Five Fingers are Better Than Four

  
I know I keep harping on this fireworks thing.  I know I described my feelings on fireworks before.  But, let me be clear: I have no real issue with firecrackers or bottle rockets.  As a kid it was part of your initiation with the neighborhood kids. Those are pretty awesome when you’re eight*. 

I can live with out the large firework displays that require 14 people to light them off.  Maybe it’s because I’m not actually lighting them off?  Maybe that’s why I prefer your run of the mill ladyfingers to the mortar shells you see from outer space.  (Did we just have a therapy-breakthrough?). Interesting!

Anyway… Tonight’s post has seemed to get away from me… Point was going to be that the fireworks were more about sitting around with family.  Not having to do anything but relax and enjoy each other’s company!

    

*PS: you would think that if an eight year old has the sense to be careful around fireworks than a grown man (who makes enough money to pay 500 people to light off fireworks for him) would have enough sense to not blow off their own hand lighting fireworks off. 

Way to go JPP

 

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

There is this certain sort of pride you feel every time you look at your own child…

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But a few days ago… There was a feeling more than pride… I walked into a building and realized that my son has THE family gene. You know the one that drives the girls crazy… the one that hooked his mom as well. It’s something that all the girls wish they could resist and all the guys wish they had. It’s not something that can be explained, put in writing or even realistically pinpointed. It’s just there.

(Now remember that this is being written by someone who possesses THAT family gene. If it was being written by an outsider THAT gene may be described differently that above. It would probably describe it as being responsible for over dramatic responses to minor situations, grossly exaggerated stories and acid reflux, or the big nose/ bushy eyebrow gene… Hell my sisters eyebrows look like two caterpillars running away from her nose! But this is my story so I can make it say what ever I want!)

When I got there to pick up Jackson at mommy’s nail salon women ages 20 to grandma were swooning over his slate blue eyes, his blonde hair and that smile that could make even Medusa fall in love. It was like an amusement park, the line of people to hold, hug and talk to Jackson had to be three miles long.

(If I didn’t know any better I would say they were advertising on their Facebook page that he was there in order to drum up business and draw in customers. Everyone knows the key to a successful advertising campaign consists of two things… Cute babies, and/or puppies. All they needed was a little chocolate lab and that place woulda been buzzing! Like all those people literally needed manicures, pedicures and their hair done at 6 o’clock at night on a Tuesday).

Let’s face it Jackson is a crowd pleaser… He’s nice to look at… And he brings people joy by being in their presence. This thing I’m explaining… it’s a blessing and a curse. Just ask my father, my grandfather or my brother. It’s something we’ve had to learn to live with. We understand with great power comes great responsibility.

(I almost kept a straight face writing that! I’m not sure anyone could read that last paragraph without laughing out loud).

This is something that I will begin to teach Jackson immediately. I didn’t think that the powers of seduction he wields would become so evident this early in life. But I guess this one holds special powers… He will have to learn how to contain them and how to use them for good… He’ll have to resist the urge to use them for evil. I understand the difficult struggle he has in front of him… I know… I struggle with the same thing.

(Ok let’s be honest here… either you know I’m being completely sarcastic or you want to punch me in the eye socket… Although I’d be surprised if this is the first time you wanted to punch me in the eye socket, but I digress…)

Bottom line, Realizing that you’re a beautiful person isn’t as easy as it seems. I just really hope that Jackson is able to harness his power and use it to help people.

Our Christmas Blessing

“Where do you think you’re going? Nobody’s leaving. Nobody’s walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no. We’re all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here. We’re gonna press on, and we’re gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny freaking Kaye. And when Santa squeezes his fat white ass down that chimney tonight, he’s gonna find the jolliest bunch of A-holes this side of the nuthouse.”

