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

FullSizeRender (16)

April 27, 2017

April 27, 2018

April 27, 2019

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

Scott’s Brats (The Lambeau Field of Aruba)

I feel like it’s been about 100 years since the last time I visited Scott’s Brats, a small beach front stand that serves authentic Wisconsin food. The best part is Scott, the owner, is a HUGE Packers fan.

His stand covered in Palm leaves and surrounded by the Caribbean Sea, but what stood out most (besides the amazing brats or Italian sausage on a Italian bread) was the Packers memorabilia and amazing license plates from all around the world, most depicting some sort of Packers saying. I took a picture with Scott before we left and told him we’d be back one day. I also asked him if I could buy one of his license plates. He told me he was still collecting them and the next time I came he’d give me one.

Well years later we came back. I had been telling the boys all about the guy in Aruba who loves the Packers. They were exited to meet him. Scott’s Brats is still standing, unfortunately no more Scott (he sold it to retire to beach life a few years back) and now that authentic Wisconsin food has a with a touch of Aruban flavor).

Matt, the new owner has kept the Packers memorabilia up and has added more license plates from all over Aruba. When I told him the story about the first time I met Scott, he grabbed a hammer, took down that Packers license plate from all those years ago and gladly handed it over to me. That golden “GOPACK” plate from “One Happy Island” will display nicely in the basement and remind me and the boys of our first vacation together, of the warm ocean, the hot sun, some great food and the fact that Packers fans are everywhere.

#GOPACKGO

You’ll Regret This One Day

Dear Jackson,

You won’t ever live this one down. Trust me, I won’t let you forget it. It doesn’t matter now, it won’t matter in a few months, maybe not even in a few years. But when you’re teenage years hit. And when you are in college… and one day when you are waking up at 5:30am everyday for work… trust me. It’ll matter then.

Tonight, after we all finished reading a story and Oliver was already fast asleep, you turned to me and said, “this is so boring!!! I hate sleep!” That’s an exact quote, those were the words that came out of your mouth, you’re brain sent signals to your mouth and out came those sounds.

You hate sleep?

Sleep bores you?!!

I’ll remember this the first time you tell me to leave you alone because you’re still sleeping!

(For now… enjoy sleeping… because one day… you’ll miss it!).

Dr. Dolittle

I sincerely apologize for the Blair Witch Project cinematography, but this video is Oscar worthy. Best picture, best actor, best impression of multiple animals.

Oliver is Saturday Night Live’s new GoatBoy. What do you want… a horse? A gopher? A Yeti? He’s got you… you need a duck call? How about someone to help round up a flock of sheep? Oliver is your guy.

Most people need a few cups of coffee in the morning to even be cognizant, but not Oliver. It’s 5:35am on a Saturday morning in this video and he’s coo-cooing every animal between Noah’s Arc and Old McDonald’s Farm. He’s a savant, an animal whisperer… our very own Dr. Dolittle.

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