my senses is important. They say that these things will help me be more present and aware. At first, I thought they were suggesting me doing meditation. I would find it very difficult to find 15-30 minutes of uninterrupted time to do that.

My therapist said that it doesn’t have to be that long at all, and it doesn’t have to be anything more than just taking 2 minutes. So my “homework” has been to take 2 minutes and count 4-3-2-1. I need to notice 4 things I see, 3 things I hear, 2 things I smell, and 1 thing I feel. So far, when I have done it, it has been helpful. Let me share one of these instances:

Before work one day this week, I was going to grab subs for Sam and I. So I got in the car, rolled the window down and drove down the street. It was at that time I decided to do one of these “sessions.” The 4 things I saw: The new family in the neighborhood walking together on the sidewalk, the city policeman in his familiar place looking for speeders, a classic car driving presumably to the car show north of us, and an elderly couple sitting on a bench under the gazebo in town. The three things I heard: the loud bass from a teenager’s car blasting, the sirens from an ambulance, and a Jackie Wilson song on the radio. The two things I smelled: gasoline from the huge semi truck filling the tanks at the gas station, and the smell of burgers from Burger King as I passed it to get to the sub place. Finally, the one thing I felt: The breeze coming into the car while driving with the window down. Oh the feeling of the wind on my scalp! LOL

The last thing is the one that really got me. It seems that when I get in the car, I just tend to crank the AC or Heat and drive. I can’t tell you how long it has been since I had drove with the window down. I guess I really need to do it more often, because it really was quite an awesome feeling.

Here’s to hoping that these little exercises continue to help me “reconnect.”

A Very Happy Father’s Day

As Father’s Day approached this year, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. My oldest son works so much, and when he isn’t working, he’s usually hanging out with his friends. My youngest son hasn’t been here in a couple months, and when I have gone to pick him up, I end up coming home without him. So, if I am being 100% honest, I wasn’t sure if I’d see them this weekend (despite the fact that it was Father’s Day).

So last week, my oldest called and said he wanted to get together. I suggested we go to breakfast or that I could make breakfast for them. He liked the idea and called me again on Saturday. There was a classic car show at one of the county parks, and he suggested we go there. I loved the idea.

So Sunday morning, I ran up to the store to grab some bacon and sausage. By 9:30, when they arrived, I had the meat all fried up, toast in the toaster, and eggs ready to go. We sat and enjoyed breakfast together and we were on the road by 10:30. I had packed the stroller in the car the night before, so all I needed to worry about was packing a diaper bag.

It was a lot hotter than I thought it was going to be Sunday, but we stayed in the shade as much as we could. We walked around and got to see some amazing cars. There was a 1902 Oldsmobile that was taking people for rides throughout the park. One of the funniest things was when my son asked me about this big rubber bulb on one of the cars. He had no idea that it was the horn!

He laughed when I told him! Then we started to notice them on all the older cars. We saw Ford Model A’s, Ford Model T’s, some classic old Buicks and so much more. My oldest loves old cars and it was amazing to hear him spout off the year, make and model as we approached them. There were also a variety of old police cars, army jeeps, and some really unique vehicles there.

There was a car that my son had seen at a car show a couple years ago and he got all excited. “Dad! That’s an upside down van … and it drives like that!” It was actually cool to look at, but even cooler to see driving around!

I wish I had gotten a picture of the inside of that!

It’s always cool to see cars done up to look like famous cars. The General Lee wasn’t there, but Ella got to meet Herbie the Love Bug!

There’s a paddle boat (The Genesee Belle) that usually runs during the summer. It is not running this year yet, because it has to undergo a bunch of inspections. The gal inside the boat told us that because of Covid, and the boat not running, it needed some extra looking over. We were, however, able to go up on the boat and look over the lake.

It was almost noon when we stopped by the boat, and I could see that despite drinking lots of water, Ella was starting to get hot. We had already bought tickets to ride the train at noon, so we decided that we’d do the train ride and head back home. The steam engine wasn’t running this weekend, so a diesel engine pulled all the passengers.

