Mouse Wrecker!

This afternoon before work, I wanted to go for a walk. The kids had been a handful throughout the day and Sam said that she wanted to stay home. I thought it would be a good idea to take the kids and give her a good half hour of quiet. So I loaded up the kids in the stroller and began my walk.

I got about a block and a half from home and my phone rang. It was Sam.

“Where are you!?”

“I’m walking with the kids. Why?”

“You’ve got to get home NOW!”

“What’s going on? What’s the mat…..”

“There is a mouse in the house! Maizey had it in her mouth! It jumped out and it is still alive!”

“Where is it now?”

“Under the couch! Just get home!”

“Where are you at?”

“I’m ON the couch. I’m not moving until you get here!”

So I turn around and walk the block and a half back to our house. I’m not letting the kids go in the house and I tell Sam to come out. I walk in to see our cat, Maizey, staring at the couch. This is a good sign, as it tells me the mouse has not moved anywhere else in the house. I go to the kitchen and begin to look for something – anything – that I can use to throw on top of the mouse in the event that I can get it out in the open.

I found a large Tupperware bowl and see myself as Tom (above) being able to trap this thing in the bowl. I begin to push the couch from against the wall. I do this is slow movements, as I want the mouse to stay sort of in that area. If he goes into another room, I know I’m in trouble.

Little by little I move the couch. No mouse. Finally, I move it one more time and the mouse goes scurrying across the floor. There is no way for me to get the dumb thing because the couch is in front of me. I see it scurry under the table in the corner of the living room. So I slowly walk over there. I know I have got to keep this little pest over there. I have a flashlight and I am looking all over the place, but don’t see it where I thought I did.

At this point I feel like Mr. Jinks from the cartoon. “Where is this little Meece?!”

As I look under the table, I see the back cracker that Sam has. It is meant to sit on the floor, and you lay on it to crack your back. Your back goes on this little “hill” with massagers on it.

I see the mouse sitting under the hill and begin to think of how to get the Tupperware bowl over the top of it. I laid on the floor with the bowl in one hand and the flashlight in the other. I start to slowly move the back cracker and think I can force him out the back and I can slam the bowl on top of him. I am just about to get him and he shoots out from the front, which I should have expected, but didn’t. I give out the “man scream” and watch it scurry across the room and toward the mesh baby gate.

I start looking around and cannot find that little bugger to save my life. It is entirely possible that the thing is now in the basement or elsewhere in the house. I’m furious. It is then that I notice the small run that sits next to the mesh gate. We put our shoes on it. There is a fabric square container that Ella’s shoes are in that sits on the rug almost up against the wall. The rug has a little “bump” in it against the wall. I got behind it at took the flashlight to see the mouse’s tail and rear end hiding in between the floor and the rug. Now I got it where I want it – Trapped!

It is too close to the wall to use the bowl. So I have to think of the best way to get this thing. The best way was not the most humane way. I begin to look around to see what I can get to hold this mouse. I flashback to another time I was in a similar situation and grabbed the 2 foot level my grandpa gave me.

I know that I can slide this against the wall and down on top of the rug. My intention was to kind of hold him there until I could get him under the bowl. I pushed the level down and now had the little guy by the tail. Sam hollered in through the screen wanting to know if I had caught him. I told her I did, but was not really sure what to do next!

She asked if I needed her. She had loaded the kids up in the car and was about to head off to get ice cream or to her mom’s for the night (if I didn’t catch the thing). She came in the house and I asked her to go het the barbecue tongs. She did and I was able to pick up the mouse with them.

I walked outside with the little thing and was going to toss him into the yard. My wife yelled to not let him loose close to the house. So, I walked out toward the road and let it loose there. Apparently, the road was still too close to the house, even though it was clear that mouse wasn’t coming back to our place.

Tomorrow, I will head to the store to get some of that stuff to place around the house that repels mice and rodents. I will probably also buy a few traps, just in case. One thing is for sure, from now on, the only mouse trapping I want to do will be with a board game!!

