Brakes – Broke!

It wasn’t too long ago that my father-in-law, my brother-in-law, and I worked on the brakes on my car. Recently, I began to hear grinding on one of the back brakes. It was just the one and there was no indication that the pads were going before it began grinding.

If you are familiar with the brake pads, they have a little indicator thingy that when your pads are getting low, they begin to squeal a bit. My brakes never did that. The one side just started grinding – and bad.

The day I noticed it, I pulled into work and could see that the pad was tearing a huge gouge right in the middle of the rotor. The other side was fine. I couldn’t really figure out what happened. My brother-in-law and father-in-law thought I might have gotten a set of bad pads and one cracked. By the time we got a day to work on them, that pad had tore up the entire rotor on that side.

Mine was worse than this!!

They had gotten so loud that any time I stopped at a drive thru for coffee, the workers looked at me and the back end of my car as I drove up to the window. As I drove away, the watched as well, probably hoping to see sparks flying from the back wheels or something!

After calling around and getting estimates, I picked up the parts and we were blessed to have a nice day to work on them. My brother-in-law said it would be a “piece of cake” and the whole job should take less than an hour. We figured we’d jack up both ends at the same time and he could do one side while I did the other. Our time saving idea really didn’t work.

We forgot about one of the bolts that happened to be in a really tight place on the brake shoe. The nut sits in such a way that you can barely get a wrench in there to loosen or tighten it. The longest part of the job was getting to that particular nut. We had to painstakingly turn this nut little by little (maybe 1/8 turns at a time) until we could loosen them by hand. What a pain!

Once we got the old rotor off and the pads on back on the shoe, everything came together quickly. That is until we had to tighten that one bolt/nut again. I swear that was tedious! It took so much time.

Finally we got everything set and we put the tires back on. My father-in-law has a socket for the lug nuts. He also has a breaker bar which you put over the socket to tighten or loosen the nuts. Basically, the end of the socket goes into the hollow tube of the breaker bar. His is square, but this gives you a sort of idea as to what I am talking about:

So the tire is now on the ground and I have this socket in the pipe. I am tugging on all the lug nuts to be sure they are secure. I must not have had the socket one one of the nuts, because as I tugged on it, the bar slipped off the socket and because I was bent over, the thing came up and conked me on the forehead! The only thing missing was the “pipe konk” sound effect used in a Three Stooges film! I saw stars for a few, but recovered quickly.

The goose egg had gone down a lot by the time I took a picture of it. You can still see it and it still hurts like a bugger!!

I’m happy to say that despite the comedy interlude, the brakes are working fine. Thanks to my father-in-law and brother-in-law for their help once again!

Friday Photo Flashback

Time for another Friday Photo Flashback. This time around I’m taking you to my room….circa 1990.

The shelf you are looking at sat above my bed (a waterbed…lol). Above it was another shelf with the globe my grandmother had got me for Christmas, some ceramic pieces my mom made me and a few other things.

Just by looking at this picture, I can recall where everything else was in the room. To the right of this picture is the window that looks out to the front yard. On the wall opposite this one, my dresser sat in the corner. Directly next to it was a shelf that my cheap stereo system sat on.

(The stereo had a double cassette deck, turntable, radio tuner, and a place for a microphone. Long before I worked in radio, I made tapes for people with songs I recorded off the radio with me acting as DJ. I know I’d be embarrassed to hear those now!)

The closet was to the left of this picture. All along the walls were photos, posters, and your typical teen wall decor. The shelf pictured here was the focal point of the room.In a way, this shelf encompasses “me.”

Centered on it are the (now long gone) Three Stooges figurines. I really wish I still had them. I marvelled at the detail of the faces when I first saw them. They were fairly expensive when they came out. They represent “humor,” which has always been important in my life. To laugh and make people laugh … It’s a very big part of who I was/am.

Above the Stooges, a treble clef and music notes hang. Both were gifts from my mom. I’m sure the clef hung elsewhere in the house before she gave it to me. Music has always been important to me and continues to be.

To the left of Larry is an award I got in my senior year. I think it was for “Best Dancer” which is ridiculous. I probably only got the award because I did the Curly Shuffle once at a band party. I’ve never claimed to be a dancer. Perhaps when I hit my goal weight, I will think about a dance class with Sam.

