Busy Weekend

The “baby watch” was definitely on this weekend. A week ago Thursday Sam’s doc thought she’d go into labor by that Sunday. This past Thursday, her blood pressure was high and she was told to rest. Her doc was on call last weekend, so he said to come to the hospital this weekend if “conditions were right.”

Saturday, I woke up and Sam was having some contractions, so we kept watching and waiting. Nothing. Sunday, same thing. Sunday night, she had to work. I thought for sure that I’d be getting a call from her in the middle of the night. I had her bag, my bag, and everything we’d need to take to the hospital at the door – ready – just in case. Nothing.

So we enter another week and we continue to be on edge!

They say that walking helps bring on labor, so we went to one of the nurseries this weekend and picked up a few mums and fall decorations for the porch. Ella loves the pumpkins and has been crawling up on the hay bales to watch cars go by.

Monday turned out to be a nice day. Ella has so much energy, but I’m just not comfortable taking her to the mall or the store yet. Sam suggested I take her to the zoo. There is a small zoo just north of us that is perfect for kids. There are plenty of animals to see and you can be through it in an hour or so. They have a carousel and train that she can ride on, too.

We got there just after it opened, and while there were some other people there, it felt like we had the whole zoo to ourselves. I brought the stroller, but she walked most of the time we were there. The highlight for her (and me) was the otter exhibit. There was this one otter who must have saw us coming. Once we were in front of the window, he jumped in the water and began swimming around in front of her. She was giggling so loud.

Monday was National Sons Day. I am certainly blessed to have to fine boys (and another on the way). My oldest is gearing up to start college in the winter and my youngest is enjoying the beginnings of his freshman year. I am proud of all that they have accomplished and look forward to the things they will do in the future! I’m truly a lucky man to have such wonderful kids!

Birthday Recap

On Saturday, I celebrated birthday 51. I worked the night before, so I came home and literally went to bed. Sam and I had plans, so I wanted to get some sleep before we left.

Even before the clock struck midnight, my Facebook was blowing up with countless birthday wishes. When I woke up, there were over 300 wishes and more continued throughout the day. I always joke that without Facebook I might not remember somebody’s birthday. Remember when we used to put them on a calendar and actually made a phone call or sent a card to someone? Not that it bothers me, it is nice to be remembered.

Anyway, Friday night, my coworkers helped me celebrate with home made brownies and cannoli from my favorite Italian bakery (Tringali’s). Another co-worker bought me an instant ticket and it actually was a winner, which never happens. It wasn’t the $500,000, but enough to buy another lottery ticket…

Visit to the Zoo

Ella’s first trip to the Detroit Zoo. Had to get a picture by the famous fountain.

For Ella’s birthday, Aunt Margaret got her a year membership to the Detroit Zoo. The weather was going to be perfect, so we decided that we’d celebrate both our birthdays there! We almost weren’t able to go, because you have to reserve tickets in advance. There were only two times available on Saturday and I took the first available, which was 4:30pm. That only gave us an hour and a half to walk the zoo.

It actually worked out perfectly. We didn’t stand in line for the kangaroos (it was quite long), and we didn’t do the reptile house. Instead, we walked and saw the animals that were outside. We saw lions, tigers, giraffes, rhinos, monkeys, and the polar bear. Sadly, the penguin exhibit is closed for remodeling and the otters were off sleeping somewhere (those are Sam and my favorite animals).

Doesn’t that tiger look real?!

Every so often, we’d take Ella out of her stroller and tried to get her to walk with us. We tried holding her hand, but it wasn’t gonna happen. As soon as her feet hit the pavement, she was off like a shot! She was running everywhere. She was so excited to see other kids and other people. She just wanted to roam around! We got our exercise in chasing her around the zoo!

Sam had asked me what I wanted to do for dinner earlier in the week. Our favorite steak house is almost impossible to order a carry out from these days, so I thought we’d try Mexican food. After a few attempts, and getting a busy signal, I was at a loss. Then Sam reminded me of the Roadhouse up the street from us. They have the best burgers! That actually sounded really good, and I was excited to order. Sam was craving nachos, so she got an order from there (it probably could have fed 4 people – that thing was huge!). The burger itself was a treat, but I also decided that I’d splurge and get an order of fried pickles! Yummy!!!

