A Not So Romantic Date

My wife and I have been anxiously waiting to be able to go out on a date. Our kids keep us pretty busy and they are always in tow. With Sam returning to work from maternity leave after the first of the year, we were running out of available days. We lined up Nana and Papa to watch the kids for the afternoon, and Monday, we finally got to spend some much needed “couple time.”

Did we go out to a fancy restaurant? No. Did we go to a movie? No. Did we go to a concert? No. But we got time together – and THAT was all that mattered.

We had decided that we were going to do lunch. We decided to go to this little sub place that we like. I asked if she wanted to go inside to eat. Neither one of us were real comfortable doing that. We thought about it, but we decided to just grab and go (The tables are too close together and other people would have their masks off to eat, etc…).

We were going to go to Barnes and Noble to look around after lunch, so we got our food and ate lunch in their parking lot. LOL – Romantic, right?! It was nice to just sit and talk as we ate. There were no kids crying or screaming from the back seat – it was just us. In all actuality, it was weird to not have them with us!

After lunch, we walked into Barnes and Noble and began to look around. We picked a great day to go as all the hardcovers were 50% off! I had two or three books that I have been wanting to get, so I looked for them. Naturally, they didn’t have them in the store. Same looked around and found some new books by some of her favorite authors, but decided against getting them.

She’s like me in that often times as you read a series (Stephanie Plum, Ben Kincaid, etc…) you feel like you’ve read the same story before. Sometimes, the next book in a series spends half of the book recapping the previous books so you know what is going on. Then, sometimes, even though it is not a series, books by the same author can just “feel” like the same thing over again. So she put back the books that she looked at.

So what did we do? We both went over the the kid section and started looking for books for the kids!! Here we are on a date, thinking that we’re going to get ourselves something, and we wind up getting stuff for the kids. As we walked out, we were like, “I can’t wait to read this to Ella! She is going to love this one!”

Afterward, we were off to our next exciting stop on “Date Day”….

Target! Really? Yes, really.

While I was out grocery shopping, Sam had me pick up a package of baby bottles. I sent her a picture of the ones that they had and we thought they were the ones that we currently use. Technically, they were, however the ones I bought had the wrong nipples on them. Sam looked to see if she could get the right ones on Amazon and she couldn’t. She said they had them at Target, so we made a stop there.

We walked over to the baby stuff and they didn’t have the right size nipples for the bottles. Go figure. We took advantage of being there and walked around. Sam had hoped to run up to the Carter’s store in Birch Run to get AJ some pants later that day, but she found some while we were at Target. Store number 2 and we get stuff for the kids again!

We debated going to the Christmas Tree Store, which we love, just to look around. Sam said we’d spent enough money and said if we went there, we’d put our account in the red (LOL!). Knowing that it was getting close to nap time for Ella, we decided to go back to Nana’s to get the kids.

It was nice to have some quality time with my wife. One thing I never tire of, is driving and holding her hand in mine. It was a little extra special on Monday. Next date night, I will need to do something a whole lot more elaborate! She deserves it!

Date Day Selfie

Inspired by Blogmas

A few blogs that I follow, started to talk about “Blogmas” a week or so ago. From what I can tell it is a list of 25-31 Blog post ideas. Sort of a daily writing prompt that are all Christmas related. I did a search for “Blogmas” and read through a few of them. The list seems to vary a bit, but mostly contains the same prompts. The idea is to blog about each of these prompts daily. Some of the lists stop at 25 (Christmas Day) and some end at day 31 (New Year’s Eve).