To the right of Moe is my high school diploma. I always joke that I was in the half of the class that made the top half possible. I think if it wasn’t for band class, I probably would have done even worse. I was not the ideal student. That experience only helped me when we I finally went to college – I knew what NOT to do!

The two flags were something I got at Epcot one year. They represent my Italian and American heritage. There is more in my background on my mom’s side (English, Scottish, and German), but I tend to embrace the Italian more

The screwdriver on the shelf? I have no explanation for. I’m screwy, maybe? Yeah. That’s true in a lot of ways.

Front Porch Fixin’

I am not a handyman. I’m sure that I have mentioned this fact many times. So when my wife came to me and said she was worried about the front porch, we both knew who to call.

Our front porch has felt “soft” for some time. Sam (and I) were worried that our mail carrier would take a step on it and fall through! My father-in-law has helped us on numerous projects. Sam called him and he came over to assess the situation.

The one thing we were not clear on is whether or not there was anything below the deck boards. As we stood there wondering, it was decided that the fix it project would take place the following day. So, without thinking about it anymore, he grabbed a hammer and started to pull out the deck boards.

We were relieved to see that there was a cement porch under the boards. At least we knew our mail carrier was gonna be ok! The boards were literally falling apart as we pulled them.

My father-in-law took some measurements and began to do some figuring. He guessed that we’d need about 10-12 deck boards and we’d be able to get the job done in about 4-5 hours. So Monday night, Sam and I headed to Lowes and grabbed the boards, deck screws, and a few things for pumpkins for the kids.

Tuesday morning, we took the railings off, ripped up the old boards and began measure for the new ones. I’m always in awe of the little things my father-in-law does that I would never think of. For example, the first thing he did was measure and mark the center. I am sure I wouldn’t have done that. He knew exactly where the first boards were going to go and how we were going to attack the rest of the project.

As we were cutting and setting boards, my father-in-law said, “I’m not sure we got enough boards.” This freaked me out. He is always right on with measurements. He reminded me that we had measured thinking we were going to lay boards a certain way, but we opted to lay them a little different.

Thankfully, the main walkway area of the porch were all full length boards. For the outer parts, we were able to take the boards we had and stagger them a bit. Once we butted the pieces together, you really can’t even tell. Plus, Sam and I will eventually paint the porch and those seams will be even harder to see. So it all worked out and the only extra money we had to spend was on a few bolts for the railings which needed to be a tad longer.

If you look close at the outer boards, you can see where we butted boards together. I think it looks great! I was actually pretty impressed with just how much better it looks. It also was a fairly quick job once we started. Instead of 4-5 hours, we were finished in just under 3 hours.

If I didn’t have my father-in-law’s help, I am sure that the porch would be uneven, cracked, and a disaster that looked like I hired these guys:

Instead, it looks amazing! As I stood on it yesterday, I was impressed at just how study it felt. I’m sure the mail carrier will feel a lot safer, too!

Thanks, Dad!

A Plumber I Am Not

Friday night I was at work and I got a text from my wife. It went something like this:

Sam: So there’s a leak in the shower.

Me: It’s probably the shower head. That’s an easy fix. I’ll look at it when I get home.

Sam: It’s not the shower head, it is leaking by the faucet handle.

At this point, I did what any guy would do – I called an expert – my father-in-law.

I’m not stupid. I know that if I had tried to do this on my own it would have been something straight out of a Three Stooges movie!

In texting my father-in-law, we thought this might be a couple hour job. He joked that the longest it would take would be a couple days.

He came over, as he always does, with a bag of tools and gadgets anticipating what needed to be done. Once in the house, he assessed the situation. He knew that there was an access panel behind the faucet in our bedroom. So the first thing we had to do was look inside that panel.

The panel was held in place by a simple nail. When the room was painted, the panel was painted over and so was the nail. I grabbed a butter knife and began to pry at the panel. It opened and my father-in-law reached in looking for the shut off knobs. We couldn’t find them. In all seriousness, he says, “We’re gonna have to cut the wall.”

We grabbed one of those box cutter razor things (my description of this tool in itself should be enough to give you a picture of my handyman skills!), and I began to cut a hole about where he told me to cut. Once we pulled that piece of wall off, we reached in again. “Nope, we need to go higher.” So I cut again.

We finally can see the place where the valve is. The shower enclosure is right up against the pipes and a bear to get to. They are copper, so my father-in-law says that we are going to put in new pipe, and shut offs.

