Hodge Podge of Highlights

The past week has been fairly typical. Nothing too out of the ordinary for me. There have been some nice highlights, however.

Sunday, we got a little snow. Sam promised the kids that we could go out and play in it. So we all bundled up and went outside as the snow fell.

Andrew LOVES being outside in the snow. He is a lot like his sister at that age. He tends to just be in awe of the snow.

Ella wanted to build a snow “castle.” We grabbed one of her sandbox toys thinking we could make bricks, but the results weren’t so good, despite the fact that the snow was a bit wet.

We attempted to build a snowman, but Andrew kept tackling it or picking up the snowballs to throw. Ella was in the middle of the yard and said, “Let’s take a walk, daddy!” So we did.

Andrew held my hand for most of the walk, but occasionally wanted to run up to Ella. She was happy to see her puppy friend, Louie. He was out on the porch (waiting to be let back inside!). She was yelling, “Hello, Louie! Merry Christmas!” It really was a nice little walk.

On Tuesday morning, Ella had her third birthday pictures taken. She won’t be three until the 10th of next month, but we got her in at our photographer friend. Sam and Ella went out looking for a dress and she actually picked out the one she wanted pictures in.

Sam asked her if she wanted to take her Elsa dress that she got for Christmas for an outfit change. She said she wanted to wear the Belle dress that she wore for Halloween. We may have gotten more pictures in that dress. Urgh!

The area got hit with a good snow that started Tuesday Night and continued through the day on Wednesday. Sam had a physical on Wednesday morning. She had to drive in the snow there and I was driving home from work in it. I met her at the doctor and picked up the kids so they weren’t running around during her appointment.

When we got off the expressway, we were passing the row of restaurants and Ella says, “Daddy? I would like chicken nuggets and French fries. I chuckled and said, “Baby, it is 8:30 in the morning. I don’t think they have any made this early.” She paused for a minute and then blurted out, “Are you serious!? Are you kidding me?” It was hilarious.

Having to stay indoors can be boring for the kids. So we took the “nugget” (which you can see on the floor to Ella’s right in the picture above) and built a mountain for them to climb and play on. I tried to get some pictures of them playing on it and I snapped a cool one of Andrew.

I wish it wasn’t so blurry, but I love him jumping up on there!

They have been at each other’s throats all week. The sibling arguments have been plenty. My wife shared a fantastic photo of them, today. Proof that they really do love each other!

I finished The Word is Murder this week. I really enjoyed it. I timed it perfect as the library emailed me to let me know that the author’s Sherlock Holmes story, The House of Silk, was there for me to pick up.

I just started that tonight. I will let you know how it is.

Later today, I have a follow up with my doctor. Blood pressure check/Medication check/Weight check. I’ve tried to be careful, but I know I have gone over my points more than enough times. I know I have put back on some weight since the holidays. I really need to get back on track.

I hope you are having a great week! The weekend is almost here!

Pre-Holiday Weekend Wrap Up

It is hard to believe that we are just 4 days away from Christmas. Someone observed that time moves a whole lot faster in December if you are an adult. This is so true! As a kid, it seemed to crawl by as we waited for Christmas.

SNOW!

This weekend kept us pretty busy. We got about an inch of snow on Saturday night and when Ella woke up she saw the ground was covered. So after breakfast, the kids and I suited up in snow gear and went out to play in the yard.

It was fun to see Andrew all bundled up. He looked so funny trying to walk in his boots and snow pants. The snow wasn’t “snowman” ready, so we really couldn’t build one. But we did get to run around and throw snow at each other. He really had fun once he got over the “awe” of it. Ella? Well, she just loves to run and jump in the snow.

Cookie Time!

Our Elf on the Shelf, Twinkles, had the idea to decorate cookies this weekend.

She is obviously a Sam’s Club member!

The kids had a blast decorating them.

Ella had her “Bucket O Princesses” with her as she decorated hers. Andrew was eating them as fast as he decorated his …

Picnic

Yesterday, Ella wanted to have a picnic. So we put a blanket down in the living room, I whipped up some grilled cheese sandwiches, and they had a picnic.