Not a chance Christmas went bye without some incredible stories.  Doesn’t matter if it was Jax’ first christmas or his 15th.  Today was filled with love, laughter and lunacy.  The amount of toys that santa brought for this little dude was insane.  There is not a chance in hell that he could even comprehend the amount of STUFF that he unwrapped today.  All I know, all we know, all he knows (I think he knows) is he is so lucky to have such an amazing cast of family members who treat him like he is king of the Seven Kingdoms.  Santa spent a little extra time here last night and this morning dropping off some awesome toys.

There was the chair that looks like a toilet. (I need one of these for football Sundays).

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Then there was the basket that was supposed to be for Auntie Tricia’s spa supplies.

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Grammy’s buttons on her Christmas Shirt were a source of entertainment for all ages (especially 8 month olds).

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The Wrapping paper gift was a favorite as well.  It tasted yummy.

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He also loved the Jackson sized replica of the Empire State building that he could climb and pretend to be King Kong on!

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Then there was the incredibly inspiring story of Walter the Farting Dog who shares in Jax’ favorite past time… farting.

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Jax was amazed by the generosity of everyone; Santa went above and beyond!!!!

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Jax knows Christmas is about giving not just getting presents… he spent his allowance on his brothers XMAS gift.

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… but most of all Jackson loved all the attention from the most important people in his life… his family.

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Family traditions and family craziness aside… Stephanie and I want to take a second to thank everyone who has been there to support this journey of ours through parenthood.  Most of all our parents and family and especially our friends who have answered our desperate phone calls at 2 and 3 AM when Jax was sniffling or had a fever.  There really is a magic to the holiday season, it’s a magic that exists all year, one that is always there, but often is not tapped into.  The magic of the people around you who care about you for who you are.  The people who are there for you when you need a laugh or a cry… or you need a someone to change a dirty diaper.  Those are the real reasons that the holiday exists.

Jackson, you are the greatest gift I have ever been given.  I am proud to be your father… I am happy to be part of your life and most importantly… I love you more than any present, autograph, fitted suit jacket or skinny tie in the world!

Love,

Dad

PS: You know when your Christmas ends like this:

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Thankgiving Thanks

Thanksgiving

I’m a huge fan of any day where you can eat, drink and watch football all day without getting yelled at. Last year we did our first “out to dinner” Thanksgiving and although I was disappointed at first since we wouldn’t be home, it turned out to be a great day (and I was even able to watch the entire packers game).

This year however with Jackson, I felt we had to do Thanksgiving at the house. All of a sudden Stef and I find out we have 90 some cousins and relatives that are friends of relatives that are six generations removed… And everyone wanted to come meet Jax for Thanksgiving. I’m not sure when it happened, but I am no longer the most popular Fragola. Actually I do know when it happened… April 27, 2014 at 5:18 PM.

Regardless of popularity issues, as everyone began arriving at the house… I was happy that so many family members were getting to see Jax. The kid was passed around like a plate of mashed potatoes. But he was loving every second of it. Take that and the fact that Aunt Sandy and Uncle Jon literally brought Thanksgiving with them, gave me a whole day to relax and put my feet up…

… Until we attempted to deep fry the turkey… Which was too big to fit in the pot. The gigantic chicken we shoved in there came out perfect… What was left over would lead you to believe we kept vultures as pets.

So in the spirit of the holiday… I am unbelievably thankful for my family,
Both immediate and extended as well as my hilarious friends. But most of all for the family that makes our house a home… I am thankful for my amazing wife, my little bundle of Joy (and tears and pee and poop) and for the two little crazy dogs that I could t love without!

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The Brown Tidal Wave

Over an hour to get ready.  Mommy showered, daddy showered (surprisingly)… everyone got changed.  Don’t forget that getting changed for a six and a half month old means a diaper change, 17 layers of clothes… fitting a tight pair of jeans on over his butt, fitting a onesie, shirt and sweater over his massive head… etc, etc.