Ella was exhausted by the time we got home and pretty much went straight to bed. Earlier in the day, she helped Sam make my birthday cake. She cracked the eggs and helped mix it all up. Because she went to bed, we never really got to sing Happy Birthday and I didn’t get to blow out the candles and make a wish. However, my wish had already come true that day – I got to spend my day with my two favorite girls!!

I Otter Write a Book…..

I love to read to Ella. She has so many great books. The book above is one that I bought for her and it is full of animal puns. I know that I bought it because I love otters, and hope she loves them, too.


One thing I have often thought about is writing a children’s book. As I read book after book and rhyme after rhyme, I often wonder if I missed my calling. I was always the one that the boys came to when they needed a poem for school. Every year for his birthday, I used to write a long poem for my former brother-in-law. Just recently, when DMX died, I let my radio pal, Johnny know with the following:

“Listen up, Homey! Don’t look back. Rapper DMX is dead of a heart attack. His words were nasty, and his clothes were nifty. He is now no more – he was only fifty. Word!”

Stupid? Yes. It took me all of 3 minutes to jot that down. I have used rhyming and poetry often and with a little thought, I’m sure I could come up with an idea for a children’s book. I can rhyme just like those authors. I am sure I could come up with something. I mean, some of the books don’t even need to rhyme. The books I really don’t like reading to Ella are the ones that are just one word on a page or picture books (though I understand how those can be good to teach kids things).

Just for the hell of it I looked up “kids books about otters” in Google. There were about 50 of them that came up at once.

Would kids be interested in the Adventures of Otto the Otter? Maybe. Would they sing along with the songs of Ollie the Otter? I don’t know. Could they learn colors and shapes with Oscar the Otter? Perhaps.

I don’t know the first thing about writing a book, let alone having someone illustrate it! That seems to be the way it works – someone writes it and someone else draws all the pictures. Even if I did that, I wouldn’t have a clue about how to publish it and do it in such a way that it actually made a little money! Just another pipe dream…..

Maybe one day……

Part III – To the Aisle

One year ago, March 19, 2018, Sam and I were married. In the last 365 days, I have been blessed with the most wonderful partner! We have had some really amazing moments and our love for each other continues to grow with each passing day. After she said yes to my proposal, we began to plan the wedding. The plans that led up to it, changed quite often, as you will see.

We began to search for venues to host the event. We found a couple of really neat places. One of them was up in Clair. It was a very rustic looking hall and we thought we might do the ceremony and reception there. It would be a little hike for family and friends, and we took that into consideration. There was another place that looked nice too, it was small and they had packages were we could do a ceremony and brunch afterward. Then we looked at a barn which was also very nice. I have DJ’d a few “barn weddings” and they are always very nice. We both liked the idea of the “rustic” look.

We then began to plan a vacation for the two of us. We were talking about a trip to Florida. Sam had never been to a Detroit Tiger game and I had never been to Spring Training. We kind of built the trip around Spring Training. As we were doing this, the thought of getting married in Florida became something we talked more and more about. We would, of course, tell our folks. The original plan was to get married in Florida, and then come home and have a big back yard party. We would invite all of our friends and family, and at the party, we’d let everyone know we had gotten married. We planned to “renew” our vows again in front of everyone. I had a buddy of mine ready to DJ for us and everything. Due to circumstances beyond our control, we were unable to do that.

I am, however, getting ahead of myself. Let me back track a bit. Once we decided to get married in Florida, we had to research all that needed to be done to be sure we were ready when we got there. We found out that in Florida, there were certain things that we had to do. One of those things was a pre-marriage class. We were able to do it online and we both found it very interesting and beneficial. We learned a lot more about each other and found we had things in common that hadn’t come up prior to this. Once we finished the class, we printed off our Certificates of Completion and filed them in our “Florida” folder.

