Bend the Knee

Why are things getting tougher?!??? As they age shouldn’t things be easier. I mean I understand the phrase “little kids little problems, big kids big problems,” but should at least certain activities be easier?

Case in point: getting my children into their pajamas. Every night it’s like trying to tame a Targaryen dragon. It’s like trying to get a catch a greased pig. It’s like Rocky chasing that damn chicken. The worst part is… they both know it. They know it’s a struggle and they love it. It’s a game to them. I hate losing… so do they.

Jackson can be convinced, he’s somewhat reasonable. It’s Oliver though who is night in and night out ready to go to war over putting his pajamas on. I can’t say it’s WWE in my house every night when I’m getting trying to get him in pajamas but it is definitely challenging most nights.

You can see it in his eyes as soon as the door to his bedroom swings open. It’s like his promo music comes on the Jumbotron and his chin is held high and chest sticks out a little further. He knows the battle is about to begin. Picture Jon Snow drawing his sword as the Battle of the Bastards is about to begin.

He straightens his legs and becomes stiff as a board. That first leg slides into the onesie with little to no problem… then the battle begins! BEND THE KNEE DAMN IT!!! BEND IT!!!! He doesn’t and he won’t. Not willingly at least.

Try what you want… try to bend it yourself… not a chance. Try “this little piggy” on those little toes… hell try tickling him. All of a sudden he’s able to withstand all attempts to get him to laugh. Bring in reinforcements… mom, older brother. No matter… he ain’t budging. He ain’t bending that knee. Not until he’s sure you’ve lost your will to keep trying. Not until he’s broken your spirit. Not until he’s confident you know he’ll never Bend The Knee… until he’s ready

Pop Pop > Cancer

Fu£k Cancer. No seriously…. F*CK CANCER. It’s just getting annoying at this point. Like a lingering guest that just won’t leave… just always there in the background. Everywhere you turn he’s just there. You can’t shake it no matter how hard you try.

I can’t count how many family members I’ve lost to cancer anymore it’s just too many and this week we lost another. Stephanie’s dad, (Pop Pop to the boys) succumbed to cancer of the esophagus, stomach, lungs, bone… f*ck it… cancer of the everything. He fought it at least seven years and the dude never complained. Well he complained about everything else, but never cancer.

He lived a pretty quiet life, he loved fishing and telling me how I could do a better job maintaining my pool. (He was right by the way, I was always so annoyed that every piece of advice he gave me on the pool turned out not only right, but 10x more efficient than the way I was doing it). He kept a pristine lawn and would be so pissed when I used to mow it at the old house and the lines weren’t the way he liked them. That was him, well to me it was. A father-in-law and annoying advice giver.

To Stephanie he was a dad and to the boys he was a grandparent. He was remarkably good with children for someone who you’d think wouldn’t have the patience to deal with them. He was calm… always calm with them even during temper tantrums and times when he couldn’t figure out how to use FaceTime. He visited when he could and when he was feeling up to it, he’d make the hour drive sometimes just to spend a few minutes with them and then take the long trip back home.

Oliver was just starting to say “Pop Pop” and Jax finally thought him how to FaceTime with the camera facing the right way. He spent his last days with my mother-in-law by his side and Stephanie holding his hand. Cancer had taken his smile and his terrible jokes… but he still held his daughter’s hand tightly until the very end. That’s what fathers do and he wouldn’t let cancer take that from him.

Stephanie received a card in the mail a day after he passed away. It was a birthday card that he had scribbled his name on a few days before he passed away to make sure she would get it in time in case he became too sick to to write his own name.

I can’t imagine how hard that must have been for Steph to have to read. Everyone always says that moms are the toughest people in the world and Mrs. Chronicles of a New Dad is no exception. She’s a trooper and an excellent example of how you can show sadness when you feel it, but be strong when you need to be too. I’m happy our sons have her as a role model.

You’ll be missed “Pop-Pop.” Keep an eye on the boys for us. 💔

PS: Everyone go call or text your dad/mom (or loved one) tonight and tell them you love them.

Happy Valentine’s Day

In what seems like 100 years ago I met a young lady with the whole world in front of her. She asked for some help carrying things up to her dorm room and of course the gentleman that I was… Could not leave a damsel in distress. In all reality I volunteered to carry some water bottles up to her room… but so started what would become two children, two dogs, a house, some laughs, some tears and a whole lot of love.

There’s been work. There’s been more work. There’s been interviews that have led to more work. Work that’s lead to more work. And then after that there’s been work because the work we do needed more work to be done. And all that work sometimes leads to frustration, short tempers, and the need for a quiet peaceful night. And then you get home to these two amazing, loving, kind, beautiful children and everything is right in the world again.