The ones I read yesterday were under the title “Christmas Tag.” In essence, you answer the 20 questions and then tag a blogger to answer the same. I won’t tag anyone at the end of this blog, since I am technically not officially committed to “Blogmas,” but I liked some of the questions on the list and thought they would make for good reading (even though I may have answered a question or two in more detail in past blogs). So here goes:

  1. When do you start getting excited for Christmas? I would say that I probably start getting in the Christmas mood right after Halloween. Many radio stations begin playing Christmas music then. I could listen to Christmas music any time of the year, but hearing it on the radio starts to get me excited for the season.
  2. Is Christmas your favorite holiday? I would say yes. I have so many wonderful memories of past Christmases. I love that people’s attitudes tend to be happier during the Christmas season. There just seems to be a lot more joy around Christmas.
  3. Do you prefer to stay at home or travel for the holidays? I guess I prefer to stay home – or close to home – for the holidays. When I read the question, travel seems to insinuate going out of state or a lengthy trip. Most of my family is within a 60-90 minute drive, so that really doesn’t seem like travel to me.
  4. Be honest: do you prefer giving or receiving gifts? Definitely giving. I love to see the look on a person’s face when they receive a gift from me. I wouldn’t consider myself the best gift giver (trying to buy anything for my wife is SO difficult). I like to have some sort of idea of what a person wants before I shop for them. As far as receiving gifts – I never really feel comfortable when someone buys me something.
  5. Do you open any presents on Christmas Eve? I have every year since I was a kid. We always went to my grandma’s house for Christmas Eve and opened all our gifts. During my first marriage, we always let my sons open one gift on Christmas Eve (usually Christmas pajamas). Today, my sons come over the day before Christmas Eve and Christmas Eve morning is our “Christmas.” They spend Christmas morning with their mom. My daughter and my son will have some gifts to open Christmas Eve morning with their brothers and then more for Christmas morning.
  6. Have you ever built a snowman? Yes. Quite a few actually. I remember loving when the snow was “good packing” and you could build snowmen and snow forts. Just recently, my daughter and I started a snowman, but she was so excited to play in the snow, he was never finished. Can’t wait for our next opportunity to build one.
  7. Do you decorate the outside of your home for Christmas? Yes. Usually the front and side porches. It is by no means the best on the block, but I’m happy with it. One day I hope to be courageous enough to climb up on the roof and do more. For now, I’m happy with it.
  8. Is your Christmas tree real or fake? Fake. In all my years, we’ve never had a real tree. I enjoy them when they are at someone else’s house, though. I enjoy the smell of the pine tree. I am not sure that if we ever got a real tree that I’d be comfortable with it. You know, fire hazzards, bugs or animals possibly still being in them, the fact that you have to water it each day, and stepping on pine needles for months after….
  9. Most memorable holiday moment? How does one even begin to answer this question?! I have so many from childhood, and now even more with each of my children. I just couldn’t narrow it down to one.
  10. What do you like to do over Christmas break? What break?! I have a couple days off and work the rest of the days in between. I wish that I could stockpile vacation time up so I could actually take more time off during the holidays so I could spend it with family.
  11. Which holiday traditions are you most looking forward to this year? One thing that I have come to really look forward to is driving through the Holiday lights display at Crossroads Village on Christmas Eve night. It doesn’t change too much every year, but I always love going through and seeing the lights.
  12. Best Christmas gift you’ve ever received? Urgh – again, very difficult to chose one. Maybe it was the Atari 2600. It also could be the cribbage board my grandpa gave me. Or it could be the gold trumpet charm from my mom. Stretch Armstrong? I just can’t narrow it down.
  13. What is your all-time favorite holiday treat? Toss up between Pignolata (loved when my grandma made this!) or cannoli. Both were staples at Christmas time (along with many many Christmas cookies).
  14. Your favorite Christmas movie? I would say A Christmas Story or any version of A Christmas Carol. (Christmas Vacation could easily be in there, too!)
  15. Your favorite Christmas song? Man, all of these “favorite” questions are just to difficult! Dean Martin’s Marshmallow World is a definite favorite! Santa Claus is Back in Town from Elvis, Mel Torme’ The Christmas Song, Doc Severinsen’s Jingle Bells, the list goes on and on!
  16. What makes the holidays special for you? Family! Spending time with my family is all that matters! Sharing those special moments with them is everything!
  17. What would be your dream place to visit for the holiday season? I’ve never really been away for the holidays, but I know some places go all out. Disney, Branson, and so many other places really have some amazing things going on. Maybe one day we’ll be able to check them out.
  18. Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Do you stick to them? I used to. I don’t really any more. I shouldn’t need a new year to want to make changes in my life. For many years, I would make them and would fail miserably at them.
  19. You have been granted one Christmas wish, what will it be? I would wish to make a difference. Included in the wish, I would wish to be a role model for my children, a good friend, a good husband, and a man whose faith helped lead others to the Lord.
  20. Who’s “it?” At this point on the list you are supposed to pick someone to answer the same questions. If you are so inclined, you may do so. If not, I hope you enjoyed my answers.

