CoronaVirus: The Second Month (May)

Day 45: Friday, May 1:

Everyone’s snuggling in bed after a long day watching a movie. I finally go to lay down, but Buster is in my spot. Oliver says, “no, Buster stay.”

I moved Buster, lay down and Oliver started kicking me off the bed and says, “No, go back and do work.”

Insert eye roll here

Day 46: Saturday, May 2:

“The marvelous thing about a good question is that it shapes our identity as much by the asking as it does by the answering.”David Whytetq

Oliver today, “dad can I poop on the grass like Buster and Max?” 🙄

Day 47: Sunday, May 3:

There has to be a time where we can just go do stuff, right? like there’s no way people can just sit inside all day, seven days a week. It’s Sunday, so we should all be gathering as a family around the kitchen table or out by the pool with friends.

Day 48: Monday, May 4:

A friend sent this to me today, “I get a scratchy throat sometimes and think, ‘crap! I’m getting the virus!’ Then I remember it’s scratchy because I was just screaming at my kids with everything I have, because they are driving me crazy.”

That’s what this virus is doing to everyone. Parents can’t even tell if they’ve been infected or been yelling too much at their kids! And no I won’t admit who made the above statement (snitches get stitches).

Day 49: Tuesday, May 5

Me: Quarantine is going well right?

Wife:

Day 50: Wednesday, May 6

Fifty days of quarantine, of distance learning and homeschooling and these two are closer than ever. Today I found them sitting together and Jax was teaching Oliver about number bonds on his math program.

… and by night they wanted to sleep in the same bed.

Tomorrow they will probably be slap fighting and pushing each other down the stairs, but for now they are best friends.

Day 51: Thursday, May 7:

One of the beat parts of a global pandemic is how everyone is a little more lax with their dress code. Case in point… you can wear your six month old Third Birthday Blaze TShirt for the eighteenth day in a row, or just go as the Naked Cowboy from Time Square.

Day 52: Friday, May 8:

My six year old used the phrase “a long time ago today” to describe the morning and it’s probably the most accurate description I’ve ever heard.

Day 53: Saturday, May 9:

We ventured out a bit today. Just being able to drive down the road to go to the beach was a blessing. The boys were so happy, their eyes were wide and they had giant smiles on their faces. They built sandcastles, filled buckets with sand and threw shells and rocks into the water. It was nice to “get out” for a bit.

Day 54: Sunday, May 10:

This quarantine nonsense is effecting every aspect of life. At bedtime both of my children turn into dehydrated philosophers who need a hug.

Day 55: Monday, May 11:

Today was like no other day. I know I’ve touched on it before, but that was when we had Jackson only. To accomplish what we accomplished today is reminiscent of the “Jordan Shrug” Game. Everything we did hit today, every shot we took, every attempt we put out there… all of them hit.

Everyone’s work was completed without complaining, no one fought viscously over the remote control, lunches and dinners were eaten including fruits and veggies. Baths were taken and every body part was washed without any begging Just like MJ against the Trail Blazers in the 1992 NBA Finals , we couldn’t miss.

Day 56: Tuesday May 13:

Finally got Oliver under the clippers! I couldn’t take the Lloyd Christmas look anymore! (PS, my bad on trying to cut his bangs the day before!)

Day 57: Wednesday May 13:

Jax and Oliver want to know when they don’t have to wash their hands every time they come inside after playing. These kids apparently think that general hygiene will be a thing of the past once the pandemic is over. Even when this coronavirus nonsense is over we are going to have to reiterate that those things aren’t optional.

Day 58: Thursday May 14:

I had to get out of the house. While I appreciate having so much time with my family (even the tough times are still time spent with them), I had to get some fresh air! After all the zoom meetings and the last Google Meet of the day… the golf course, on a late sunny afternoon provided just that.

Day 59: Friday May 15:

Today I had a few very important PPTs to chair and Stephanie was sorting through budget cuts and balancing a school district account during the unprecedented Covid-19 shutdown.

We asked the boys to sit calmly and be quiet. What our children heard: “Battle Royal. Everyman for himself. Run, fight, scream!!!!”

Day 60: Saturday May 16:

It’s always great when you get a surprise visit from family! Today, the newest little family member came to say hello! Mima also surprised us with an appearance!

Day 61: Sunday, May 17:

Now that we’ve all been cooped up in our houses for days, or weeks, or months, the days just seem to…blend together. Weekdays and weekends no longer have any separation. After all, where are we going to go?

“Is today Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday?!??”

…. “Yes.”

