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

Interview with a Five a Year Old

Found this “challenge” online. Ask you child these questions and document exactly what they say. So here’s my interview with Jackson (age 5.9).

Kindergarten 19-20 school year

1. What is something daddy always says to you? Be nice and kind and a good listener

2. What makes you happy? All the love you give me

3. What makes you sad? When someone isn’t nice to me.

4. What makes you laugh? When someone, like, walks across the road and they’re was a big bouncy house next to him and he used his jets to fly him into the bouncy house.

5. How old are you? Five but I’m going to be six on April 27.

6. How old is Mommy? 22, ummm. 37. She’s an old lady… I don’t know.

7. How old is Daddy? 40

8. What is your favorite thing to do? Go inside our pool, I like to go underwater.

9. Who is your best friend? You and mommy. And my brother. His name is Oliver. But not one of my classmates named _____. Because he farts all the time.

10. What do you want to be when you grow up? Policeman

11. What are you really good at? Playing baseball, throwing and catching the ball.

12. What are you not very good at? I’m not good at going to bed.

13. What did you do today? I went to school. (What did you do at school?). Uhhhhh I don’t want to talk about it!!!

14. What is your favorite food? Bananas, apples, strawberries and blueberries… (when’s the last time you ate any of those?) I think Monday (NOPE)

15. What is your favorite song? It’s Raining Tacos

16. What do you want for your birthday this year? I want to get lots of presents.

17. What is your favorite animal? A giraffe. I love snuggling my giraffe

18. What is love? Hmmm…I don’t know. Hugs?

20. Where do you live? I live in a house, geez you know that.

19. What does daddy and mommy do for work? Dad is a principal, and mom goes to work and works with her office people.

Happy Third Birthday Oliver

Dear Oliver,

I am not sure if you are turning three or twenty three today. It seems as if you have grown so much in the last year. You have so much energy and are full of life. You laugh loudly, hug tightly and fall hard! You are an amazing son, a loving little brother and an all around happy little boy.

In the past year you have learned to ride your big boy bike, you started peeing on the potty (and on the floor and on the walls and in the front yard… ohh and in the pool), you don’t sleep in a crib anymore and you learned how to thoroughly annoy Jackson. You love building and knocking down block towers and playing with trains. I also see a pretty strong right arm developing as you throw a baseball (amd other objects all over the house).

I am proud of the things you have accomplished. I am proud of how you overcome obstacles and most importantly I am proud of how you have become your own little person. Being the second child has to be hard. I wouldn’t know, because like Jax I’m the oldest, but you continue to forge your own path.

That’s all I can ask you to do. Be kind, be helpful be respectful and be you (that and don’t poop on the floor at school anymore). Do those things and you will continue to be

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

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

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PS… I don’t know what’s more congratulatory worthy… Oliver turning three years old, or Steph and I actually surviving three years with two kids.

A Decade to Remember

As 2019 its door and the start of a new decade opens, it’s a time to reflect and look forward to the amazing things on the horizon. As far decades go… the 2010s were as Larry David would say, “pretty, pretty, pretty good.” And considering this last one was my fourth… I know a good decade when I see one. But really… four decades… that is pretty crazy. I’m now 40 – as in 40 years old.

This decade saw so many ups and downs, So many gains and so many losses. However, all of the losses make the gains so much more exuberant. I became a dad and also an uncle (which is like being a dad, except you can just send the little tyke home when you are done playing with them!!!)

This decade was pretty nuts… I “went viral” as is the popular phrase these days for my Harry Potter Cupboard Under the Stairs that i build for the boys… so that in of itself is pretty indicative of what this decade was like!

If I had to summarize the last ten years in a sentence or two it would read something like this… I fell more deeply in love with my beautiful wife then I ever imagined possible. I lost my person, my grandfather, but I gained two of the most amazing little boys anyone could ever ask for. (ohh… and I won a Super Bowl)!

The decade started out with me taking the career path I always envisioned, as I took my first administrative job as an assistant principal, which I later parlayed itself into becoming a principal, including turning that first building around from a “Tier 3 Schools” in need of improvement to a “Tier 1 School of High Distinction, High Achievement and High Growth” in under three years. I’m proud of what was accomplished and I’m proud of the amazing students that worked so hard every day.

As I said earlier, there were losses. I lost my last two grandparents. Pop, left us the day after Thanksgiving in 2016. Jackson still talks about him, and unfortunately Oliver will only know him through the stories that are still told at the dinner table like folk tales. Steph lost her father, which was one of the hardest to explain to our little ones.

I was able to walk in the footsteps of Harry, Ron and Hermione in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (four times). I caught wide receiver Jordy Nelson during a Lambeau Leap and visited Broadway a few times.

Stephanie and I moved into our dream house in an amazing community with some of the greatest neighbors anyone could ever ask for. Our children love all their new friends and we are so lucky to have amazing people around us everyday.

There is no better part of the last ten years than that of bringing into this world two of the most amazing little boys that have ever lived. Jackson and Oliver have made Stephanie’s and my life so much more than we could have ever asked for all those years ago. They have changed my life. They make every moment of my life better, more important and most of worth living.

To Stephanie,

It hasn’t always been perfect… but two decades have gone by with you and my hope is that the next many decades are spent by your side. Our boys are lucky to have you as their mother, their protector and their best friend.

2010 ➡️ 2020

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

1

April 27, 2014

2

April 27, 2015

3

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

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