Holy 500!

I was notified by Word Press that this blog hit a milestone!! Had I been paying attention, I would have made Blog #500 something a bit more special. Instead, my last blog (#500) was about how tired I am!

Reflecting

As I sat down to write Blog #501, I thought on how far this blog has come. I never started this blog to gain hundreds of followers, however, I have. Originally, I started the blog as a way to write down my feelings and thoughts as I went through some troubling times. Then I thought it would be a good place to write some memories down so my kids could look back and read them. It has evolved into a place where I can write about personal things, and not so personal things.

I am glad that the details of how my wife and I came to be together are here. I am also glad that I have detailed blogs about the the birth of my son and daughter. There are also many memories of my mom, so that my kids who never had the chance to meet her, will be able to read about her. I hope that they will be able to come here to read about the special people in my life – my wife, my kids, my parents, my grandparents, my teachers, my co-workers and mentors, and my friends.

It’s also fun to look back at the special “events” I took part in. Recently, I took part in a song draft, which allowed me to feature 10 great songs. There was a bit more pressure than just picking a song and writing about it. It was hard to pick just 10! Blogging about TV shows and movies as part of blogathons has been fun, as well. I’m looking forward to a TV show draft, similar to the song draft, coming soon.

What Have I Learned?

So, just what have I learned after 500 blogs?

1. It’s not easy!

I read somewhere that most people who start a blog quit writing after a month. I am glad that I have continued to write, although finding stuff to write about is not always easy. There are many days where I sit and have nothing to write about. In those moments, I turn to Daily Writing Prompts. Sometimes they will be helpful, but many of them are worthless.

Some days are easier than others. Many times a song will bring about a memory I can share. Other times a conversation will spawn something worth writing about. My kids are a constant source of writing material and funny stories and for that I am grateful. I love bragging about them.

The key for me is to just keep writing. I plan to do just that.

2. I’ve met some really cool friends

When I created my blog, I started to search for blogs about music and movies. I started following some of them and by doing so, found there many people who share similar likes with me. I began to comment on their posts and they commented on mine. By doing so, I have really gained some neat friendships with people I have never seen face to face. I’m thankful for each of them

3. I often wonder if I make a difference

I guess I hope that someone who goes through my blog will find an occasional “nugget” that they can use in their daily life. It’s not easy to put your life out on the internet for everyone to see, but if someone can learn something from the challenges I faced and the issues I worked through, I will be happy with that.

More recently, I have blogged a little bit more about my faith. I was always told to not discuss religion and politics. I follow a few blogs who share my beliefs and I appreciate them. I know that not everyone is going to share my beliefs and that is ok. That being said, I am also not going to be afraid to post more about it and am always happy to discuss it with others.

4. I really enjoy blogging

I’m not sure I could ever be a reporter or a writer where there were deadlines for articles. I enjoy sitting and writing about my passions, my experiences, my family, and my life. I love being able to write down things that I can go back and reread and relive those moments.

I have put quite a bit of time into this blog, and don’t make a dime off it (Although, I hear that there are many bloggers who DO make money off theirs)! It has never been about making money. It has never been about having a blog republished. It has never been about having millions of followers. This blog is my little spot on the internet to save my thoughts and share them.

How about your feedback?