Indian Summer Walks

We’ve really had a few nice days this week. The temperatures haven’t been too cold and the sun has been shining. I guess this is what some would call an Indian Summer. According to the great Wikipedia (LOL): An Indian summer is a period of unseasonably warm, dry weather that sometimes occurs in autumn in temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. Several references describe a true Indian summer as not occurring until after the first frost, or more specifically the first “killing” frost. My grandma used to say that this was the time of year when everyone got sick. In a way, she’s probably right.

Personally, I am loving the fact that we can still get out and walk the neighborhood. I told Sam that I love the sounds of the leaves crunching under my feet as we walk. Most of the trees in our neighborhood are bare and the leaves cover the lawns and sidewalks. However, there are a few with leaves that continue to hang on.

The kids love just being outside. If it is just me and the kids, they usually will both stay in the stroller. This allows me to walk at a faster pace than if Ella is just walking along next to me.

The past couple days, we’ve been able to go out and walk the neighborhood as a family. We try to time it so that there is enough time to do a full walk and I can still get showered and ready for work after. Ella has wanted to just walk/run in front of us. We have to be very clear that she stay close when we get near an intersection. She has to hold our hand when we cross the street. We also make he stop if we see a car getting ready to back out of a driveway or coming down the street.

This afternoon, she was full of energy. Sam was pushing the stroller with Andrew in it and Ella was running in front of me. “Look at me go, Daddy!” “Come catch me, Daddy!”

I’m far from being in shape to do any kind of running, but I did do a quick sprint and pass her up on the sidewalk at one point. After I was ahead of her a house or two, I slowed, turned around, saw her laughing and running toward me and I attempted to catch my breath! LOL. “Run some more, Daddy!”

I told her I had given her my one “run” of the day!

I love seeing the joy on her face as we go on our walks. Of course, halfway through, she’s run so much, she wants me to carry her! The only hope I have of her letting me put her down is if one of the neighborhood dogs is out, or one of our friends is outside with their kids.

One good thing about carrying her on my shoulders – the heart rate goes up a bit and my Fitbit likes that!

Here is hoping that the weather allows for more walks before it gets too cold to do them!

Christmas in September

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Typical Dad Day

(I’ve never read this book, but I may have to …)

Sam worked last night, so it was my day with the kids. What does a typical day with dad look like?

The day starts with Andrew up first. We take the baby monitor out into the living room so we can see when Ella wakes up. I make him a bottle and take care of diaper change number one. Within 5 minutes of finishing the bottle diaper change number 2 is in order, because he poops like clockwork.

We usually go to get Ella together when she wakes up. He thinks its funny to push open her door. I then have to grab whatever Ella wants to bring with her out of the crib. This usually consists of a nana blanket, maybe a book, maybe a stuffed animal, maybe a pillow, or maybe all of the above.

She gets a diaper change and it is time for breakfast. Somedays we eat eggs, others waffles, another day pancakes, and sometimes a smorgasbord of fruits and other things. Sam usually arrives home around breakfast time. Today she brought donuts for them. Ella loves pink dipped donuts, not that she ever eats the donut. She loves the frosting, though.

Depending on the day, we either read books, turn on the TV or play with her toys. This is when I usually make myself and Sam something to eat. I made us scrambled eggs and had to make extra because the kids were eating all of Sam’s!

Sam almost always brings out an outfit for the kids to wear. We ventured out on our morning walk and looked for our puppy friends. She now knows just about every dog in the neighborhood’s name!

When we returned home, she began to read books. Most of the time they are books off her shelf.

After reading one of her favorites, she told me to sit down so she could read me a book. The book? The Weight Watcher’s Cookbook!

She kept calling the sandwich in the book (shown above) a cheeseburger!

While she is reading to be, my daredevil son continues to find ways to hurt himself. He’s been climbing, so Sam thought it was time to bring the swing/slide thing we got for Ella a few years ago back upstairs. Well he can climb it, he just hasn’t really figured out how to slide down yet. So he gets up there and starts shaking the one wall of it and eventually steps on the slide and falls off.

He truly has no fear. Today alone, he busted open his lip three times. None of those were from falling off the slide! He just tripped over stuff and fell on his face. I swear if we have to go to urgent care again, they will have to put in a window just for him.