As I look at the above picture, I wonder just how any expected any repairs to ever get done with that access panel so low! All we could see when we opened it was the two pipes!

After a few trips back and forth to the hardware store to get what we needed, we basically got things back up and together. We certainly made quite a mess, though.

Once things were ready, he went downstairs to turn the water back on. I wondered why he didn’t send me down there, but then figured he probably wanted me to get drenched if things weren’t right. Ha ha! The water pressure returned to the house and the shut offs to the shower were off. We checked it and there were no leaks. Now we could work on the actual faucet and shower head.

Getting the faucet and the valve lined up with the pipes was a bit of a challenge. Any time I have ever had to trim a pipe to make something fit, I almost always cut it too short. (One time I was putting in a laundry tub in our basement and I cut the pipe so short, I wound up putting bricks under all four legs to level it off!) I was glad to let my father-in-law do it. He got them exactly were they needed to be.

It looked like it would be smooth sailing from here on out, but naturally, there was one more bump in the road. For some reason, we couldn’t figure out why the handle was so loose every time we put it together. The instructions were worthless. I was trying to put it together with this silly little allen screw. It was easier to get to it with the handle turned up. Every time I did that, it was loose.

Both of us must have looked at that instruction manual for 30 minutes apiece. I noticed that the picture had them tightening it with the handle down and from the bottom. I guess I was afraid to lose this tiny screw down the shower drain, so I kept trying it from the top. Once I attempted it from the bottom it snugged right up and we were done with it. It still doesn’t make sense, but that is what it took.

Thankfully, the shower head went on with no problem whatsoever! We turned the shut off valves on and turned on the shower. Ta da! No leaks and everything was working. And so ended another project I would never been able to do without the help of Sam’s dad. Thanks, for your help, Tony!!

For the record, I am a bit jealous that my father-in-law didn’t let me use the blowtorch.

Cast the Movie of Your Life

The Word Press App on my phone will offer a daily writing prompt to bloggers. I subscribe to a few “prompt” emails and such, and they can certainly be thought starters. Today’s prompt was one I had considered before and I may have even been asked a similar question by a Facebook friend. The prompt:

They are making a movie about your life. Cast it. (Keith adds – with any actors living or dead)

My thoughts on this are to jot down what comes to mind immediately for some (not all) of my family, and a few friends (other friends may request I suggest an actor/actress for them if they really want me to). I will then continue to ponder the question and see if, after thinking it over, I would change any of my choices.

Me

Dom Deluise – No Brainer. This has always been my answer to this question!

My wife, Sam

This was tough. I tried to think of who might look like her and carry herself like Sam. Toss up between Charlize Theron and Olivia Wilde.

My Dad

I’m not sure there would be any better than Jackie Gleason to play my dad

My Mom

Who in the world could play my mom? Tough question and still not really sure, but I forced myself to pick someone. At times, Cathy Bates’ facial expressions remind me of her, so for now – that’ my pick.

My Brother – Chris

Really difficult pick. So just because it will either make him laugh (and he needs that, because he is recovering from Covid) or it will make him mad… William Shatner (Because I wanted to post this stupid picture!)

My Grandma and Grandpa P

Estelle Getty on Golden Girls WAS my grandma! I always felt Abe Vigoda looked like my grandpa, so there ya go.

My Grandma and Grandpa D.

I have always felt like at times, Betty White reminded me of my grandma. My grandpa was tall, a bit heavy, and always smiling. John Goodman reminds me of him.

My best friend, Jeff

Another no brainer. I’ve said for years that he reminds me of Robin Williams.

My friend Steve K.

Steve always has some sort of crazy fact that seems unbelievable to tell. So, he would be John Ratzenberger – but John Ratzenberger AS Cliff Claven from Cheers.

My friend Joe K.

Joe is probably one of the smartest guys I know. At first, I couldn’t get Jeff Goldblum out of my head, and then I though Rainn Wilson is a bit more “Joe” to me.

My friend Steve M.

Steve and I wear our hair the same. My first choice was Vin Diesel, but then I though Michael Chiklis looked more like him (and he played Curly in a Three Stooges movie, so he wins).

My friend Margaret M.

She’s Italian. She’s fiesty. She is strong. She is an expert at inserting profanity into conversation. Without a doubt – Marisa Tomei.