What do you like best about this blog? What would you like to see more of? Would you ever consider being a guest blogger on my site? Tell me your thoughts. I appreciate you being here and reading my blog and hope to keep posting things you find interesting.

So what is next? 500+ plus blogs I hope and I am excited to continue sharing “me” with you!

“I Miss Us”

Today, our baby boy is one month old. Ella turned 21 months old yesterday. Where did that time go?

As you can imagine, life at our house is constant chaos. It’s a whole new ball game with two under two. Now that I am back to work, Sam is getting the bulk of the chaos and she is exhausted. Tonight she posted this on her Facebook page:

“Keith is at work. Ella has her first cold and is extremely whiney and has cried the majority of the day. Andrew is in his ‘witching hour’ of the day. Cocomelon has been on repeat on the TV for the past two hours… Pretty sure this is a preview of what hell is like!”

While that is very funny – it really isn’t. I have never understood why both parents do not get leave after a baby is born. In some countries, the father and mother each get a full year off with their newborn. I’d be happy with a few months to help with mom’s sanity! There are so many pressures that mom is going through with just one baby, let alone a second or third child on top of that.

Breastfeeding is a sure way for a mother to snap! It is a constant need for the baby. Dad really can’t do anything until mom starts pumping, so until then – it’s all on mom. I felt so helpless. I watched Sam sit up in our bed utterly exhausted from no sleep. I tried to help by taking the baby to the couch in hopes that Sam would be able to sleep, but if the baby fussed, she heard him and couldn’t sleep.

We recently switched to all formula for him, which has allowed me to get up with him at night and feed him. Sam is finally able to sleep when I am home. However, for four nights a week, it is all her while I am at work. When I come home I try to help with breakfast and such , but then I have to go to bed for work that night. I try to set my alarm to get up and help, but some days I am just craving every second of sleep. I really am no help to her, which I hate.

Amongst all of those changes, there is the change between us. We long for a ‘date night,’ but really aren’t that comfortable going out to eat yet. We’re heading into the colder weather, so it makes it hard to even go for a walk outside. We are both craving that “us” time!

Sam sent me something via Facebook tonight. It really hits home. I had to walk away when I started reading it because I knew I would tear up. I wanted to share it here, not only for me, but for some of my friends who recently had babies who may be feeling the same things we are ….

This was on The Birds Papaya Facebook page:

I miss us.

Can I say that?

I think in a way and as I’ve always done, I romanticized the situation. I romanticized what a baby would mean for us.

How we would swoon, how much closer we would get. Being bonded forever. How you’d look at me through new eyes.

This all feels real and true, and yet the complete opposite. It doesn’t make sense sometimes.

We are both here.

We share a common goal.

We swoon and bond over this being.

But, I miss us.

I miss who I was before depression and a troubled pregnancy. I miss the energy I exuded. I miss not mumbling things under my breath (I’m sorry for that by the way).

I miss being the center of your attention, an impossibility with a little human who happens to be louder and more commanding than I am (go figure that that’s the part of me she reflects).

I wonder what parts of you that you miss.Or, do you just feel the same? (is it just me?)

Are we getting weaker or are we getting stronger? Perhaps both?

This is temporary, right?

What parts will last forever?

Why does nobody talk about how hard this is sometimes? Or just how weird it is?

Why do we just show how sweet it is, in the moments that are oh-so sweet?

Can it be both? I need it to be both.

I miss us.

But, I am proud of us.

Minute-by-minute figuring out what it is to be a couple with boundless energy and ambition transform into a couple that is tired and at capacity and yet leading with love…and some mumbled words.

Why is this not romance? Or did I just misunderstand it all, all along?

When you rub my back in the middle of the night knowing I’m struggling. When you get up at 5am with her so I may sleep a little longer. When you feed me while I feed her. When we carve out time in the chaos for us. When we just sneak a moment in the middle of it *air high five*.

When we just are doing the dang thing. All of us are. A family. Us, a family.