Comedy continues to ensue with Ella. Today she grabbed her winter coat and winter hat and asked to wear them. She had me help zip up the coat and said, “I’m already for winter and then asked to watch Frozen.

We watched it like 7 times today. I will be singing “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” and “Let it Go” in my sleep tonight!

Lunchtime this week has brought the same answer to question, “What would you like for lunch today?” “Grilled cheese and crackers!” That answer has also been offered up to “What would you like for dinner?” and “What would you like for breakfast?” I’m glad that Andrew isn’t able to answer that question yet. When they both start asking for different meals, it’s gonna drive me crazy!

After lunch, it is nap time. Today, thanks to the neighborhood dogs and open windows, the nap was cut short. Shortly after wake ups, Sam woke up for work. She said some packages she ordered were on the porch and Ella went with her to get them.

They were the Halloween costumes they are wearing this year. I won’t say what they are here, but hers involves a dress. She wanted to wear it. Sam told her she had to wait until Halloween. This was not what she wanted to hear, so Sam offered up another dress for her. My friend from work gifted us some dresses that her daughter has grown out of. They are going to be perfect for holidays or family photos. Anyway, she spent the rest of the evening wearing one of those dresses.

Earlier I had thrown some chicken in the crock pot for dinner. Sam cooked up some buttered noodles to go with it for the kids. I took the chicken out and started cutting it up. I tried a piece to make sure it had cooled down enough and it tasted funny. I can’t even really descibe what it tasted like – but you know how they always say, “it tastes like chicken?” This didn’t. I wound up throwing it away.

After Sam left for work, Ella said she wanted a snack. So she handed me one of those applesauce pouches. Andrew got one, too. They both had like three of them! Ella kept asking for more and when I got her one, he wanted one, as well.

After playing with toys for awhile, more diaper changes were needed and it was pajama time. I was lucky enough to be able to get pajamas on her tonight. I really thought that she was going to want to wear the dress to bed! I’m sure I would have let her…

She took a book to bed with her, we said prayers and I closed her door. I brought Andrew with me and tried to rock him and sing him to sleep. He had the funniest case of the giggles and it took him forever to fall asleep. Once he was asleep, I put him in his crib and took a shower.

Reflecting back on the day:

7 outfit changes. 5 poop diapers. An unknown amount of pee diapers. 3 times sweeping the floor. 2 times picking up the same toys and putting the in the toybox. 2 times vacuuming. 7 viewings of Frozen. 3 busted lips. 8 bumps on the head. 12 crying fits. 2 bad pieces of chicken. 3 cheese omelets, 2 grilled cheese sandwiches. 3 video chats. 7,953 times I heard, “Daddy!” 2 sleeping kids.

Add it all up and it equals one amazing day for a very blessed Dad!

Outdoor “Nutty” Discovery

I posted this on my Facebook page earlier, but wanted to be sure it made the blog.

I took Ella and Andrew out for a walk this morning. We walked a different way than we normally do and I took a small detour. There is a church at the end of our street that has some baseball diamonds and a park. The weather was perfect, so I decided to check out the park.

When we first got there, the kids ran on the wood chips and played on a few of the playground items. Surprisingly, neither one wanted to swing on the swings (which is their “go to” park thing). They were more interested in the wood chips and other things.

On the other side of the fence, there was an oak tree. Ella was looking at the ground and picked up something and said, “Daddy, what is this?!”

I looked on the ground to see a wee bit of green among the brown and tan wood chips.

I told her that she had found an acorn. This led to a search for more of them. She found fresh ones, like the green one above, and a few that had been on the ground for a while. We also found some that the squirrels had enjoyed for lunch or dinner. The more she found, the more she handed me. “I wanna show mommy my acorns!” So, we began throwing acorns of all kinds into the stroller.

There were plenty of acorn “tops” (or “hats” as one of my Facebook friends called them) on the ground.

I remembered a friend showing me that you could use them to whistle. You basically take your two thumbs and place the first knuckles together to form a “V” and blow into it. Ta da! A whistle! Ella was pretty amazed by that and kept asking me to do it. It was such a silly little thing, but I loved every second of it.