The train cars are all about 100 years old. They have all been refurbished and are quite comfortable. They all have the old wooden framed windows that can occasionally fall down for no reason. We had hoped to ride in an open air car, but they were all full by the time we got to the train. We sat in the car with the windows open.

The train goes about 10 miles an hour and the cars kinda rock back and forth. Since we were close to Ella’s nap time, it was no surprise that she fell asleep on me during the ride. Not even the loud whistle of the train woke her up. It is always fun to hear the engineer tell stories of the train while you are riding. The railroad got it’s name (Huckleberry Railroad) because the story goes that the people riding the train could jump off one of the front cars, pick some huckleberries to snack on, and still be able to jump back on one of the end cars of the train.

When we got back to the depot, we stopped for a few more photo opportunities and left to grab lunch and head home.

When we got back home, Ella was still tired and went down for a nap. I spent some time talking to my sons about the classes my oldest is going to take in college and the golf lessons that my youngest is taking. It was nice to have some quality time and conversation with them. Ella woke up just before the boys had to head to dinner with their mom. Sam woke up for work before they left and made sure that I got pictures of me and the boys and me and all of the kids.

When Sam left for work, it was just me and Ella. We may have over did it a bit as she was running a little fever. So I snuggled up with her on the couch and we watched cartoons together. Before putting her to bed, I grabbed the new book that I got from her for Father’s Day and read it to her…

I absolutely love this book. So simple, yet so meaningful. “My dad love me!” Yes, sweetheart. He does. Very much!

The last book I read to her is another favorite.

I feel like I have been reading her this book forever! It never gets old. As a matter of fact, it means more every time I read it. This is such a short story, but it expresses the love of a parent for their child so perfectly. Here is the entire book without pictures:

I’m sure my sons would think I’m nuts if I read this to them today! I mean they are both cool teenagers now, right?! But this book really sums up how I feel about all of my children, the three who are here and the one that is one the way!

What a truly amazing Father’s Day. I thank God for blessing me with these wonderful children and I pray every day that I can be the Dad that they need me to be. I love them all “as big as the world!”

What a wacky dream…

Dreams are funny. So was mine last night.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What a weird dream!!

Covid Christmas Memories

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

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

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

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

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

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

The aftermath!

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

She absolutely loves playing in it!

It’s like her own club house!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our little princess was right at home with it….

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

Whoop! Deer it is!!

Catching up…

It’s hard to believe that is has been over a month since I have written a blog, but then again, it isn’t. I feel like I have been busier than ever, and I have been.

I’m hoping this blog looks ok, as I see WordPress has changed a few things ….

6 Months already??!!

On August 10th, Ella turned 6 months old! She is growing up so fast! There are times I look at her and wonder, “When did she get so big?”

She is rolling all over the place now. She rolls from back to front and front to back. She will be crawling before we know it. She is primarily moving backwards. What I mean is, when she is in her walker, she tends to push it backwards. When she is on the floor playing, she will often slide backwards on the floor. She is semi-scooting if a toy in just out of reach in front of her, so I know she will be crawling soon.

One of the biggest changes, has been the switch to real food. She has had carrots (which she wasn’t too keen on), bananas, apples, squash, peas, and sweet potatoes. She’s having sweet potatoes the past couple days, and we’ll keep introducing new foods for three days at a time to be sure there are no allergies. When she eats all her food, she gets to chow on puffs.

She loves these things! She’s getting into the habit of grabbing them from her tray and putting them in her mouth. I remember when my boys ate these. They are actually good and I would steal one or two from them to make them laugh.

Sam and I are each saying “Momma” and “Dada” to her (she says “momma” and I say “dada”) to see which one she will say first! Personally, I think her first word will be “kitty” because the cat is always right by her. They have daily staring contests with each other.

One of the highlights of my time with her has been morning walks around the neighborhood. She loves getting in the stroller and walking with me. She loves to see the dogs, cats, rabbits, and squirrels along the way.

One day we were walking and I was stopped by an older woman. She told me her grandchildren had outgrown a wagon she had and she wanted to give it to us, if we wanted it. It was a nice plastic wagon, like the one I had for both of my boys. I asked her how much she wanted for it, and she told me she didn’t want anything for it. She just wanted to give it to someone who would use it. It had been out in her backyard, and she told me she wanted to wash it before I took it. I came back the next day and it was washed and ready to go. I sent the couple a thank you note in the mail and told them the world needed more people like them. I can’t wait until we can start walking the neighborhood in the wagon.