Note the “Bucket O Princesses” are with her at lunch, too! LOL!

I probably should have thought about giving them applesauce pouches. That blanket needed a good wash after the picnic was over.

Say “Ahhhh”

This morning, when Sam got home, we had to take the kids to the dentist. Ella did ok, but there are things that she won’t let them do. Sam went back with her and I guess she started to freak out about getting an X-Ray. We will probably need to see a pediatric dentist who may be able to get her calm enough to get them. Andrew had no issues at all, He was a champ.

After our visit to the dentist, it was time for a visit to Santa. Ella was so excited to go see him. More on that in my next blog!

One Final Story

Last year my dad got us an Amazon Echo. You have to link it to an Amazon account, so I linked it to mine.

Sam and I decided that we were not getting each other anything for Christmas this year. I decided to get her something from the kids. So I took $20 I won on an instant lottery ticket and put it in the account I used for my DJ business (so she wouldn’t know) and ordered her something on Amazon.

She was standing by the fireplace yesterday where the Echo is yesterday. She see’s something that pops up on the screen.

She asks me, “What did you order from Amazon?”

“Nothing,” I said.

“According to the Alexa, you have something arriving Thursday that YOU ordered,” she says.

“Don’t worry about it!” I told her, hoping she would drop the subject.

She didn’t drop it and says, “We don’t have the money to spend. Did you put this on your credit card?”

“No. It’s not anything big. It’s something from the kids to you.” and I explained that it was from the lottery ticket money.

She finally drops the subject, until today.

“By the way, I know what you have coming from Amazon,” she slyly says.

I look at her flustered. “Every time I try to get you something as a surprise, something spoils it!”

She then says, “What made you think to get that?”

I don’t say anything. I told her to just act surprised when she unwraps in.

Then she laughs and says, “Yeah, I don’t know what it is. But I was hoping you would tell me by telling you I knew what it was!”

“Wife Trickery” at its finest!! Man, I almost told her what it was! Somehow I think she knows what it is anyway, but we’ll see.

Making Spirits Bright

I saw a thing on Facebook that made me laugh.  It said, “It only snows in November because people decorate early for Christmas.” Blame me if you wish, but we needed to brighten things up over this way! 

There has been a lot going on in my life, some of which I have shared and some I have kept to myself. We’re all processing a variety of emotions. With the passing of my sister-in-law, there is an extra bit of sadness. Like the song says, “We need a little Christmas!” So we decided to put up the Christmas tree this weekend.

The older the kids get, the more fun this becomes. Andrew was just a couple months old last year, so he was especially excited to see the tree and the lights. He and Ella both “helped” handing me lights. They were both extra giddy.

I had the lights plugged in as I walked around the tree with them. That way I could make sure they were placed evenly and all areas has the proper amount of lights.

Andrew, as you know, is everywhere. He gets into everything! So we debated waiting until closer to Christmas to put ornaments on the tree. We also debated not putting any on at all. We did decide to put the tree topper on, and Andrew was the perfect helper!

My dad commented on a picture of the tree on Facebook. He said he was taking bets on who was going to know the tree down – Ella, Andrew, or the cat! For the record, the cat has yet to get near the tree, which is really odd.

We brought up the baby gate and set it around the tree. It’s the “look, but don’t touch” gate. The kids can still touch it, but the probability of the tree coming down is a lot less.

I decided that certain ornaments had to go up on the tree. As ridiculous as it looks, all the ornaments are on the tree from about a foot higher than the top of the baby gate and up to the top. In total, there are maybe 12-20 ornaments on there.

Every year, we got to Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth to get an ornament that represents a big even from the year. We got one for our engagement, or marriage, the birth of both kids, etc. We went early this year and at the time, didn’t really have an “event” to get an ornament for. We opted instead for a plaque for the door with a snowman family on it.

When my sister-in-law, Grace, passed away I decided I was going to get Sam and her folks a memorial ornament for the tree. I had seen a few designs in the Bronner’s catalog, and chose this one.

I had hoped to save it until closer to Christmas to give it to Sam, but I can’t control my face. Let me explain.