Day 62: Monday, May 18:

Oliver and I got up early as we usually do. It was 5:30am, my coffee was hot and Oliver’s apple juice was cold. We both settled in for a calm and quiet morning and all of a sudden Oliver starts cheering. Like, yelling, whooping and was just so excited. I had no idea why, but I just joined in. It was marvelous!

Day 63: Tuesday, May 19:

Netflix needs to get it together and stop asking us if we’re “still watching”. Of COURSE we’re still watching! It’s a pandemic home lockdown! Just keep it rolling the shows out there.

Day 64: Wednesday, May 20:

So today the shark IQ robot special was on TV… Jackson had been waiting for this day like it was Christmas morning. He had it ready to DVR and was hoping to stay up all night to watch it. It’s a three hour long show… He binged watch it like it was a special on Netflix. By the time everyone reads this I guarantee you he’s probably seen it 15 times.

If anybody needs to know the specs of the shark IQ robot… Or even just how its sensors keep it from toppling down the stairs just let us know and we will have Jackson give you a call.

Day 65: Thursday, May 21:

Jax just ripped the door off the hinges again I fixed it it took me an hour and as he was trying to close it because the keys scared bugs are going to come in the house he literally ripped off the hinges

Day 66: Friday, May 22:

Social distancing in the mind of children:

Day 67: Saturday, May 23:

Rain, rain??? We haven’t seen a cloud in weeks. I forgot how insane children are when they are stuck in the house on a rainy day paired with CoronaQuarantine.

There’s only so many crayons, construction paper and Disney movies one family can go through in one day. Is there a Guinness Book of World Record for that? Someone look it up. I’m pretty sure we’ve got that one locked up.

Day 68: Sunday, May 24:

Happy birthday to the best Mima in the world…

Day 69: Monday, May 25:

Today begins “Quarantine Homeschool Spirit Week!” See below for the weekly schedule. Join in, we’d love to have you!

Monday: Pajama Day!
Tuesday: Pajama Day!
Wednesday: Pajama Day!
Thursday: Pajama Day!
Friday: Pajama Day!

Day 70: Tuesday, May 26:

Day 71: Wednesday, May 27:

I’ve had it. This house is a prison. It’s like we are living in a small shed and the walls keep closing in on us. No matter how much I clean up… No matter how many times I asked the kids to clean up after themselves… No matter how much organizing I do… There’s still stuff everywhere.

Recently I’ve been binge watching Hell on Wheels, a story of the building of the Trans-Continental Railroad that connected the United States following the Civil War. The show centers on the men and women who helped forge those tracks. Black, White, Asian, or Native, the people who lived in the mobile town of Hell on Wheels came from around the globe to be a part of history.

Things around here have been mimicking what we watch. Meet the main character of Hell on Wheels:

Day 72: Thursday, May 28:

Today I clamped a 2×4 to my weight bench in my basement and used an extension cord I found in the ceiling to power my circular saw. I’m not sure why I though this was a good idea, but then again… COVID don’t care.

By the way, it worked and I still have all my fingers and limbs.

Day 73: Friday, May 29:

Today I watched my boys get along. I heard Jax tell Oliver he was his best friend. I heard Oliver tell Jax he was his best friend. I watched them share.

Day 74: Saturday, May 30:

Today was the perfect day to sit by the fire.

Day 75: Sunday, May 31:

We had a nice little surprise visit today from the family. I finally got to hold my nephew!!!

Another month of Coronavirus Quarantine has passed… bring on June!

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

“TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE DISTANCE LEARNING”

T’was the night before Distance Learning, students asleep, their lunches set out.

Then there were teachers who were ready although with some doubt.

Their outfits were hung by the closet with care.

In hopes that the Zoom App was ready when they were there;

The students were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of Google Classroom danced in their heads;

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

Just settled down after finishing reports,

When out in the yard there arose such a clatter,

Everyone sprang from the bed to see what’s the matter.

Away to the window we flew like a flash,

Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon shown a shadow on the still of the yards

We yawned and we shuttered over ethernet cards .

When what to our wondering eyes should appear,

But a memory of a normal school day so distant and clear.

We cried and we sobbed as we packed up our laptop bags

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

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

We laid down with questions, but spoke not a peep.

Yes, we were sad that distance learning was coming so fast,

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

While we wanted to take time and move on real slow,

We realized our students were ready to go.

So now as we sleep, we wish them the best.

And all we can hope is all these students and parents can get some real rest.

Dear Students, and my own two boys…
I’M READY IF YOU ARE!!!
-Mr. Fragola/Dad

A New Normal

Everyone’s normal life has quickly grinded to a halt as governments across the globe and here in America set new guidelines and restrictions in order to try to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. Stores are selling out of everything, toilet paper is worth more than gold and silver and for the most part people are getting ready to stay at home for a long time. Everything is different and life has been disrupted and altered. If you cough in public (and you shouldn’t even be out in public), but if you are and you sneeze you might as well be wearing a scarlet letter!

