A Morning Spring Walk

I’ve been struggling with a few things lately. I decided to listen to my own advice and take a step back and look around and appreciate the little things. So this past week, I put Ella in her stroller and we took a 2 and a half mile walk around the neighborhood.

She loves going for a walk and it was very beneficial for me as well. The first thing I did was focus on the sounds of spring, which were all around us as I walked!

The Sounds

As I was putting Ella in her stroller, the sounds of the birds singing rang loudly in my ears.

As I listened to them, I could here the songs of different types of birds. One, in particular, reminded me of early mornings in Caseville. I remember walking out of grandma’s trailer and hearing this one particular bird sound. Funny how you can remember that almost 40 years later.

At one point during our walk, the church bells began to chime.

It is not odd to hear the church bells/chimes begin to play hymns during the day. I recognized the hymn as being Blessed Assurance.

The weather was nice, so naturally, some neighbors were out mowing the grass.

This allowed me to experience not only the sounds of the lawnmower, but the smell of fresh cut grass.

There were also plenty of neighbors out working in the garage. I loved walking by and hearing the sounds of a small radio playing from inside the garage.

I remember my dad always had the radio on when we were outside on the weekends. If he was washing the car, working on the yard, painting, cleaning the garage, or fixing something – the radio was always on. I remember many Sundays listening to Casey Kasem and American Top 40 while we helped outside.

The Sights

Along with the sounds of spring, there were plenty of sights, too!

Ella always gets a kick out of the squirrels running up a tree or around a yard.

There are plenty of squirrels in the neighborhood – and many that run around my yard!

The Robin is the Michigan State Bird. We always look for the “first robin of spring.” They are all over now. They were hopping all around the yards and bird feeders we see along our route.

Along the way, we also saw many neighbors out doing yard work.

I truly wish that I had the time and energy to do what some of my neighbors do! I’m lucky if I get the leaves out of the flowerbeds by late summer! It is SO much work! Yet, there are neighbors who line their walkways with tulips, fill their flower beds with every flower imaginable, and have hanging flowers that are beautiful all spring and summer long! We bought hanging plants one year and they died within two weeks. I obviously do not have a green thumb.

Kudos to my neighbors! I love looking at the product of your hard work when I walk.

There is one house I always walk by with Ella. I do it because there is always this old hound dog outside.

The dog is either laying along the fence or up on the back porch. It always looks up when we walk by, but it is old and content to just lay there soaking up the sun. We have no idea what the dog’s name is, but she gets a kick out of seeing that dog on our walk.

Sadly, the dog is really old and I’m not sure how many more walks we will be seeing him/her out there.

The last thing I really enjoy seeing when I am out walking is people sitting out on the front porch. I’m not sure why more people don’t do this, but it seems to be more and more rare.

Before Ella, we would sit out on the porch in the morning and drink coffee. That doesn’t happen too much anymore. There is something about sitting out with a hot cup of coffee, my Bible, or a newspaper that is so relaxing. I don’t need a rocking chair, any chair will do.

I guess the only beef I have with sitting on the porch lately is the recent increase in the number of bees and wasps. I’ve walked around the house and looked to see if there are nests, but I can’t seem to find any. I read somewhere that peppermint oil will repel them. Maybe I need to find a way to put that around the porch?

The walk around the neighborhood really helped me relax. Noticing the sights and sounds instead of being lost in thought was a big part of that. I’m looking forward to my next walk …

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!

10 More Days …

Spring will officially arrive in 10 days (March 20), but today certainly felt like it was here. We had record temperatures here in Michigan. Our local news station said that we hit 71 degrees today. Sadly, because I worked last night, I slept through it. Granted, it was still nice when I left for work this evening.

As I drove through our neighborhood, I was thrilled to see people walking their dogs, riding their bikes, and parents walking with strollers. As I passed the park, there were kids on the swings, playing on the slide, and couples walking hand in hand. On the other side of the street, there were plenty of kids with skateboards at the skate park.