My friend, Chris B,

Tall and funny = Conan O’Brien

Uh …… I’m Stumped

Now, as far as my kids …. I’m just not sure. My older boys (Dante’ and Dimitri) have personalities that are very established. Ella does in a sense as well. Andrew is just a smiling happy baby. How do I begin to pick who will play them? I just don’t know….

It’s my blog and my rules. Let me think a bit on this ….

If I left you out …. and you want me to think about who will play you – let me know. In the meantime ….

Go ahead and cast YOUR life. Who would play YOU?

Word of the Day – Kibitz

Normally, I don’t react to word prompts, however, today’s word is one that immediately made me laugh. I began following EM Kingston’s blog recently and her word of the day is “kibitz.”

The word is Yiddish and which can mean “make unwanted comments (as a spectator at a card game),” or something more general like “chitchat.” While it’s a word with a rich history, its origins are ultimately mysterious.

One who likes to kibitz is a kibitzer, which brings me to why I laugh at this word.

I’m a fan of the Three Stooges and they tend to use many Yiddish words in their shorts. Back when I worked on the radio on a regular basis, I used to watch movies, TV shows, and many Stooges shorts looking for lines I could pull out and use on my show. One of those lines came from a 1943 Curly Short entitled Three Little Twirps.

In the short, the boys are hanging posters. Larry’s brush ends up under Moe’s chin as he is not paying attention. When Moe says, “I beg your pardon” Larry sees him and spouts off the line, “Beat it grandpa, we got no time for kibitzers!” I’m not sure why, but this line cracks me up every single time! You can see the entire short below and the line I am talking about takes place about 1 minute into the video:

 What a great word! I highly encourage you to Kibitz today! Be a Kibitzer!

BuzzzzzzzKKKK! Whoops!

Britta, a blogger friend of mine, just blogged that her mom used to cut her hair as a kid. You can read her blog here:

https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/110737174/posts/3967709465

She mentioned the dreaded “Bowl Cut.” When I think of that, my mind immediately goes to Moe from the Three Stooges. Really, he is the only one I think it looks good on! LOL

She went on to ask if anyone has ever had a “home haircut mishap.” Well, it just so happens that I have!

I remember my dad used to have a pair of electric hair clippers. I’m not sure that he always cut our hair, but there were certainly a few times that he did. One time in particular, I remember I was getting my hair cut and my brother was doing something to annoy me. I kept moving around in the chair and wouldn’t sit still. My dad was getting more and more angry every time I moved. He kept telling me to stop moving my head.

What happened next I don’t recall exactly, but I moved my head backward as my dad was getting ready to cut and the guard came off the clippers. I distinctly remember the clippers running right against my scalp. They mowed a HUGE path in the middle of my head! I am sure that my dad said some choice swear words and wondered just how he was going to fix it!

I remember crying when it happened and both my brother and I got yelled at. Rightfully so!

My cousin’s dad was a barber. If memory serves me correctly, he ended up coming over to my grandma’s house with his clippers and bag of barber equipment in hopes of making me look normal. The only choice he had, was to give me the haircut of another Stooge – Curly Howard!

I was the butt of many jokes when I went back to school. It took weeks for my hair to grow back! So I gained a life lesson – sit still while getting a haircut!

My Kids – Posers?

One of the things I love about Facebook is the ability to meet others who share the same interests as me. I belong to many different “fan” groups and have connected with some very cool people through those groups.

Some time ago, I saw a painting of Moe Howard that I thought was very well done. I’m not sure exactly where I had seen it, though it may have been in Moe’s book. At any rate, through one of the Three Stooges groups, I found that the artist was a member. Her name is Belita William and she painted the amazing portrait when she was in her teens!

Moe, Belita, and her painting.

She and Moe became friends and they were in contact with each other until he passed away. Moe liked her work so much, he had her paint him a portrait of President Kennedy.

Moe, JFK, and Belita

I was surprised to find out that she had also painted a portrait for Larry Fine, as well. This is another picture I had seen somewhere prior to learning she painted it.

Larry and his painting

Belita is very talented and I am in awe of her talent. She has painted portraits of her children, church members, and many others. Here are just a few examples of her fantastic work.

To make a long story short, Belita and I became Facebook friends shortly after connecting through the Stooges group. She has often commented on photos of Ella, Andrew, and my kids. I was truly surprised when she reached out to me privately recently.