I took the kids with me to Bronner’s on a day Sam was home sleeping. I kept the ornaments in my car so she wouldn’t see them. Then a day or two later, she was getting ready for work and said, “I was thinking about getting a Christmas ornament with Grace’s name on it for my mom.”

I must have stood there dumbfounded. My face obviously giving away that I had already done it. Instead of just saying, “That’s a great idea. We should do that.” I knew that she would just go and do it. So I walked out to the car and brought inside.

I’m glad it’s inside and I’m glad it is on the tree. Grace already has a special place in our hearts, and now she will have a special place on our tree every year.

If my tree being up brings snow your way, I’m sorry. We needed something help brighten the season, even if it is early.

Another thing I saw on Facebook this week said, “Don’t you just love it when the Christmas tree is the only light in the room?”

Yes. Yes, I do!

It’s Just Around The Corner

Spring!

I enjoy stupid puns. Every time someone says that spring is just around the corner, I think of the above picture!

Despite having a big snow a few days ago, the temperatures are rising and the snow has pretty much melted away. We actually got over 60 degrees today! When I left to go to work, I was pleasantly surprised at the temperature:

What a wonderful day to get out and enjoy! Of course, I had to sleep through most of it. It was nice to walk out of the bedroom to fresh air. Sam had the windows open in the house and there was a nice breeze in the living room.

On my way into work, it was very obvious to me that people were loving being outside! Just some of the things I witnessed as I drove in:

  • The park was crowded with parents and children.
  • Many people were walking their dogs.
  • Pairs of mom’s pushing kids in strollers and chatting with each other.
  • Two people playing catch at the park.
  • Extra long lines at the ice cream stand down the road.
  • Countless people walking without jackets.
  • Plenty of cars driving with Windows down.
  • People reading books while sitting on their front porch.

Earlier today, while I slept, Sam actually was able to get out the double stroller and she took her first run of the season. Ella already loves talking walks, but this was Andrew’s first jog through the neighborhood. Ella told me when I got up that she got to see her “puppy friend” (an old bassett hound we see on our walks).

I know I am excited for warmer weather! I love my walks with Ella and I’m sure Andrew will enjoy them, too!

I also know that I may be rushing things a bit. If I “uncrop” the temperature picture a little, and you take a good look at it, you will see that Old Man Winter isn’t quite done with us …

Stupid Snow!

I guess I just need to keep thinking positive and thinking spring!

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.

“Just Write”

I have been at a loss for what to write the past few weeks. I’m not sure if that is because I am busy with other things or if I’ve run out of things to talk about. Everything I read about blogging always says “Just write!” So here I am – writing.

I went through countless “writing prompts” and the ones for this month are all pretty lame: “Five things you like about yourself,” “Describe the view from your window,” and “What do you want more of.” I really don’t think that these are the kinds of things my readers what to read about. Do you really want to know what’s out my window? I mean, I’ll write about it if you really want to know…..but our house has a lot of windows!

Random thoughts

Recently, this blog hit 200 followers! The fact that I have even 50 followers amazes me! Thank you for deciding that my thoughts are worth reading. Please feel free to drop a note in the comments and let me know what you’d like to see more of. I am grateful for my old and new followers!

Coming up soon, I am happy to announce that one of my blogger friends has decided (after much begging by me) to write a guest blog (or two) on a subject that I have wanted to write about for some time. He is currently working on it and I will let you know when to expect it (and give more details) as we approach publishing it.

We recently celebrated President’s Day. Maybe I’m just old, but I actually remember when we celebrated both George Washington and Abe Lincoln’s birthdays separately. I may be remembering it wrong, but I could swear we had both days off school. Do you remember that? I guess I could Google it, but was it really necessary to combine the two days?

A month and a half into 2021 and I have been following a plan to read the entire Bible in a year. I have missed a day or two along the way, but I always make it up the following day. I am right on track. It has been a nice way to either start or end the day (depending on the day of the week). It is a mixture of Old and New Testament right now, which I like. I am noticing just how everything fits together. I also have a plan to read through all of the Apostle Paul’s epistles in a month, but have yet to start that. I hope to do that in March.