Driving toward the expressway, there were plenty of people walking downtown. The line at the car wash was long and the pub which has one of those garage doors was open with people eating out on the patio. There were plenty of motorcycles out enjoying the weather, too! It truly was a great day to be outside.

Charles Dickens, in Great Expectations said: ““It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”

I’m not sure how much sun we got today, but I do know that we certainly had some wind.

Anne Bradstreet said, “If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant.”

Spring reminds us that though dark times may come (winter), beauty (spring) is on the horizon. It has been said that spring is a wonderful reminder of how beautiful change can be. What once was “dead” becomes alive again. The flowers bloom, the trees bud, and the grass changes from brown to green.

Hurry, Spring! We have missed you!

Hurry, Spring!

After the HUGE dumping of snow we got a week or so ago, in typical Michigan fashion, we’ve had some warm weather recently. Most of the snow has melted away. The other day, we actually went to the store and didn’t have to wear a coat!

Walking in Sunshine!

We have a small house. Ella looks forward to car rides and just getting out of the house. Today, while I napped before work, Sam took her out for a walk. She was going to put her in the stroller, but now that she is walking, that is what she wanted to do!

It took her a minute to realize she was free to walk around, but when she did, she was off like a rocket!

When I woke up for work, I took her out for a walk, too! She was a bit more tired by the time I took her, so she was a little less cooperative. At one point, she lost her glove. She cracked me up because when it came off, she stared at it on the sidewalk for a few minutes….

…and when it didn’t miraculously go back on her hand, she stared at me like “Are you gonna help me?” “This thing ain’t gonna put itself back on, Daddy!”

She isn’t quite yet to the point where she will walk and hold our hand. I am really looking forward to that and more walks this spring and summer!

Coming soon!

One of the things I have had on my “to blog” list is one word: “Beatles.” As a fan of the Beatles, I have wondered just what I want to write about, their solo stuff, the early stuff, the later stuff, a list of my favorite Beatles songs…I just haven’t been able to decide. The first blog here about the Beatles will be presented by my blogging buddy, Max, who is quite the Beatles fan as well. I’m excited to announce that his guest blog should be making an appearance here in a week or so. I’m looking forward to it and am sure you will enjoy it!

A Brew You Can’t Refuse?

A friend of mine saw this coffee online, and knowing that I love the Godfather movies and coffee, she ordered me a bag of this and sent it to my house. I’m excited to try it. It has “cannoli”in the name of it ….It has to be good, right?

The Little Things

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Spring!

I saw the above cartoon on Facebook and had to share it. Even though the “official” first day of Spring was in March, it is actually starting to feel like it here in Michigan. When people ask my what my favorite season is I usually say “autumn.” Spring is a close second. Spring is an amazing time of renewal. The grass goes from brown to green, the trees begin to bud, and flowers begin to bloom.

Cleaning

I actually got to go outside and accomplish a few things yesterday! When I moved in with Sam, I had many boxes of things that I stored out in the garage. Most of them contained books and various papers. Some of those boxes were full of things that my ex threw in boxes and sent here.

I spent a few hours yesterday and went through many of the boxes that were full of “unknown” things. A lot of the boxes contained old mail and stuff that just needed to be thrown away. There was plenty of stuff that contained personal information that needs to be shredded (the shredder will be working overtime soon).

I also found some boxes I will call my “wishful thinking” boxes. Those boxes contained clothes that are a size or two smaller than I wear now. I kept hoping that I would soon be able to wear them again. The problem is, by the time I can fit into them, they will be out of style (took me forever to give up on the bell bottoms!). Those clothes all went in a Goodwill bag. The rest went to the curb!

There were also old pieces of drywall out there and things from various projects and even from the previous owners that just needed to be tossed. I truly believe I heard our garbage men swearing at me this morning as the were picking up the trash.

