Pre-K Graduation

Dear Jackson,

I wish for you anything and everything that you ever want. I hope you dream the biggest dreams and that those dreams take you to the highest peaks of the most beautiful horizons. I hope that you never lose your desire to ask questions and that you keep smiling… always.

Kindergarten is a big deal. It’s the start of something special and there is no one more deserving of everything that kindergarten has to offer than you. I don’t know if I’m the perfect dad, I don’t even know if I’m a good dad, but i do know two things… number one: I know that I love you very much… and number two: I know you’re going to be and amazing kindergartener.

I love you, Jackson. Mom loves you and so does your brother. Keep smiling and most of all… just be you.

Congratulations on “graduating” preschool.

Love,

Dad

Happy 5th Birthday Jackson

Dear Jackson,

Today’s the big day… FIVE! 5! V! Cinco! Anyway you say it… you’re a big boy now. You continue to amaze me at every one of life’s hurdles. It’s not about the easy times that show one’s character… it’s the hard times that define us.

You are kind… you are caring… and you are generous. I’m not sure there are three more important qualities anyone can have. I’ve seen you share your toys, hug and kiss your brother when he gets hurt and look after your friends who need help. Yes, sometimes you’re the one who pushed Oliver off the bed, but you always are the first one to help him back up! You need to continue to be that person. Help those in need, look out for others who aren’t as fortunate as you and smile… always smile.

I’ve watched you struggle with things, I’ve watched you get frustrated and I’ve watched you always come out a better person in the end. Sure you’ve made me curse under my breath a few times, but for the most part those days are few and far between.

I can’t believe how fast time goes. You’re five years old already? This morning you told me you don’t need help getting breakfast anymore because, “dad I’m five now, I don’t need help anymore!” Listen dude, you’re always going to need help, don’t be afraid to ask for it. And even if you don’t need it, I’ll still be right there in case you do!

I love you Jackson. Happy fifth birthday!

Love Always,
Dad

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April 27, 2014

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April 27, 2015

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April 27, 2016

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April 27, 2017

April 27, 2018

April 27, 2019

“It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.” -Albus Dumbledore

Peggy Ann McKay, Jr

Sick

By Shel Silverstein

“I cannot go to school today,”
Said little Peggy Ann McKay.
“I have the measles and the mumps,
A gash, a rash and purple bumps.
My mouth is wet, my throat is dry,
I’m going blind in my right eye.
My tonsils are as big as rocks,
I’ve counted sixteen chicken pox
And there’s one more–that’s seventeen,
And don’t you think my face looks green?
My leg is cut–my eyes are blue–
It might be instamatic flu.
I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke,
I’m sure that my left leg is broke–
My hip hurts when I move my chin,
My belly button’s caving in,
My back is wrenched, my ankle’s sprained,
My ‘pendix pains each time it rains.
My nose is cold, my toes are numb.
I have a sliver in my thumb.
My neck is stiff, my voice is weak,
I hardly whisper when I speak.
My tongue is filling up my mouth,
I think my hair is falling out.
My elbow’s bent, my spine ain’t straight,
My temperature is one-o-eight.
My brain is shrunk, I cannot hear,
There is a hole inside my ear.
I have a hangnail, and my heart is–what?
What’s that? What’s that you say?
You say today is. . .Saturday?
G’bye, I’m going out to play.

Great poem, fun to read, makes all the kids in your class laugh during a read aloud. Let’s break this poem down Common Core style.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.4.2
Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.4.5
Explain major differences between poems, drama, and prose, and refer to the structural elements of poems (e.g., verse, rhythm, meter) and drama (e.g., casts of characters, settings, descriptions, dialogue, stage directions) when writing or speaking about a text.

By first read this poem utilizes a few common literary devises. The first and most obvious being hyperbole. This first rhetorical devise is used by an author as a way to evoke strong feelings through over exaggeration. This whole poem is riddled with these exaggerated phrases. for example;

“My tongue is filling up my mouth,
I think my hair is falling out.”

In this section of this poem, hyperbole is used to exaggerate how her tongue is so swollen.

The second literary device used by Shel Silverstein is a more basic one… the simile, in which one thing in the poem compares to something else. A perfect example of this is, “My tonsils are as big as rocks.” We’ve all had a sore throat, but not as bad as Peggy Ann McKay… who’s throat is so bad it feels like her tonsils are the size of boulders when she swallows.