I think I read somewhere that half of the population of the United States was affected by the winter storms that came through this week! I know many folks in Nashville and in Texas who were without power and struggling. We got hit with something like 8 or 9 inches the other night and more accumulation tonight. Tuesday morning, my wife called me from the street and said that the snow was up to the windows on the van and could not get in the driveway. The snowplow had blocked the end of the driveway, so I ran out and shoveled so she could get into the driveway.

The night before I had gone out and shoveled the driveway and my neighbor brought his snowblower down for me to use. One of the sheer pins was broke, but he had bought new ones and he gave them to me. He had surgery recently so he couldn’t use the snow blower. So I went in my garage and tried to put the sheer pin in, but it was too big. I had no idea if the thing could run with out the pin in one side, so I just went back out and shoveled the rest.

I texted him that night and said the pin was too big and told him I would go to the hardware store to get a smaller one the next day, not knowing that we were going to be slammed overnight with a ton of snow. After I got my wife’s van into the driveway, I went out and shoveled the whole thing. After I came back inside, I got a text from the neighbor saying, “You know, you can still use the snowblower. Only one side will work, though.” 800 mg of ibuprofen later – I sent him a text that read “thanks.”

I think if that stimulus ever gets here, I’m going to go buy me a new snow blower!!

A Smile Amid Chaos

All you had to do this week was turn on the news, check your social media page, or surf the internet to see the chaos going on in the world. As an American, it makes me sad to see the state of the country. The division within the country is just sickening. Abraham Lincoln quoted scripture when he said:

Facebook was full of friends who stated that they were leaving Instagram, Facebook, and other social media platforms to go to MeWe and Parler (whatever those are!). I utilize the “snooze/mute” and “unfollow” features so I don’t see a lot of the content that aggravates me. However, even taking advantage of those features, I still end up seeing things I don’t want to.

When I am feeling angry or upset at the world, politics, or whatever, I need only turn to the smile of my little girl…..

Ella is oblivious to all the craziness in the world. She loves playing with mommy and daddy. She watches Elmo and reads books. She chases the cat and gets into things she isn’t supposed to. She finds joy in simple things, like me making a stuffed dog “bark” at her.

She got to go outside and sit in the snow for the first time in her life. Even though she wasn’t quite used to the snowsuit and boots – she smiled at the peacefulness of a winter day!

Having her in my life is better than any medication a doctor can prescribe! I love my daily dose of Ella – her smile is contagious!

Keep Smiling!!

Snowfall …

I’m probably in the minority here, but I just love watching the snow fall.

This week, they predicted that we would get about 2 to 4 inches of snow. As the snow approached, they began to change their predictions. It was going to be a “hit or miss” depending on where you lived. When I woke up Tuesday, I looked outside and was disappointed that I could still see the grass. Light snow was falling, but nothing accumulated.

I will say that I’m not a fan of driving in the snow, mostly because most people don’t know how to drive in it. I’m also not a big fan of shoveling it. That’s why we bought a snowblower a few years ago. However, my snowblower stopped working last year before the last big snow. My father in law picked it up this afternoon and said he’d see if he could figure out what the problem was. I’m hoping that he can figure it out. If not, I’ll be off to the store to get a new one (with electric start this time!).

I digress.

I love the way the snow sticks to the tree branches after a snowfall. I just love the way it looks. It is no wonder so many artists paint snow scenes. There is something about the “quiet” of a snow fall, too. I often find myself outside before shoveling or starting the snowblower and just looking at the snow falling and appreciating the peace and quiet that accompanies it.

As I have said in the past, I love the fact that here in Michigan we get to experience all four seasons. Each one is magical in its own way. With spring, we see nature’s rebirth. Summer brings warm sunshine. Fall brings about the amazing colors on the trees. Winter brings about cold and its own beauty.

While I was disappointed that there was no snow this week, I also know that I live in Michigan and that there will be plenty in the weeks ahead. I look forward to the first coating of snow….

