Macaroni and Beans!

I have never been diagnosed with OCD. That being said, I do tend to be a creature of habit. I tend to take the same way to work every day, I like my coffee the same way every day, and such, but I don’t think I am OCD. My books and DVDs are NOT alphabetized, crooked pictures don’t bother me, etc… There are, however, some things that take my anxiety through the roof.

I love my wife, but I think sometimes she suggests things that she knows will drive me crazy. (Side note: This is probably because I do NUMEROUS things that drive her crazy. She is WAY more OCD than I will ever be!) So let me give you an example of what happened this morning.

After breakfast this morning, she sat with the kids and I for a bit before going to bed. She received some text messages from Andrew’s speech people about things we could do with him. One of those things was to so some sensory games with beans or rice. She came out of the bedroom and went to a cabinet in the kitchen and grabbed a bag of beans.

She told me as she grabbed some Tupperware and cookie sheets what she was doing. She suggested I get a blanket or sheet to put down on the shag rug we have in the living room so they wouldn’t get stuck in the rug. She then grabbed a box of elbow macaroni and opened it. She said, “Ella will want to play, too.”

I put the sheet down and out came the beans and macaroni. Sam gave them a couple mixing cups so they could scoop from one Tupperware dish to the other.

It started out fine. Ella was playing with the macaroni and Andrew had the beans. At some point they swapped.

They also were good about just dumping from one container to the other … for a while.

I’m truly surprised that this photo didn’t catch the beans and macaroni that Andrew was throwing up in the air and all over the living room. (Side Note: Yes, he is wearing his sister’s underwear over his pants. She is potty training and he wanted to wear a pair, too. Does he look ridiculous? Yes, and I am happy if he is happy.)

Half the battle was getting Andrew to NOT eat the raw beans or noodles.

Slowly, but surely, the beans mixed with the macaroni and vice versa. My anxiety was at an all time high as I was trying to keep the beans and noodles out of the carpet. It was everywhere!

Eventually, they lost interest and got lost in a show on TV. When the alarm went off to tell Ella it was time to use the potty, I took advantage of her being off the sheet and wrapped all the beans and macaroni in it. I wrapped it in a big ball and put it in a shopping bag.

Hours later I was still finding beans and noodle on the carpet! I’m sure as a kid, I was making messes with stuff like this, but it was all I could do to not wrap it all up 10 minutes into them playing with it!!

I know my wife, and I am sure the beans and noodles will reappear sometime in the near future. I guess I will just wear socks when I am walking around in the living room ….

Breakfast Fun

For the most part, it was a normal morning. Andrew was up first, followed almost immediately by Ella. As I was getting them out of bed, Sam came home from work.

Sam recapped her night at work with me and the kids were taking turns being in her arms. During this time we asked what they wanted for breakfast. We offer them a few choices each day. Today, it was pancakes, waffles, or French toast.

“Waffles!” Ella said!

“French toast, actually sounded good,” Sam said.

I was thinking the same thing, but I figured waffles would be easy for the kids to eat. They usually just hold them in their hand and walk around eating them. Sam reminded me that we had blueberries in the fridge and I would add those to the batter.

I reached up in the cupboard and grabbed the Bisquick. I could tell by the weight of the box in my hand that there probably wasn’t enough for waffles – or pancakes for that matter. So, French toast it was!

Ella always wants to help, so I cracked the eggs into a bowl and had her shake some cinnamon in. She helped me mix it up as the griddle warmed up.

“Do you want smiley face French toast or bear French toast?” Sam asked.

I looked at her puzzled and asked what she meant. She told me that you cut up bananas and can use them for eyes, ears, and a mouth. The kids were excited to help with this step, too.

Ella has a step stool, which Andrew has been using to get to things on counters and why have you. He was standing on it, so Ella needed something to stand in. Sam brought in an laundry basket and turned it upside down. So the two of them were standing on their “stools” and helping mom cut bananas

Once the French toast was done, she dished it out and made bears or smiley faces. Then she cut it up in small pieces for Ella to dip in her syrup, and in slices so Andrew could hold it in his hands.

They both stood on their respective stools and ate as I finished fishing out French toast for Sam and me. After that, we all were just standing in the kitchen, plates on various spots on the counter and each of us eating our breakfast.

As silly as it sounds, this was one of my favorite family breakfasts to date. I shared French toast with Andrew, Sam and Ella were sharing bananas, and we all just enjoyed the moments together as a family.

What a great start to the day!