Burma Shave

As I have mentioned in the previous blogs, Sam and I met because of the Sleep Program at Baker College. Two of the instructors, Christine and Michele, were instrumental in our getting together. No, they didn’t hook us up or anything like that. They did, however, suggest me as a tutor, which ultimately led to Sam and I becoming friends – and more. The entire time we had been dating, we kept it from them. At one point, one of them even told Sam that I “wasn’t her type”.

When we knew what the plan was, and knowing what key roles they both played in our getting together, we decided that they would be the first ones to know. We tried to think of a cool way to tell them and I came up with one. We’d be leaving for Florida on a Thursday. We’d arrive on Friday and planned on getting married Monday afternoon at the county courthouse. Each day they’d get an “update” from us in the style of Burma Shave signs.

For those who may not know what I am talking about Burma Shave was a cream that was used for shaving. They used to have poems along stretches of highways, including the world famous Route 66. As you drove you’d see the first line – then the next one – the next one – and so on. Here is a picture of what some of them looked like:

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They were very popular.

So, I wrote a little poem for each day, detailing our day’s events. In re-reading them in the messages we sent to Christine and Michele, I laughed and felt that they would be perfect for this blog. The only poem I actually sat and thought about was the one for when we had gotten hitched. The rest were written on the fly in a matter of minutes. The last one was really the one I put a lot of time into.

What I love about them is that they are really generic and in no way, shape, or form tip them off on anything until the final poem. I wrote to Christine and Michele the day before we left “Over the next 7 days – Sam and I have decided to treat you both to odes about our trip. I am sure that you will enjoy them, laugh and smile.” I hope you do as well.

Thursday, March 15th.

We left right after I got home from my midnight shift. Sam drove while I slept and then we switched off. Once we got in the car I sent this to Christine and Michele:

“As we drive, I’ve got nothing but time. Be prepared for a week full of rhyme. Nobody talks this way – it’s kind of dumb. Who the hell cares, Florida here we come!”

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Friday, March 16

“We have arrived all safe and sound. We see the palm trees lining the ground. 170 more miles to where we will stay. It feels damn good to be away. So here we go with day number one. We’re happy to be in the Florida sun.”

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We arrived at our hotel and we were pretty tired after that long drive! We did get the chance to relax a bit out by the pool. We relaxed and rested up for the remainder of the night. We were so tired, we spent our first evening having pizza delivered and eating it in bed.

Saturday, March 17

“The windows are down and we feel the breeze, as we drove past rows of palm trees. We headed out to Disney Springs and shopped. If I didn’t have her hand, Sam would never have stopped. Now it is off to enjoy a nice steak. We hope you enjoy these posts from our break.”

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We spent the day in Disney Springs and it was a lot of fun. I had no idea this place even existed. There were lots of things to see and I enjoyed some of the great stores, including the Lego store. Because of the reference to the steak, this must have been the night we went to Outback Steakhouse where a couple gave us a free “bloomin’ onion”!

Sunday, March 18

“Day three finds us among the beachers. Yet, here we sit thinking of our favorite teachers. I am wondering if Sam will ever learn, to wear sunscreen so she will not burn. I, too, worry about getting to red. Especially on the top of my head. The best rhyme is yet to come. We promise to tell you tomorrow by one.”

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We spent the day at St. Pete’s beach. It was truly an amazing day. What a joy to sit in the sun and talk to each other. We did indeed get sunburned. Sam was very red by the time we left the beach. We were both hurting a bit the next day. When we got back to the hotel, we sent one more poem.

“Are you sick of my poems I send you each day? I really hope not, there are more on the way. I’ll send you one more before your next class. Until then we’re getting sand out of our ass”.

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After we went to the beach, we came back to our hotel and asked about good local places to eat. The hotel recommended a tremendous Mexican restaurant. It was called Tapatio’s. We almost went somewhere else because the place was packed. I am glad we stayed because not only was the food delicious, they had a mariachi band that was playing while we were there. They were a lot of fun and they interacted with the customers and took requests. It was one of many great highlights!