Holiday “Letters”

Today’s blog comes from a Daily Writing Prompt.  I thought this was a fun idea.  Some of my answers came immediately, while others I had to think a little bit.  Here is the prompt:  “Make an alphabetized list of the 26 best things about the holiday season, with one item for each letter.  Choose your favorite thing and write a short paragraph about why you love it.”

Christmas-Alphabet-Letters-Embroidered-Motif-Fabric-Iron-On

 

“A”

A Christmas Carol.

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Every year since junior high school I have read this amazing tale of Ebenezer Scrooge’s transformation by Charles Dickens.  I also listen to Patrick Stewart’s wonderful audio performance, as well as watch the many movie versions.  No matter how many times I hear this story, it always makes me happy.

“B”

Blessings.

The holidays are a time where we reflect on what we are thankful for, and a time for counting our blessings.  In years past, I suffered from severe depression and often never really was conscious of those things.  With the changes in my life, I am much more aware of how blessed I am.  I have so many things to be thankful for and I am truly blessed in more ways than I can count!

“C”

Christmas Cookies.

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To borrow a phrase from Sesame Street – “C is for Cookie.”  Every year as kids, my brother and I would wait for my grandma to ship us a huge tin can of cookies!  She would make Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal, Sugar, Ice Box, and so many more.  The cookies pictured above are called Pizzelle cookies.  My grandma always made them at Christmas!  My brother still has her pizzelle maker.  Today, I still make the Chocolate Chips from a recipe she had in a metal index card box!

“D”

Dante’ & Dimitri

boys last year

My sons.  Sharing the holidays with them means so much to me.  I LOVE watching their excitement as they open their presents.  I love spending time with them, whether it is watching TV, playing a video or board game, or just having a heart to heart talk.  They continue to grow into fine young men, and I am proud to be their father.

“E”

Eggnog

nog

I LOVE eggnog!  My grandmother always had it for us at Christmas.  There used to be an eggnog mix that she would buy, but I can’t find it anywhere anymore.  My brother and I used to drink this like water!  I recently discovered a “custard” eggnog that was really good, too!  All things eggnog – I like:  McDonald’s Eggnog Shakes, Starbucks Eggnog Latte’s, and even the alcoholic eggnog!  There was a place in Frankenmuth that had a drink called the “dirty elf” – it was eggnog with a shot of Fireball whiskey in it – SO good!

“F”

Family and Friends.

What would the holidays be with out them?!  When I look back on holidays of the past, they are special because of the friends and family who were present!  I look forward to the holidays each year because it means special times with these special people in my life.

“G”

Garland.

OurWarm-2M-Christmas-Tinsel-Garland-Christmas-Decorations-4Colors-Home-Bar-Tops-Ribbon-Garland-Xmas-Tree-Ornaments.jpg

When I think about Christmas, I always think about garland!  My mom used to string it on the tree.  She’d hang it on walls, wrap it around things, hang Christmas Cards from it – it was everywhere!  We had gold and silver garland, thick and thin garland, and even garland with snowflakes on it.  I don’t use it today, because I know our cats will just eat it.

“H”

Holiday Music.

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I have blogged about this enough that you had to see this coming!  I love Christmas music.  There are so many wonderful memories connected to specific holiday songs.  While there are some songs that bring tears to my eyes, the majority of them bring me so much happiness.

“I”

Italian Food.

One-Pan-Cheesy-Spinach-Ravioli-Recipe-1

EVERY Christmas Eve – my grandma made ravioli.  That was part of our tradition.  We also had breaded steak with ammoglio (moy-gyoo) sauce.  She always made an Italian feast.  I have tried to keep this tradition going, even though my sauce is no where close to being as good as hers.

“J”

Jingle Bells.

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This is two-fold.  First, the sound of jingle bells goes hand in hand with the holidays.  To me, there is something about hearing those bells that makes it feel like Christmas.  Second, it is one of those holiday songs that I love.  It’s probably THE universal Christmas song.  My favorite versions are done by Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Doc Severinsen & The Tonight Show Band, The Glenn Miller Orchestra, and SO many other versions!

“K”

Kris Kringle.

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Also known as Santa Claus.  He’s the subject of many Christmas songs.  Millions of children sit on his lap and convey their Christmas list to him.  In one night, he delivers millions of toys to good little girls and boys!