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Catch

It was in the 50’s yesterday and sunny. The weather has been chilly and rainy. We’ve even had some snow. The sun was a welcome sight! It has been nice to open up the windows and enjoy the breeze.

Because of the weather, my sons have been kind of cooped up in the house. I mentioned in my last blog about playing cribbage with my youngest son. I have hoped to dig out the Scrabble game as well, to keep them busy. Yesterday, I asked if they wanted to take a walk around the neighborhood. They looked at me like I was nuts! “Exercise?! Really?!”

Instead, I suggested we get out the baseball and play catch. Surprisingly, they agreed. I’m not going to lie, I enjoyed every minute of it. Just me and the boys playing catch – priceless memories! I was able to snag a few shots of them and I love how I was able to capture some with the ball in the air. My phone takes better pictures that some of the expensive cameras I have owned.

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Daddy/Daughter Time

While it isn’t what I would call a “schedule,” I am enjoying some special moments with Ella. She usually gets up around 3 or 4 in the morning for a bottle. Sam has usually be doing this feeding, although I have once or twice. Ella falls asleep much easier for Sam, so after that bottle, she cuddles her and gets her back to sleep. Ella will then wake up around 6:30 or 7 and it’s my turn.

She doesn’t necessarily want to eat right away, and she is usually wide awake. She is usually full of many smiles (and presents many photo opportunities). For about an hour, I have “daddy/daughter” time. First, we sit on the couch and I make silly noises and make her smile. She is cooing a lot more now, so we have lots of conversation. Next, we have floor time. She has a little “toy tent” where there are toys that hang down for her to play with. At her feet, there is a piano that plays music when her feet hit the keys. She is going to be very musical!

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Usually, when floor time is over, she will be ready for a bottle. After that, she will go down for one of her longer naps. Yesterday, after floor time, she wasn’t ready to eat yet. So I picked her up and just kind of walked around the house. I usually sing to her while I hold her, but yesterday, I did something different.

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I pulled out one of my favorite Dean Martin albums and put it on the turntable. She listened to the whole side! She watched the record going around and around. She loved every minute of this. I put the above picture on Instagram and tagged Dean Martin’s daughter Deana and said, “My 10 week old daughter thinks your dad sings his songs better than me!”

It was so special for me. I sing her almost every song on this album. I just swayed back and forth with her in my arms. I hope that she will always want to share a dance with her daddy to these songs.

Back to the Book

Almost 20 years ago, I was taking Bible classes. I was completely focused on them, and then my first son was born. My ex felt that the classes were taking up too much of my time. We ended up leaving the church we were attending because she “didn’t feel comfortable” and so on and so forth. Because I hated arguing about it, I just gave in and stopped my classes and we stopped go to that church.

We went to a few different churches after that, which she always seemed to like (because she knew people there or they had a place to leave the kids). With each church, I always seemed to have issues (mostly doctrinal). When I mentioned my issues, they were usually blown off. She was happy there and that was all that mattered. Eventually, we stopped going to church all together.

As I have written in past blogs, since the quarantine, I have found myself returning to my faith. I have had the chance to watch many church messages from pastors I know. I was watching one message from a pastor who taught many of the classes I was taking. I mentioned this to Sam and she asked, “Why did you stop taking your classes?” When I explained, she told me “You should finish your classes.” Deep down, I knew she was right.

I called the school and asked what I had to do to start back up. They told me that I could start right back where I left off. I had the choice to start over and take tests again, but they still had a record of the tests I already took, so I didn’t have to if I didn’t want to. I found all of my notes from the first year of the school (all still neatly in their folders) and am reviewing them in preparation of continuing. Sadly, I do not have copies of my graded tests. I don’t even have a copy of my ungraded tests.

I am looking forward to moving forward and finishing what I started so long ago.

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End of Quarantine

It looks like we are nearing the end of the quarantine. I hope and pray that life can get back to normal – or a close to it – soon.

Be safe, my friends! Enjoy Spring!

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