Christmas 2022 – A Look Back

Hello, my friends. When I last blogged, we were gearing up for a big snow storm. While we didn’t get as much as they were saying, roads were still dangerous and as a bonus we got our white Christmas. I had to laugh at something I saw on Facebook, and had to share here. This pretty much sums up every winter storm forecast here in Michigan:

Snow was to move in on Thursday night and into Friday morning. Many patients called to cancel their appointments that night, so because of low volume, I got to stay home. It was nice to have extra family time. It is very rare to get that time.

I had already taken Friday off. Usually my boys will come over and spend the night and we do Christmas Eve morning as our “Christmas.” Because of the storm, we decided it was best to postpone things until the Monday after Christmas.

On Christmas Eve night, we usually go to Crossroads Village and do the drive through light display. It’s not too far from us and it is always a beautiful sight. On certain nights, you can board the train and see more lights, but the drive through is neat because you get to go through the little village. They pipe Christmas music through the speakers and every thing is just beautiful.

We got the kids dressed and ventured out. It didn’t take long to see just how bad the roads were. We hadn’t been out since the storm, but the roads were just awful. We take many back roads to get there and the wind was blowing across the fields and made the roads solid sheets of ice. It was actually pretty scary. I would have kept driving, but Sam told me to turn around and go back home. That’s what we did.

Earlier in the day we made cookies for Santa. Ella told Sam that Santa should drink milk from a “fancy” cup, so we put it in a wine glass. A few years ago, Sam’s sister Grace (who passed away earlier this year) made a Christmas plate. We have decided that as part of our Christmas tradition, Santa’s cookies would always be put on on that plate.

We placed the cookies on the plate and started to get things ready for the rest of the evening. We had to get the kids in their Christmas pajamas, they had to brush their teeth, and Santa had to get ready to build some stuff. After walking to the living room to gather up a few things, I walked back in the kitchen to see Andrew standing on Ella’s step stool – eating Santa’s cookies!!! Smart kid!

Once the kids were in bed, I went to work. I only had to put together a couple things, and I love being Santa. Ella got a Frozen Castle (she calls it the Elsa and Anna castle) and Andrew got a vacuum (he is all about the vacuum when we clean). They also each got a book from Santa and the rest of the gifts were from mom and dad.

It was nice to see the tree lit, with presents under it, and the baby gate out of the way!!

Honestly, I anticipated that Ella would be the first one up on Christmas morning, but instead, it was Andrew. We actually had to go in and wake Ella up. She seemed uninterested in getting up until we reminded her that it was Christmas and Santa had come.

Andrew loved his vacuum and played with it all morning. It was a hoot to see him “cleaning” the rug!

Ella loved her princess castle and when she got a princess dress, too, she had to put it on!

She was so into it and had all her princesses playing on the castle. I was lucky enough to capture this very cool picture of her playing –

I just love it! She had no idea I was taking this.

We were invited to Sam’s folks for Christmas dinner, which is always nice. My mother-in-law always puts out a big spread with ham, turkey, scalloped or potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and a ton of desserts. My nieces and nephew were there, so the kids all got to play together. It’s always kind of crazy with all of Sam’s siblings there, so I neglected to get any pictures.

Andrew gave us a memorable moment while we were there. Sam’s folks have one of those thin Christmas trees. Andrew, of course, is always curious. While my back was to him, he grabbed something on the tree (probably the string of lights) and started pulling. Naturally, the entire tree came crashing down on top of him!! When I turned around I couldn’t even see him! Thankfully, only one ornament broke. That boy is something else!!

I’m not sure when we left but it was later in the evening and Sam and I were talking about being a bit hungry. We decided to be like the Christmas Story family and we ordered some Chinese food and grabbed McDonald’s for the kids. As crazy as it sounds, we may need to do that every year because it was delicious.

On Monday, the boys came over in the morning. I made up some chocolate chip pancakes, sausage links, eggs, toast, and coffee for me. Ella and Andrew don’t see their big brothers often enough, but they seemed glad to see them.

My dad and Rose came over a bit later and I was glad that my dad got to see all his grandchildren. He brought Ella a Little People Barbie apartment, which is huge and now serves as a “neighbor” to Elsa and Anna’s castle. He brought Andrew some waffle blocks and a bowling set. The boys are older now, so the each got an envelope with cash, much like his mother (my grandma) used to give my brother and I.

As crazy as it was to get everyone together, I am so glad to have gotten this picture with my dad, Rose, and the kids.

As I stated in my Facebook post, it is never long enough when we get together, but I do treasure the time with them.

I am so glad to have had time with my wife, my children and my dad over the holidays. God willing, we will all be able to do it again next year.