Before leaving the park, I took one more picture – because it was the one thing that really stood out …

With a playground behind them, my two kids decided to embrace nature instead of playing on it. We found leaves, acorns, watched squirrels, picked up sticks and more! What a tremendous bonding time for us. As we walked back home, I couldn’t help but notice how much shade was under the trees. I told them that we needed to come back and have a picnic on the grass in the shade before summer was over.

Where’s My Belt?

I was up early enough to go for a walk with the family today. I grabbed a pair of shorts that I have been wearing, which I knew were getting too big, and couldn’t find my belt. I asked Sam if she had seen it and she told me no. Then she said, “Don’t you have a box of ‘snug shorts’ that didn’t quite fit anymore?” I told her I did, but didn’t think that I would fit into any of them yet.

I have been holding onto some clothes that used to fit for awhile. I keep telling myself that “when I lose weight” I can wear them. I just have never been to the point where that has happened … until today!

I pulled out the next size down and slipped them on. I grabbed the end with the button in one hand and the end with the button hole in the other and pulled them together. Up until today, those two ends have not met. I was excited that I was able to not only bring the two ends together, but I was actually able to button them!

I cannot even begin to express the feeling of being able to put those on! There is an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment and at the same time a feeling of satisfaction. I have been working hard to lose this extra weight. I have about 70 or 80 pounds more that I would like to lose, and seeing the progress today reassured me that I CAN do this.

I was about to take a diaper box out to the trash tonight and stopped. This will be the box that I put all the “too big” clothes in. Once it is filled, I will take it up to the Goodwill. There will be no need to store those, because I resolve to never allow myself to get as big as I was ever again.

Weekend Ride on the Emotional Rollercoaster of Life

It’s been a crazy past few days. On Friday, we took Andrew to the ENT to discuss the results of his sleep study. He has severe sleep apnea. Usually, this means that the tonsils or the adenoids need to come out to open up the airway. The doc took a look at his and said his tonsils were not too big and he didn’t think his adenoids were a problem either. So he did a scope in the office to look further.

The scope showed that he has laryngomalacia. This is something we are seeing more and more of in the sleep lab. Basically, there is extra tissue in the larynx.

This explains why his sleep is so crappy!! When he falls asleep, that floppy tissue blocks the airway.

Lateral view of child’s face showing blocked air flow caused by laryngomalacia.

So it looks like he will have some surgery to correct this in the near future. It will also mean 24-48 hours in the hospital. This will not be fun at all, as he loves to be on the go. I’m sure sitting in a room all day is not going to be pleasant at all! We are waiting on the hospital to call and schedule the surgery.

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My Godmother/cousin recently had a stroke. She is currently in hospice. I was able to see her over the weekend to say goodbye. It is never an easy thing to do. There were many people in the room, so I kept it pretty simple.

I’m not sure if it is just in Italian families or what, but at some point there was a stretch of years where certain members of the family didn’t speak to each other. I have no idea what it was about but I am sure that it was just stupid. Life is too short to lose that much time. This hits home a lot with my Godmother.

For years, I didn’t see her because of an argument that I wasn’t even a part of! Shortly after my grandmother passed away, my dad began to reach out to cousins that we hadn’t talk to. Thankfully, the peace was restored and I was reunited with my cousins.

I remember seeing her for the first time in forever and just hugging on her! I was so happy to see her. We spent a long time catching up. So many years lost to ridiculousness. So many things we both missed out on.

I am kicking myself because a week before, I was thinking about her and meant to call her and catch up. I never did. I regret that. I am grateful to have had a moment with her this weekend to tell her how much I love her.

My Godmother and me at Ella’s baby shower

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I’m not trying to make excuses, but I am an emotional eater. When I get stressed or worry – I snack. I made a lot of mistakes on my diet this week. I found myself grabbing goldfish crackers and “estimating” how many I had. We hadn’t gone grocery shopping, so almost all of the veggies were gone, so I snacked on crackers and stuff I shouldn’t have. I was completely ready to see a gain on the scale, but actually lost a pound this week. This brings my 10 week total weight loss to 30 pounds.

The heat and rain didn’t help much. It was hard to get my daily walks in last week.