The third literary device Mr. Silverstein used to support Peggy’s complaints in this poem was rhyme scheme. Rhyme scheme is a poet’s purposeful pattern of lines that rhyme with the following lines. The rhyme and meter, helps to make a poem musical.

“My neck is stiff, my spine is weak,
I hardly whisper when I speak.”

The analysis above looks at what makes this poem so enjoyable, easy to read and listen to and most of all humorous. Humorous, that is, unless you’re Oliver (or his parents for that matter). We use this poem more for a check list to diagnose our littlest guy than we do for a good laugh.

I’m not sure what happened over the last six months; I don’t know if he needs to be put in a bubble or what, but he is a giant walking germ. We’ve gone from a cough and fever to a cold, to a virus, to the dreaded toddler pneumonia.

Poor Ollie’s tired all day, but he can’t fall asleep,

His head is hot, and he’s curled up in a big heap.

I’m pretty sure there’s something in his ear,

I don’t even think he can hear.

Shel Silverstein I’m not (clearly from the stanza above), but I’m pretty sure we are raising the second coming of Peggy Ann Mckay. Let’s just hope he feels better this weekend…

Wait… You say today is… Saturday? Crap, he’s still not okay!

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.

Please Send Help

Please someone help. Send help. Send reinforcements. Send in the National Guard. I’m so unbelievably tired. At this point my body just doesn’t even know the difference between day and night. I can’t remember what the inside of my eyelids look like anymore.

For some reason everyone thinks it’s just new parents who don’t get any sleep. It’s just understood that a newborn causes exhaustion and endless nights. Of course having a newborn involves screaming, midnight feedings, and every-two-minute baby breathing checks. It’s not that bad though. Honestly. It’s par for the course. So, know you’re not going to get a ton of sleep, people around you know you aren’t going to get a ton of sleep and everyone lends a hand and pitches in. People bring you food and drinks. They offer to hold the baby so you can nap or shower, or nap in the shower.

Then years go bye and a second kid comes along. No one cares. No one even bats an eye about your lack of sleep anymore. No one brings you a lasagna, or asks you if you want to go rest for an hour or seven.

At first, people understand that bringing new life also brings exhaustion. It happens, we’ve all felt it. Even Jackson as a baby, who slept extremely well, at least would be up only a few times to eat. The thing is, everyone thinks it gets better… it doesn’t. It doesn’t at all. It gets worse.

I’m positive I’ve read somewhere that it’s a scientific fact that parents never feel like fully-functional human beings ever again. Either that, or the meaning of what a “fully-functional” person actual means just slowly morphs as the years go bye, because I CAN NOT remember what it feels like to NOT be tired. My eyes have finally adjusted to their new norm. You know the one that “feels like you’re driving late at night and you convince yourself that you can just close them for just a second,” just to rest them, and then when you reopen them, you’re seven miles down the road with no recollection of how you got there.

Babys, toddlers… it doesn’t matter. They never sleep through the night. At first you just hope they lay down without screaming like a banshee for hours… then it moves to worrying if they are breathing (OMG he hasn’t moved in 13 seconds. Is he still alive?!?? I better get up and check). Later… no more crib… you hope that little bowling ball doesn’t roll out of bed even with that gigantic wrought-iron fence you’ve strapped to their mattress… you’re still convinced it won’t hold them securely. The worries never end.

The best sleep she’s ever had (hanging over the crib, passed out)

Even as they grow… sleep doesn’t just appear… it’s more of a vision of a watering hole in a dry dessert… a mirage. Toddlers want 18 sips of milk, 12 books, 7 kisses, and a few hours of snuggling before they’ll even consider closing their eyes. The appearance of sleep is there. It’s always there. Not because you are well rested, but because you’ve learned to function on an hour or two of sleep at a time. Even as I write this, I’m amazed at how much I can accomplish with the sleep habits of an insomniac. All parents, in one way or another, just grow and adapt. We’re ready for what our day has in store for us. No matter how heavy those bags under our eyes seem.