There are times that are tougher than others, there are times where you can imagine where the last 18 years have gone. I remember continually limping into the orthopedic on crutches and depressed that my track and field career could be over… I remember her accompanying me time after time comforting me helping me through one of the worst times of my life at that point. I knew then she was the one… She was less confident for a while as she wouldn’t agree to be “my girlfriend.” That was until the cast came off and I thought things couldn’t get any better.

I remember sitting on the rooftop of the hotel in Wildwood. I remember being on the phone with my buddies, I remember the butterflies I remember the nerves I remember walking downstairs and being told by Jay and Brea that I better shave and put on something nice I remember sitting on the rooftop of the hotel in Wildwood. I remember being on the phone with my buddies, I remember the butterflies, I remember the nerves, I remember walking downstairs and being told by Jay and Brea that I better shave and put on something nice.

I shaved, I put on a purple Abercrombie polo, and I wore sandals. I was such a dork. I walked on stage, got up in front of thousands of people and asked the most amazing woman I’ve ever met to marry me. I’m still not sure if she actually said yes… but all these years later we’ve made it through a whole lot of stuff… good and bad… a couple of houses, multiple roommates, doggie hospitals, knocked out teeth, multiple wetlands violations, wiggle ball tournaments that led to broken vertebrae, parties that led to getting “iced,” winter power outages that led to sleeping like revolutionary war soldiers in front of a fire, baseball games, Football games, Backstreet Boys’ concerts (not my idea), glasses, contacts, Lasic surgery, great friends, great neighbors, great family members, a marriage that is stronger than ever… and most importantly… two of the most amazing children any parents could ask for.

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” -Ferris Bueller

I’m glad we’ve taken the time to stop and look around a bit. You’re a better mother than I ever thought possible, you deal with my annoying personality daily and you’re not so bad to look at.

I love you more now than the day we met. Thanks for letting me carry your water bottles up to your room.

Love Always,

Me

…and Jackson

……and Oliver

………and Buster

…………and Max

Happy Second Birthday Oliver

Two years old? Like how is that possible. (I mean I know how it’s possible in a literal sense… but still, I just can’t believe it. Thank you to an amazing mom who has done everything for this happy, healthy little man… a very caring older brother who has not one time pushed him down a flight of stairs… a loving Bammy who has helped to raise this little man. His Auntie buys him more clothes than any child needs and his Mima continues to buy him those damn remote control Magic Track cars which drive me crazy… thanks for that and thanks to all the amazing family and friends who have contributed in one way or another.

Dear Oliver,

I’m not sure what it’s like being the youngest or the second born. I was the oldest and loved that role, but I can imagine it’s not always easy being the little guy. Then again you are almost as big as your brother, so I’m not so sure how much longer we can use the phrase “the little guy.”

I guess the first thing I need to say is thank you. You have been an amazingly perfect blessing to mom and me. You have brought so much joy and happiness to everyone around you. Your huge smile and whimsical personality. You walk in and you light up the room. People are in a better mood when you are around. It’s unreal how much joy a little boy’s giggles can bring to so many people.

You’ve given your brother a best friend and especially someone to get in trouble with, although at times I suspect Jax is the one blaming you for his trouble, but that’s what older brothers are supposed to do! I love watching you two play together. I love watching how your eyes light up when you see him. I think Jax is a happier little boy because of you. You just do that to people. You make everyone better… happier.

You’re already such a sweet and caring little boy. You show kindness and compassion at such an early age it makes us forget how young you still are (I’m sure the fact that you eat like a grown man I’m sure contributes to that as well). You’re going to be a momma’s boy for sure, don’t get me wrong… being a momma’s boy is a great thing… just look at uncle Vinny.

Please keep your smile as big as it always is… your laugh as loud and continue to be inquisitive about the world around you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, when you say sorry- mean it, be kind to strangers and animals and love your mother and brother. If you do those things you’ll always be in a good place.

I’m proud of you. I love you and I’m so thankful you came into our lives. Happy birthday (not-so) little guy

Love always,

Dad

Kindness Matters

“Random acts of kindness,” “look for the good,” and “pay it forward” have become popular phrases across social media, talk shows and in every day society.

Kindness has so many benefits not only for the person receiving the kindness but for the one who experiences the good feelings that are produced when being kind to others. The endorphins that are created from doing something kind activate areas of the brain that are associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust. Those same feelings can be contagious. They can be passed on to others and in turn help support positivity.