I’m a glutton for punishment in all this mess. After all the conference calls, ZOOM Meeting and emails, the homeschooling, the questions, the concerns and the news briefings… I had little of any time to just try and be mindful of what is in my control and what is not. I tried to take a few moments and breath. I tried to fit in 13 seconds on me time. “And on the seventh day he rested.” Even the Lord took a day to himself. Now I’m not comparing myself to God, but if anyone deserves a rest you’d have to vote working from home parents with two little boys as a top candidate.

I’m tired. I’m really tired. My back is causing excruciating pain and my brain is spinning in circles trying to figure out how to balance our new (for now) lives. All I needed was some quiet time. Do some yard work, fix a few squeaky doors and watch a movie or two.

Problem being so far during this I’ve chosen… Shawn of the Dead, Deep Impact and always a fantastic choice while facing a global pandemic… Outbreak. Even the voice of Morgan Freeman can’t undo the damage done from those three movies. The damage is done and there’s no coming back from it.

Its scary. I know that I have never been part of anything like this before. I guess the only thing we can compare it to was the weeks and months after 9/11. People were scared of further attacks, there were schools and businesses scared to open and people looked at each other differently. I cant figure out how to deal with this, because I can not figure out what is even going on.

I am a teacher again, I am a parent, a principal, a health care worker… I am not sure what I am from minute to minute. This world, the world as we know it has been turned upside down… actually when you think about it, upside down would be easier to deal with.

I can not, CAN NOT IMAGINE what it must be like to be a child right now. A kindergartner who needs routines and rituals, and a three year old who is used to playing with friends and looking to his preschool teachers to help him learn to navigate the social aspects of a toddler, practicing how to say please and thank you, play with others, share and how to advocate for himself. Those things are gone. Imagine being a senior in high school and not being able to finish your sports career. Imagine not being able to participate in graduation and walk across a stage with your friends.

Schools are closed across the country, people are not allowed to go outside… and daily The President comes on TV to tell us how amazing he and his staff are handing this pandemic. The thing is… who else is? I do well during crisis. I am dealing with 75+ staff who are so nervous and not sure what their careers will look like tomorrow. We have students who are trying to figure out who their teacher is, and why they are not allowed back into their classrooms.

I deal with children everyday, I have dealt with every single kind of tragedy you can imagine with my students. I know what to say when a parent dies, or a classmate has to move to a new town and wont get to see their friends anymore. I have had to talk with students about horrific events that have happened in their lives. Yet, I have no idea what to say to my own children. All I have been able to do is calm them, reassure them that their teachers love them and that we are going to do the best we can.

It’s been an interesting few weeks… it’s been an ever crazier few days. Stephanie, who runs an entire financial department for a school district during this impossible to predict financial crisis, is now a kindergarten teacher. Great teaching is something that can’t just be learned. It’s the hardest job I have ever done. This new “thing” so many of us are embarking on… teaching at home… (even for a veteran educator and current principal), is so hard. What she has done has been amazing. A mom and kindergarten/preschool teacher/ school district financial director/food service manager… she’s doing it all.

Speaking of teachers, Jax was able to participate in a ZOOM Meeting with his teacher this week. All his classmates were on and they all were talking to each other. It was so amazing. He couldn’t sit still. He was rocking back and forth. They shared about their weekend. It was good to know that I could watch him (even for a few minutes) still access his social curriculum. He can still tell jokes and tell his friends he misses them. Basically he can still be awesome. I guess social interaction with his friends VIA a computer screen are his new normal. They are everyone’s new normal.

So new normal it is… everything has changed… and we just have to deal with it.

Educators… MOUNT UP!!!

As the reality of homeschooling, home offices and quarantines sets in it’s easy to forget what we’ve left behind. On Friday, I walked the silent halls of my Elementary School. I was alone, everyone had left for the day… maybe for the year.

There were no colorful backpacks hanging on their hooks, or any voices of students working together on a rigorous task. Students’ chairs were turned upside down on their desks and the SMART boards were dark.

However, school was in session. Teachers were hard at work. They’re preparing for a completely new way of teaching the children they love so much. They’ve had no time to prepare for this. These educators,the ones I work with everyday, took what public education has been for centuries and flipped it upside down and inside out. The school district I work in has taken on the task with determination.