Taking “Elf-ies” – Part 2

When we first got Twinkles, our Elf on the Shelf, from Sam’s mom, I wasn’t sure that we’d be up for creating something new for it every night leading up to Christmas. Over the last month, I discovered an Elf on the Shelf Facebook group with ideas and stumbled across many on the internet as well.

I won’t lie, it has actually been very fun to do every night. Ella loves waking up and searching for her elf. Twinkles will be heading back to the North Pole on Friday night to help Santa get ready for his ride and deliveries. I’m sure next year she will have as much fun or more!

We may or may not have to recycle some of these ideas in years to come. Here are a few of my favorites from the past few weeks.

Twinkles the action hero! Zip lining to the tree.

TPing the tree! Festive, right?!

Sam gave her some wings!

Ella had been talking about paper snow flakes. I got to make a mess and she loved it!

When we were all sick, it only made sense to give Twinkles a cold, too!

Sam grabbed Ella’s princesses and they had a little dessert party.

Twinkles threw “snow balls” at all of us in pictures on the wall!

She obviously had so much fun with the “snow balls” that she challenged one of Ella’s Barbie dolls.

When Ella woke up, I didn’t say anything. I was making her chocolate milk and she looked up and saw Twinkles. She looked at me, then back at Twinkles, then back at me and said, “Daddy! Twinkles is in my chips!” Priceless.

Last night, Sam sent me this at work in a text message that read, “See? I can be creative, too!” I laughed out loud!

I may have to start planning next year’s Elf things ahead! This was fun!

Pre-Holiday Weekend Wrap Up

It is hard to believe that we are just 4 days away from Christmas. Someone observed that time moves a whole lot faster in December if you are an adult. This is so true! As a kid, it seemed to crawl by as we waited for Christmas.

SNOW!

This weekend kept us pretty busy. We got about an inch of snow on Saturday night and when Ella woke up she saw the ground was covered. So after breakfast, the kids and I suited up in snow gear and went out to play in the yard.

It was fun to see Andrew all bundled up. He looked so funny trying to walk in his boots and snow pants. The snow wasn’t “snowman” ready, so we really couldn’t build one. But we did get to run around and throw snow at each other. He really had fun once he got over the “awe” of it. Ella? Well, she just loves to run and jump in the snow.

Cookie Time!

Our Elf on the Shelf, Twinkles, had the idea to decorate cookies this weekend.

She is obviously a Sam’s Club member!

The kids had a blast decorating them.

Ella had her “Bucket O Princesses” with her as she decorated hers. Andrew was eating them as fast as he decorated his …

Picnic

Yesterday, Ella wanted to have a picnic. So we put a blanket down in the living room, I whipped up some grilled cheese sandwiches, and they had a picnic.

Note the “Bucket O Princesses” are with her at lunch, too! LOL!

I probably should have thought about giving them applesauce pouches. That blanket needed a good wash after the picnic was over.

Say “Ahhhh”

This morning, when Sam got home, we had to take the kids to the dentist. Ella did ok, but there are things that she won’t let them do. Sam went back with her and I guess she started to freak out about getting an X-Ray. We will probably need to see a pediatric dentist who may be able to get her calm enough to get them. Andrew had no issues at all, He was a champ.

After our visit to the dentist, it was time for a visit to Santa. Ella was so excited to go see him. More on that in my next blog!

One Final Story

Last year my dad got us an Amazon Echo. You have to link it to an Amazon account, so I linked it to mine.

Sam and I decided that we were not getting each other anything for Christmas this year. I decided to get her something from the kids. So I took $20 I won on an instant lottery ticket and put it in the account I used for my DJ business (so she wouldn’t know) and ordered her something on Amazon.

She was standing by the fireplace yesterday where the Echo is yesterday. She see’s something that pops up on the screen.

She asks me, “What did you order from Amazon?”

“Nothing,” I said.

“According to the Alexa, you have something arriving Thursday that YOU ordered,” she says.

“Don’t worry about it!” I told her, hoping she would drop the subject.

She didn’t drop it and says, “We don’t have the money to spend. Did you put this on your credit card?”

“No. It’s not anything big. It’s something from the kids to you.” and I explained that it was from the lottery ticket money.

She finally drops the subject, until today.

“By the way, I know what you have coming from Amazon,” she slyly says.

I look at her flustered. “Every time I try to get you something as a surprise, something spoils it!”

She then says, “What made you think to get that?”

I don’t say anything. I told her to just act surprised when she unwraps in.

Then she laughs and says, “Yeah, I don’t know what it is. But I was hoping you would tell me by telling you I knew what it was!”

