Summer Kick Off

Sunny Days …

Summer has come and it is bringing on the heat!! One Michigan TV station may have slightly over exaggerated on the “First Day of Summer” temperature …

Well, it was sunny and it was hot – but not THAT hot!!

We reached the 90’s today and those hot temps hit early. No neighborhood walk today – it was just too hot. Instead, we set up a bunch of water stuff for the kids. We had the kiddie pool, the water table, and the splash pad. Both kids loved it. Ella is all about getting right in and getting wet!

Andrew is still a bit shy. He likes to splash in the water table, but is not quite sure about the splash pad.

We played outside for about and hour and then headed inside for lunch. We had hoped to do a picnic lunch out in the yard, but the splash pad made the ground a bit too wet. It was probably best to go inside, as it was really getting hot.

I’m really looking forward to the rest of summer!

Weigh In …

Today was weigh in day. I’m posting so I hold myself accountable. As I mentioned in a previous blog, I went off the wagon on Father’s Day and grabbed some ice cream with Ella. I was careful and counted the points for it.

As I stepped on the scale today, I was down four pounds. Total weight loss is 13 pounds. I will continue to focus and drop weight. I have to get healthy. I will take advantage of the weather and get out and walk when I can. Those walks seem to help!

Ordering Tacos…

One funny story and I will wrap for the day. Yesterday we made tacos for dinner. I asked Ella what she wanted on her taco. She told me she wanted “meat, lettuce, and cheese.” As I was making it for her, she tapped me on my back and handed me a package of fruit snacks and said, “Daddy, put gummies on my taco?”

Who am I to judge taco toppings …

Yes, she had her “gummies” on her taco.

A Two-riffic Birthday!

Yesterday, I blogged about it being Ella’s last night as a one year old. Today (2-10) she officially turned two! On one of the Facebook “dad” groups I am a part of, someone posted that “Time is a thief.” That is so true. I am still scratching my head and wondering how she could be two already!

On my way home from work, I stopped off and picked up her birthday cake. It came out perfect. I thought it was neat, because they hadn’t written the message on it in frosting. It was actually printed next to the Minnie Mouse design.

The store also had balloons, so I made sure to get a HUGE number “2” balloon to mark the occasion. I helped Sam hang the banner before work last night, and she did the rest of the decorations before bed last night.

She put up streamers and blew up balloons. She then set up Ella’s gift. I guess it is called a “nugget.” It folds, stacks, and such. I can totally see her and I having some fun with this thing.

When I got home, she was still asleep. I was surprised, because she is usually up when I walk through the door. It made the day even more special to be able to sing Happy Birthday to her when Sam brought her out to the living room. She was probably not really ready to be up, so when she came out she wasn’t quite sure what to make of everything. It didn’t take long and she was playing around with the balloons and her “nugget.”

Nickelodeon has a “Birthday Club” where you can schedule calls to your kids from their favorite characters. I had a call scheduled for her from the Bubble Guppies. She smiled when they said her name and wished her Happy Birthday. It was a pretty cute bonus to the morning.

I whipped up some birthday scrambled eggs for her with some cheese on top with a side of blueberries. As she enjoyed her breakfast, I headed to bed because I knew I would be up in a short while.

Ella had a doctor check up this morning and afterward, Sam took her to the Peppa Pig World at the mall. I slept from about 9:30a to noon and got up to head out and meet them there (about a 50 minute drive). She was excited to see me when I got there and she was running from one thing to the next playing!

Because of Covid, Sam and I have been very careful and really haven’t taken her out much. When I walked in, the place was loaded with moms and their “piggies” who were all over the place! My anxiety was through the roof. We must have been hitting the hand sanitizing stations every time we saw one.

She had a blast! We didn’t stay too long, and when we left, we hit the gift shop. Boy, are THEY raking in the money! We saw this Peppa Pig car that we have seen before at Walmart. That was the toy that she picked out. We plopped it on the checkout and it was like $35!! At Walmart, it was like $22. What a markup!!

There is a Build a Bear in the mall and we went to get her Birthday Bear. We did this last year, too. Personally, I like this year’s bear better. It seemed much softer than the one from last year. It is such a cool thing for kids. You pay the price of your birthday. She is 2 – the bear was $2. By the time we got done, the fact that it was naptime was apparent. She was getting cranky.

Sam stopped at Carter’s (which was right by the Build a Bear) to see about an outfit for her birthday pictures this weekend. Sam found an outfit for pictures and some St. Patty’s outfits for them. Surprisingly, she was unable to find a good Valentine’s Day outfit for them (which is probably a good thing and saved us like $60!).