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Monday, March 19 – Wedding Day.

We woke up very excited. I had never been more sure of anything in my life! We dressed and got ready to leave the hotel to head to the courthouse. I wore a maroon shirt and tie, and Sam had a beautiful white dress that she bought for the occasion. Sam is NOT a dress person at all, but we both wanted to dress up and make sure to get pictures at the courthouse.

There were a few people there before us. We filled out all of the appropriate paperwork and were asked if we wanted to get married there at the desk or in the back where they had a room they performed ceremonies. We chose to go to the back. They had a beautiful archway that we stood under. It was just Sam, me, and our officiant. It was a truly special moment. It was intimate and emotional. When we were pronounced man and wife, my heart was filled with a joy I cannot describe. I replay that first kiss over and over in my mind – it was so awesome.

Once we were “official”, we took our picture outside the courthouse with our marriage certificate. It was then time to send the final poem.

“Waking up to vacation day four, you asked for poems – get ready for more. We’ve posted some pics and lots of tags – time now to let the cat out of the bag. Sometimes a secret is very hard to keep. By the end of this rhyme we hope you don’t weep. Let me take a minute to calm all your fears. If you do cry, they will only be happy tears. ‘Happy’ is what you want us to be. That’s what we are, you can take it from me. Our trip to Florida will be over all too soon. But it’s not only a trip – it’s a honeymoon. I asked Sam way back in the fall, now this is where you may start to bawl. Remember when you said I wasn’t her type? Maybe you just got caught up in the hype. Did you see this coming? Probably not. Three more verses – that’s all I’ve got. It’s because of you two that both of us met, and no she’s not pregnant … at least not yet! We wish you were here, even though it might rain. Then we would have the entire “Collective Brain”! Today, I married the love of my life. She made me her husband, and I made her my wife!”

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We truly caught both of them by surprise! Both of them had no idea. We were able to keep the secret from a lot of people, but Christine and Michele were certainly the hardest to keep it from! We talked to them both so often, so many times we almost slipped about wedding plans, marriage classes, the proposal, and more! It was a relief to finally let them in on it – and to thank them for playing such a BIG role in our being together!! The love that we felt from both of them that day was just amazing! For me, it was extra special. Both of them had been such great friends and helped me through some of those very dark days. To have them rejoice for us – well, that just made the moment even more special.

We celebrated our wedding with a delicious steak dinner at the Texas Cattle Company. The food was truly amazing. We were gearing up for the Spring Training game the following day, so it was cool to see that they had Al Kaline and Willie Horton jerseys hanging inside the restaurant.

“Eagle Eye Hope”

There was one picture from early on in the trip that had people talking. The day we went to Disney Springs, Sam and I went to the Coca-Cola Store. They had the opportunity to get pictures taken with the Coke Polar Bear. I talked Sam into doing it and we are hugging the Polar Bear. Without realizing it, Sam’s left hand was front and center in the picture. She was wearing her engagement ring in it. Some of of friends noticed and starting talking among themselves and wondered what the deal was. One of our friends, Hope, who never holds back came right and and asked. She had taken a screen shot of the picture and circled Sam’s hand in bright yellow and sent it to me with the following “What’s with the ring on Sam’s finger??”

I responded by simply saying, “Of all of our friends – YOU would be the one to notice that!” Her reply was priceless: “OH MY GOD – Are you serious?!” She then told us she was crying she was so happy, and followed it with recorded voice messages of her crying and telling us how happy she was for us! All of this happened before we were even married. She messaged me the day before we got married. We eventually had to call her and listen to her cry. In all honesty, she’s probably gonna kill me because I shared this, but I want her to know that knowing how happy she was for us was one of many highlights of our trip!

Tuesday, March 20 – The Honeymoon Begins

We were both extremely excited to visit Joker Merchant Stadium. Of the entire trip, this was the only day that had called for rain. Prior to game time, it had rained a bit. As we arrived at the stadium, it was sprinkling and I was worried the game might happen. It cleared up and the game went on. I can’t recall for sure, but there was a big cloud burst around the 8th inning that had people scattering, and the heavy stuff didn’t happen until we were walking – well, running – to our car after the game.