“Wife Trickery” at its finest!! Man, I almost told her what it was! Somehow I think she knows what it is anyway, but we’ll see.

Under The Weather

We’ve had quite the run of germs at our house. First, Andrew had the runny nose, cough, and ear infection. Then Sam got a wicked sore throat that seemed to last for days. Ella has been congested, coughing, not really sleeping and fevers off an on. I have a nasty sinus infection with a cough. It’s not been pleasant!

No parent likes to see their kid sick. Ella has really had it the roughest. She is just miserable. Sam went as far as to say that Ella is like me when I get sick. She’s right. I don’t do sick very well. Ok, honestly, I’m a big baby. All I want to do is sleep. It’s not pretty.

We used real life as inspiration for Twinkles (our Elf on a Shelf) this week.

We were supposed to have some Christmas pictures taken this morning, but with all of us sick, we had to call and cancel. We’re hoping that we might be well enough to do them on Monday, so our photographer moved our appointment. Our fingers are crossed that at least the kids feel better by then.

Rest is best, so I think we’re all going to just hang in pajamas all weekend. Nothing wrong with that, right?

Are We Creative Enough To Do This For a Month?

I swore up and down that I would never do the whole Elf on the Shelf thing.  Sometimes, however, circumstances make you go back on your word.

My mother-in-law sent home an Elf on the Shelf before Thanksgiving.  So now, we’re in it to win it.  Ok, we’ll do the best we can to make it happen!

The story (as I’ve heard it) behind this whole thing is that some kids wondered how Santa could know how kids were bad or good.  The answer?  He sends these “scouting” elves to the homes of children to watch them.  At bedtime, they go back to the North Pole and report to Santa.  They return before morning and find a different place to keep an eye on the children. The child cannot touch the elf, or it loses its magic and may not return.  This could easily get them on the naughty list! 

As a parent, it’s our job to find a creative place to place the elf every night.  You have no doubt seen many of the humorous things people have come up with.  Some are not very kid friendly.

The story says that once the child names their elf, they get their magic and officially become part of the family.  After some discussion Ella passed on Snowflake and instead decided on Twinkle (which has since become Twinkles).

A buddy of mine noted that from far away, you can’t really tell if the elf is a boy or a girl. Close up you can see ours is a girl.

And for those who still want to question it … it says she is a girl right on the box!

Anyway, we watched a short movie on Netflix with Ella and Andrew, read the book that told the story, and then they were off to bed. Day 1 was a simple one. Right above the fireplace on the mantle.

Twinkles and her snowman buddy

Day 2’s idea was found in the internet. We grabbed one of her mini Nana blankets to make it work. Twinkles camped out in the fridge.

Chilly, but elves are used to that, right?!

Sam worked the next night, so it was up to me to think of what to do. This may or may not have been influenced by an action movie or two. Twinkles was zip lining to the Christmas tree.

For day 4, I wanted to have her hanging from the ceiling fan, but the bucket/cup I put her in kept tipping and she’d fall out. Instead, I used the cup and hung her from the magnetic clip on the side door. It kinda looks like the hot air balloon ride went wrong and she crash landed on the clip.

This morning, on Facebook, my friends Matt and Tricia posted that they got an elf for their son. I immediately commented and told them I was glad that there would be someone I could steal ideas from!

The elf goes “home” Christmas Eve … feel free to share your ideas, too!! Kid friendly, of course.

Merry and Bright

Before Thanksgiving, there was a perfect 70 degree day.  That was the day I should have put the Christmas lights up outside.  I didn’t.  Thankfully, I took advantage of a breezy 50ish degree day and was outside rigging up the lights.

After I finished, the following conversation took place between my wife and me:

Sam: Uh, what’s that big bunch of wires wrapped to the post?

Me: So, there was a strand of lights where only half were lighting up. Those are the ones that didn’t light up!

Sam: That really looks bad

Me:. No one’s gonna see those from outside. Especially in the dark!!

Man logic. 

I was not about to go through bulb by bulb to check them.  (I actually swapped out the first bulb that was out, but when it didn’t work, I was done with that!). And I certainly wasn’t going to buy an entire new strand of lights!  I had already gone through the countless strands and replaced those bulbs that were physically broken.  That took enough of my time. 

So behind a post, there is a bunch of bulbs wrapped together … And out of site from anyone looking at it from the front.

These don’t work!

When all is said and done, it looks good at night!

Side porch.  Lit up and festive.

I really need to do more in the front of the house.  I always feel like it’s not enough.

Front porch

The ground was already hard, so I couldn’t get the stakes in for the large Christmas bulbs we usually put out.  So their absence already makes it look “half done.”