Ella is at the age where “peek-a-boo” makes her laugh. I can’t even tell you how much I love this! I usually take her burp rag and cover her face and say “peek-a-boo” pulling the burp rag off her face when I say “boo!” She cracks up. Sometimes I lay with my arms in front of my face on the floor and say “Peek-a-boo” and lift my head up at “boo,” which makes her laugh too. Today, she pulled the burp rag over her face and pulled it down on her own and laughed every time her face was not covered. I swear, she was playing “peek-a-boo” with me!

I used to wear hats all the time (probably why I am bald!), and recently grabbed a ball cap to go on our walk. She was fascinated by it. When we came home and we were playing on the floor, she kept grabbing for it. I eventually put it on her and caught the cutest picture!

She is still teething (doc says there should be 4 teeth coming in VERY soon).

The Boys

My oldest son is working like crazy. He found a job delivering pizzas, and he loves it! It makes sense, he was always my road map! He always knew which way to turn and such. He loves driving and he’s making decent money in tips. He calls me often when he is on his way home from work. He is working like 6 days a week, so I don’t get to see him too much.

My youngest son will be doing school all online till further notice. Not sure how that will work for him (or others for that matter). I can see some subjects not being too bad, but I don’t think that math works well online. I need someone explaining things to me (not a computer). I had a very hard time when my pre-algebra class in college was all on computer. Thank goodness I had a teacher who would walk me through problems. I don’t know how much he will have.

When he comes over, we usually play catch, cribbage, or chess. Last time he was over, he creamed me in chess! Wow, I made some silly moves! I enjoy that time with him though. We had good talks the last couple times he was over. It was nice that he asked me some bible questions. I enjoy talking to him about it.

One day, I got to go to lunch with both of them. There is a little outdoor hot dog stand by their house. We sat and ate coneys and drank home made root beer. It was nice to be outside and enjoy the day and just talking.

My Days on Furlough

Thankfully, I was called back to work and did not have to be on furlough more than a couple weeks. My list of things to do while I was off really didn’t get done. I was able to finally get family pictures (from when Ella was born) hung on the walls! I did get a chance to read a book or two, but that “to read” stack is still huge (including a new book by John Byner).

On nights that Sam worked, and I was home, I would put the baby to bed and review my bible classes. I was able to get one of the three semesters I had already finished reviewed. I am glad I chose to go back and review, because there were things I had forgotten. These classes have really helped me a lot and I am excited to get through them. When I get to the classes I haven’t already taken, things will slow down a bit as I will be taking detailed notes.

I rediscovered Calvin and Hobbes while I was off. I forgot how much I loved to read about the boy and his tiger that came to life when they were together. (Toys that came alive before Toy Story!) I posted this on my Facebook, because I just loved it.

I always love sitting outside and star gazing. My co-worker told me about an app called SkyView which you can point at the sky and it will show you planets and constellations. It’s very cool.

Speaking of the sky, I found myself doing something I hadn’t done in forever while I was off. Ella loves to be outside. So we’ve been putting a blanket down on the grass where the shade is. We bring out a few toys, and she will just lay there and play. I laid down next to her on my back on day and noticed the clear blue sky loaded with white clouds. As I watched them move across the sky, I remembered sitting out in my front or back yard and looking at the clouds with my friends. We’d look at the clouds to see what they looked like. Was it a castle? A wolf? Snoopy? We’d spend hours watching the clouds. What a peaceful way to spend time on a summer day! Did you ever do that?

So much more has happened in the last month, but I will close for now. Life is moving fast and sometimes we forget to enjoy things that are right in front of us. Remember the old saying “Take time to smell the roses?” Since I have started to really notice things, I find myself more grateful and more at peace than I have been for a long time.

On my first day back to work, I was feeling so much anxiety when getting ready to go in. While driving in, I was simply amazed at the beautiful sunrise. What an amazing sight! All anxiety faded away and I found myself smiling at God’s artwork.