Washington, DC didn’t tell us what to do. The state didn’t tell us what to do. It was the public educators. The ones in the trenches. We are going to “war” with traditional teaching and also with the “virus” that has become a world wide pandemic. And… there is no one… not one staff that I would rather go to war with than my staff at Huntington.

There’s little we can do, us educators on the front lines. The teachers, principals and central office staff members want nothing more than to be on the front lines. We want to visit our families and help serve grab and go meals. But, we know there are people on the front lines already… the nurses, doctors and medical professionals who need us to stay back and help from afar.

So that’s what we do. We do what we can from afar. I’ve been lucky enough to have the platform to do that. From this blog I’ve been able to reach out to so many of my school families. I decided last week to do a live read aloud each night to help keep some sort of connection to my students.

The funny thing is I was hoping to reach a few students, maybe even a few from my last school… but then something happened. Hundreds, thousands of people tuned in. Channel 8 News asked for an interview and Chronicles of a New Dad and Jax were lighting up the 6:00 news.

It become a family affair, a way for a community to gather (or at least I see it that way). I feel that it helps me do “my part.” While I joke about another 15 minutes of fame, the message is clear… educators are doing their part to keep their students engaged and in the end, as a society, that’s all we can ask.

Coronavirus scare: Teachers, administrators, and students turn to social media for traditions like storytime

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

Get Well Soon Bammy

There aren’t many people in life you can count on. There are family and friends. Those are almost always constants and as parents of little ones especially, being able to have someone(s) to count on is priceless. Two working parents put pressure on everyone. Demands are high, works, family, personal time… there needs to be at least 45 hours in a day.

It’s crazy how time fast flies. There are no more naps or relaxing weekends. Don’t get me wrong I love every second of running to school events and baseball practice, every last second of it. It’s who I am now… a dad. It’s the best job in the world.

The thing you reading most when you come a parent is show important it is to have family and friends around to help. Being a working family, both Stephanie and I work what feels like 60+ hour weeks, makes it almost impossible to get in everything we want to be able to do. That’s where you lean on your support systems.

Since both Steph and I started new jobs we have been relying on family more than ever. Having amazing neighbors to rely on is more helpful than anyone realizes, but having someone who is there morning noon or night, when they are sick or tired… knowing that person treats your children probably even better than you do… that’s the ticket. That’s the support system you know you sometimes take for granted, but also appreciate more than you can put into words.

This past week has been so tough on two working parents, since Bammy has been in the hospital. I can’t even imagine how tough it’s been on Bammy. The thing I’ve come to realize is you can not take for granted the people you have in your life… because things change fast. People change fast, luckily Bammy is one of those people who no matter the circumstances you can always count on her!

Get well soon Bammy. We love you!

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!

The Rough-and-Tumble Life

Most days are full of running around, hurrying everyone up to get into the car so we aren’t late, or quickly moving to the next activity because my kids have the attention span of a goldfish (do goldfish have short attention spans, because it i feel that they do). There’s rarely down time. So when we do get a chance to take a deep breath and relax it’s a nice change of pace.

A Saturday morning, just the boys at home taking it easy. A cup of coffee for dad, some milk for the boys and Blaze and the Monster Machines on repeat. I mean can you dream up a better start to your weekend? Neither can I, but that’s what easy mornings are now… a dream.

I try to let Stephanie sleep in as much as possible. I’m an early riser and waking up before anyone else enables me to have a quiet cup of coffee. I’ll gladly wake up with the birds if it means a silently enjoyed cup of coffee and an uninterrupted few minutes of SportsCenter. It rarely happens, but when it does it’s heavenly.

…I put the remote down, sit back and and take the first sip of a perfectly brewed cup of joe, sure enough, here come the footsteps down the stairs. It sounds like a stampede, did a herd of elephants just over take my once peaceful house? The scene is fuzzy as I’m still wiping crust from my eyes, but I can just barely make out a couple of sets of little arms and legs as they land on top of me knocking coffee everywhere. The dogs, once relaxed are now barking and trying to lick coffee stains out of the carpet. The day has begun.

Two little boys jump, arms outstretched, are now flying through the air. I feel like I’m participating in a Ringling Brothers’ acrobatic act. It’s just a blur of body parts pushing me over. One of these little monsters shows his claws and gnashes his teeth, I swear he’s possessed (it’s all fun and games until you need to call an for an exorcism).

I didn’t ask for this. I just wanted some kids to help with the household chores and laugh at my jokes. I didn’t realize I was going to be dealing with broken arms, bloody noses and CTE.

