A Busy (and Painful) Weekend

Saturday

Saturday morning, I came home from work and went right to bed. Sam and I had plans to celebrate our anniversary this weekend. Originally, I was going to take her to an amazing Italian place in Troy (about and hour and 15 minutes from our house). After some discussion, we decided that since it was really the only day we had together, and I was going to sleep for part of it, that we should grab dinner somewhere closer. We decided on Outback Steakhouse. Now, Outback was the ONLY chain restaurant we ate at in Florida when we got married. We picked Outback for that reason, and because it was close to a few places we wanted to go to while we were out.

This was the first time we have been out to eat in a restaurant since all the Covid stuff. They did a good job of spreading everyone out. It has been so long since we were out, it was almost awkward. It was nice to have dinner together. It’s really amazing how something so trivial can mean so much. I will never take those little moments for granted….

After we ate, we decided to walk through Barnes and Noble. Ella loves books, so we looked through the various kid books and picked up a new book for her. She loves the Jimmy Fallon books (Your Baby’s First Word Will Be Dada, and Everything is Mama), and Sam found one called “This Is Baby” (which she loves just as much!). I picked up a book for me, too. It was my anniversary present from Sam. She had asked what I wanted and I told her to just get me a gift card. Instead, she went with me and I got to pick out what I wanted (More on that in a few).

With baby #2 on the way, we wanted to stop at Target to see what the double strollers looked like. I never in a million years would have guessed that I would be looking at double strollers! Anyway, they only had one there to look at, which I thought was odd. Sam is all about online shopping, but she’d like to at least see the thing before we buy it. Since they didn’t really have any, we decided to look in the toy aisle for a few things. We bumped into one of our sleep teachers, Angie, and her husband there. It’s been forever since I saw her, and we were just talking about finding a day to get together for coffee. They were out getting presents for grandbabies.

The world had changed. Normally, when I run into someone I know I offer a handshake or hug them. Here we were, all wearing masks, and kind of standing our 6 feet apart. We chatted for a while and then we had to get going because we needed to go pick up Ella from Nana’s house. This is where is was crazy awkward for me … I wanted to reach out and shake Dave’s hand and give Angie a hug, but instead it was kind of a “well….ok…..good to see you …. take care…..so long…” thing. It just didn’t seem right walking away like that. I dislike the new “normal!”

Sunday

Sunday was extra busy! We all got up and had chocolate chip pancakes. Afterward, Sam and I compiled the grocery list and I ventured out to Meijer. I always seem to have to go back to an aisle because I either walked right by something OR I didn’t see it on the list until almost the end of the trip. Ella napped while I was shopping and woke up as I was bringing in the groceries.

The weather was just beautiful. I think it was like 65 degrees. We had bought Ella one of those Cozy Coupe cars with the intention of giving it to her for Easter, but decided that the weather was so nice, we should give it to her Sunday. I’m not sure why, but I thought that it literally just snapped together…..it doesn’t. I had to go get my drill, a screwdriver, and a hammer to put it together. At any rate, She really loved it and I got to push her around the neighborhood in it.

We spent the afternoon outside in her car, in the stroller, going down the slide, and running on the trampoline. Eventually, she started to yawn and I knew it was nap time. Once I laid her down, the real work began for me.

Despite my best attempt to tell Sam that the lights on the house were “Easter Lights,” I took down all the Christmas lights. I can’t complain, and I’m glad I finally had good weather to do it. This year I had strung some up high on the front porch, so I had to drag out the ladder to get to them.

Once I had the lights down, I took the totes back to the basement. While down there, like a typical guy, I noticed this huge plastic house that Sam had in the basement so our nieces could play in it. We had talked about bringing it outside and cleaning it up for Ella. So, while Sam slept for work, and Ella napped, I took it partially apart and brought it upstairs. I had measured it and figured I could get it outside no problem. I got it up the stairs, through the basement door and once at the side door – it had to really yank it out! It was SO snug! I was able to get it outside and get it washed and back together!

After I got it back together, I was back inside making dinner, so Sam had something to take to work.

Needless to say, I was in bed early that night!

My phone sent me a notification that night that said my “panoramic” photo was ready to view. I didn’t take any panoramic pictures while we were outside Sunday. However, my camera took two separate pictures and combined the two and put Ella in the picture twice! At first I thought it was weird, but after looking at it, I think it’s pretty cool!

Two for the price of one….

Monday

Another beautiful day, this time 70 degrees. It was windy, but that didn’t stop us from playing outside. More trips around the neighborhood in her car and in her stroller. Then we played in her house. I’m thinking we need to get a chair or something for her to put in there, because she walks in and really doesn’t know what to do in there.

A Good Read

The book I got for my anniversary is called “100 Bible Verses That Made America.” So far I am enjoying it. It is really amazing to see how people of the past used the Bible and the principles to help shape this country. The only issue I have with the book is that every time it quotes a Bible verse, it quotes it from the NIV version. The NIV version wasn’t even around until the 1970’s. To me, it would seem that they would have used the KJV to quote from. Whenever it quotes a verse, I just grab my KJV and read it from there. Still a very interesting and enlightening read.

A Real Pain in the … Back!

About two weeks ago, I was getting out of bed and kind of felt like my back was tight. Over the next few days, I started to feel like it was even in my hip. I’m really not sure what I did to it. It’s been bugging me and kind of annoying. I’ve taken ibuprofen and such, but it has been getting worse. Monday, I pushed Ella in that car around the neighborhood (which meant I was leaning a bit forward to push her). Then I walked another mile or so with her in the stroller. It felt good to get out and walk! I love walking, but by the time I got closer to home, I could feel like my hip was hurting more. Later, I was feeling pain when I sat on the floor to change diapers. When I got up from bed, I could hardly move and the pain was excruciating.

I had to make an appointment with my doc for a refill on my prescriptions, and I plan on asking her about it when I go in. In the meantime, I have to wait until Thursday morning and these are my friend ….

They don’t help a lot, but they do bring some relief. This morning, when I got up, I was tearing up from the pain. I was trying to load the dishwasher and could hardly bend down. Trying to get pants, socks and shoes on only brought about more pain. I’m gonna try to get in to the chiropractor, too. I’m really hoping it is nothing, but I tend to always think the worst.

I’m off to pop some more ibuprofen…..

Thanks for reading!

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:

burma-shave-sign-11

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!”

28907905_10160356693190195_488838979_n

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.”

29343211_10160368018435195_4362772633746966044_n

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.”

29004298_10160365931705195_1747514298_n

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.”

28943197_10160370371705195_1159918076_o

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”.

29134202_10160372576690195_206851489_n

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!

54257421_2410223032330662_2638148795023491072_n

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!”

received_10160444258095195~2

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.

28953858_10160386997885195_2663590574950620659_o

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.

28827504_10160381338700195_7127488976842899042_o

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.

28947362_10160387015145195_6002280482469795617_o

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.

ebdbc32b945658a431cb4d8fd42378f6

received_10160381577825195