As he is about to get comfortable in the car seat… the tsunami hit.  The dreaded poo up the back on the arms and tummy… and through EVERY.LAYER.OF.CLOTHING.  To the point where he needed a full out bath.

Three hours later… literally three hours after we began getting ready, we we are all set to go… again.

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“Lost Time is Never Found Again” -Benjamin Franklin

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On my way home, I have to stop and pick up the dogs.  I still have at least 40 minutes of driving ahead of me… so even though I (guiltily) left work at 4:30 p.m., I know I am going to miss dinner with the wife and Jax. After getting home just in time to finish the last few words of another Dr. Seuss book, Ill finally make my way into my bedroom to try to put on some sweatpants.  I’ll probably fall asleep at the dinner table and soon, groggily rouse to check my work email, through together tomorrows lunches, if someone remembered to stop at the grocery store, empty and reload the dishes into the dishwasher and feed the dogs.  What’s wrong with this picture?  Maybe the fact that I’m lucky to get a half an hour with my wife and son on work days. 

Funny is really my specialty, or at least in my own mind funny is my specialty.  Yet, every now and again, I can really come back to reality and focus on the more serious issues that my wife and I are confronted with as new parents.  Beyond the normal questions we ask ourselves every day, “Why is his poop orange?”  “How long did he even nap for?”  “Are the dogs eating another dirty diaper?!!!”… We are constantly faced with the question of how we balance family time with our jobs.

I love what I do, I love the district I work for, I love helping students realize their full potential and support them in their journey to becoming lifelong learners.  I have no complaints about being an elementary school administrator… yet, there are times I feel like I am missing out on so much of my son’s life and that makes me wonder how do you balance your work with being a father?

The thing is… I don’t know… I’m not sure how I am supposed to do this.  I’m pretty sure I know what not to do… I’m pretty sure that I have made my share of mistakes over the past six and half months.  As part of this “blog thing” I try to read as much as I can by other dad’s out there.  I’ve read a few that list all these unrealistic ideas and I’ve read some blogs that talk more about the abstract.  The idea that quality is better than quantity when it comes to spending time with your family, is one that is generally common sense.  So if it… why is it so hard?

 Here are some of the things I struggle with the most:

Not just “being there”… When I am home, I often get calls from work or have to answer emails from staff and parents.  There’s always something to do.  There is always a problem to fix.  Isn’t this the bane of every working parent’s life?  For Stephanie and I to make sure that our attention is on the present, not what we have to work on tomorrow, we have been leaving our cell phones in another room.  It is hard to just unplug, but sometimes it is exactly what he need.

The commute… I spend more of my day in my car then I do with my family.  THIS IS A PROBLEM.  DO I really need to spend 2+ hours driving to and from work?  Is it necessary to live out of my car?  No, and for the past six months I just could not figure what to do.  I try to live by the philosophy of, “Worry about the things that are in your control to change.”  I had to make a change, I could not miss out on days of my son’s life because I was sitting in traffic on 84.  Sometimes the biggest changes in life happen for another reason than you originally planned… but often times those changes are for the best.  I knew I needed to make a change at work, and circumstances presented themselves and I did.  I made a move and in the process shaved almost 45 minutes off my commute.  I cannot- CAN NOT- express how much of a difference 45 minutes each way makes when you have a six month old!

The guilty feeling that persists after having to sneak into Jackson’s room at 6:00AM kiss his head and tip toes out is real.  It’s one of those “guilts” that sits on your chest like an elephant from those CPD commercials.  The guilt can and will eat away at you, and no amount of “make up time” with the family can do anything about it.  “Lost time is never found again.”  You know, Benjamin Franklin had a point.  In all reality though… I try to remember that something I cannot change, and that I have to make do with what I have.  I have to work, I have to travel… but I can make the best of the time I do have with my little man.

But for now, this father can shrug off the insane work load that comes with being a working dad, because as I write this I am right where I most want to be at home with my family.

“Do the things you say you will do… do or do not, there is no try.”

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