Remember when we were just coworkers with a crush? Look at us now.

My gosh. Look at us now.

Maybe I miss us, but… I love what we have found.

There is so much truth to that.

Thank you, Sam, for sending it. I completely feel the same way. We WILL find “us” again and along the way, we’ll enjoy what we have found together as a family.

For the record, my wife is pretty “right on” with the description of Cocomelon ….

…. or Little Baby Bum

URGH!!!

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!

Emotional Weekend Recap

It is taking all that is in me to write a blog today. I don’t feel like writing. I’m numb today.

All weekend long I struggled with whether or not to proceed with something. It is something that has weighed very heavy on my heart. It is something that comes with risks no matter what I decided to do. I have spent three entire therapy sessions (one I scheduled purposely) discussing it with my therapist. No matter how much I talked about it, no matter how I looked at it, no matter what the pros and cons were, I still don’t feel like I was ready to make a decision. Based on previous blogs, you can probably figure out what I am talking about.

It doesn’t really even matter what it is. I wrestled to make a decision and now I am wrestling with the decision I made. I am literally numb. I am feeling many emotions today – fear, anger, sadness, uncertainty, worry, and so many more. As I stared at the computer screen, I wondered just what the hell I wanted to write about. So I grabbed my phone and looked back at some of the pictures from the weekend and figured maybe I should at least talk about the positives.

Positives

First of all, I got to spend the entire weekend with my wife and daughter. It was an extended weekend for my wife and I, and as a bonus we both got Tuesday off. We actually had time to sit on the couch and watch shows we had on the DVR, which is something we rarely get to do. Ella had us laughing a lot this weekend. Recently, Sam’s folks bought her an easel. It has a chalkboard, whiteboard, place for paper, etc… We thought that this would be great for her to draw on. We haven’t let her paint yet, but she can color on it and uses the chalkboard a lot. Up until now, the sidewalk chalk had to stay outside. Now she has it on the easel, which isn’t always a good thing ….

This probably won’t stop her from drawing on the furniture … but it was worth a try!

On Sunday, I got together with two of my close friends from high school – Margaret and Chris. It was probably a couple months ago that a picture of the three of us came up in Facebook Memories. I think it said the picture was taken 10 years ago! While I’ve gotten together with them separately since, it had been that long since we all got together. So we met at Margaret’s house and she had a cook out. The town was hopping because the peach festival was going on. I got their late, because I thought we were supposed to get together on Monday. No matter, we all got to sit around and chat, reminisce, laugh, and enjoy each other’s company. Before we wrapped up the day, I said we had to get another picture! I sent the picture to both of them, and each of us posted it on our pages. Margaret joked around and said to crop the picture more …. so I did….

Really a great picture of us ….

Sometimes, I have to do things just to take my mind off the crap that is on social media. I am so sick of the politics, hatred, and sadness that is often the subject of posts on Facebook. During conversation at Margaret’s, the topic turned to some silliness I have been posting. I did this last September, too. I know it is stupid, but it truly makes me laugh and I share to save my sanity.

One of the Three Stooges pages I follow on Facebook takes Shemp Howard’s picture and Photoshops them on other pictures. The can be movie stills, magazine covers, etc. They call the entire month of September – SHEMPtember! So every day this month, I find a silly pic from their page and post it. This remains one of my favorites, and I am sure my musical followers will get a good laugh from it, too….

The Shemptations!!!!!

30 days of stupidity? Yeah, probably. I’ll take the stupidity and enjoy the laugh over the other things I am feeling any day.

The rest of the weekend falls into the area that I’d rather not think about ….

I hope you had an enjoyable Labor Day Weekend.

Be careful for nothing …

I needed to read this verse tonight. The Greek word translated “careful” in verse 6 is (μεριμνάω) merimnáō. It literally means “to be anxious” or “to be troubled with cares.” Anxious is defined: experiencing worry, unease, or nervousness, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. So the verse is saying “Don’t be anxious about anything!” “Don’t be full of worry!” It is easier said than done sometimes.

