The Last Year Has Been One-derful

When I get home in the morning, my little girl will be two years old. My wife probably didn’t intend on making me cry, but she sent me a picture of her sleeping in her crib with the message “Last picture as a 1 year old,” but she did.

I wish I had taken the day off tomorrow. I didn’t because I had to save my PTO time for a surgery I am having this month. I want to spend the entire day with her. I want to celebrate HER! Sadly, I have to work tomorrow night, so I will probably miss most of her day.

As I look back over the last year, it is amazing to see how much she has grown and just how far she has come. Some highlights:

  • First birthday at the Sea Life Aquarium
  • Amazing professional First Birthday/Cake Smash photoshoot
  • First haircut with Miss Sherry
  • Family Easter Egg hunt
  • Finding out she was going to be a big sister
  • First time eating corn on the cob
  • First time bowling (with big brothers)
  • Family visit to the Detroit and Saginaw Zoos
  • First trip to the library
  • Drawing her first picture
  • Daddy/Daughter picnic
  • First surgery – ear tubes
  • Outside adventures (trampoline fun, walks around the neighborhood, sidewalk chalk drawings, sandbox fun, visits to the park, playing on the splashpad, swimming in her kiddie pool, playing in leaf piles, sledding and making snow angels)
  • Arrival of Little Brother and official promotion to Big Sister
  • Family visit with Santa at Cabella’s
  • Daddy/Daughter trip to Bronners to buy the annual Christmas ornament
  • Visits from Aunt Margaret, Cousin Marissa, Papa and Grandma, Uncle Chris, and so many others.

What a One-derful year it has been!

The “terrible twos” don’t scare me. I just hope that time slows down a bit.

Yesterday, I kissed my one year old for the last time. When I get home in the morning, I will kiss my two year old for the first time. I can’t wait to see her….

2021 – What a Year!

At midnight tonight, we’ll start a brand new year – 2022. Some have compared a new year to a book. The book with 365 blank pages – one for each day – and said that the book is ours to write. There is truth to that.

As I looked back over my “book” entitled “2021,” I see that (despite the pandemic and all the crap that came with it) I really did have a good year. Bear with me, he’s the recap:

January

January started with some snow. It actually looks like we should be getting snow again this week. Ella absolutely loved being outside in the snow. It was fun to watch her try to figure out just what all the white stuff was. Today, when she sees it, she get’s excited and yells, “Snow! Snow!”

In mid-January, we scratched our heads and wondered just how Ella was 11 months old! I mean, it seemed like she was just born!

The pressure was on as we closed in on her first birthday. With Covid, we weren’t quite sure if we’d even be able to have a party for her.

February

As we got closer to Ella’s birthday, Sam was just not feeling right. 3 days before Ella’s birthday, we found out that baby #2 was on the way!

This took us both completely by surprise! There was great excitement all over again. The hardest part was keeping it a secret…

Ella’s first birthday was a fun and busy day. We ditched the pink blocks and marked the birthday with a HUGE number “1” balloon. This was followed by a trip to the Sea Life Aquarium, the Build a Bear place, and cake at Nana’s house.

We were glad to be able to get some professional “1st Birthday” pictures, too!

March

In March we got our first look at the baby we now know as Andrew/AJ and announced Ella’s promotion to big sister.

Ella also got her first haircut

March also consisted of many walks around the neighborhood and stops at the park.

April

Big brother, Dante’ turned 19 this month! Before that, Easter fell on my mom’s birthday. We got Ella all dressed up in her Easter dress, stopped at the cemetery to visit grandma on her birthday and then went to Nana’s for an Easter Egg hunt!

Ella is so very blessed to have wonderful people in her life. Aunt Margaret is one of them! (She will kill me for posting this picture, but I just love this!!) She and cousin Marissa came to visit and the highlight was watching them read books together.

We also found out the baby’s gender, but that wouldn’t be revealed until May.

May

Birthday’s have never really bothered me, mostly because I opt for the Jack Benny attitude and say that I am stuck at 39. However, in reality I turned 51. 30 was big. 40 was tough. 50 a bit hard to swallow. Over 50? Well…..I examine my own mortality every day.

The month started warm enough that Ella got to spend lots of time in her sandbox and pool.

We revealed that Ella was having a baby brother and got another look at him on an ultrasound.

Ella and I worked on a special project for Sam for Mother’s Day and we got to visit the Detroit Zoo.