It’s more than sleep deprivation though. You know relaxing time you enjoy to do things like pee or shower? Yea… peace out to those days too. The other day I tried to put Christmas decorations away… actually not even away… just take them down put them aside, so I didn’t have to listen to the animatronic Santa sing one more damn carol. I got about three decorations down before I gave up because… “Dad what are you doing?” “Dad can I have a snack?” “Dad Oliver is flushing the trains down the toilet…” “Dad Oliver is trying to ride the dog again!” Dad can I have a snack…” Dad can Oliver have a snack?” …and that was all in one breath.

I always have a tiny human being hanging off me. Hanging on my arms, attached to my leg, under my feet, climbing the wall… they are always somewhere they shouldn’t be. There is NO downtime. NO quiet time. No time to just do mindless things you used to do to relax. The army should just start using toddlers for training their recruits. The level of functioning parents operate on with constant demands, screaming, toys wizzing through the air, and the high pitched screams that come from a toddler who can’t find their red crayon is magical.

Steph nor I have gone to the bathroom solo in four years. Somehow my oldest son has learned to pick locks. This little Ocean’s Eleven wannabe has figured out how to interrupt the one private time us parents used to have. You’d think you could have a few moments to scroll through your twitter feed, or check a few emails whist in the bathroom. That is, until the door slowly, quietly slides open and your child sticks their little head through like the “Here’s Johnny” scene from Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.

Have I mentioned how tired I am? The most rest I get during the day is my hour and a half at the gym lifting weights and running a few miles. Yes, that’s rest now. Don’t get me wrong… parents aren’t sleepwalking through their day. We just learn, we grow and we adapt. We got this. But with the lack of sleep I’m functioning on… if I hear the Bubble Guppies theme song one more time, I might just snap.

……

………

…………. please… just five more minutes!

Happily Ever After

We’ve been through a lot. Raising two little boys is more work than anything I’ve ever imagined. It’s not easy, it’s not pretty, it’s definitely not clean (I was puked on three times today and the diapers that I change were unlike anything that I’ve ever seen before).

The thing is… I wouldn’t trade this for anything in the world. Thank you to my beautiful wife, two dogs (no man is whole with out his best canine best friends) and most importantly thank you to my two little guys… even if it means getting puked and pooped on…

Legend says “Marriage lets you annoy one special person for the rest of your life.”

Why Tattoos are Life

Tattoos have been around for centuries and getting a tattoo inspired by your children or your favorite book is nothing new… therefore it’s no surprise that all of my tattoos are directly connected to my sons and/or Harry Potter.

As a guy who enjoys tattoos… I wanted to get some ink done to represent my first after he was born. I decide on a meaningful representation of father and son taken from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows [short story] “The Tale of the Three Brothers.”

The story’s moral is that you should live life for the right reasons: love and those you love. The youngest brother in the story was a humble man and when he met Death at a crossroad in his life he asked for something that he could use to go forward and live a long and happy life, something in which he was allowed to see his child grow. He was given a cloak of invisibility and thus because of this he attained a great age and passed The Cloak of Invisibility to his son. I was happy to get a tattoo representing a moment that every father dreams of… Passing down something (knowledge, skill, an invisibility cloak) to their child which will ensure he will live long, happy and successful live.

When I decided it was time to get a tattoo honoring my newest little man it was obvious it would be something related to his name, Oliver, and also had to have some connection to Harry Potter. The olive branch has a very symbolic meaning which made it the perfect choice both references. The Olive Branch symbolizes a beginning of a new life. In the Harry Potter story, Oliver Wood is the first Quidditch player we meet. He is the keeper and captain of the Gryffindor team. He’s an athlete, a leader and a loyal friend. He’s also and one of my favorite characters in the story.

My most recent tattoo is just as special to me as the other ones I’ve gotten that were dedicated to my sons. The first time I visited the Harry Potter theme park in Orlando, Stephanie and I were walking out after a long hot day and as we pass a shelf loaded with stuffed animals and other HP merchandise, Jax starts pointing and laughing uncontrollably. He was pointing at the blue Cornish Pixie hanging on the shelf… so of course we bought it for him. He still has it to this day… so I got his Pixie (that he calls Pickie) on my inner arm.

Here are my other Harry Potter inspired tattoos:

And a quote on my ribs dedicated to my sons: “If anything should happen to me, the love for my sons should never go unsaid.”

Do you have a tattoo inspired by your child(en) or of Harry Potter? Show them in the comments below!