‘‘Twas the Night Before Kindergarten”

Twas the night before Kindergarten Oliver was asleep, his lunch was set out.

And mom and dad’s faces were in a pout.

His outfit was set on the dresser with care. In hopes that the school bus would quickly be there;

Both boys were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of breakfast danced in their heads;

And mommy in ‘PJs, and I in my shorts,

Jax was excited third grade means no more Covid Cohorts!!

When out in the yard there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,

Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon shown a shadow on the still of the pool

I yawned and I shivered in the late summer cool.

When what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But a memory of a child so small we shed tears.

We cried and we sobbed while we packed up his bag  

We were exhausted and beat, time to wave the white flag. 

We spoke not a word, but went straight to sleep,

We laid down with questions, but knew he was ready for this leap.

Yes, we were sad that our boy was growing so fast, 

But we knew it was time to move on from the past. 

While mommy and daddy wished time would go slow,

We realized Ollie was ready, it was time to let go.

So now as we lay, we wish him the best. 

All we can hope is mom and dad get some real rest.

#BackToHogwarts2022

Continuing with tradition (for the eighth year in a row) I tweeted at JK Rowling for advice in dropping the boys off at Platform 9 3/4.

I’m sure by now you know that September 1st is a sacred day for witches and wizards everywhere! Back to Hogwarts Day is when the Wizarding World boards the Hogwarts Express from King’s Cross Station heading to Hogwarts.

The hope being JK herself will acknowledge my tweet and show some love to two little wizards who have the unfortunate luck of being born to the biggest Harry Potter fan this side of Privet Drive.

Kindergarten Orientation

This dude right here is about to embark on a magical journey, in other words:

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale,
A tale of a fateful trip
That started from this tropic port
Aboard this tiny ship.

There’s no doubt that this little guy isn’t so little anymore and all joking aside, if kindergarten orientation is any indication of how this school year is going to go, sign me up for the Gilligan Island’s Theme Song, because Oliver and his preschool now kindergarten friends are going to cause all sorts of high jinx!

Preschool Graduate

Our second child is graduating pre-school. Next year, he’ll be entering Kindergarten. I know, I know. You’re thinking, “Your baby is growing up!” Most parents get all teary at this revelation. In fact, the teachers gave parents tissues at the gate before the ceremony… all the parents in my son’s class get glassy-eyed when we talk about “graduating.” Especially those, like us, whose youngest child is the upcoming pre-school graduate.

Last week, mom wrote the last check we’ll ever write for preschool. For the better part of the last eight years, we’ve have had a kid in daycare or “preschool”. We loved our boys’ schools. Everyone one of them. Their teachers, their email updates during the day with pictures of our children interacting and having fun with their friends.

In preschool, there are programs for every holiday. Sweet little songs and children dressed up in costumes. Handmade Christmas gifts with photos of our kids and Mother’s/Father’s Day poems and stories and some very sketchy art projects that often resembled those ink blots that you see psychologists use in movies.

The best teachers ever!!!

The preschool teachers are family. They are more than one and done. They have watched Oliver grow from the time he was a few months old until now, in cap and gown accepting his preschool superlative Caring Classmate (I would have voted for Crazy Classmate).

Preschool graduation means no more hand-holding while walking into school. Oliver, our baby, will trade in the preschool drop-off, for the big, yellow school bus. His class size will double. We will say goodbye to the teachers who have known him since he was born. We will say goodbye to many of those hand made gifts. Kindergarten is the big time, but this time we’re ready. (Or at least we say we are). There is no doubt that Oliver is ready for the big time. He’s a leader, kind, helpful, FUNNY and his graduating class’ Caring Classmate.

Mom and I watched our baby on the preschool stage (wood chips) wearing a pint-size cap and gown, we sat through the slide show from the past five years, we saw pictures of our little boy across multiple rooms from his past five years, but the tears I anticipated didn’t come.

Instead this time, all I could do was smile and nod. This time, I was prepared, ready and confident that we did the best we could. I was confident that nothing can ever be totally planned and that the most important aspect in life is trusting that what got you to where are now will help you continue to succeed. So with that being said, Oliver keep being the caring, crazy classmate you are! Mom and I could not be anymore proud of the little boy you have become.

Oliver, you will be successful in whatever you do as long as you always put forth your best effort. Always be kind to others, treat those who need help with respect and kindness and never stop asking questions and learning from everyone you meet.

So with kindergarten on the horizon, I didn’t think I would be… but I’m ready this time. And, more importantly, so is our son.