I really need to get a big ladder. We don’t have one. I’m sure I could probably borrow one from a neighbor, but I never ask. I would love to do up along the roof. Those icicle lights would probably look good and can’t be that hard to hang.

Maybe next year.

Thanksgiving 2022 Recap

The holiday weekend is winding down and I hope that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Ours was a good day filled with great food and family.

The day started with a quick game of hide and seek.

We watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The kids loved seeing Josh from Blue’s Clues and Bluey in the parade!

After breakfast, we prepared the deviled eggs to bring. Sam said she didn’t have paprika. She chuckled when I told her I never liked when my mom put it on the deviled eggs! Then we all started to get ready to go to Sam’s mom’s for dinner.

The loss of my sister-in-law, Grace, is still very fresh. It helped to have family together. There was a lot of love and great conversation throughout the day.

We had an amazing dinner, prepared by my mother-in-law: turkey, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese and so much more. There was no shortage of desserts either!

The Detroit Lions actually gave us a good game to watch, despite losing in the last 23 seconds. It would have been nice to see them win their fourth in a row.

I got to finally meet my newest niece, Arabella. She is a little cutie! She’s only a few months old, but she’s almost as big as Andrew!

I dropped the ball this year and didn’t really take many pictures. My sister in law snapped a candid of the family as we were leaving which I just love.

I love it because it is typical chaos. It looks like Sam is asking me something and I am oblivious. Ella is waving and Andrew is like, “can we just go home now?”

We came home and relaxed the rest of the night, just enjoying family time.

As I turned off the lights and headed off to bed, I reflected again o just how thankful I am for my wonderful family.

Giving Thanks (Updated)

When I worked on the radio, we would often “recycle” bits. We would take something we had done in the past and “re-run” it, often updating it to be current. This blog is actually a recycling of an earlier Thanksgiving blog from three years ago, updated for 2022. I have gained many new followers over the past few years, all of this will be new to them. For those who have been with me from the beginning, I hope you don’t think I am being lazy. By recycling this, I am reminded of just how blessed I am!

Updated 2022

The blatant truth is that we should be thankful for everything in our lives. One of my favorite Bible verses is I Thessalonians 5: 18 which reads “In everything give thanks”. That means good things and bad things – and that’s sometimes hard to do! Believe me, I know from experience! Well, here goes…my list, in no particular order:

Things I am thankful for

My parents. Let’s face it, without them, I wouldn’t be here. I was blessed with a mother and father who raised me right. They supported decisions (good and bad) and were always there for me. Even though my mom is no longer here, her presence is ever-present. Dad is always around to talk music, old movies, and more. As with most holidays, he will be the first call I receive this morning. Laughing with him is always something I am thankful for. The kids always look forward to their Sunday morning video chat with Papa, too!

My wife. Without her, I wouldn’t be here either. She saved me and I am forever grateful. She came into my life at a very turbulent time – first as a friend, and then as someone much more than that. She made me smile and laugh during a time where there was little or no happiness. She cried with me and was a great support through very dark days. Thanks to her, I have found an unconditional love. I cannot imagine life without her, nor would I want to. She accepts me with all my faults and quirks. She makes me feel special. She makes me fall in love with her more each day. She completes me and I am thankful to have her in my life each and every second of the day.

We’ve experienced many changes over the last couple years. With the addition of our two kids, life is a bit more stressful and we’re a bit more tired. The “us” time has been lacking a lot. I need to make it a point to make more “us” time. I need to make sure that I don’t let all of the stresses in life make me forget how important she is to me. I need to step up – listen, love, and support her in ways that she truly needs.

My daughter, Ella. When I originally wrote this blog, she wasn’t even born yet. What a joy Ella is to have around. Her personality shines through now. It has been fun to watch her blossom into a toddler. She is so smart. Her imagination flourishes. I love sitting on the family room floor and “playing princesses” with her. I love watching Bubble Guppies with her. I could listen to her sing the songs from Frozen all day. She will forever have me wrapped around her finger! I’m so thankful for my princess.

My son, Andrew. He is the busiest baby I have ever had! Wow, do I wish I had his energy! Talk about a one track mind! He is forever grabbing for cell phones, TV remotes, and whatever toy Ella has. He was walking early and he hasn’t stopped. Now he is climbing all over the place. It is funny to see the relationship that he has with Ella. They truly love each other, but at the same time, they love to aggravate each other, too. It is rare to see him without a smile on his face. He’s a handful, but I wouldn’t change him for the world!