One of my favorite pics of the day – the two most important ladies in my life!

Andrew was at Nana and Papa’s so Ella could go to the doctor. When we left, I drove back home to try to sleep a bit more. Sam and Ella left to go get AJ. Ella fell asleep on the way, so Sam (as most parents would do) drove around awhile in hopes of getting her some sort of nap. I finally got into bed about 3:15-3:30.

Ella got to pick what she wanted for dinner. She loves tacos from one of our favorite Mexican places. Sam picked it up on the way home and woke me about 5pm so we could eat and have cake.

This look! LOL!

After dinner, I grabbed the “2” candle, put it on the cake and brought it out so we could sing Happy Birthday. What was the first thing she did? She starts to grab the flame of the candle! Sam did the best she could to keep her still as we sang to her and then she blew out the candle.

I had a Microsoft Teams meeting I had to call into on my way to work. Normally, I would be there in person, but because I wanted time with Ella, I decided to leave later and just call in on my drive in. By the time the meeting was over, I texted Sam to see if the kids were still awake. (I usually do a video call before they go to bed.) She texted back that they were already in bed and asleep. Both were pretty wiped out from a busy day.

I still cannot believe that my baby girl is 2 years old. Time is a thief indeed!

Happy Birthday, my sweet Ella! I snapped this picture of you today and it is probably my favorite. There stands a little girl pondering what to do next. She is a little girl full of potential. She is a girl who is smart. She knows she is going to do amazing things – and she is planning just how to get those things done! God has blessed mommy and me with you. We love you as big as the world! We look forward to the many wonderful things you will do in the years ahead!

Daddy’s little girl.

Expanding on an earlier Facebook post.

Vacation

I am on vacation.  I have the next week off and will have my sons all week.  I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am to have them over.  I am hoping that the weather will cooperate and we’ll get to do some fun things this week.   This vacation could not have come at a better time.  I’m not sure why, but I just need the break.  I have so much that has been on my mind.

For example, Thursday was typical for me.  I slept for about 3-4 hours.  It is my day to switch from “midnight” mode to “days.”  Normally on Thursday, my head hits the pillow and I am asleep quickly.  That was not the case.  I actually broke my own rule (and what I tell all my patients about electronics before bed) and was surfing the web and reading stuff hoping to make myself tired – it didn’t work.

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I read once that if you can’t shut your mind off,  just jot all the thoughts down.  The thought process is that it can help free your mind of them.  I hoped that this would work and posted the following on Facebook.  In posting it here and re-reading it, I may or may not comment on these thoughts.  Some of them are repeat thoughts, some are not.  Here goes:

“Been here in bed since 10:30. Sam is already sleeping. The cats are both on the bed, too. Mind won’t shut off. Trying not to think about something that happened earlier that really just made me angry. Random thoughts/wishes:

* As much as I love to sit and write, I wish I could find a gig that paid me to do it.

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Comment:  The more I think on this, the more I wish I could do this!  I believe that you are always your own worst critic.  I have often wondered why anyone would even want to read what I write, yet, here you are.  I’m sure many authors have wondered if people would want to read their stuff too.  Writing is therapeutic for me.  Much like radio, I can take my observations and share them.  You won’t always agree with my thoughts or opinions, and that is OK with me.

* In talking to an old radio buddy, it makes me miss doing it full time (even though it has changed dramatically)

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Comment:  While I am not doing this full time, I need to acknowledge that I am very lucky to still be doing it part time.  Even if it is once a week, whether it is live or recorded, I still have my foot in the door and I get to “create” and “perform.” I still love it and radio will probably always be in my blood.

* I wish I could review music, bands, or movies and get paid for it. Neat to see some friends of mine doing it and having success with that!

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Comment:  I follow some blogs that write movie reviews.  I know they don’t get paid for that.  However, I have a friend who writes a lot of political stuff for websites and gets paid for that.  I also have a buddy who always seems to be out and about interviewing celebrities about their films for various news stations, TV and radio.  What a cool gig that has to be.  When I interviewed people on the radio I was always told I was a “good interviewer.” Maybe I am.  Pardon me while I digress and share two instances come to mind:

When I was at B95, Craig Morgan was scheduled to come by the studio.  At the time he had a minor hit, and some tunes that weren’t being played on the radio.  I was told by my boss to put him on the air for a few minutes, ask him about his new song, play it and move on.  I did my research, and there were a lot of things about Craig that I found interesting.  Yes, I was going to ask about his song, but there were other things I wanted to as about.  I asked about his military career, his family, and such.  Craig is a very funny guy.  He and I hit it off instantly.  We laughed a lot and had a bunch of fun. About 5 or 8 minutes into the interview, my boss went into the studio in the next room and stood in front of the window.  I thought he was gonna give me the “Wrap it up” signal because we were going longer than anticipated.  Instead, he gave me the “keep going – stretch it out” signal.