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Because of the rain, I didn’t really get a good pic of the stadium. I went back the following day to get it, which explains the sunshine. One of the great things about our seats, was that we were right on the first base line and Miguel Cabrera was literally right in front of us. He is one of my favorite players and it was neat to watch him play.

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Wednesday, March 21

The last big thing we did while in Florida, was visit the Florida Aquarium. Sam loves penguins, and so I made sure that we also go to go back for the “Penguin Experience” We got to hold the penguins, and take pictures with them, and to see the smile on Sam’s face, it was worth every penny. She was in heaven. I was so happy I could make that happen for her.

We also took a Dolphin Cruise. It was very windy and they actually cancelled the rest of the cruises after ours was done. We did get to see some dolphins and we also got to see Tampa from all around the bay. One of my favorite souvenirs from the trip is the “otter” coffee mug I got from the aquarium. Every time I pour myself a cup of coffee in it, I am reminded of this very special day.

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Thursday, March 22 – Homeward Bound

Our trip was truly one that will never be forgotten. We left the state of Florida a married couple looking ahead to the future and our new life together. Little things that we had done hundreds of times before suddenly took on new meaning – holding hands in the car, kissing each other goodnight, etc… I don’t know how to explain it, but they meant more now that Sam and I were married.

The “Unfinished Song”

The morning after we arrived home, I woke from a dream. In the dream I heard a song. I had the melody, but never recorded it on my phone so I wouldn’t forget it. My fault. I did, however, write down the words I remembered. I had hoped that when we had our backyard party, I could play or sing this for Sam. She’s never seen this, and I never found the time to write any more to it.

They say that you find love when you least expect you will

That love can cure depression better than a pill.

I never really thought about it, but I believe it’s true

I’ve never felt this happiness, now I do because of you.

The Chorus I wrote, and the melody I forgot was this:

Only you can make me smile by standing by my side

Only you can make me feel these things way down deep inside

I never thought I could love like this before

But each and every day you make me want you more.

Is it a hit? Probably not. One day I should finish it, huh?

Looking back at 365 Days …

Over the past year, Sam and I have share some very special moments. We’ve taken road trips to Kentucky (to visit family), Tennessee (for a boat ride at the Opryland Hotel), Clare (to visit friends and grab a hamburger at the coolest hamburger joint), and Caseville (to revisit my childhood vacation spots). We enjoyed on stage performances of Wicked and Phantom of the Opera. We’ve had family fun at the Sloan Museum Dinosaur exhibit, the Saginaw Zoo, and a Great Lakes Loons baseball game. We hosted our annual 4th of July party (which was almost when we had our backyard wedding bash), and our first family Thanksgiving. We all went and took part in Beaumont Lights over the holidays and we added two silly cats (Moe and Maizey) to our lives.

The time I have spent with Sam is time that I treasure. She is on my mind from the moment I leave home until the moment I come home to her. She has been an constant support. Her love for me is something like I have never experienced. She is such a positive person and rejects negativity. She has brought about a change in me that has only made me strive to be a better man, a better father, a better husband, and a better friend. I do not have to pretend to be someone I am not. I am free to be myself and she loves me for all of my little quirks and more. She will send me texts that can bring me to tears because they come at a time when I least expect them, but really need them. She encourages me in ways that I cannot describe. She is a source of constant joy.

I have been blessed more than any man could imagine. From out of darkness came this woman who brought light. She brought friendship, she brought companionship, she brought love, and she brought bliss. I feel this complete contentment, joyfulness, exhilaration, ecstasy, and delight when I am with her. I thank God each and every day for the opportunity to love her and to be loved by her.

Happy first anniversary, Sam. There are not enough words for me to express all that you mean to me. I hope and pray to always be the man you need me to be. I once again promise to love you today, and for each day that follows for the rest of our “happily ever after”.

Thank you for being you. I love you.

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