Happy 8th Birthday Jackson

Dear Jackson,

Eight going on EIGHTEEN! Seriously, when I woke up this morning I feel like you had a full beard and were reading the Wall Street Journal. It’s insane to me how much you have grown. You are such an exceptionally hard worker, a fierce, fierce friend and most importantly a loving big brother.

Eight years after you were born and we (mom and I) are still amazed by you every single day. Yes, you drive us crazy, there is a lot more talking back and many, many more “No’s” than all those years ago, but we wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Covid has put a damper on so much of your childhood, but you continue to persist. Masks, virtual learning, vaccinations and social distancing are as much part of your birthday as cake and balloons. Yet, here you are… eight years old and still making the best of everything.

I’ve watched you pick up your brother when he falls, then push him back down five minutes later, then pick him back up again! I’ve watched Oliver have a meltdown and you try to calm him, then laugh. (Always with him, never at him… just like a big brother should do and I would know!)

You have become such a leader in your school and among your friends. You know right from wrong and always make sure to advocate for anyone that needs help.

Mom and I want nothing more than you to be happy, healthy and grow into a caring, kind and respectful young man… and if the past eight years are any indication… then you’re already there!

Happy Birthday, Jackson. We all love you very much!

Love Always,

Dad

April 27, 2014
April 27, 2015
April 27, 2016
April 27, 2017
April 27, 2018
April 27, 2019
April 27, 2020
April 27, 2021
April 27, 2022

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

Buster; a Best Friend and Brother

This is a post I knew I’d have to write one day, but never wanted to actually have to write. I have no idea how I’m going to get through without completely breaking down. But having just been through this awful course of events, if I can spare a few lines of sorrow, yet in some way figure out how to break the news to my kids, this will have been worth it.

Our Buster was our first baby. Steph and I brought him home when we were newlyweds 15 years ago. We were broke college kids and we would go to eat at Olive Garden and then go play with the puppies who were in need of of a home. It was a fun way to spend a Friday date night. Buster was there for a while. A few weeks maybe and he grew on us. I decided to bring Buster home as a surprise for Steph the day after our wedding. It was the perfect gift for both of us.

Through the years he ate through a few jackets (he preferred the taste of Northface), he was the reason for the demise of no less than 578 chapsticks, ate multiple meatballs and once farted out biscuits after eating a bag of bisquick.

Buster enjoyed many wall rides with his bestie Sadie and drank his fair share of spilled beer, but he always preferred a glass of Chardonnay to wash down a steak he had pulled off the counter (sorry Vinny)

He tolerated ear tugs from his younger brother Max and rougher than necessary “love pats” from young toddlers who didn’t know better. He kissed them and snuggled them and enjoyed eating all the food they spilled on the floor.

Over the last few months, when I imagined the end of Buster’s life (I know, morbid thought), I always pictured the vet telling me that he had some incurable disease. We never wanted him to hurt and I assumed the decision would be clear cut and obvious. But it wasn’t. I assume now it never is.

Buster’s struggles the past few months, specifically this week, we’re tough to watch. But even to the end, he was sniffing around looking for some scraps of food one of the boys left behind, or something Max might not have finished.

Everything happened relatively quickly at the end. We tried to gently tell the boys how Buster was getting old and really needed to go see the doctor soon. You can never prepare anyone especially kids for something like this, but somehow I think Jackson knew.

As I was about to leave for the vet, I had each of the kids give Buster a kiss. They did, and then they saw that Steph was crying. Jax walked over and gave her a hug and kiss.

This morning, I chose to speak to each of them separately, Jax after breakfast and Oliver tonight (we didn’t want to ruin his thanksgiving party at school today 🙄.

There’s no need to go into details about the conversation. That’s between a dad and son. But Jax took it well. He said he was sad, but I could tell he already had known. Oliver is still too young to “get it”. But I’m sure he’ll have questions I’m not sure I’ll know how to answer. But that’s ok because I’ve learned sometimes it’s ok to not have an answer. Just to say I don’t know and then give a hug and a kiss and be there. We always will be, just like the memories of the last 15+ years we have of Buster. They will always be there.

Happy Fourth Birthday Oliver

Dear Oliver,

Another year has come and gone, yet this one, this year specifically is like none other that any of us have ever experienced. This year you spent almost all of 12 months in lockdown. The Corona Virus Pandemic and this Quarantine led the way for an unprecedented time for a three year-old to grow up.