May also brought Ella her first taste of corn on the cob!

June

My second oldest boy celebrated his 14th birthday in June. We got to spend Father’s Day together by visiting Crossroads Village. They had a Classic Car Show there and we walked the village and rode the train. It was such a great day with my kids!

It was SO hot that day!!! By the end of it all, Ella was physically exhausted. June was a hot month and we did get to get out and enjoy walks in the park and a day at the splash pad.

July

By July, Sam was 5 months pregnant and was so sick. The pregnancy was a rough one on her. The heat didn’t help things. Despite that, the middle of summer was packed full of amazing things and our family had loads of fun.

We celebrated America’s Birthday, Ella had her first visit to the public library and bowled for the first time, and we all visited the Saginaw Children’s Zoo.

August

As Summer drew to a close, we continued to squeeze as much into it as we could. I got to spend a perfect day doing a daddy daughter picnic, my name was finally on the board at the Corner Cone for a free ice cream, Ella spent lots of time drawing with crayons, and our stress levels were through the roof as we took Ella in for her ear tube surgery. We also got another peak at AJ and had a visit from my brother.

September

Fall! My favorite season of all. I was glad to be able to get together with Margaret, Walt and my buddy Chris at Margaret’s house. Since she’s already mad at the one picture I posted, I’ll just share the one she told me I could share. Hopefully, that makes things a little better….

We always love going to get pumpkins and decorating the front of the house for fall. Ella seemed to like it, too.

Ella and I also got to take one last trip to the Saginaw Zoo before it closed for the season. It was a great day for us, and Sam actually got to relax a bit.

October

We had been told more than once that there was a possibility that the baby would come before his due date. He held out almost until the date! Just two days before he was born, Ella and I got to go outside and enjoy the fall colors.

On October 11th, AJ entered the world. I watched in awe as my son was born and all the pride of being a daddy again filled my soul. We weren’t sure how Ella would handle it, but she welcomed him with open arms.

They still did not have a photographer at the hospital, so we went to JC Penney to have some newborn pictures taken. AJ looks spiffy in his outfit!

While this wasn’t Ella’s first Halloween, it was the first real Trick or Treating adventure for her. She was happy that big brother was there to walk with her. AJ was obviously way too young to attempt to go out this year.

November

Fall walks are among my favorites. I love looking at the colors. Ella and I took many fall walks and there were many instances where she’d just play in a pile of leaves! AJ kept us all busy and so it was just Ella and I making the trip to Bronner’s to get his ornament for the Christmas tree. We enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving at home and got the house ready for Christmas.

December

The final month of the year brought many happy memories. Professional Christmas pictures, my annual reading of Dickens, AJ turned 2 months old, a visit from Papa and Grandma, Christmas Eve with my boys, Holiday lights at Crossroads, our first Christmas as a family of four, and the anticipation of a brand new year.

Blog highlights included my entries to the 2021 Song Draft, salutes to Soupy Sales, my grandpa, and Ernie Harwell, a guest blog from my pal Max, silly blogs about hats and Bernie Sanders’ mittens, fishing memories, my favorite Twilight Zone episodes, and a blog about an amazing cartoon Dog Dad.

There were many sad moments in 2021. I lost classmates and friends to cancer, heart disease, and of course, Covid. If the past two years have taught me anything, it is that life is precious and another day is not promised. You never know when it will be the “last picture,” the “last phone call,” or the “last visit.” It takes me make to that quote that my band director wrote on the grease board my senior year. I have quoted it many times. “Live every day as if it were your last. Someday, you’ll be right.”

Life is too short. Live. Laugh. Love.

As we welcome 2022, I pray that it is a good year for all of us. May we find it full of happiness and good health. May God bless you and yours in the upcoming year.

Get ready. The Book of 2022 awaits. Grab your pen and turn to page (January) 1.

Happy 1st Birthday, Ella

My wife made the observation that last night we laid our 11 month old daughter down to bed for the last time. She woke up a one year old! She’s no longer our baby. She’s our toddler! My wife also noted that today she realized the truth in the old saying “The days are long, but the years are short.” It is hard to believe that it has been a year, already!

I posted this picture on Facebook today, and it is truly amazing to see how much she has changed and grown in a year.