I haven’t really said anything on here or really anywhere about this, but I think my anxiety level is starting to rise a bit too much. Ever get that feeling like things are closing in on you? Feel like you are surrounded by things that are just out of your control? That’s kind of where I am right now. I’ve been in this place before, and have been able to get it under control. It just feels like the things I was able to do to get them under control, aren’t helping like they did before.

Admittedly, there are things that I know contribute to this. Lack of sleep, for example. I am just not getting enough, and won’t be getting enough for some time. With a baby on the way, and a toddler, I’ll be grabbing sleep in little chunks for a while. What is bothersome to me about sleep is that instead of getting my usual 5-6 hours, I am waking up a lot, usually from weird dreams. Then my mind won’t shut off long enough about other things to let me fall back to sleep.

I made the choice some time ago to stop watching the news. This really helped eliminate much of the barrage of Covid stories that I was seeing. Covid and just the fear and uncertainty that came with it led to me having a breakdown a year ago. Staying away from those stories helped. However, my phone continues to “ding” throughout the day and night with Covid stories from Yahoo News and other apps. Then there is the constant stories that friends share on Facebook.

Let me put it this way, I can see why many people are choosing to leave Facebook. There is so much misinformation, countless arguments, and hatred within my newsfeed daily. I have muted or snoozed many people because of it. That doesn’t stop it, though. Any time a post mentions “Covid” or “Vaccine” there is a link that automatically shows up.

Then you have the fight between people who are pro-vaccine and anti-vaccine. This falls into the same category as whether you should wear a mask or not. It is amazing how polarizing this is. It is almost as polarizing as what we saw during the past few elections. Pro/Anti Trump. Pro/Anti Biden. There has always been divisions in our country, but it seems that it in society today, if someone disagrees with you, it leads to hatred and violence. I know way too many friendships that have been broken because of the failure to “agree to disagree”

I digress. If I am being honest, I am beginning to feel overwhelmed again. I know that I shouldn’t, yet I do. I need to take those verses and focus on them. I know that is where I will find peace.

Remember the opening of the Twilight Zone where all the things are spiraling around?

That is how I feel on a daily basis and it is taking my focus away from where it needs to be! I feel like I am surrounded by Covid and cancer and the deaths that they bring about. I feel like the vaccine is being talked about everywhere – whether the talk is good or bad. Then we have all the stuff that is going on in the Middle East, Earthquakes and natural disasters. I seem to have daily conversations with people about whether or not we are in the Biblical End Times. It is overwhelming.

THEN factor in that my wife and I are are expecting a baby and the pregnancy has had its share of scares and worry. Those worries outweigh ALL of the others. As mentioned in a pervious blog, those worries were put at ease to some degree with the latest ultrasound. However, we have 8 weeks left and I still have some concerns.

My mind is one big muddled mess at times.

I am struggling to remember things. I zone out during conversations for no reason at all. I can listen to something or read something over and over and not comprehend what I just heard/read. I’m scared about some things right now. I will spare you the details of that.

I’m hoping to dig myself out of the rut and get back to normal. I have the support of my wife and family. I have the support of my Christian friends. I have God on my side. I will do my best to “let go and let God.”

Thank you for allowing me to vent.

What’s In A Name (Part 2)

When Sam told me we were expecting again, I was pretty sure the baby was a girl. As a matter of fact, I even had a dream about about it. I blogged about that here: https://nostalgicitalian.com/2021/04/23/and-the-baby-is-a/

This pregnancy has been difficult for Sam. She has been in a lot of pain. We found out that the reason for this is that the placenta is positioned anterior. Because of this, she has had a few extra ultrasounds to make sure everything is ok. While at her OB a couple weeks ago, he stated that while doing the ultrasound, he should be able to see the gender and asked if Sam wanted to know. Sam told him that we had already gone to the 3D place and found out the gender.