However, this day isn’t about viruses, Covid, or vaccinations. It is about you. A little boy who seems to have grown three feet over the past year. While you still might spell your first name with two Ls and forget the numbers 13 and 14 when you count (and maybe say your favorite number is “blue”), you have developed into a voracious reader, who can’t get enough Chica Chica Boom Boom or Paw Patrol.

You have survived as the second child, which has to be so difficult… just ask your uncle Vinny. The thing is, you are forging your own path. You aren’t just a shadow of someone else, you have your own personality. You are hilarious, energetic and so incredibly brave. Braver than I think I could ever be (I’m scared that the bravery is just craziness, but that’s for a different blog entry). You follow your brother’s lead when you want to, but also kick him down the stairs when you want to lead the way.

I watch how others act around you and how they they react to you. Your aura is invigorating. You can turn a lazy, snowy Sunday by the fire into a dance party. You can raise anyone’s spirit, even after the most stressful day… and for that I owe you. You make being a dad so worthwhile. You make being your dad so rewarding… and for that I owe you more than you’ll ever know.

Oliver Peter, keep asking questions and defying the odds, keep trying things that other people don’t think are possible, but most of all… keep being you.

Happy 4th Birthday.

I love you,

Dad

January 31, 2017
January 31, 2018
January 31, 2019
January 31, 2020
January 31, 2021

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

Brotherly Love

It’s hard enough being an educator during this pandemic… Add in the fact that having your own kids who are in school is beyond anything like we’ve seen before.

I know it because I’m living it in my professional and personal life. If you’re a parent and are looking for somewhere safe loving caring where you can feel comfortable sending your child there’s nowhere better than Oliver’s preschool.

The bond that our boys have is so amazing. And having Mrs. Ta take a few minutes out of her busy day to send us updates about our boys is what it’s all about.

Today we got this message from the owner of Ollie’s daycare:

Happy 6th Birthday Jackson

Dear Jackson,

As I sit here and contemplate the words that are needed to wish you the happiest of happy birthdays during this unbelievably unprecedented time we are living in right now, I am struggling to even come up with a way to start. How do we explain to a six year old that he can’t be with his friends, or go somewhere for a birthday party? That’s what 2020 is for you at this point… an everlasting, unexplainable time that you have somehow become accustomed to.

So I guess this is where we start. During a time that even grown ups can’t understand or handle. Yet, you, a six year old, have handled it with humor and confidence. You ask questions and want to learn what is going on. That’s who you are. That’s who you’ve become these last six years. From the little boy who brought joy and happiness to everyone around him to the six year old… not so little boy who brings joy and happiness to everyone around him even in the darkest of times.

I enjoy being around you more than you know (yes you drive me insane sometimes but then again I had a hand in creating you! I never realized how annoying I could be until I created a miniature version of myself and started arguing with it daily). Yet, even in those times I never stop loving you. Your mom and I will never stop loving you.

Tonight, as we readied you for bed as a five year old one more time, you called us back to your room fourteen-million times. You just wanted is to lay with you and talk. You apologized for keeping us up so late, but wanted us to know you were just being a “chatterbox” tonight. How do we stay mad at you when you come up with things like that?!??

What has stood out to me the most in this past year is how you have taken your little brother under your wing. I’ve written about how you love him, but recently you have become a mentor, the way an older brother should. Today I listened in as you taught him how to play bingo and smiled as he just threw the balls across the table, not once did you lose your patience with him. That’s a lie, you lost it a few times, but never gave up hope that he’d get it in the end (he didn’t).

While we have been distance learning/ homeschooling you have been teaching Oliver how to hold a pencil, how to do reading centers and most importantly have been a shoulder for him to cry on when he is upset. You share with him and always tell him you love him.

The last month and a half has defined the year 2020 so far. The CoronaVirus will forever be tied to your kindergarten school year and your sixth birthday, but it will never define you. You are creative, passionate and caring. You want to do things for others and recognize that something as simple as making a heart out of red construction paper to hang on our window makes other people smile. You are stronger than any virus, hell you’re stronger than me in many ways too.

I love the big boy you have become, but wish you could slow down growing up so fast. This family is lucky to have such a loving little boy, who’s smile lights up a room and who’s laugh can brighten even the darkest of days.

Happy QUARENTINED Birthday, Jackson. We all love you very much!

Love Always,

Dad

April 27, 2014
April 27, 2015
April 27, 2016
April 27, 2017
April 27, 2018
April 27, 2019
April 27, 2020

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