“Hi Keith. Your kids are gorgeous. Maybe you might consider portraits.”

I won’t lie, it is certainly something I would love to do. She talked about pricing and such and it is something that I definitely want to save up to do. It may take a while (thank you highest inflation rate since 1981!), but I really think this would be an amazing and one of a kind way to capture the kids. I am sure that she would do a wonderful job.

When Ella was first born, one of my co-workers said we should enter her in a “Cutest Baby Contest.” Others have said the same about Andrew. As a parent, you are biased. I mean, you KNOW how cute your kids are, right!? Sure they are “model” material! Sure they would be perfect for a portrait! Absolutely they could be in a magazine ad! You always think that, but when someone reaches out to you and actually asks to paint them (as Belita has done) or asks to use them in promotional material (like Andrew was by the place where he got his helmet), it makes you feel pretty darn good!

Thank heavens they got their good looks from their mommy! LOL

Silly Kid Stuff

To my Facebook friends, most of this blog is a recap of things I have already posted there. However, some of this is stuff I want documented in my blog for future viewing.

Andrew

Ok, I’m not going to lie, this is something that makes me laugh out loud every time I see it. Sam had AJ in a striped onesie recently and I only saw him in it briefly. Then, on one of my days off, I put him in the same onesie. I couldn’t really place what it made me think of at first, and then it hit me! I had to do a “comparison” picture.

AJ and Curly from the short “Dizzy Pilots”

What is even funnier is that I was wearing a shirt that had stripes on it a few years ago in a picture and my dad is the one who told me it reminded him of Curly from that short. Personally, I think AJ’s shirt is much closer to Curly’s. Now, if you are talking hair … then I am closer to Curly!

I’m not sure what it is, but I seem to make AJ smile a lot. Sam even said that I make him smile more than she does. I’m not sure that is the case, but I won’t lie, when he smiles at me – it is one of the many things that make me so very happy.

His hair reminds us of Ella when she was a baby. Depending on the light, it can look brown, blonde, or red. I guess we have to wait a bit to see what color it winds up being!

Ella

So we had a little snow storm here in Michigan this week. I think the “official” total accumulation was about 10 inches where we live. That is about half of what they said it was going to be. Because of the storm, many patients called and cancelled their sleep studies. That meant that I got called off and got an extra night home with the family.

For dinner last night, Ella wanted pancakes. I thought I would be the “cool” dad and attempt to make some Mickey or Minnie Mouse pancakes for her. She’s been watching Minnie Mouse on TV a lot, so I though she would think they were cool! So I fired up the griddle and made these beauties for her:

I was pretty excited about how they came out. I put them on the plate, walk them over to her and say, “Look, baby! What do they look like?”

She looks at them and back at me and replies, “pancakes!”

As one of my Facebook friends observed – “She’s not wrong!”

After dinner, she grabbed a few books to read. She has this Pete the Cat book that had a sheet of stickers in it. She’s been all about stickers lately. We’ve been finding them stuck all over the house in random places – on the bathroom wall, on the living room floor, inside the kitchen cupboard doors, etc…

I was on the floor with her and AJ and she began to place her stickers on a huge canvas …

MY HEAD!

At one point she tried to put one on my eye! I woke up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and as I was walking out, Sam was walking in. She began laughing because when I removed the stickers, I had forgotten one and had actually fallen asleep with it still on my noggin!

Today, before I took my nap before work, I wanted to get out with the snow blower and go over the driveway and sidewalks again. Before I did that, though, we bundled Ella up so she could go outside and play in the snow. I pulled her around on her sled for a bit before we attempted to go out into the snow on the lawn.

10 inches of snow made it pretty hard for her to walk around, so I kept shuffling in my boots to clear a path for her. That allowed her to play in the snow for a bit. She seemed to like falling in the snow better anyway. I showed her how to make some snow angels, but I think she just thought I was being silly. The wind cut our play short. Her nose and cheeks were really red when we went in the house. We were probably only outside for 10 minutes.

What a joy it is to spend some one on one time with her in the snow! She loves being outside!

Sadly, play time ended and when she went inside, I pulled out the snow blower and cleared snow before napping.

So many fun moments with the kids this week! God, do I love them!