“L”

Lights.

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I love Christmas lights.  When I first got my driver’s license I would pop a cassette tape of Christmas music in and I would drive around looking at the lights.  I remember driving around Jefferson Avenue where all these huge mansions were.  They would have their lights done by professionals and they were just amazing.  Walking through Wild Lights at the Detroit Zoo, or taking the Christmas train at Crossroads Village to see lights is also a treat!  I love the way they look and enjoy them more and more every year.

“M”

Mail.

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In a world where most communication is done by phone, e-mail, or text messages, I really enjoy getting Christmas cards in the mail.  I also love getting the “year in review” letters in them.  I can never understand why people diss these letters, because I love to read about what my friends and family have done over the past year.  I love when they include pictures from the past year, too.  I also love family photo Christmas cards.  I used to send them every year.  Sam and I were just talking about how we need to get better at sending them.

“N”

Nostalgia.

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No surprise here, especially since 95% of this blog is about nostalgia!  When the holidays come around, I get VERY nostalgic.  I think of my grandparents, my mother, and remember the good times we shared.  I remember past gifts.  I remember past relationships.  I remember good times and bad times.  There are many memories connected with the holidays for me.

“O”

Ornaments.

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One thing I love about Christmas ornaments is that when you put up your tree, as you unwrap each ornament, it brings back a memory.  Every year, Sam and I go to Bronner’s in Frankenmuth and get an ornament that signifies an even from the past year.  This year’s ornament is obviously about us expecting our baby.  We have an ornament from when we got married and when we got engaged.  I have a few ornaments that I brought with me when I moved in with Sam.  One of those ornaments is from 1977!  It was an ornament that we all got when we were in Catechism in 2nd grade.  It is an ornament of the baby Jesus.  It is the oldest ornament I have.

“P”

Presents.

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When I was a kid, it was all about what presents I was getting.  As an adult, and as a parent, your focus shifts.  It becomes about what special gift you buy for someone else.  What can I get that will make the boys smile?  What is the perfect gift for my wife?  What do I get for my dad, who seems to have everything?  It truly is better to give than to receive, but it is also nice to get something special from someone, too.

“Q”

Quiet.

I know, this seems impossible!  I would agree to a certain extent.  Many holiday gatherings are noisy as hell, but I am speaking of a specific quiet. One of my favorite things is standing outside after a snowfall, just listening to the quiet of the neighborhood.  There were many times I’d be out shoveling the walk, and stop just to enjoy the quiet of a winter day.

“R”

Rudolph

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Sure, I love the Rankin and Bass TV special!  I, however, and talking about the above decoration.  My grandma had these, and so did we!  This decoration was made of melted plastic.  Pinterest calls this a “melted plastic popcorn wall or window hanging decoration”.  There was a Snowman, a Christmas Tree and a Santa in a sleigh decoration, too.  My grandma hung 9 of these reindeer and the Santa in a sleigh on the wall every year!  Man, do I miss seeing this every year!!!

“S”

Snow.

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One of the things I love about living in Michigan is that we see all four seasons.  The holidays without snow are very disappointing to me.  If it is mid to late December and there is no snow, the song White Christmas really hits home.  I NEED to have snow on Christmas!  It is just one of those things that makes the holiday mean more.  I love the beauty of snow on the ground and stuck to the trees … but, yes, I do hate driving in it!

“T”

The Tree.

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You can check out the blog I wrote a week or so ago entitled “Oh Christmas Tree” to read about why this means so much to me.  For now, just know that it is one of the things I LOVE about the holidays.

“U”

Underwear.

I really didn’t have a lot of “U” options.  I don’t like underwear for Christmas, but I put it here because of something I started seeing a few years ago.  I guess you would call it a meme today.  I see it posted on Facebook a lot and it makes me laugh:

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“V”

Vacation.

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Again, a two-fold answer.  (1) Vacation time?  Yes, I do get some time off during the holidays, but nothing real big.  I wish I had the opportunity to actually take a few weeks off around the holidays, but that never is possible for me.  (2) Christmas Vacation Movie?  Who doesn’t love this Christmas film.  There are so many great lines and characters in this film!  Come on – you know any time you pass a house with a gazillion lights on it you call it the “Griswold house”!!