Until next time – look around and enjoy those things that normally wouldn’t catch your attention.

Thanks for dropping by! I hope all is well you you and yours!

Friday Fodder

Hello readers. I hope this finds you safe and healthy. This is, yet again, another blog that is full of random thoughts in no particular order.

Baseball

My home team, The Detroit Tigers, have not been much to watch in the past. I guess I was spoiled in that I got to watch the magical year of 1984 and a World Series Crown. Since then, they have struggled. “We are rebuilding” has been what us fans have been told for years! In 2006 we went to the World Series and lost. So, in 30+ years, we really haven’t had much to cheer about.

Despite that fact, I really miss baseball. Today in my Facebook memories, a picture popped up that I posted two years ago. The picture is the view of the baseball diamond that is literally behind our house. “One of the things I love about our house is that I can walk out on the porch and catch a good ball game all spring and summer long,” is the caption. Sigh. Not this year. Even the neighbor kids aren’t out playing ball.

I have mentioned in the past that my favorite Tiger from the 1984 team was Aurelio Lopez. Senor Smoke, they called him. There was something about his pitching style that I liked. As a 14 year old kid, I used to pretend I was him. When I was with my dad, or my buddies from school. We’d pitch to each other calling balls and strikes. When I was alone, I had a square I drew on the side of my house that represented the “strike zone,” I used to throw the ball at. There used to be a square spray painted on the wall of our elementary school, and you could stand in the parking lot and throw tennis balls at it – calling your own strikes.

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I miss hearing baseball on the radio. I miss watching it on TV. There is some talk about teams being allowed to play without people in the stands. While it would certainly be weird to just hear the sound of a ball coming off the bat, I would miss the sound of the crowd cheering for a home run. At this point, however, I would welcome baseball in any form.

The Boys

After my self quarantine of over two weeks, I was able to pick up my sons. They will be staying with me for a little over a week. Despite having seeing them briefly when I took my oldest’s birthday gift to him, and their short visit in my driveway, I felt like I hadn’t seen them at all! Sure, video chats helped, but to actually be with them and give them a hug means so much.

My youngest still has school work that he is doing online and will continue to do through the end of the school year. Because he is a senior, my oldest had the choice of continuing with the final marking period or taking the grades he had when all this Covid stuff came down. He had excellent grades, so he chose the latter and is officially done with school. We’re still waiting to see about graduation and stuff. We haven’t booked a place for his graduation party yet, because we just don’t know when we’ll be able to hold it!

We were able to celebrate my son’s 18th birthday here. We made a cake and sang Happy Birthday. Choices were limited, but we told him he could chose what he wanted for his birthday dinner. He chose pizza (no surprise). It was nice to be able to do that.

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They are always on their devices. They have an Xbox, a Wii U, a Nintendo Switch, and countless games on their cell phones. I am trying to get them away from that stuff, but with the cold weather, it hasn’t been easy. At least today it is supposed to be in the 50’s and we can get outside to play catch or take a walk.

Recently, I taught my youngest how to play chess. It is not my favorite game to play, mainly because I suck at it. I decided that I was going to teach him cribbage. My grandpa taught me how to play when I was about 9 years old. We played the game open handed (where you could see each other’s cards) and I walked him through things. He beat me, and I am hoping to play a few more games while he is here. I am also hoping to get my oldest to play, too. It is ALWAYS nice to have something to do when there is a power outage, or when you are bored.

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In preparation for the boys, I made sure to put clean sheets on their beds, and straightened up their room. While I was in there, I raised the blind on the window to let the natural light in. We have a huge tree that is outside their window. The birds were driving Maizey crazy flying back and forth. She sat like this meowing and jumping at the window for about 5 hours!

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I remember a time when parents put their kids to bed and then stayed up and watched TV before going to bed themselves. However, it’s been the opposite here. Sam and I are ready for bed by 10 and last night they were still up at 3:30am!!! What is up with that?!?