My sons, Dante’ and Dimitri. They could not be more different from each other. They both have their own talents. They remind me so much of my brother and I when we were growing up! They are creative. They are silly. They are loving. They are smart. They make me laugh and drive me crazy! I miss them when they are not with me and I love when we are together. I love to think back and remember the things they did as babies and I love to think about what they will do in the future. They make me proud of all their accomplishments. It is crazy to see how much they have grown. Dante’ is working hard and going to college, and Dimitri is in high school. I’m thankful for both of them.

My brother. Just like my sons, we couldn’t be more different. Growing up, we tormented each other! He has listened to me complain about life. He has offered advice on more than one occasion. He, in my opinion, is the more successful of the two of us! He has written – and published – books! He has made his way up the ladder at his job and is now a “big wig”. I am envious of him. Over the years, we’ve grown closer and are working separately (and together) on a project that will honor our mother. This project will only bring us closer – which I look forward to very much. Some of the stuff I have written for the project has been posted on this blog. There is still work to do, and it is slowly coming together. We really need to get together and see where we are at with things.

He has been an absolutely amazing Uncle to the kids. Ella just might have him wrapped around her finger, too. There always seems to be some package arriving for her or Andrew with Disney loot in it! Despite the miles, they kids love being able to video chat with him when they can.

My job. It’s really an amazing thing to help people. So many patients come in to our lab who are struggling with poor sleep, insomnia, apnea, narcolepsy, and other sleep disorders. To be able to offer advice, help them get therapy, and in some cases, save their life, it is pretty satisfying. I am lucky to have some pretty cool co-worker friends, too.

My education. For years, my mother begged me to go to college. She had sadly passed away before I finally enrolled in classes. I am grateful to have had some of the finest instructors and professors to guide me and teach me in my journey. Not only did I gain a degree, but I made many new friendships with classmates and teachers. I still hope to one day further my education.

My friends. Napoleon Hill said, “That man is rich indeed who had more friends than enemies…” I am truly a rich man! I am lucky enough to have made many friends throughout my life. Many of them I have known for over 40 years! So many good times! So many good memories! I am thankful for each of them!

My enemies. Yes, my enemies. First of all, they make me more appreciative and thankful for my friends! Second, they actually help me, too. How? Here is a great quote (I wish I knew who said it) “Your enemies evolve you at the core. They force you to defend and endure more than you thought possible.” Yes, my enemies may be full of hatred toward me. They may spread rumors about me. They may discredit me and bash me, but I am stronger because of their ignorance and loathing. Over the last few years, I have gained lots of strength!

My faith. It may not be important to you, but it is to me. I am thankful for God, His Word, His Son, and all that He has done for me. I am thankful for His unconditional love for me. No matter how many times I mess up, He is still there for me – loving me. That just amazes me.

Modern Medicine. We are blessed to live in a time where medical advances are curing diseases and saving lives! While there is a long way to go, and there are still many diseases that need a cure – we continue to make progress. I am thankful for the great minds who strive to find the answers, treatments, and cures. I hope to see cures for things like cancer in my lifetime.

Coffee. I was 12 when my grandpa introduced coffee to me (it was probably more cream and sugar than coffee, but I liked it.) Coffee has helped me through many overnight shifts on the radio, many 12 hour shifts in the sleep lab, and is just perfect to drink on a chilly autumn morning. I am also thankful for some of the wonderful flavors.

My country. I am thankful to live in the United States of America. I am thankful that we live in a country that allows us many freedoms. While I have not visited every state in the union, I can tell you that on a recent road trip, I was in awe of the beauty that I witnessed while driving. I am thankful and proud to be an American!

Cameras/Photographs/Videos. How many precious moments and memories have been captured by cameras? Without cameras how many things would be forgotten? Think about all of the historical pictures that have meant so much over the years. Now think about how looking at old family photos can immediately place you back in that exact moment with loved ones! Think about how awesome it is to watch an old home movie and hear the voices of loved ones who are no longer here. I am SO thankful for the memories that have been preserved for me on film.

I sometimes look like the crazy dad. I seem to always be taking pictures of the kids, but I do that because I want to remember these times. I don’t ever want them not to have pictures of themselves or their relatives.

Dreams and the ability to dream. I am thankful that every now and then, I will have a dream where I am once again talking with my mom or my grandparents. In the original blog, I mentioned that in my Facebook Memories for that day I mentioned a dream I had where I was hanging out with Frank Sinatra & Dean Martin – only in dreams!! The morning of the baby shower, I dreamed about my mom. Dreams are really interesting things!