The doc told her that those places are right “about 50% of the time.” While he checked her, he really couldn’t tell for sure what the baby’s gender was. He even stated that there was certainly “a possibility” that it could be a girl. The reasoning was that the position of the placenta could have made it look like something it wasn’t.

This threw a big curve ball at us. What if the baby was a girl? We had already made the announcement that we were having a boy. We would have to wait and see. If it WAS a girl, we had a solid name picked out. Just like with Ella, it was a name we both agreed on almost immediately. The only thing that we hadn’t nailed down was a middle name, but we had our top choices all picked.

So we kept things quiet until this week. Sam went in for the 20 week ultrasound and we can confirm that the baby is indeed a boy. He is a very active boy (as Sam has been able to see in all the ultrasounds). Due to the placement of the placenta, however, it really limits how much Sam gets to feel him move. So with the confirmation of gender, we moved back to our list of Boy Names and had to nail one down!

We had a few names that really stood out. We went back and forth on a couple of them. We had one name that we really liked, but it was ruined by a story from a family member. There was another we liked and just really kept going back and forth with it. Finally, we came to a decision.

The baby’s name is …

Andrew Joseph to be exact.

Sam’s grandfather was Joseph, which is where the middle name comes from. Andrew was just a first name that we both liked. It works out great in the “nickname” department, too. We can call him Drew or “AJ”. I like AJ a lot!

There is lots of excitement and anticipation for his arrival. October seems a long way away, but at the same time, it will be here faster than we know it!

Funniest Observation of the Week.

Leave it to my dad! I called him to let him know the baby’s name before Sam posted it on Facebook. I loved to see his reaction. It was a few hours later that my dad commented on the post on Sam’s Facebook page. He observed that now I will have three sons and a daughter – just like Don Corleone in the Godfather!

David O’Keefe’s fantastic Godfather artwork!

Only my dad would have observed that!! That’s just one of the reasons I love him! Thanks Dad!

I STILL Believe in Miracles!

In the past few months, I have had many new followers to this blog. For the benefit of them, here is a brief introduction to where this blog is going.

Prior to 2017, my life was a shambles. I suffered from depression. I was unhappy. I was lost. I was not “me.” Because of years of unhappiness, I didn’t even know who “me” was. Enter my (now) wife Sam. My entire life turned around.

Today is our third wedding anniversary. Over the course of our friendship, courtship, and marriage, my life has done a complete turn around. I have been the happiest I have ever been. She is my true soul mate. This is the first miracle I wanted to focus on. You can read what lead up to our relationship here:

https://nostalgicitalian.com/2019/03/16/the-beginnings-of-a-beautiful-friendship/

You can read about how we got engaged here:

https://nostalgicitalian.com/2019/03/17/part-ii-the-proposal/

And you can read about our wedding here:

https://nostalgicitalian.com/2019/03/18/part-iii-to-the-aisle/

Now that you are all up to speed, I can continue. First, I want to send a message to my wife and then I will share some exciting news.

Happy Anniversary, Sam

Dearest Sam –

Today we celebrate 3 years of marriage. It’s hard to believe it has been that long, and at the same time it doesn’t feel like it has been long at all. I cannot imagine my life without you. Thank you for all you have done for me. You may not think that you have done much, yet, you have done everything. You have never left my side. You have always been a support and have loved me unconditionally. I am so lucky to have you as my wife and partner.

I have loved those special moments that we have been able to share together. Our trips to Nashville, Cleveland, Kentucky, and of course, to Florida. Those memories will forever warm my heart and bring a smile to my face. You have added immense joy, bliss, and happiness to my life. I discovered what true love in our years together. I fall in love with you over and over each and every day.

You are an amazing mom to our sweet baby girl. I love to watch the two of you interact. I love the way you two look at each other. I will never have to worry about whether she will be raised right. I know the bond that you two share now, is one that will grow and last forever! Thank you for not only being special to me, but special to her. We certainly have been blessed with a wonderful family.