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I don’t recall how long the interview went, but it was FUN.  My boss said, “You just took a guy who no one was really familiar with, and made the listeners love him, because you related to him.  You asked questions that made him so real.  It was entertaining, and enjoyable.  That’s the best damn interview I have heard in a long time!”  The kudos I received were unexpected.

Also at B-95, Jewel came by the studio and I interviewed her on the air.  She had recorded a country album and was promoting it.  I did my research and prepped for her interview.  I found a lot of stuff that I could ask about.  Jewel was homeless for a time.  She lived in a van.  I wasn’t sure if that was a topic she would want to talk about.  When she arrived I asked her off air if there was anything that she didn’t want to talk about, she said to ask whatever I wanted to.  Naturally, I asked about her album.  I also asked about her family life and pop hits. I also asked about her being homeless, in which she shared some great stories about writing songs.

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One of the things I asked about was some Wizard of Oz TV special she did in the mid ’90’s.  She started chuckling and joked about it.  She asked “How did you find out about that?!” This led her to talk about some plays she was in in school and some other childhood memories.  She was so moved and excited to be talking about those things.  It was so cool for me to see how moved she was to remember those stories and it was great radio!

After Jewel left the station, about a half hour later, I got a call on my cell phone from the record rep who brought her to the station.  He said, “I wanted you to know that Jewel just told me that you were by far the best interview she has done on this radio tour!  She was blown away that you asked her about that Wizard of Oz thing!  She said she felt so comfortable talking to you and she really enjoyed herself.  She said you made her remember some great stories that she has never shared with anyone before.  Nice work, cowboy!”

Again, a high point in my radio career!

back to my original thought – I think it would be very cool to get the chance to hear an album before it hit stores, see a movie before it hits theaters, or read a book before it hits the shelves and then offer a review.

* It’s a shame when an entire team has to be punished because of a few others.

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On my hour drive to work each night, it is often the time I catch up with friends on the phone.  We talk about family, friends, and work.  In discussing work, there was this common theme.  Rather than dealing with employees individually and holding them accountable for whatever the issue was, bosses made a knee-jerk reaction and punished the entire staff for the issues of a few people.

I am not in a position of authority at my job.  I was a boss on more than one occasion.  Observations that I made as an employee, helped me to manage.  Managers motivate!  When employees are motivated, they will go above and beyond for you.  Many managers tend to demotivate.  Jay Trachman, one of my radio mentors, wrote an article geared toward radio managers, and it holds true for any manager, really.  It included things that managers do to demotivate, with or without knowledge of doing it.  They included:

  1. Ignoring employee ideas
  2. Setting unattainable goals and holding employees responsible for them
  3. Treating employees like children
  4. Ignoring that employees have lives outside of work
  5. Making rules for the entire staff because of the behavior of a few members
  6. Focusing on errors or mistakes, no matter how trivial (Incidentally, the facts show that when you dwell only on problem areas destroys the employee’s confidence and self-esteem makes the employee more error-prone!)

* I hate when an opportunity seems right, but no matter how many ways you try to make it work, you can’t.

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Comment:  Without going into detail, an opportunity presented itself.  It was one of those opportunities that doesn’t come around too often.  I took it all in.  Asked questions.  Weighed options.  Re-weighed options with different scenarios.  Crunched numbers.  Re-visited scenarios.  Made a pros and cons list (my wife swears by these!).  It was an opportunity that just was not something I could jump at.  I am ok with that, though, because, it doesn’t change anything I am already doing.  No big deal.

* I am hoping the scale shows a loss tomorrow at weigh in.

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Comment:  It did.  My total weight loss now is at 24 pounds!! I couldn’t be happier!  I was a bit worried because last Saturday I DJ’d a wedding and the dinner didn’t necessarily have the most healthy choices.  Oh, and they had a doughnut bar!  LOL.  I am determined to get back down to 199 (where I was about 20 years ago, and the last time I was on Weight Watchers).  The journey continues!

* I am not looking forward to a visit to the dentist tomorrow.

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Comment:  Uneventful cleaning.  No cavities, so I was happy with that!

* I wish I could do more voice over work.