My Past. Sometimes looking back at the past can be painful. Hindsight is 20/20, right? It’s always easy to look back and see the mistakes you have made and kick yourself for making them. I look at it another way – I am who I am today because of my past. The things that have happened to me along the way – both good and bad – are a part of who I am and have played a role in who I am today. Yes, I can look back and see people or events that disgust me, but without them – I’d be a very different person.

Air Conditioning/Heat. As someone who loves to go to museums and such, I always wondered how people got along without AC in the summertime or heat in the winter! I can’t imagine having to wake up in the middle of the night to add more wood to the fire or wood stove. I also can’t imagine working 8 hours a day in a place without AC! I am very thankful for those two modern-day conveniences!

Sunrises and Sunsets. One of my guilty pleasures is sitting and watching the sun come up or go down. When I lived on the west side of the state (Michigan), I was lucky enough to live right off the water. I would often go to the beach and just watch the sun set over the lake. It was majestic and beautiful! I am so thankful for these two simple things. Today, with my schedule, I tend to see more sunrises than sunsets.

Laughter/Humor. I love to laugh and I love the sound of laughter! I also love to make people laugh. I am so thankful for things that are funny and things that make me laugh. Charlie Chaplin said, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.” Milton Berle said, “Laughter is an instant vacation.” Another great quote is “Life is short. Spend it with people who make you laugh and feel loved.”

Music. I am thankful for music in SO many ways. Music, is one of those things that can evoke all kinds of emotions. A song, just like an old photograph, can take you back in time. In radio, we used to play what we called “Oh Wow” songs. Those songs that make you say, “Oh wow! I haven’t heard that in forever!” or “Oh wow! That reminds me of my senior prom!” Music is one of life’s great things! It can convey things with or without words. One of my favorite quotes, which is attributed to Hans Christian Anderson, is “Where words fail – music speaks.” SO True! I am thankful for some of the many music blogs I follow. They often remind me of some of those “Oh wow” songs!

The Kindness of Strangers. I have benefited from the kindness of strangers more times than I can count. We saw a brief surge of random acts of kindness when the movie “Pay It Forward” came out, and it is a shame that those acts have fizzled out. The world would be a better place if we took a moment and thought of others. There have been plenty of times where someone in front of me has bought my coffee at the drive-thru window, and I have returned the favor. I remember one time seeing an elderly gentleman eating alone in a restaurant. He never knew who I was, but I saw his World War II Veteran hat. I bought his meal and told the waitress to tell him that I thank him for his service. Random acts of kindness are not just something we can accept – they are something we can do.

Those who have served in the Armed Forces. We live in a free country because of the men and women who have served in the various branches of the military. I am thankful to each and every one of them. I know that our freedom came with a price and so many men and women paid the ultimate price for me – and you. Those that have served, no matter what branch and no matter if you were in battle or not, you are a hero! I am thankful for you and your service! I have friends and family who all served, and I am thankful for these heroes!

The Changing Seasons. Here in Michigan, I get to see them all! Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. The first snowfall is beautiful. Ice storms can be hell! Springtime showers and the grass turning green is a reminder of things becoming new again. Summertime is never long enough, but getting the chance to swim at the pool, golfing, and the smell of fresh-cut grass can always make me smile. Fall is my favorite season! This year we got hit with some early snow, so the joke is that Fall was the best “three days of the year”! The crisp cool air of autumn is perfect for bonfires. I’m sad to admit that we didn’t get to have any bonfires this year. The leaves changing colors makes for some spectacular rides on the highway. At any rate, I am thankful to get to experience each one of the seasons.

Spell Checker. Without this, I really don’t know what I would do! I remember all those spelling tests from school! The problem is, as I get older, I seem to have forgotten how to spell. Spell Check is one of those great features that got me through many a research paper in college. It can also be very helpful here in my blog. Of course, sometimes, you can misspell a word that is the correct spelling of another word, so it isn’t foolproof. I’m thankful for it anyway!

The often overlooked necessities. I could easily make these each an item on this list. I guess these are often things that are taken for granted. For example, my home. I am thankful to have a roof over my head to protect me from the elements. I am thankful for the clothes that I wear. I am thankful for fresh water and hot showers. Those two go together and, while it is often taken for granted, there are those who do not enjoy those simple things. I am thankful for electricity. While there are times I think it is cool to sit and read a book by candlelight because of a power outage, I’d rather have the light – and everything else that uses it. I am thankful for a good meal. Sometimes that meal may consist of a simple bowl of cereal, but the fact that I have food to eat is something that some people don’t have.

Bad Days. As much as we’d rather not have them, it is important to remember that when we have them, they remind us of just how awesome the good days are! I am thankful for bad days, but even more thankful for the good ones! I am also thankful that in the big picture – I have had more good ones than bad ones.