“W”

Wife.

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She makes EVERYTHING in my life special.  The holidays are already a special time for me, but spending them with her make them extra special.  There is not enough space on the internet for me to write about how much she means to me, how much I love her, and how happy she makes me.  I am so lucky to call this beautiful woman my friend, my partner, and my wife.  For Christmas this year, she is giving me the best present ever … she arrives in February.

“X”

X’s and O’s

Ok, it was hard to come up with something beside Xylophone for X!   X’s and O’s are hugs and kisses.  Hugs and kisses from friends and family during the holidays make the season special.

“Y”

Year Without a Santa Claus.

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You should have saw this coming, too!  Last year, many characters made a Christmas blog and this year I wrote an entire blog on it.  I HAVE to watch this every year!  I also have to listen to the Miser Brothers songs in the car during the holidays.

“Z”

Zzzzzzz’s.

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Yet another stretch, but Holiday Zzzzz’s are something I certainly look forward to!  In Twas The Night Before Christmas they talk of a “long winter’s nap”.  In my opinion, any time I can grab a nap over the holidays, it’s a good thing!!!

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That was a fun blog to write!  Now it’s your turn.  What are your “holiday letters”?  I’d love to read them …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winter Storm and Winter Songs

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According to the calendar, it is still officially Autumn.  There are still colored leaves on the trees here in Michigan.  Many people haven’t even started raking them yet.  This, however, may be the shortest Autumn I can remember as we were hit today with quite the winter storm!

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I guess we broke the record today for “most snowfall” on November 11th.  The record (for the Detroit area, anyway) was set back in 1984 – 4.1 inches.  That record was surpassed as early as 1pm today.  The snow continued to fall throughout the evening and made for one hell of a ride (3+ hours) into work!

The snow brings out a lot of anger in people.  People waste no time talking about how much they hate the snow.  “It’s too early,” they say.  It’s not like we haven’t had snow early in November before, we have.  As a matter of fact, it was one year ago I posted about it snowing on Facebook.  We’ve certainly seen snow as early as late October, too!  While I don’t necessarily like having to shovel it, or drive in it, I do like the snow.  I marvel at the beauty of it when it has first fallen on the ground.  Someone posted this on Facebook yesterday, and it is SO true:

“If you choose not to find joy in the snow, you will have less joy in your life but still the same amount of snow.”

Sometimes, in life, we need to look for the positives instead of focusing on the negatives.

At any rate, all the snow brought me back to a thought I had while writing a recent blog about Christmas music (Is It Too Early? – on November 2).  Some radio stations (both local and on Sirius XM) have started playing all Christmas music.  On my drive in, I was flipping around and stopped on the local station, because they were playing a song that would be considered a Christmas song, but actually worked because of the weather.

Here I am driving 30mph while the snow is falling, and Dean Martin’s “Let It Snow!  Let It Snow!  Let It Snow!” is playing.  It was the perfect song for the weather.  Which brings me back to the thought I had in the previous blog – why can’t stations play “winter” songs before Christmas, and after Christmas?  I compiled a list of songs that could certainly be played as just “winter hits”.

Let It Snow!  Let It Snow!  Let It Snow!

Winter Wonderland

Snowfall

Winter Weather

Snow

I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm

Marshmallow World

Song For A Winter’s Night

Snowbird

Hazy Shade of Winter

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Jingle Bells

There are SO many more.  Jingle Bell Rock could easily be a “winter song”.  Frosty the Snowman is a “winter song”.  Sleigh Ride is also a snowy “winter song”!  It doesn’t have to be Christmas for me to enjoy those songs.  Am I forgetting any?  What can YOU add to the list?

Too Early?

I should mention that my wife listens to Christmas music all year round.  AND she likes to be able to enjoy the decorations, so when we have our first snow, the tree goes up.  Yes, it is up and decorated…and the cats are already enjoying it.

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I guess I should make sure the snow blower starts when I get home ….

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