Sam’s Facebook post really nailed it on the head:

“Ella, you are so strong willed. You are mischievous. You are bold and fearless. You are not afraid of new things or new people. It is even safe to say that you are boisterous and loud. You are already speaking up a storm. You are inquisitive. The only time you are quiet and still is when you are observing or are asleep. You are always alert – your eyes don’t stop moving and your head turns at every new noise. All it takes is watching someone do something and you are right there to copy it and do it by yourself. Ella, Keep being you! Because that is who we love dearly!”

One thing Sam and I chuckled about today was how easy the “monthly” pictures of Ella used to be to take. We could just lay her in the crib and snap a few. She is SO busy now, it is hard to get her to sit still for them! We were able to nab a couple this morning before heading out to celebrate.

Love her oufit – Miss One-Derful!

One of the hardest things to deal with over the past year has been Covid. Because of it, we spent most of our time at home. So many people STILL haven’t had the chance to meet Ella. Quarantine babies (and kids in general) have really had it difficult. The malls may be open, but the playscapes are closed. Playgrounds at the parks have been closed. Many of the interactive stuff at children’s museums are closed. There was NO WHERE to take her except on walks through the neighborhood and occasionally playing outside.

We decided to take her to the Sea Life Aquarium about an hour from us. Legoland is also there, but we figured we’d do something that didn’t require too much “touching.” We were the first in line and got to walk through the aquarium and look at all the cool fish and sea life. She really enjoyed it. There were a lot of fish to observe and the lighting inside was very cool. There was even a place where she could reach in and touch some of the sea life. It took about a half hour to go through, and she really loved it.

We walked the mall for a little bit after the aquarium visit and remembered that they have a Build A Bear there. For your birthday, you get to chose a bear and you pay whatever your age is. She she picked a bear, picked a heart to put in the bear, and walked out with a new stuffed friend for just $1.00! I have a feeling we’ll go back and get a birthday outfit for the bear in the future. For now, she seems pretty content with her new buddy.

Later this afternoon, our plans changed a bit. We were going to have cake here at the house, but we ended up going to Sam’s mom and dad’s for pizza and cake. Yes, I got emotional as I took pictures and everyone sang “Happy Birthday.” I think we all hoped that she would just rip into her cake, but she was rather reserved. She picked frosting off and ate that mostly. Someone eventually gave her a spoon and I think she ate a little cake, but it was mostly frosting. By the time she was done, she had as much frosting on her as the cake did.

It really was a perfect day.

So now, before I close, I need to say something to my baby girl:

My sweet Ella Bella –

Today, you turned one year old. Mommy and I have enjoyed every second of your life. We have watched you grow up so fast! It really seems like yesterday that we were waiting for you to arrive. Now, you are walking and saying words. In the past year, you have brought us so much joy and happiness.

I’m sure that you think daddy’s phone is always ready to take pictures of you, and you’re probably right. You very well may be the baby with the most pictures on Facebook! You have been a bright light in a very dark and scary time, sweetheart. A pandemic, political nonsense, violence, and hatred were prominent throughout the world during your first year. However, your smiling face brought smiles to so many people. I guess daddy thought I might be overdoing it with all the pictures of you I kept posting. You have no idea how many people have told me how YOU helped them get through these tough times! Your smile brought smiles. Thanks to social media, people you have never even met are watching you grow up, and smiling at the new things you are doing. You are loved by more people than you can imagine!! There is something extra special and magical about you. Your personality is one that brings happiness to everyone.

You are our miracle baby. There will never be enough words for me to tell you just how much I love you. I only wish that everyone could experience the joy that I feel when I walk into the house after work and you see me and scream with delight that “daddy is home!” I wish everyone would experience the thrill that I get when you wake up and I walk into your room to get you and you smile at me as you reach for me to pick you up.

Mommy and I were going back through pictures of you over the past year, and it is amazing to see how fast you have grown. With each picture, we relieved special moments and milestones. We laughed and cried. We thanked God for sending you to us. A year’s worth of memories and this is only the beginning. There will be many more milestones. There will be countless new things for you to learn. You will continue to be an amazing little girl. Mommy and daddy will be there every step of the way, cheering you on in whatever you do! We will help you accomplish what your heart desires.

We have so much to celebrate today, and there will be much more to celebrate in the future. Thank you for being my little love bug. Thank you for making daddy feel so loved. YOU are special and I love you so very much.

Happy First Birthday, Ella. May God continue to bless you today and always.

Love you forever –

Daddy.