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Comment:  I looked into a few voice over services, but most cost money to be a part of.  They also require you to do many auditions daily.  I could probably do this on my days off, but it is hard to do working midnights, and without a home studio (or the money to build a home studio)!

I am lucky to have the relationships I have with The American Way, Whitetail Journey, Modern Craft Wines, Fox 66, and RPM Auto Sales.  I would love to add a few more clients to that list.  If you know anyone looking, I can certainly send a voice sample to them.

* I probably could have wrote a blog instead of this. Maybe I will just copy and paste it….lol.

Comment:  That’s what I am doing!

* There is so much sadness in the Facebook feed this week. My heart goes out to my friends who have lost loved ones or have loved ones in the hospital.

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Comment:  Scrolling the Facebook news feed this week, I was saddened to read of some friends coping with the loss of someone special to them.  I also read of a dear friend who is now home with hospice care.  Some friends have been Facebook silent, but I am aware of some health struggles that are dealing with.

Many people state that they hate Facebook.  They say there are too many political arguments, opinions, etc.   I would agree, but I also utilize the “mute” button.  There are ways that you can unfollow those who post stuff you don’t want to see.  You remain friends, but you don’t see their stuff.  You can also post things while making sure that certain people can’t see it.

I happen to like Facebook.  It is a great way to keep up with friends.  I almost never forget a friend’s birthday! I always love the pictures of weddings, first and last days of school, band concerts, dance recitals, and the addition of new babies or grandbabies.  There are sad things, too.  The passing away of parents, prayer chains for those who are sick or suffering, or the loss of a pet.  Without Facebook, I’d never know these things. It can be a place to offer words of support, encouragement, or better yet, prompt you to reach out to your friend on the phone.

While I love social media, I also feel that it is important to reach out and actually talk to friends.  I have decided that I am going to try to do that more.  Yes, texting and messaging is easy, but you know what?  I want to hear your voice!

* I hate change. I am a man of routine. Sometimes, change is inevitable. Sometimes change is exciting.

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Comment: I take the same way to work every day.  I am a creature of habit.  One of the things that helps me stay focused on Weight Watchers is that I know the point values of meals.  I tend to find something I like, and will stick with that meal.  I have been eating a lot of veggies and fruits.  I am also eating a lot of salads.  However, to change things up we had turkey tacos last night.  Not going to lie, changing it up was exciting!  That’s right – I was excited for Tacos!!

* Guy on TV said to his gal, “I couldn’t be happier.” I think you can always be happier. Happiness can grow, much like love can grow. Each day I think I can’t love Sam any more than I do, but that love grows deeper. Happiness can grow too – that’s cool to me.

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Comment:  Just re-reading that made me smile.  Think about this – “Happiness is a habit – cultivate it” (Quite attributed to Elbert Hubbard)

* The wrong motivation can kill morale and desire to give their all for you.

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Comment: See above comments about punishing the entire team because of a few others.

* I wish I was an expert on something. With the recent talks I have done for conferences and small groups, I would totally love to do that for a living.

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Someone commented on the original Facebook post and said I should be a motivational speaker.  I don’t know that I’d go that far.  I have many obstacles of my own that I have yet to conquer.  I am not sure how motivating I can be.

I have always enjoyed doing career days at schools.  I think it would be cool to host classic movies at a theater.  I have no problem public speaking.  I thought about teaching a public speaking class at one of those community education night class type programs.  I don’t know, it’s a pipe dream perhaps.  I just think it could be a very fun thing to do and would be great to get out and meet people.

* Was hoping that by jotting this stuff here, I’d get sleepy … Maybe I should at least try to go to sleep.

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Comment:  I didn’t.

* Even with all of these random thoughts, one still remains true. I am one lucky man! I am blessed beyond measure.

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Comment:  The Bible says in I Thessalonians 5:18, “In EVERYTHING give thanks.”  What powerful instruction, and a very difficult thing to do! I have always tried to make this one of my “life mantras,” but some days are harder than others.  At one point in my life, nothing could make me feel better.  I was deep in that depression and suffering with so many feelings.  I was struggling bad.

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Today, however, I am a new man.  Those quotes that I always had in my mind are back and help keep me focused.  This one still remains difficult, because “everything” means “everything!”  In good times and bad times – give thanks!  What a challenge! Despite the fact that I had a variety of things (both good and bad) running through my head Thursday night, I remind myself of just how thankful I am to be alive!  I am thankful for my family.  I am thankful for my job.  I am thankful for my friends.  I am thankful for YOU.  Thanks for reading!

Now, I am off to enjoy my time off!

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