Teaching kindness is one thing… modeling kindness is another. Stephanie and I try to model the character traits we want out sons to exhibit. Do we do this every second of the day? No. Are we perfect? Not by any means. But, over the course of time saying please and thank you, saying sorry, holding the door for someone you don’t know and just smiling takes hold. Our children see kindness and in turn show kindness.

Jackson’s teacher reached out to me last week to tell me that a child who struggles with motor skills, was having some trouble reaching his name tag… Jackson left his center, walked over to the other child helped him reach his name tag, put it on him, held his hand and walked him over to his center. You can’t ask for much more. This little boy is kind at heart. He cares for other people, he be always puts others first (except for when he wakes his mom and I up at 5:30 in the morning on weekends).

Last week I got an email from one of Jackson’s teachers (his teachers are absolutely amazing. We need to more often recognize the amazing things teachers do). It described an act of kindness from Jax they made me so proud, an act of kindness that you can’t teach.

I know I’m not perfect. I’m far from. I know that I could have handled many situations differently and better than I did in the past. Hindsight is always 20-20… but one thing I absolutely got right is this little boy. The world needs more Jacksons in it. I think we’d all be in a better place if we stopped to notice and model more of what we see in our children.

There’s Something About This Book

I don’t know what it is about CHICKA CHICKA BOOM BOOM. For some reason it has enamored the children in this household for years. I’m not sure if it’s the colors, the rhyming or just the repetition, but this book is so worn it’s literally in two pieces… and it’s a board book. I mean board books are literally made to withstand hurricane strength winds and other natural disasters. This book has been read so many times it is now comprised of separate parts… and my kids still love reading it.

Oliver is following on his brother’s footsteps. He’s becoming quite the reader. He loves listening to stories and interacting with the pictures. He’s engaged by text and wants to hear more every night. This kid just devours books and I wouldn’t want it any other way!

Oliver is learning his letters and loves climbing the coconut tree.

The Rough-and-Tumble Life

Most days are full of running around, hurrying everyone up to get into the car so we aren’t late, or quickly moving to the next activity because my kids have the attention span of a goldfish (do goldfish have short attention spans, because it i feel that they do). There’s rarely down time. So when we do get a chance to take a deep breath and relax it’s a nice change of pace.

A Saturday morning, just the boys at home taking it easy. A cup of coffee for dad, some milk for the boys and Blaze and the Monster Machines on repeat. I mean can you dream up a better start to your weekend? Neither can I, but that’s what easy mornings are now… a dream.

I try to let Stephanie sleep in as much as possible. I’m an early riser and waking up before anyone else enables me to have a quiet cup of coffee. I’ll gladly wake up with the birds if it means a silently enjoyed cup of coffee and an uninterrupted few minutes of SportsCenter. It rarely happens, but when it does it’s heavenly.

…I put the remote down, sit back and and take the first sip of a perfectly brewed cup of joe, sure enough, here come the footsteps down the stairs. It sounds like a stampede, did a herd of elephants just over take my once peaceful house? The scene is fuzzy as I’m still wiping crust from my eyes, but I can just barely make out a couple of sets of little arms and legs as they land on top of me knocking coffee everywhere. The dogs, once relaxed are now barking and trying to lick coffee stains out of the carpet. The day has begun.

Two little boys jump, arms outstretched, are now flying through the air. I feel like I’m participating in a Ringling Brothers’ acrobatic act. It’s just a blur of body parts pushing me over. One of these little monsters shows his claws and gnashes his teeth, I swear he’s possessed (it’s all fun and games until you need to call an for an exorcism).

I didn’t ask for this. I just wanted some kids to help with the household chores and laugh at my jokes. I didn’t realize I was going to be dealing with broken arms, bloody noses and CTE.

Exhibit A:

…Hashtag Brain Injury

Added to the chaos is the fact that Oliver is now almost two and living the daredevil life. He’s up, he’s down, he’s all over the place. He jumps off the couch with the look of an old school Hulk Hogan leg drop. He rolls down the stairs… I swear lately he’s been trying to ride Buster like a wild bull at a rodeo. As a kid you love having a tough sibling… especially when you live the rough-and-tumblr life like these two. Honestly, Oliver isn’t just a little brother, he’s a real life crash test dummy.

Exhibit B:

…Hashtag Vehicular Homicide

I’ll tell you this… Oliver is one tough little dude. He’s survived two years of Jackson saying, “I swear it was an accident dad!” Parent life is not all rainbows and unicorns around here. There’s little down time and there sure is very little quiet time anymore. But, I wouldn’t want it any other way. (Although it’d be nice to have to make such frequent trips to the ER).