“Hello Again, Hello …”

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Long time … no blog

Hello, my friend.  Sorry I have been away for a bit.  My last blog led to many friends on Facebook reaching out to see if I was okay.  I wasn’t.  When I wrote that blog, I obviously was a bit frazzled, but had yet to reach my breaking point.  That only took an extra few days.

I’m not going to go into a lot of detail, but I finally cracked.  Emotionally.  Mentally.  Physically.  The stresses alluded to in my previous blog, and the stress of everything that is going on eventually led to this.  During a visit with my physician, she stated that she was very concerned about me.  She decided it was best for me and my health to be off work for a few weeks.  I am hoping she is right.

Quarantine 

Since the doctor visit, I have been home.  I have only ventured out in the car a couple times – to pick up groceries we ordered online and once with Sam (more on that in later).  Many think I am crazy, but after the things I heard and seen at the hospital, the first thing I did when I brought the groceries home was set them on the porch.  With gloves on, I went bag by bag and wiped everything down with bleach wipes.  How do I know who touched the things we bought?

Remember the blog I wrote about things to do while at home?  Yeah, despite the sudden abundance of extra time, I haven’t really had a chance to do much of what was on that list.  The stack of unread books remains unread – for now.  Exercise – I took a walk or two and put leaves in bags (does that count?).  Plenty of movies I have yet to watch.  Clear coat on the wall in the kitchen – can’t do any home improvements.  Organizing digital music and folders and radio stuff – you would think I’d be on the computer more than I have been, but I am not. Clean the basement – I did this partially.  So many things on my list that I just haven’t done.  Sigh.  How damn sad is this?  I finally have the time, but just can’t put myself in the right frame of mind to do them.

Hand writing So Many Things in To Do List, business concept

Social Media

While I am trying to limit my time on social media, I admit, I still get on Facebook more than I should.  It’s not that I don’t like it, it is just that it is flooded with so many things I am trying to avoid.

  • Political Bullshit.  Blaming Republicans and Democrats for everything.  Trump bashing.  Trump Praising.  Governor bashing.  Governor praising.  Polarizing stuff.  The world is full of division and it shows on Facebook.  You have your right to your opinion and to post what you want, however, I have programmed myself to scroll by this stuff.
  • Corona Virus  – Covid 19 stuff.  Being in the hospital setting, I know the numbers.  I know the severity of it.  The various theories and conspiracies and people re-posting every article they find to “prove their point” is NOT what I need to see.  The only things I pay attention to are the things posted by the CDC and World Health Organization.
  • Sad stories.  There are PLENTY of them.  Emotionally, I know they are out there, I just can’t handle them.

I have a page I update called Celebrity Passings.  When a celebrity dies, I post a picture and farewell.  There have been more than I can count lately – some Covid 19 related, some not.  My heart is just not in it right now.

One thing I am enjoying are some of the Facebook “games” that are out there.  One of the ones I am doing right now was a challenge to post an album that influenced your musical taste for 10 days.  In support of the 2020 seniors, some are posting their own high school senior pictures (I need to do that).  Another one that was fun was to zoom in on a picture of an album cover, or a scene from a TV show or movie and post the zoomed in part to see if people can guess what it is.  I zoomed in on Doc Brown’s eyes from Back to the Future – LOL!  Great Scott!

Family Time

The one thing that I have been able to do is spend time with my family – at least most of my family.  It has been very nice to spend time with my wife and daughter. This certainly has been a wonderful way to de-stress.  Ella is getting so big, and it is amazing how her features seem to change every day!

I have been feeding the baby more lately.  She often will fall asleep while eating.  When this happens, I usually let her sleep in my arms.  I may have mentioned this before, but one thing that I love is when she smiles in her sleep.  It is just so cute.

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She is actually smiling a whole lot more.  She has a little floor mat with toys that hang down from it.  She loves lying on her back and looking at the toys.  She’s also been able to hold her head up for longer periods of time. She has a “Bumbo” chair, and she loves sitting in it.

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Ain’t it cute how she is giving us a “thumbs up” in that picture?

When the weather cooperates, we’ve been trying to get out and walk the neighborhood.  The other day it was 70 degrees.  The following day we had temps in the 30’s and 40’s with rain, snow, wind, thunder, and some sunshine!  Only in Michigan!  I had the chance to do a daddy/daughter walk through the neighborhood.  It was very relaxing and she enjoyed the time in the fresh air.

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This will be Ella’s first Easter.  We had hoped to have some professional pictures done, maybe one with the Easter Bunny.  Obviously, with the current situation and social distancing, that can’t happen.  So we’ve been trying to get some pictures here at home.  We’ll post them on Facebook for Easter.  During today’s shoot – I had to laugh.  In one picture, she curled her lip up like Elvis!  Just typing this makes me laugh.  Here she is channeling her “inner Elvis.”

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Her hair continues to baffle us.  Some days it looks brown.  Some days it looks blonde.  Some days it looks red!  A red-headed Italian?!  Oh boy, am I in trouble!!??

Missing My Boys

As I stated above, I have had the chance to spend time with almost all of my family.  My sons are with their mom as this quarantine continues.  I haven’t seen them in almost a month, maybe more (all the days are running together).  I have video chatted with them a few times, but I miss them.  When we do talk, I always have the feeling that their mom is looming over them and they aren’t free to talk.

One call from my oldest made me especially sad.  The 4th was my mom’s birthday.  She would have been 72.  Every year, my sons and I visit her grave at the cemetery.  I was planning on going, but that day, I took a new medication that was prescribed by my doc and the side effects hit me pretty hard.  I was dizzy, lightheaded, and felt sick.  I took a nap and when I woke up my sons had called.  I called them from bed to tell them I was staying home.  They video chatted with me from the cemetery.  It was sad that I wasn’t they with them.  They were both in tears.  My oldest was upset because he was close to her.  My youngest was upset because he never had the chance to meet her and it still bothers him.  I told them that when this was all over, we’d go and visit.

It has just been awful not seeing them.  I miss them terribly.  My oldest video chatted yesterday and was showing me that he is growing his beard.  He turns 18 tomorrow.  I won’t even be able to hug him!  I have a gift for him.  I plan on wrapping it and driving it to his house and leaving it on his porch for him.  I told him I bought a cake and will make it and celebrate when we get the chance to be together.

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Special Trip

Outside of going to the grocery store, I have only left the house one time.  Actually, it was me, Sam, and the baby.  I was feeling down.  Sam said we were going somewhere.  She said she had wanted to do this for a few weeks.  It obviously wasn’t a restaurant or anything, so I had no idea what she had in mind.  We all got in the car and she drove.  She drove to the cemetery.  She knew I was upset that I didn’t get to go with the boys, but she also wanted to take Ella.  She said it she wanted Ella to see one of the Pamela’s she was named after.

As you can imagine, it was emotional for me.  Sam brought a blanket and Ella and I laid on it by my mom’s grave.  My mom always hoped for a granddaughter.  I know she would have spoiled her big time! Just like with my youngest son, it makes me very sad that she never got to meet her grandma.  Sam’s grandpa is also buried at the same cemetery, so we took Ella to see her great grandpa, too!

It was a very special trip.

No Moe

One of the changes that happened recently is that we had to find a new home for one of our cats.  We had two.  Moe was our first.  Then we got Maizey.  Moe was huge.  He ate so much!  When we brought Ella home, we worried.  How were they going to react?  They both did well, so we didn’t think we were going to have issues.  We didn’t, until one night we found Moe in Ella’s bassinet.  He was laying on her, and we knew this was dangerous.

We didn’t know what to do.  By a stroke of luck, my sister-in-law’s ex’s parent’s cat had died recently.  They were looking for a cat!  They took him and treat him like a king!  We heard he has eggs for breakfast – at the table!!  He has his own heating pad on the couch.  He is living it up.  I miss him, but am happy he found a good home.

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As for Maizey, well, when Moe was here, she was moving.  She never laid by you.  She never let you hold her.  She never purred.  Well, that has all changed.  She loves being by us now.  She meows and likes her tummy rubbed.  She always seems to be by me now.  She loves to be petted and now purrs like nobody’s business.

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Happy Easter

We’ll be staying home for Easter, obviously.  We’re not even sure what we are doing for Easter dinner.  But we plan on dressing up and enjoying our day as a family. We have an Easter basket for Ella and a very cute Easter outfit.  I am sure there will be many pictures!

Faith

I’m not one to push religion on anyone.  I understand that everyone believes what they want to believe.  I realized how far from my faith I have been through this whole situation.  Over the past two weeks, I began watching messages from pastor friends of mine, and got back into reading my bible.  A friend asked me some questions about the Antichrist and it was fun to re-study that topic and chat with her.  Bottom line, my faith is important to me.  It is a key element in my coming out of this in a better frame of mind.  I plan on spending a bit more time focused on that (and Him) in the future.

A friend of mine took this picture in Grand Blanc this week (about 30 minutes south of here).  It was such a beautiful picture, I want to share it here.  Enjoy your holiday.  Happy Easter.  Count your blessings.

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I appreciate you reading.  Sorry to have been away for so long.  I’ll get through this.  It just may take some time.

I hope to be back to my normal blogging self, soon.

Be safe.  Be well.

Keith

 

 

 

 

“Hot” Summer Night Perfection

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Here in Michigan, Summer is never long enough.  This year, I am guessing it will feel even shorter.  I say that because we had a whole lot of rain that lasted well into May and June.  Many friends have said that they were late opening their pools or planting gardens because of the rain.  Finally, though, summer is here and it is time to enjoy!

I have many things that I love about summertime:  beach days, golfing, walks through the neighborhood, swimming in a pool, picnics, mowing the grass, and just generally being outside enjoying nature.  One of my favorite things about summer, is sitting around a bonfire with family and friends.

Usually, by this point in the year, we would have about 10 fires under our belt by now.  However, because of the rain and such, we’ve only had two.  We had our first on the 4th of July when we were all out in the backyard watching the fireworks.  We had our second one last night.  It was Sam and I, my aunt, my sons, and some of the neighborhood kids.  It was the perfect night.

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It was cool last night, but not chilly.  It wasn’t so chilly that we needed sweatshirts or anything like that.  We had the tiki torches full of insect repellent fuel and burned some some citronella candles to keep the mosquitoes at bay (the one downside of being outside).  We live in a society where we are always on the go, and relaxing around a bonfire helps us to forget that and actually enjoy life.

Before we were married, when I moved in with Sam, the firepit was the first home project I tackled.  It was actually a very easy and inexpensive.  I think we bought all the supplies (rock, bricks, the ring, etc…) for about $200.  That price will go up depending on what kind of pit you want and how big you want it.  You certainly can spend about $500-$600 on a big one, or one that runs on propane.  No matter what the cost, it is worth every penny!

My first experience with bonfires was back when my parents had a pop up camper and we’d go camping.  They usually got a camp site that had a stainless steel fire pit.  When you are camping, you’re out in the great outdoors!  The stars are a bit brighter, the crickets are a bit louder, and the sounds of the crackling fire cut through the silence of a dark summer night.  My folks would spray my brother and I down with Deep Woods Off or some other brand of insect spray and we’d just sit around the fire telling stories.

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Even though our fire pit is smack dab in the middle of our back yard, and the sounds of the city can still be heard, it is just as relaxing as if you were in the woods camping.  There is something “comfortable” about sitting around a campfire. Gazing up at the stars (or moon, which was awesome last night), storytelling, or just simply sitting and enjoying the peace of it all.  Time is no longer a factor – it’s amazing!

The kids love the bonfires because they mean s’mores!  I used to feel the same way as a kid!  I always found it a challenge to get that marshmallow roasted perfectly.  This rarely happened, and I got used to eating burnt ones!  Gooey marshmallows on a graham cracker with chocolate – how can you go wrong!?  Recently, I tried them with Reese’s Peanut Butter cups – that’s a game changer!!  Wow!!  Yum!

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Bonfires are special.  I really don’t know how to explain it.  It’s quality time with those you care about.  It’s quality conversation.  It’s actually laughing out loud with friends instead of texting “LOL.” It’s meaningful.  It’s making memories.  It’s a great summer night activity that continues into early fall and gets better with hoodie sweatshirts!

Light the tiki torches … I’m already looking forward to the next bonfire ….

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New Year’s Resolutions

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It’s that time again …

Every year around this time I have a joke that I recycle when I am on the radio.  Basically, I say that I am going to make some New Years Resolutions I can actually keep.  I then proceed to list how I am (1) going to gain 20-30 pounds (2) live paycheck to paycheck (3) procrastinate more and (4) personally bring back Disco.  The last one usually changes from year to year, but disco is what I used on the air this year.

In all seriousness, a recent study shows that most New Year’s Resolutions are broken by January 12th.  Wow, only 12 days!  I guess I can see that, especially if the resolutions are biggies.  I have learned that it is important to keep resolutions easy and attainable.  While I would love to lose about 100 pounds, I’ll be happy if I lose 20.

I do have some resolutions that I am planning to put in place for the new year and I think that many of them are reasonably attainable.  Some say that you should only make a few resolutions, but I have made a list of many.  I figure with a lot of them, if I achieve a couple, that’s a win!

I Resolve

  • Make More Lists.  Hey, look at that!  I am already starting on my resolutions and it’s not even 2019!  I have found that I am forgetting things. I used to make fun of people who made lists, but I now realize that those lists can help.
  • Walk More. I am not sure why I don’t do this more.  Maybe it’s because I work midnights and am tired all the time.  I don’t know.  I love to walk.  I just need to do it more.  Time to make time.
  • Exercise/Be Active.  Ok, technically, this goes with “walk more”.  I’m hoping that walking more will lead me to this one.  We’ve been debating getting a gym membership for a long time.  Perhaps we just need to make it happen.
  • Make More Coffee at Home.  I probably spend way too much on coffee from Tim Horton’s.  We recently bought some awesome cups that keep coffee hot for hours.  Making coffee is really a no brainer.  It saves money and it’s always made right (nothing worse that ordering coffee from a drive thru and it is burnt or lukewarm).  My sons bought me two bags of my favorite coffee from Coffee Beanery, so I should be set for a bit.
  • Make More Meals at Home. This goes hand in hand with the above resolution.  We recently got one of those Instant Pots.  So far, we love it!  We made some amazing Potato Soup and chicken and dumplings in it already.  I see this as being extremely helpful in making foods for us to bring to work for lunch/dinner.  Again, it will also help us save money. It will also help cut out fast food.
  • Date Nights With My Wife. My wife is pretty damn amazing.  I love spending time with her and I resolve for more date nights.  Many date nights can consist of dinner or going out, but we have also enjoyed home cooked meals and time together on the couch watching movies.  I am going to make it a point of pampering her regularly in the new year.
  • More Family Time. This kind of goes with the last item, except this is more geared toward my sons, my dad, and my brother.  I have been meaning to take my sons out to learn how to golf.  My dad did that with me, and I think they might enjoy it.  I also want to throw the ball around more with them.  My dad lives an hour away, and I am resolving to do more visits to see him, whether it is just my wife and I, or with the boys.  I am also hoping to make a jaunt down to see my brother, who lives in that state with the very bland landscape – Ohio.
  • Drink More Water.  Ok, I am not stupid.  I know how drinking water helps with weight loss, blood pressure, and healthy living in general.  I, however, always seem to drink coffee…because I work midnights!  Well, I am making it a point in the new year to drink more water.  Along with that, I will plan on more visits to the bathroom to pee.
  • Read a Book a Month.  I absolutely LOVE to read!  I read a variety of genres.  I love biographies, mysteries, and historical stuff.  I have a stack of books at home that I have been meaning to read, and I am hoping to read all of them before the year is up.  This is one resolution I hope to over shoot.  I would love to read two or three books a month, if I can.  My wife and my boys got me some great books for Christmas that will probably jump to the top of the “to read” stack.
  • Give a Compliment a Day.  I know I am always glad when someone offers me a compliment.  Recently, I did a bit about Stan Lee on the radio.  My boss texted me and said how much he liked it.  The next day, one of the other jocks from another station in the building said that she had heard another bit I did on the air and said how much she was impressed by it.  Getting a compliment makes you feel good – so why not give them out often?  I plan on being generous with compliments in the new year.
  • Book a Trip. My wife and I will be celebrating one year of marriage in March.  We’re not sure where we’re going yet, but have some destinations in mind.  An anniversary trip will be booked soon!
  • Say “No” More. Very often we are pulled in many directions.  We often feel that it is necessary to agree to something, even though we really don’t want to do it.  We commit to things to make others happy and by doing so we sacrifice things that are important to us.  It’s ok to say “no”, and I plan on doing it a bit more this year.
  • Get More Sleep.  This, in itself, is a huge challenge.  With the time off over the holidays, my body has been very happy to get a decent amount of sleep.  I am really hoping to keep up that momentum and continue to get at least 6 hours every night.  This is not always easy, but I know all too well the importance of a good night’s sleep.  I work as a sleep technologist and we are forever telling patients the importance of sleep.  Time to practice what I preach.
  • Listen More/Complain Less.  Not really sure why I bunched these two together, but I did.  As I stated in a previous blog, we often don’t really listen to what people are saying to us because we are already formulating our response while they are still talking.  I am really going to try my best to listen more.  I am also very quick to complain about certain things.  Rather than complain, I am going to find the positives and focus on them.
  • Get Organized.  You know what is sad?  I actually think I am organized…..until I need to find something.  My wife will often make fun of me because I tend to sort things in “piles”.   The “to do pile”, the “to call” pile, the “not sure what to do with” pile, and so on.  I’m not sure how to do this….but I hope to figure it out within the next 12 months and am open to suggestions.
  • Expand My Vocabulary.  My friend, Johnny, gets an email with a “word of the day”.  I know there are also calendars with a “new word everyday” you can buy.  I might have to look for one.  Learning new words is just one of the things I miss about elementary school.  I always enjoyed getting a list of words and learning them.  I used to “show off” by using those new words in front of relatives!  I still try to use the word “kibitz” at least once a week!
  • Limit Phone Time.  Let’s face it, we are glued to our cell phones!  I need to remind myself that there is more to life than Memes on Facebook.  When I am home with my wife or with my kids, I am really going to try to put the phone down so that I can enjoy time with them.
  • Show My Gratitude.  “Thank You” are two words that cannot be said enough. Sadly, there are many who neglect to say them when they should.  I resolve to express my gratitude to those who help me, those who do something for me, or those who just offer a compliment or advice.  A friend of mine has what she calls a “gratitude journal”.  Every night, she writes something she is thankful for.  She then reviews it at the end of each month.  What a cool idea!  Might be interesting to actually see all the things in your life that you are grateful for on a regular basis.
  • Make “Me” Time.  A few years ago, I realized that I could not improve the other things in my life, until I started to improve “me”.  How can you make others happy when you yourself are not happy?  Finding time for yourself is such an important and overlooked thing!  Maybe that “me” time is reading a book, watching cat videos on YouTube, or cutting the grass.  Whatever it is, finding some moments for yourself is beneficial for everyone.  I will be sure to set aside “me” time often in the new year.
  • “Making a Decision on School”.  My wife basically gave me an ultimatum recently.  I have been going back and forth as to whether or not to go back to school.  This is probably the most daunting thing on my “to do” list.  It is such a big question mark!  There are so many things to consider.  I need to figure this out….and I will.
  • “Write More”.  Through the encouragement of others, I have found writing to be one of my favorite things.  My brother got me a book with creative writing topics, some of which will be future blogs.  While many blogs I write are personal, I also like to write about movies, music, and other things.  I have a feeling much of the “me” time I will have, will be spent writing.

So there they are.  That’s some list, huh?  Maybe I’ll be able to accomplish more than one of these things in 2019.  Maybe you will find something on my list to add to your list of resolutions?  I hope so.

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Now, if you can do me a favor and every once in a while ask how I am doing on my list … I’d appreciate it!

Wishing you much success and all the best in 2019!

Keith