“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