Layoffs

As stated in previous blogs, I am off work on doctor’s orders. While I am here recovering, I have been lucky enough to spend it with family. I have been praying for my co-workers and others who are still working at the hospital. The labor pools at hospital continued to grow because of ambulatory sites being closed, and those workers being put in the pool. This meant less hours for those working. To make matters worse, this week hospitals in the state announced massive layoffs and cuts. Some positions were completely eliminated!

Many of the layoffs are temporary and employees can take advantage of unemployment benefits (while keeping their health care benefits). If I am being honest, I wish that this had been an option from the beginning for many of us. It would have been much less stressful (and safer) for people. I know I would have opted to just be home with family, instead of having to go through a the mental breakdown I had to be home.

I continue to pray for my friends who are still right there in the thick of things. I continue to pray for the many healthcare workers across the state, and throughout the country, who are doing what they can to save lives – while trying to stay safe themselves. I just want life to be back to normal. I want to go and do the job I was trained to do. I’m just not sure when that will happen and if I can even do that!

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Skinny Me

I was out in the garage this week looking through a few boxes. I was looking for some notes from some classes I took years ago (more on that in an upcoming blog). I stumbled on something that I had totally forgotten about – an old magazine I was in.

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Mobile Beat Magazine is still around and it is mainly for mobile DJs. I used to get it when I was DJing more. It had great ideas regarding set ups, equipment, contracts, etc… It also put out a top 200 list every year of the most requested songs from that past year. I still look at it when I do get out to DJ (which is rarely ever now). This particular issue did a story about mobile DJ’s who were also radio DJ’s. I was interviewed and I was one of those featured in the article. My ugly mug even made it in the magazine!

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It is funny to see this picture.

  • I am about 100 pounds heavier now.
  • The glasses are gone thanks to Lasik surgery.
  • The hair is gone because of …. natural causes.
  • The station is gone, because of typical radio politics.

The shirt I am wearing was given to me by my buddy Tim, who is now working in major market radio on a morning show. He and some buddies (Doug and Phil) used to have this set up in their basement where they “played radio.” In all honesty, the stuff they did was better than the stuff you hear on many radio stations today. They would make tapes and I loved them. They called it “Fake Radio” and had me voice some liners for it. Making those up were a blast. I loved that shirt and was sad when it finally was so tattered that I couldn’t wear it anymore!

Ella

My baby girl continues to be a source of happiness. It is amazing how much she has grown in just 10 weeks. She is “talking” so much! I could listen to “baby babble” all day! I love how she smiles at me when I talk to her. There is NO better feeling. While putting clothes away this week, my wife slipped on the tutu and bow my friend Margaret had sent. She slipped it on over her PJs and it looked great. Looking at her, I can totally see her wearing something like this for dance classes.

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I am so guilty of taking a million pictures of her. I will totally be “THAT” dad who will drive her crazy with my camera! “Dad! Enough with the pictures!” I will sit and go through the pictures and claim a “favorite,” only to go through them another day and claim another as “my favorite!” My latest “favorite” is this one:

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I love this little girl SO much.

I love my children SO much. Blessings – each and every one of them!

Until Next Time …

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“Hello Again, Hello …”

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Long time … no blog

Hello, my friend.  Sorry I have been away for a bit.  My last blog led to many friends on Facebook reaching out to see if I was okay.  I wasn’t.  When I wrote that blog, I obviously was a bit frazzled, but had yet to reach my breaking point.  That only took an extra few days.

I’m not going to go into a lot of detail, but I finally cracked.  Emotionally.  Mentally.  Physically.  The stresses alluded to in my previous blog, and the stress of everything that is going on eventually led to this.  During a visit with my physician, she stated that she was very concerned about me.  She decided it was best for me and my health to be off work for a few weeks.  I am hoping she is right.

Quarantine 

Since the doctor visit, I have been home.  I have only ventured out in the car a couple times – to pick up groceries we ordered online and once with Sam (more on that in later).  Many think I am crazy, but after the things I heard and seen at the hospital, the first thing I did when I brought the groceries home was set them on the porch.  With gloves on, I went bag by bag and wiped everything down with bleach wipes.  How do I know who touched the things we bought?