30 pounds is progress and I am back on track. Sunday and Monday we got to go out and walk the neighborhood! Ella is making it a bit more difficult as she wants to walk instead of being in the stroller/wagon. He being out, does make it easy to get pictures, but she walks a LOT slower than I am used to.

A ray of morning sunshine

He puppy friend, Louie, was so excited to see her the other day he “ran” to the fence to say hello!

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I went to the store on Sunday and bought some new sand for Ella’s sandbox. We moved it to another part of the yard because where we had it, the sun beat down on it. We moved it to a shadier spot and both kids are playing in it. Andrew really doesn’t understand that the sand is not for eating … one would think that after the third time putting it in your mouth, you’d stop, right?!

The sandbox is just another example of how my kids will grow up to be best buddies. I love to watch them play together. I hope it stays warm for a while longer. I’m not sure just how they are going to handle being cooped up in the house all day in the winter.

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The range of emotions experienced this weekend was overwhelming. I’m hoping that things slow down and return to normal – whatever normal is!

The Sounds of Summer Are Very Different Today

On Saturday, I took my kids out for our neighborhood walk. As we walked, we heard the normal “sounds of summer.” There were plenty of birds singing, dogs barking, and kids playing in the pool. On one stretch of sidewalk, I could hear loud laughter and muffled music playing from a radio. As we got closer, I could see that there were three teenage girls outside washing a pickup truck.

The site of this reminded me of the many summer weekends when we would help my dad wash his car. I remember spending a few Saturdays washing and waxing my own vehicle in the driveway during the summer. In both instances, the boombox was always outside with music playing. If it was Sunday, we’d be listening to American Top 40, or one of the many tapes that my dad had thrown together. Whatever the music, it was never anything that we’d be embarrassed about if someone passed the house. This, however, was not the case this weekend!

As I got close to the house where the vehicle was getting washed, the music became more and more clear. If what was playing was rap music, it didn’t sound like it. However, the words that were being “sung” were far from toddler material! In the approximate 30-60 seconds that it took me to pass this house, the profanity coming from the radio was crazy! I heard MF (and variations of that) at least 5 times, the N word about 6 times, and the F bomb probably 4 times. I am so glad that Ella never repeated any of it!!

Even if that was the kind of music that I listened to, I am sure that I wouldn’t have it blaring loudly outside. Ok, I know, I sound like the “get off my lawn” old man, but seriously! Was that necessary? I suppose it would be no different if there were listening to the radio edit of the song. They are still just as bad.

As I stated in the title of this blog … things are very different today.

Now get off my lawn!

Hello, Louie!

The photo above may be a bit deceiving, in that this blog is NOT about the hit song by the Kingsmen.

It is also not about other famous Louies (or Louis) like comedians:

Louie Anderson

Louis CK

Or trumpet players:

Louis Armstrong

Louis Prima

Or his animated alter ego:

King Louie

Or fictional TV characters like:

Louie the Lilac

Louie De Palma

So just WHO is Louie?!

Well, if you are a regular reader to my blog you know that over the past couple years, my daughter (and now my son, too) like to walk our neighborhood. There is one house where there is an old Bassett hound that is occasionally outside. That dog has been her “puppy friend” for a long time.

We never knew if it was a boy or a girl. We never knew its name. It has been a mystery for some time. Not any more!

Yesterday, as we were walking, her puppy friend was out in the middle of the yard soaking up the sun.

Ella asked to get out of the stroller so she could go up to the fence to say hello. She stood there saying, “Hi Puppy! Come here, Puppy!” The back door of the house opened and a young guy peaked his head out and said, “That’s Louie! He’s too old to be doing a lot of walking. He’ll be ten years old this week.”

I told the guy we had wondered what his name was and were glad to finally know it. Ella must have said, “He’s Louie!” about 40 times and “Hi, Louie!” another 40 times. She was thrilled (as was I) to finally know his name!

We took a family walk this evening when I woke up and got to see Louie again. I think I’m going to go to the store and buy a box of dog treats and a birthday card and have Ella hand deliver it to Louie’s owner for his birthday. That dog has brought many smiles to our walks and “10” is a special birthday!

My Heart is Full

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading.