Here Comes the Sun

From the Journal of Mrs. Chronicles:

5.20.20

“I’ve never seen the sun shine down the way it did like the day we did my dads memorial, until today . I believed back then that it was my dad looking down on us and I believe that even more so now seeing it again. Thanks for keeping an eye on us dad and keeping us all safe.” ❤️

A Live Saver

As parents, Steph and I are so unbelievably nervous about who let babysit our boys. We view babysitting our children, though as a scary gig. You’d think these two amazing little boys are easy to hang out with… truth is, it’s not all a bed of roses.

A good babysitter is hard to find especially during this CORONAVIRUS nonsense. The great thing is, we have more than a baby sitter. We have a teacher, someone who loves our kids and most importantly someone who can deal with the craziness of this family!!!

Miss Missa makes both our boys (and us) feel safe. Whether they are out at the “playground,” as they call it or just playing in the house, we trust her and that’s saying something.

There is a quote somewhere out there in the inter webs that says something along the lines of, “There is no one more thankful than a parent who relies on childcare for work or personal reasons.” You can’t say it better. We entrust our most important part of our lives, our most valuable and most loved part of our lives to someone other than “us.”

That’s saying something. Teachers are one thing. But allowing someone in your own house to be with your children… that’s another. I’m not an easy sell… I know child development and how to engage primary aged children. How ever, I also know the importance of the social/emotional connections as well.

The peace of mind for a parent knowing that their child or children are in capable, loving, responsible hands while they are away at work or play is priceless. Find thank you cards, send a hot air balloon or smoke signals… because Miss Missa is a life saver.

Old People Music

We’ve learned so much about each other in this family during the Coronavirus Lockdown. We’ve all spent more time together the last two months then ever before. That can be a blessing and a curse. Generally, it’s been more of a blessing. That was until Steph and I were ;for the first time) made you feel old by our children.

As we ended our work day, we decided to take the kids to the beach so they could play in the sand. We packed up everything we needed and made our way across town. Nothing says beach ready like Kidz Bop radio… but today we took a little detour… mom and dad decided to hit up a little LL Cool J “Rock the Bells XM 43” for a little extra motivation. What should come on but some 50cent “What up Gangster.” (Clean version for the kids of course).

There’s no stopping the immediate head bobbing and lip-syncing that occurs from two middle aged parents in a family SUV when 50cent begins blaring through those stock speakers. There’s just nothing that can stop it.

That is… until… your six year old begins covering his ears and screams, “Turn this off!!!! This is old people music!!!”

And just like that, mom and dad… felt extremely old… and then continued belting out a little 50cent… for the kids of course!!!

Happy Mother’s Day 2020

Dear Mom,

When you brought us into this world, I’m sure you weren’t prepared for what kind of damage and destruction we had in store for you. After all, being a good parent doesn’t come with instructions (or safety gear), but nothing kept you from loving and protecting us.

No one ever knows what life has in store for them and yet look at us. We made it! You were able to raise us and keep us safe (and let’s face it, dad is basically a toddler too, so essentially you’re raising three boys!!!) Even in a house of all guys, we all are growing up strong, happy, and caring.

Being a mom means being patient when your little boys want to run around and put stuff in the shopping cart when you just want to get the groceries and get out of Big Y. Being a mother means answering every dumb question we ask when you just want relax. Being a mother means watching “Trolls World Tour” over and over and over again even though your DVR is overloaded with Beverly Hills of Something shows. Being a mother means being able to take good care of your kids, (and dad, and Busty and Max), while still working 700 hours a week. Lastly, being a mother means being the never ending source of love and support for your kids.

You are the best mom anyone could ever ask for! Thank you for loving us and letting us grow up and learn how to be a good person from you. We love you very much!

Love Always,

Jackson and Oliver

And Buster and Max

CoronaVirus: The First Month+ (March/April)

Starting from the first day my school district and my sons’ school district/preschool closed down I began a running diary of what life has been like in “quarantine.” Below is March/April, the first month and a half of the CoronaVirus “shutdown.”

Day 1: Monday, March 16:

First day of social distancing. People can’t go to school, work, bars, restaurant’s, movies, parks… anywhere. People literally have nowhere to go and the virus continues to spread.

NYC is literally a ghost town. Central Park is empty and Times Square is dark. The world is literally shutting down and the zombie apocalypse is upon us, yet my wife is still shopping.

Day 2: Tuesday, March 17:

There’s some semblance of a routine here. Morning meeting: singing the hello song Oliver sings, “Hello to a fart,” and Jackson farts almost perfectly on cue. Both laugh endlessly. All is well in this house (for now). Reading stations. Schooling actually happens for 15 minutes. (I still got it).

Got a message from my my mom about teaching, “Good job. You still know how to teach! Good job Jax and Ollie. Nothing like home schooling. When’s recess!??!?”

Day 3: Wednesday, March 18:

Steph is now officially working from home. My routine (two days worth) is ruined already. This is going to be really difficult.

Having completely different parenting styles is hard enough when you are alone with the kids. But, having completely different parenting styles when you are both together with them (especially for an extended period of time) is infuriating.

On a side note, today was notable as I used a circular saw and still have all ten fingers. Jax and I made a canopy for the fish tank. I’d like to share that we are both good looking and pretty handy, if I do say so myself.

Day 4: Thursday, March 19:

A ton of at home work today. The kids were completely left to fend for themselves. They have now turned feral.

Oliver is on all four barking like a dog. Jackson just lifted his leg and peed outside. We got to a point today where we had to just cage them to keep some order around here. It was a tough decision, but in the end it was in everyone’s best interest.

Day 5: Friday, March 20:

Actual quote yelled at the top of my lungs to my two children, “Have either of you heard of the Hunger Games?!?? If not you better read up, because that’s where we’re headed right now”. I’m confident I won’t make it out of this “quarantine” with multiple children.

Day 6: Saturday, March 21:

Our first casualty of the quarantine was Oliver’s nose… he looks more like Rocky in this picture than Sylvester Stallone does.

Then again it was the weekend. So this dad, principal, teacher and husband got a break. Nope, just kidding. I spent the day breaking up slap fights and hand sanitizing everything with in ten feet of me.

Since today seemed to be full of quotes it’s only right that I end that way:

Two quotes that define our week of quarantine:

“No!!!! Give me that booger now!!!”

“Does anyone in this family sew!!??”

Day 7: Sunday, March 22:

“And on the seventh day he rested.” Even the Lord took a day to himself. Now I’m not comparing myself to God, but if anyone deserves a rest you’d have to vote working from home parents with two little boys as a top candidate.

Day 8: Monday, March 23:

The first day of true distance learning for our kindergartener. He was amazing. Mom set up a sticker chart for him and he earned one for every task (including his secret chore… which was fake and we just made up because we needed him to help).

Today provided another challenge for the quarantine/homeschool/work from home process. We woke up to a theee year old with a 105.3 fever and went to sleep with a 103.

Day 9: Tuesday, March 24:

Today I walked in on an interesting conversation. I heard mom ask, “Oliver where does a burp and a fart come from?” Oliver’s response equally as troubling as the question, “your mouth.”

Jax had such an interesting and exciting morning. I guess it’s his new normal… his teacher and class did a group ZOOM Conference Meeting!!! I guess social interaction with his teacher and friends VIA a computer screen are his new normal. They are everyone’s new normal.

Day 10: Wednesday, March 25:

We practiced yoga today. We all needed it today. I don’t know who needed it more… me or them. The house walls are closing in on everyone. It’s a relatively crappy day and everyone is stuck inside except for a few quick runs in the rain and some jumping in puddles.

I can’t organize anything around here anymore than I already have. I’m beginning to reorganize things that have only been organized twice so far this week.

Day 11: Thursday, March 26:

I traveled out of the house to pick up some essentials. People have officially lost it. A woman at CVS was holding a plastic bag over her nose and mouth. Apparently suffocation is an ok way to go out, but COVID-19 is where she draws the line.

The kids are pretty much teaching themselves at this point. Jax was reviewing sight words with Oliver earlier in the morning and rewarding him with NillaWafers for every correct answer. It was like watching a trainer feed the seals at Sea World for performing tricks.

Day 12: Friday, March 27:

Joe Exotic thinks he’s a tough guy hanging out in a cage with five vicious tigers???

Please… try navigating distance learning and 12 days stuck in a house with a 6 and 3 year old.

Day 13: Saturday, March 28:

There’s only so much you can when it’s cold and rainy outside during a time of social distancing. I lit a fire. I might have burned stuff around the house purely for researching purposes in case the quarantine turns into a shelter in place (of course the fire happened in a safe and supervised manor)…

1. diaper box- forgot to take off the tape and shipping label. That smelled bad! Also, it didn’t fall out of the fireplace and almost light all of Steph’s EASTER decorations on fire.

2. An avocado peel. Cool flame color from that.

3. A wet log from the outside fire pit (my bad I forgot it was out in the rain, it didn’t feel wet)

4. Some random lint I found in the under-underneath of the couch cushion (there was a tiny hole in the back side of the couch in which i found the above mentioned lint, a cupcake wrapper, a fire stick remote, three Direct TV remotes, three magnets and some painters tape.

Day 14: Sunday, March 29:

Rainy Sundays are always a bore, but even more so when you’ve already been home for 14 straight days. We needed to spice things up a little bit and there’s only so many times you can recreate scenes from Frozen II. That’s when the perfect song came to mind.

As rock music blares through the house, the boys and I are standing in our boxer shorts in the middle of kitchen feeling very free and ready to bring some excitement into this dark and rainy Sunday afternoon. Jax and Oliver clearly stole the show as they strut across the room with makeshift microphones and oxford button downs. I’d like to say my slide would have given TOM Cruise a run for his money… but then again, I’d rather keep that video hidden from the public eye.

The day ended in a makeshift fort (that resembled a pretty well built lean-to that even Bear Grylls would be proud of) all snuggled up watching… what else? FROZEN II.

Day 15: Monday, March 30:

The kids are shockingly having spaghetti and meatballs for the 8th day in a row.

Day 16: Tuesday, March 31:

You know Distance Learning has become just another day when your three year old has his own Zoom Meetings to attend. Oliver got to Zoom his friends today. Witnessing multiple toddlers try to figure out how to take turns on a video conference call was as insanity!!!

We’ve now resorted to posting a ZOOM MEETING family schedule.

Day 17: Wednesday, April 1:

It’s Poppa Peep’s birthday today. We spent the day prank calling him. Jackson thought it would be funny to get Alexa to sing him, Happy Birthday dear fart!”

Day 18: Thursday, April 2:

Today was a lot. The New Normal is beginning to be just normal. There’s so much to balance… but in reality there’s always so much to balance. I try to continue to look at things as they come. There’s always another hurdle to get over (track and field reference) and if you know how to be flexible… truly flexible and more importantly resilient, then you can continue to get through things. Never perfectly, never easily… but you can continue to evolve.

Jax has taken this massive change very well. He’s struggled a bit, but that’s expected. He misses school, his friends and his teacher, but he’s dealing way better than I’d have ever imagined a five year old would. Oliver however, is a mess. There’s been a lot of tears and lot of falling asleep around 4:30 wherever his head hits a pillow.

We’re all exhausted. Everyone’s exhausted.

Day 19: Friday, April 3:

Today I ventured out… I had to make a trip to the UPS Store. It was what I expected. People standing far apart from each other and giving dirty looks if you coughed or let alone breathed heavily.

I’m at the point where I’m convinced if someone hears me sneeze than some government agents are going to come get me like in Monsters, Inc.

Day 20: Saturday, April 4:

It feels like the 473rd day of the year. Luckily, I love being around my kids. Yes, they drive me and mom nuts, yes they can be as annoying as Lloyd Christmas on a road trip… but in the end, this extra time with them is a blessing.

Day 21: Sunday, April 5:

It had to happen. The two of us. The hair was out of control. Shaved heads.

Oliver… get ready. You’re next.

Day 22: Monday, April 6:

Steph and the kids are down at the bottom of the driveway now drawing a six foot containment area with sidewalk chalk so that their best friends could come over to say hi.

Jax decided to draw it a little bit up from the bottom of the driveway so that they could park at the bottom of the driveway to block it off. He asked if everyone could bring some chairs so that everyone could sit and talk.

I’ll put my kids chairs in the bed of the truck, I don’t trust them otherwise. High school kids is a different story. Harvey and Oliver will immediately run up to, and lick each other!

Day 23: Tuesday, April 7:

Good day today, Zoom meetings and Google Hangouts for days, but it was actually one of the first smoothly run days so far. Things ran like clockwork. One meeting ends, the next one starts, Jackson’s school work was done with little pushback and lots of higher level thinking. Oliver ate more of his lunch and dinner than he fed to the dogs for once.

I gotta say it was a good day!

Day 24, Wednesday, April 8

Today was a relatively light day. Lots of Zoom meetings, and a few teacher and parent chats. Interestingly, I was notified by a student VIA Email that researchers in India, recently discovered a new species of green pit viper and that they have decided to name the snake after the “Harry Potter” book series character Salazar Slytherin.

The fact that during this unprecedented time in education a student reached out to me about a random snake in India and its relationship to Harry Potter let’s me know I’m doing my job as an educator in both building relationships and promoting reading!

Day 25: Thursday, April 9:

Buster and Max must think we quit our jobs to spend all of our time with them. They are in heaven with all the attention and extra food they are getting everyday!!!

Day 26: Friday, April 10:

Our town’s school lunches are on point. We decided to pick up today after reading that every child in town qualifies and that it helps keep the school’s meal numbers up which helps with funding. Plus Jax was so excited for a “hot lunch.” This massive haul is for both kids and on Friday’s they give you three days worth for the weekend!

Although I will say, Jax was very disappointed they package the calzone with broccoli, because now the calzone smells and taste like broccoli. Also factor in that Stephanie told Jackson to dip his calzone in the sauce that came with it… Mind you it was salsa not marinara.

Day 27: Saturday, April 11:

I’ve seen Trolls world Tour six times in two days and Onward twice. Jax is in two pairs of underwear because there’s no school today, he said. Oliver wore no socks; Jax had on one sock all day. Their feet are filthy. Oliver just drew a goatee on his face in sharpie, guess what I.DON’T.GIVE.A.SH!T

Day 28: Sunday, April 12:

Easter

Today we celebrated Easter… from a distance. Well… the distance between the street and the front yard.

The Easter bunny did a quick drive-by and left some eggs in the house… And the neighbor sent their Easter bunny over to drop off some eggs in the front yard… And then Mima and Papa keep came a bit later and dropped off even more Easter eggs.

Needless to say there are more pennies nickels and dimes in this house than you can even imagine. There’s candy flowing from every orifice and every cabinet. It’s stacked on every shelf and hiding in every drawer.

Day 29: Monday, April 13:

First day of April Vacation

I’m done. I’m listening to Stephanie just threaten the boys, while I hide in the Harry Potter Cupboard. They just laugh at us. They are in control and they know it.

To top off our first day of “April Vacation” we lost power.

Two toddlers ✅

Corona Quarantine ✅

Pouring Rain ✅

Power Outage ✅

Pray for us 🙏🏼

PS: Sometimes I wonder if they got this corona if it would slow them down?

Day 30: Tuesday, April 14:

I couldn’t get five seconds to do anything today. I take out the lawnmower, “can I push?!!!” I take out the rider lawnmower, “can we drive it?!??” I take out the weed wacker, “can we use it!???”

Want to know how I solved that problem. I gave the kids two pairs of scissors and told them that they had a very special tool that was used to trim long grass against the pool fence.

It kept them busy for almost 45 minutes. And the best part is Oliver used scissors with the plastic blades that doesn’t cut anything but Play Dough.

Day 31: Wednesday, April 15:

I can not watch Trolls World Tour one more time, I just can’t!!!

Day 32: Thursday, April 16:

“The best day of my life!” According to Jackson. For the first time he asked to go out and play baseball together, unsolicited. He hit, I pitched, we laughed, I cheered and he kept asking for tougher pitches. It was amazing.

I am so impressed with the development of his swing over the course literally only an hour. He hit righty and lefty and by the end of the day he was identifying what he did wrong with his swing, even if he made contact.

We also had another first for Oliver. He received his first ever REAL baseball glove. I’d been saving it and had it stored away for the right occasion and today was the perfect occasion. A beautiful sunny (quarantined) day, to play the field while his brother took BP!!!

Day 33: Friday, April 17:

Quarantine art project… the kids repurposed old chairs from my school. They really look great and will brighten up the office! I’m excited to get back and set them up.

I won’t lie, as excited I am to get back, I am loving the extra time with my family.

Day 34: Saturday, April 18

No comment. I’m done. I have nothing to say about this nonsense anymore.

Four humans and two dogs… I don’t know if this is even real life anymore. I literally put shoes on this morning just to remember how they felt.

It’s effecting everyone:

Jackson: Is today Saturday?

Me: What do you think?

Jax: You don’t know either, do you?

Day 35: Sunday, April 19:

It’s such an interesting time right now. How can we explain “social distancing,” quarantine, or the cancellation of life as we know it to our children, now and even later?

Its not even like saying, “what was life like before DirectTV, cell phones, or the internet, etc.” In those days you could at least walk to your neighbor’s house, or down the road and play with everyone in your neighborhood. Now, my children are begging to talk to the neighbors across the street.

“Dad, when the coronavirus goes away, can Kendal and Scarlett come over to play again??!?? I really miss them!”

Of course they can buddy… when… that’s the question.

Day 36: Monday, April 20:

So, today the governor issued an executive order in Connecticut. Masks or cloth face coverings are now required in public in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus as the number of cases nears 18,000 and the death toll passes 1,000. This isn’t a problem for me as I had my mask all set to go.

Day 37: Tuesday, April 21:

I give up. Kids are now fending for themselves. “Ohh you’re thirsty, find a puddle.”

Day 38: Wednesday, April 22:

Pouring rain outside✅

Social Distancing in effect ✅

Every place closed ✅

Indoor bounce house…

Best investment ever ✅

Day 39: Thursday April 23:

It’s barely the end of April, but we needed to do something drastic. We needed something to entertain these kids and were running out of ideas. We didn’t want to do it, but we felt we had to. It was are only option!!!

The pool is now open! The temperature outside is a balmy 53* and the temperature in the water is 41*. But that didn’t stop Oliver from splashing his feet on the steps and Jackson from attempting a penguin plunge.

Day 40: Friday, April 24

#ChroniclesOfANewUncle

Today Stephanie and I became an aunt and uncle for the second time and the boys are now cousins again to a beautiful baby boy.

Roman Micheal who surprised us a few weeks early this morning is sporting the family’s good looks and big nose. Congrats to Tricia Kershaw and Dustin Kershaw ❤️❤️❤️

Day 41: Saturday, April 25:

Day 42: Sunday April 26:

Got this message from Stephanie today:

14 days!??? Please… remind me when it’s tomorrow.

PS: Any recommendations for a Quarantined Mother’s Day gift?

Day 43: Monday, April 27:

Today we celebrated a birthday unlike any birthday ever! Our brand new SIX YEAR OLD was in heaven with all the virtual and social distancing love he got on his special day!!! Thank you to all Jax’ friends and family for an unforgettable birthday.

Telling a six year old he can’t have a party can be a difficult thing to explain. But we more than made up for it today!!! A MASSIVE SHOUT OUT TO THE FIRE AND POLICE DEPT FOR THEIR SIREN AND LIGHTS DRIVE BY!!!

Day 44: Tuesday, April 28

When your child calls your name for the millionth time during quarantine:

Stephanie still has to go into work once a week. It’s nearly impossible to work from home and still teach your kids/keep them alive.

I have so much respect for the parents who are maintaining some sort of normalcy and routine right now and even more respect for the children who thrive on structure and schedule, because most of the days we wake up and throw all of that out of the window. It’s just organized chaos at this point.

Day 45: Wednesday, April 29:

Day 46: Thursday, April 30:

With mom in budget meetings and me participating in Columbia Teacher’s College (virtual) workshops all day, the boys were set up for a rough day.

But, today the end of the month, 46 days since we went into this crazy state of quarantine, they were phenomenal. They read, worked together on math problems, and sat next to each other (arms around each other) watching a movie as the sun set on another long day of coronavirus life.

Social Distancing Birthday

Planning for children’s birthday parties in and of themselves are always painful, but try having one when dealing with a pandemic. People running all over the place, kids snots flying all over the place, Hans sanitizer flowing like a waterfall But, try actually having your child’s birthday during a pandemic.

Whether it’s your child’s birthday or someone else’s, there are plenty of ways to celebrate from home, of course some of these “virtual birthday” parties are getting out of controls, but luckily Jax has no expectations except to be with his family (which is what makes him so special). We might not be able to say “Happy Birthday” in person, but lockdown didn’t need to ruin Jax’ birthday plans completely.

We live in a town where I used to work. I have become friendly with the police and fire crews who serve our school system and became colleagues of mine. The amazing first responders came through with lights and sirens which absolutely blew Jackson’s mind! He was more excited then I’ve seen him in a long time and it was priceless. Nothing, no party, or venue could have make him smile the way those truck made him smile…

…that was until his classmates, Mima and his Cousin Dominic all drove by with sign on their car and horns blasting. Jackson was again The Mayor. He was conducting business meeting with parents, he was waving to his fans… all in all, it was a wonderful day!!!

Honestly, I think we are going to need to through him a “quarantined birthday” every year!