Remember the blog I wrote about things to do while at home?  Yeah, despite the sudden abundance of extra time, I haven’t really had a chance to do much of what was on that list.  The stack of unread books remains unread – for now.  Exercise – I took a walk or two and put leaves in bags (does that count?).  Plenty of movies I have yet to watch.  Clear coat on the wall in the kitchen – can’t do any home improvements.  Organizing digital music and folders and radio stuff – you would think I’d be on the computer more than I have been, but I am not. Clean the basement – I did this partially.  So many things on my list that I just haven’t done.  Sigh.  How damn sad is this?  I finally have the time, but just can’t put myself in the right frame of mind to do them.

Hand writing So Many Things in To Do List, business concept

Social Media

While I am trying to limit my time on social media, I admit, I still get on Facebook more than I should.  It’s not that I don’t like it, it is just that it is flooded with so many things I am trying to avoid.

  • Political Bullshit.  Blaming Republicans and Democrats for everything.  Trump bashing.  Trump Praising.  Governor bashing.  Governor praising.  Polarizing stuff.  The world is full of division and it shows on Facebook.  You have your right to your opinion and to post what you want, however, I have programmed myself to scroll by this stuff.
  • Corona Virus  – Covid 19 stuff.  Being in the hospital setting, I know the numbers.  I know the severity of it.  The various theories and conspiracies and people re-posting every article they find to “prove their point” is NOT what I need to see.  The only things I pay attention to are the things posted by the CDC and World Health Organization.
  • Sad stories.  There are PLENTY of them.  Emotionally, I know they are out there, I just can’t handle them.

I have a page I update called Celebrity Passings.  When a celebrity dies, I post a picture and farewell.  There have been more than I can count lately – some Covid 19 related, some not.  My heart is just not in it right now.

One thing I am enjoying are some of the Facebook “games” that are out there.  One of the ones I am doing right now was a challenge to post an album that influenced your musical taste for 10 days.  In support of the 2020 seniors, some are posting their own high school senior pictures (I need to do that).  Another one that was fun was to zoom in on a picture of an album cover, or a scene from a TV show or movie and post the zoomed in part to see if people can guess what it is.  I zoomed in on Doc Brown’s eyes from Back to the Future – LOL!  Great Scott!

Family Time

The one thing that I have been able to do is spend time with my family – at least most of my family.  It has been very nice to spend time with my wife and daughter. This certainly has been a wonderful way to de-stress.  Ella is getting so big, and it is amazing how her features seem to change every day!

I have been feeding the baby more lately.  She often will fall asleep while eating.  When this happens, I usually let her sleep in my arms.  I may have mentioned this before, but one thing that I love is when she smiles in her sleep.  It is just so cute.

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She is actually smiling a whole lot more.  She has a little floor mat with toys that hang down from it.  She loves lying on her back and looking at the toys.  She’s also been able to hold her head up for longer periods of time. She has a “Bumbo” chair, and she loves sitting in it.

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Ain’t it cute how she is giving us a “thumbs up” in that picture?

When the weather cooperates, we’ve been trying to get out and walk the neighborhood.  The other day it was 70 degrees.  The following day we had temps in the 30’s and 40’s with rain, snow, wind, thunder, and some sunshine!  Only in Michigan!  I had the chance to do a daddy/daughter walk through the neighborhood.  It was very relaxing and she enjoyed the time in the fresh air.

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This will be Ella’s first Easter.  We had hoped to have some professional pictures done, maybe one with the Easter Bunny.  Obviously, with the current situation and social distancing, that can’t happen.  So we’ve been trying to get some pictures here at home.  We’ll post them on Facebook for Easter.  During today’s shoot – I had to laugh.  In one picture, she curled her lip up like Elvis!  Just typing this makes me laugh.  Here she is channeling her “inner Elvis.”

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Her hair continues to baffle us.  Some days it looks brown.  Some days it looks blonde.  Some days it looks red!  A red-headed Italian?!  Oh boy, am I in trouble!!??

Missing My Boys

As I stated above, I have had the chance to spend time with almost all of my family.  My sons are with their mom as this quarantine continues.  I haven’t seen them in almost a month, maybe more (all the days are running together).  I have video chatted with them a few times, but I miss them.  When we do talk, I always have the feeling that their mom is looming over them and they aren’t free to talk.

One call from my oldest made me especially sad.  The 4th was my mom’s birthday.  She would have been 72.  Every year, my sons and I visit her grave at the cemetery.  I was planning on going, but that day, I took a new medication that was prescribed by my doc and the side effects hit me pretty hard.  I was dizzy, lightheaded, and felt sick.  I took a nap and when I woke up my sons had called.  I called them from bed to tell them I was staying home.  They video chatted with me from the cemetery.  It was sad that I wasn’t they with them.  They were both in tears.  My oldest was upset because he was close to her.  My youngest was upset because he never had the chance to meet her and it still bothers him.  I told them that when this was all over, we’d go and visit.

It has just been awful not seeing them.  I miss them terribly.  My oldest video chatted yesterday and was showing me that he is growing his beard.  He turns 18 tomorrow.  I won’t even be able to hug him!  I have a gift for him.  I plan on wrapping it and driving it to his house and leaving it on his porch for him.  I told him I bought a cake and will make it and celebrate when we get the chance to be together.

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Special Trip

Outside of going to the grocery store, I have only left the house one time.  Actually, it was me, Sam, and the baby.  I was feeling down.  Sam said we were going somewhere.  She said she had wanted to do this for a few weeks.  It obviously wasn’t a restaurant or anything, so I had no idea what she had in mind.  We all got in the car and she drove.  She drove to the cemetery.  She knew I was upset that I didn’t get to go with the boys, but she also wanted to take Ella.  She said it she wanted Ella to see one of the Pamela’s she was named after.

As you can imagine, it was emotional for me.  Sam brought a blanket and Ella and I laid on it by my mom’s grave.  My mom always hoped for a granddaughter.  I know she would have spoiled her big time! Just like with my youngest son, it makes me very sad that she never got to meet her grandma.  Sam’s grandpa is also buried at the same cemetery, so we took Ella to see her great grandpa, too!

It was a very special trip.

No Moe

One of the changes that happened recently is that we had to find a new home for one of our cats.  We had two.  Moe was our first.  Then we got Maizey.  Moe was huge.  He ate so much!  When we brought Ella home, we worried.  How were they going to react?  They both did well, so we didn’t think we were going to have issues.  We didn’t, until one night we found Moe in Ella’s bassinet.  He was laying on her, and we knew this was dangerous.

We didn’t know what to do.  By a stroke of luck, my sister-in-law’s ex’s parent’s cat had died recently.  They were looking for a cat!  They took him and treat him like a king!  We heard he has eggs for breakfast – at the table!!  He has his own heating pad on the couch.  He is living it up.  I miss him, but am happy he found a good home.

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As for Maizey, well, when Moe was here, she was moving.  She never laid by you.  She never let you hold her.  She never purred.  Well, that has all changed.  She loves being by us now.  She meows and likes her tummy rubbed.  She always seems to be by me now.  She loves to be petted and now purrs like nobody’s business.

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Happy Easter

We’ll be staying home for Easter, obviously.  We’re not even sure what we are doing for Easter dinner.  But we plan on dressing up and enjoying our day as a family. We have an Easter basket for Ella and a very cute Easter outfit.  I am sure there will be many pictures!

Faith

I’m not one to push religion on anyone.  I understand that everyone believes what they want to believe.  I realized how far from my faith I have been through this whole situation.  Over the past two weeks, I began watching messages from pastor friends of mine, and got back into reading my bible.  A friend asked me some questions about the Antichrist and it was fun to re-study that topic and chat with her.  Bottom line, my faith is important to me.  It is a key element in my coming out of this in a better frame of mind.  I plan on spending a bit more time focused on that (and Him) in the future.

A friend of mine took this picture in Grand Blanc this week (about 30 minutes south of here).  It was such a beautiful picture, I want to share it here.  Enjoy your holiday.  Happy Easter.  Count your blessings.

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I appreciate you reading.  Sorry to have been away for so long.  I’ll get through this.  It just may take some time.

I hope to be back to my normal blogging self, soon.

Be safe.  Be well.

Keith