The Internet. It’s funny how we lived so long without it, yet we can’t really live without it today! I mean, without it, you wouldn’t be reading this! I am thankful for it and the good things associated with it. I am thankful to be able to connect with family and friends across the miles with social media. I am thankful that at any moment, I can open up Google and find an answer to a silly question. I am thankful that my kids and I can use it instead of encyclopedias to do research. So many things are at our fingertips because of the internet.

A good book/movie/TV show. I really enjoy being able to get lost in a good story. I love to read, but sadly don’t really get the time to do it as often as I’d like to. Same with a good movie. With movies, there are very few new movies that appeal to me. As most of you know, I prefer older films (you know, the ones that are so good some jerk in Hollywood decides to remake it and ruin it). I don’t need to see 20 minute sex scenes, car chases that are impossible to believe, blood and gore, or violence. I want a good story – and a good story is something that Hollywood has seemed to run out of. When it comes to TV, I rarely watch new shows. Most of them are “reality” based anyway and just garbage. I guess that’s why I am thankful for TV shows on DVD. Ok, last year, I kinda dissed on reality TV, and I should clarify that I mean talent shows, dance shows, and shows with singers in masks. To me, these are just a waste of my time.

My cat. There is no doubt that she is truly my cat. I know she doesn’t bug Sam like she does me. She takes every opportunity to come up by me when I am on the couch, a chair, or in bed. If they kids go to bed and I play my golf game, she is right next to me. She loves for me to pet her. As annoying as she can be, I really love her.

The five senses. I can’t imagine going through life not being able to see my children or my wife or some of the wonderful things I have already described. I can’t imagine not being able to smell fresh coffee brewing or my spaghetti sauce on the stove. I can’t imagine not hearing the sound of my children laughing. I can’t imagine not being able to taste a juicy steak. I can’t imagine not being able to feel a hug from my wife. I am SO thankful to have the ability to have all five senses!

Forgiveness. I am thankful for forgiveness. Sadly, it is one of those things that is rare today. It is, however, one of the great things taught in the Bible and throughout history. It is also one of the hardest things to do. I have trouble with it too on occasion. I am thankful that there are friends and family who have forgiven me for past transgressions.

Acceptance. I am thankful for those people in my life who accept me for who I am. They don’t try to change me. There may be things about me that they don’t like or agree with, but they love and accept me as I am. I try to do the same for others.

Encouragement. I would not be where am I today without the encouragement and support of others. It may have been the smallest gesture or a simple sentence in conversation, but the encouragement of others helped me to get through some tough stuff and I am thankful for that.

Change. This is hard for me to be thankful for, but I am. I have to be honest, I hate change! I am a creature of habit. When I lost 85 pounds, I did it primarily by eating the same meals every day. I do not like change, but I know it is important. There were many times over the last couple years that I had to step out of my comfort zone and accept it. I am thankful I did. Change is good – most of the time.

My Therapist. She, like many others, helped me to cope as life offered many challenges. She helped me sort out some feelings. She helped me to see things that I was completely unaware of. She helped me deal with the things involved in my divorce. She also is responsible for my blogs. I used to blog all the time, but was basically told that “no one wants to read that stuff”. I stopped writing. My therapist is the one who suggested keeping a journal. When I told her I used to blog, she asked why I stopped. When I told her why, she suggested starting back up. I told her I didn’t know what to write about. She basically said, “Write about whatever you want! It doesn’t matter if you are writing for others or writing for yourself. If you like to write – WRITE!” From the length of this blog – you can see that I like to write.

Facebook memories. This is a two-edged sword. It is a daily reminder or good things from the past, as well as times with people no longer in my life. I am thankful for it just the same. Many times it is a simple one liner I posted as a status, while other times it is my thoughts about my boys school events. Some pictures bring back good memories, while others bring back sad memories. I smile at the good ones and try to forget the bad ones, but again remind myself that I am who I am today because of the past.

I once believed that it was ok to let some of those memories pop up every year. However, now, I have found it is better to delete some of the past photos with people from the past. If my kids are in those photos, I leave them, but I have deleted quite a few pictures and posts that mention certain people. Why should I let that crap remind me of when I was miserable.

Pumpkin Pie with Cool Whip. Ok, so I finally had dessert while I was writing this. I love a good piece of pumpkin pie topped with Cool Whip.

YOU. Yep. I am thankful for YOU. You are reading this and I appreciate it. I am thankful for my followers and for those who read my stuff. Thank you for being my friend. Thank you for following this blog.

What are YOU thankful for??