Christmas 2021 Recap

Another Christmas has come and gone. I hope that you had a Christmas full of wonderful memories! This Christmas was full of a lot of joy for us, but there were some things that left me sad. I will attempt to recap and keep it as happy as possible. Many of my Facebook friends have already seen these pictures, but that’s ok.

Thursday, December 23

After working the night before, I slept for a couple hours and went and picked up my son. His brother was working that night and was coming up after work so we could celebrate Christmas Eve Morning together.

My dad and Rose came over that afternoon. Neither had met AJ yet, so it was extra special to have them here. When then walked in, Ella ran to them SO excited. She was so happy to see them. She loves them both so much!!

There is something that is so amazing to me to see my dad hold his grandchildren. There is a special light in his eyes. There are almost tears. It is so special. He always kisses them gently on the head and talks to them.

Dad and AJ

Ella was all about Grandma Rose that night! Grandma made her a Mickey and Minnie blanket, which she just loves. One of my favorite pictures from that day is the two of them snuggled up on the chair with her blanket.

Ella and Grandma Rose

My Dad, being the silly guy that he is, heard Ella saying some of the alphabet. He immediately thought of “Violent is the Word for Curly,” the Three Stooges short which features the “Swingin’ the Alphabet” song.

B A Bay, B E Bee, B I Bicky By …

So Dad had to sing it to her …

Dad’s chart was a bit off….

I was glad to get the chance to visit with them, and I am glad that three of his four grandchildren were there for him to see. Papa and Rose were very good to all my kids!

Dad and me – wish the lighting had been a bit better

Dad and Rose left around 7, and Dante’ called about 8 to say he’d gotten off work and was on his way. I was exhausted and was actually on my way to bed when he called. He asked me to stay awake, so I did. He came in and gave he the biggest hug. We had some leftover pizza, so I told him to dig in and not stay up too late!

As I crawled in bed, my heart was full.

Christmas Eve

I’m sure the day is coming when the kids will be up at like 4am to open presents! We were blessed that they didn’t wake up until after 8am! I had to laugh, though, because ever since we put the tree up, there has been a gate around it. It served two purposes. First, it kept that cat out of the tree and second, it kept Ella from pulling on the ornaments and the lights.

When she woke up and came out the the living room, she walked over the the tree and saw all the presents under the tree – and no gate. She literally just stood there – not really sure what to make of things.

Ella – perplexed

After a few minutes, Sam said it was time to go in and wake up the boys. They were already going to be leaving earlier than I thought (so Dante’ didn’t have to drive in the dark), so we wanted to get things going. We told Ella to go in and wake them up.

She ran into their room yelling, “Wake up, Bruh! Wake up, Bruh!” It was quite funny to watch my older boys stir in bed … all they wanted to do was stay asleep. Dante’ asked to sleep for another 30 minutes. I told him, “You’re sister isn’t going to wait 30 minutes and wants to open presents!” Against their wishes, they crawled out of bed and joined us in the living room.

Last year, we had to help Ella open her gifts. She wasn’t quite where she understood how to do it yet. This year, however, she was able to jump right in and rip open her gifts!

Ella – wearing the very cute PJ’s that Sam’s dad got for her

It’s neat to see how the various kids react to Christmas now. Dante is 19, so he’s very laid back. Dimitri is 14 and it depends on what he’s opening as to how excited or how much emotion he shows. Ella, she’s excited for everything. Andrew has no clue as to what is happening.

The boys

The boys are SO hard to buy for. They never seem to have any real ideas for me. Dante’ is kind of at the “gift card/money” stage. He’s happy with those. Dimitri really liked this golf game I had for the Xbox, so I made sure to get it for him to play at home.

Par for the course …

Ella, being the helpful big sister, helped open up AJ’s presents.

AJ watching sissy open gifts for him

Of course, I had to put together Ella’s basketball hoop, so she could slam dunk a few before dinner.

Two points!

After a hearty breakfast, the boys went into their room and played games for a while. Knowing that they were going to be leaving early, I made sure that dinner was done early. Keeping with my family tradition, I made ravioli with my homemade sauce. I made sure to send a jar home with the boys, as Dante’ loves it.

Personal note: I used a bit too much wine this time. I felt that it was sweeter than normal.

About 3, the boys had to leave to go home to their mom. Ella was napping when they left. When she woke up, I picked her up out of her crib and as we passed the boy’s room, she said “Bruh”? “Bruh”? It ripped my heart out. All she wanted to do was see her brothers! Sadly, I don’t think they really know how much she loves them and how important they are to her. This was the saddest moment of the entire weekend for me.

A Christmas Eve tradition for Sam and I has always been to do the Drive Through Holiday Lights display at Crossroads Village. For $10 a car, you get to drive through and see the many Christmas lights that they have on display. When the kids are older, we plan on going and doing the Christmas train ride, which is truly amazing, but for now, we just drove through.

When we arrived, we got Ella out of her car seat and let her sit on Sam’s lap as we drove through. She was so excited. As we got close to the lights, she’s yell, “Here we go, Mommy! Here we go, Daddy!” It was so cute. Sam made the comment that she loves seeing things through Ella’s eyes. This is so true! We’ve been through there every year, but this year was so much more exciting because of Ella!

Sleigh ride!

We thought about driving downtown Flint, which has some great lights, too. We decided against it, as it was getting late and the kids were tired. We went through out bedtime routine and got the kids to bed just in time for me to play Santa. I had a few things to put together so that they were ready for they kids when they woke up Christmas morning.

Christmas Day 2021

Sam wanted to be in the living room so she could record Ella seeing her presents, so I got her out of bed and asked Sam if she was ready. She said she was, so I sent Ella running into the living room. The video is priceless. The smile on her face is something I will never forget. We got her one of those Little People Jungle Rainforest things. It came with animals and makes noises and everything. It is HUGE and takes up a good part of the living room.

Here’s the monkey!

AJ’s Santa gift was a very cool floor chair. It allows him to sit up while on the floor and it’s a lot better than those Bumpo seats.

Sitting pretty

I love that both kids had “Santa” jammies for Christmas morning. Sam and I actually got matching PJ bottoms to wear that morning, too. AJ was wide awake and just taking in all the sights. I love this picture of him and Sam. What I love about it is that just above Sam’s right shoulder is a picture of Ella on her lap and in this picture AJ is on her lap.

One of Ella’s favorite gifts was a Leap Frog Tea Party set. The pot talks and it came with cups and cake.

Must be good tea!

I joked many times about having tea parties with my daughter. I am excited to say that we’ve had our first already and I am looking forward to the next one!

Yummy!!

It was daddy’s turn to help AJ open gifts. So I grabbed his stuff and we opened them up. I was as surprised as he was! LOL. Sam got him a very cool “Floor time” pillow with lights, sounds, and more.

Wow!! What’s this, daddy?

It made him like floor time a lot more….

Mesmerized

Before we all showered and got dressed to visit Sam’s folks, we attempted to take a family selfie. We have a camera that I could have set up with a timer and all, but with my cell phone, I could snap 5-6 pictures in the time it would take to get one on the camera. Good thing we went with the cell phone – because it only took us about 57 tries before we finally got this one.

Merry Christmas!

Since it was AJ’s first Christmas, we had to be sure to get a picture with him in his “First Christmas” outfit. Sam came up with the silly saying on the board and it made me chuckle!

Got him smiling and everything!

After the kids napped, we went to Sam’s folks for Christmas dinner. Sam’s mom put out an amazing spread with turkey, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, and so much more. I’m not sure why we didn’t get any pictures while we were there, and I am sad that we didn’t. We are so grateful for them and enjoyed family time together.

After we got home and got the kids in bed, Sam and I crawled into bed. Before I drifted off to sleep, I thought back over the many memories that were made and thanked God for the many blessings that He has given me. I am truly a lucky man.

December 26

Having the Christmas tree up was driving Sam crazy. Not because it was up, but because we literally had to move Ella’s toys out of that corner of the room. All of her toys were moved in front of the fireplace and it just seemed like we were always tripping over them. Long before Christmas, it was clear that on the 26th, the tree was coming down!

I spent the morning taking down ornaments, unstringing Christmas lights, folding up stockings, and putting them all downstairs until next year. Before I finished, there was one picture we had meant to get of Ella that we hadn’t gotten. So I hurried out to the garage and got the props ready before Ella and I walked the neighborhood. Here is the picture we had hoped to get earlier in the season ….

Hauling her Christmas tree

It’s back to work tonight for me, at least for a couple days. Looking back over this holiday weekend makes me smile. There are so many wonderful memories forever saved in snapshots that I will look back on often. Life is good. I am blessed.