The old saying goes, “The destination doesn’t matter, the journey does.” What good is the journey, however, without a wonderful partner? Sam, I look forward to the years ahead with you. I look forward to the journey ahead and the memories we will make in the process. I love you forever!

Keith

Breaking News …

The second miracle was our daughter, Ella. Doctors told me I had a very slim chance (about 4%) of ever having children again. When we found out we were expecting, it was just amazing. You can read about that here:

https://nostalgicitalian.com/2019/07/26/i-believe-in-miracles/

You can read about her birth here:

https://nostalgicitalian.com/2020/02/14/shes-here/

Ella turned one year old in February and is our pride and joy! So rather than me let the cat out of the bag, how about I let Miracle #2 tell you about Miracle #3 …

You read her shirt correctly! Ella is going to be a big sister!!! We are expecting another baby in October and we are just thrilled.

We found out that Sam was pregnant three days before Ella’s birthday. It was the one year anniversary of her going into labor. She was laying in bed and she hadn’t been feeling well. She was uncomfortable and crampy. I had already asked her if she thought she was pregnant and she said she didn’t think so. At some point. she got up to use the restroom, and there was an extra pregnancy test under the sink. She took the test and it almost immediately popped up that she was pregnant. So from the bathroom, she simply yelled to me, “Well….we’re pregnant!” I thought she was messing with me, but she brought out the test and there it was.

It was such a surprise to both of us! Naturally, we are very excited. Sam had her ultrasound at the OB today. Because of Covid, only the patient is allowed in the office. I had planned on sleeping a bit, then getting up and going to the doc with her, but when we found out that she was the only one allowed in, Sam told me to make sure I slept before work. She texted me this afternoon saying that all went well. Baby’s heartbeat was 174 and the Due Date is October 14th. She also texted me the ultrasound picture.

Just like Ella, the baby moved around a lot during the ultrasound, so it was hard to get a good picture.

Willa Cather once said, “Where there is great love, there are always miracles.” There is GREAT love in our family….and the miracles continue!

Resolutions or Goals?

I subscribe to some daily writing prompts that will occasionally wind up as a good blog idea. I’d say I use about less than 5% of them, as most of them don’t really strike a chord with me. Every single one of these prompts said to write about my New Year’s Resolutions or Goals for the New Year. My buddy believes that resolutions and goals are the same, but they really are not.

A “resolution” is a firm decision by a person to do or not do something. A “goal” is the object of a person’s ambitions or effort; an aim or desired result. See, a goal is the final product, if you will. With a goal, you prepare, you plan, you set forth your intentions to achieve this final result (the goal) by taking specific actions. A resolution is a “promise” to yourself to do something, while a goal has a specific target.

Do I have resolutions? I guess so. They are probably the same resolutions that many people have: eat more veggies, drink more water, lose weight, be more active, etc. I just need to not do what I do every year and fall of the wagon on these.

I want to make some specific resolutions regarding my role as a husband:

  • I will say “I love you” every day.
  • I will spend more time together – monthly date night.
  • I will pray together.
  • Show more appreciation for all she does.
  • Listen more.

I also have some specific resolutions regarding my role as a father:

  • More one on one time with each of my children.
  • More play time
  • Be more mindful of the words I speak.
  • Read more books and the Bible together.
  • More outside time – walks, catch, etc.
  • Be an example!

There is one thing that I would like to accomplish that I am ashamed to admit I have never done. I have never actually read the bible in it’s entirety in a year’s time. In one of my classes, the teacher actually said that as students, we should strive to read it through at least once or twice a year. It always seemed like a very big task.

Recently, a Facebook friend posted a plan with specific passages to read every day, and by doing it, you’d read through the entire Bible in one year. I printed out the “plan” and I intend to do just that. I know with the classes, I’m going to have to make some extra time, but it needs to be done! My goal is to have each week’s worth of passages with me and to read whenever I get the chance.

Do you set goals for yourself in the new year? Do you make resolutions? What things help you to keep on track?