Exhibit A:

…Hashtag Brain Injury

Added to the chaos is the fact that Oliver is now almost two and living the daredevil life. He’s up, he’s down, he’s all over the place. He jumps off the couch with the look of an old school Hulk Hogan leg drop. He rolls down the stairs… I swear lately he’s been trying to ride Buster like a wild bull at a rodeo. As a kid you love having a tough sibling… especially when you live the rough-and-tumblr life like these two. Honestly, Oliver isn’t just a little brother, he’s a real life crash test dummy.

Exhibit B:

…Hashtag Vehicular Homicide

I’ll tell you this… Oliver is one tough little dude. He’s survived two years of Jackson saying, “I swear it was an accident dad!” Parent life is not all rainbows and unicorns around here. There’s little down time and there sure is very little quiet time anymore. But, I wouldn’t want it any other way. (Although it’d be nice to have to make such frequent trips to the ER).

Brothers: Best Friends, Worst Enemies and the Greatest Inventors 

​Brothers are best friends and worst enemies… strongest ally and biggest rival. I know… I have one, I live that so called “sibling rivalry.” I’ve made him eat dirt and thrown him through a wall (literally through) and he broke my nose. I also would want him by my side if there was something going down (unless Chuck Norris or Conor McGregor were available). Now I get to watch two brothers play this game of sibling chess from the outside looking in. 

Everyone gave the warnings, “expect the worst. Jax is going to regress, he’s going to be full of anger and jealousy. He’ll be completely uninterested in the baby… he won’t understand the change. The first time they meet Jax might hit him.” 

There were nerves all around that day in the nursery. We set the meet and greet up w caution and care. It was like setting your best friend up on a blind date. “Dont worry, it’ll be great, he’ll totally get you!” “You guys will hit it off right off the bat.” “Just be yourself and it’ll all be fine.”

Rewind 30+ years ago… I’m told I didn’t handle the situation very well. My little brother didn’t get such a warm welcome upon his entry into this world. But that was short lived. We enjoyed a ton of fun, experienced many life altering situations and caused/got into our fair share of trouble. From snake attacks, to the steam roller, to the babysitter who sprayed potpourri everywhere, enduring bringing home another sibling… this time a sister, to pillow wars on thanksgiving resulting in vomiting turkey and stuffing everywhere… to running the courts in the Bronx with the “neighborhood ‘friends’ who carried knives”… to car clubs and booming systems and holding each other’s blocks at the starting line and winning gold and setting hurdle records togethercollege roommates… well that’s another story. Let’s just say a Britney Spears poster, a comforter and a gallon of spackle saved us a lot of money that year. However, I’m pretty sure the best thing to come out of our relationship was the invention of the Olympic pending sport “All Out Basketball.” Imagine living in the northeast where winter pretty much kills the idea of playing basketball on outdoor courts… even with a shovel and some ice melt… there no way to have a “real game.” Dribbling is impossible, there’s no traction and the backboard can shatter with one erratic shot. 

Enter… ALL OUT BASKETBALL. A basketball based, rugby, football hybrid. It’s designed for icy backyard courts and is best played when wearing boots and 14 layers of clothing. It allows the competitors to combine the best parts of all three sports and is perfect for brothers because of its violent nature. No dribbling and a hoop low enough to dunk like you were Vince Carter in his early days (NOTE: Just for clarification… I could dunk on a 10 foot rim too). The game was played on a shotty shoveled outdoor court and competitors benefited from a slightly deflated ball (we were the Tom Brady of the neighborhood) and often resulted in ripped snow pants and fractured limbs. But it was fun… and Vinny and I are still holding out hopes the IOC will adopt it for the 2018 Winter Olympics. 

Fast forward, back to February 2017… a dimly lit nursery on a cold and snowy (ironic) day. Jackson carefully selected a present for his new little brother and partner in crime. Although his first choice of a Sudoku book, was not the best pick… the blue puppy stuffed animal was perfect. He repeated, “Me hug, kiss baby Ollie.” The whole way down the hallway and up the elevator… although he had time to spell his name and count to ten for the lady who didn’t think he could find the D button for her on the elevator.  

Honestly, I’m not sure who was more excited me the first time I met Rickey Henderson or the first time Jackson met his brother Oliver. The look of excitement and honestly… the look of love was immediate (I say love because I want to believe it was love and not the look of trouble). Jackson presented Ollie with the stuffed animal he picked out and Oliver gave Jax a present too… a recycled Christmas gift that Santa had left behind… an Olaf talking figure. It was love at first sight, and he liked Oliver too. 

The meeting wasn’t long, it didn’t need to be. It was the perfect amount of hugs, kisses and questions. Jackson talked about Oliver the entire ride home, all night and all the next day until he got to hug and kiss baby Ollie again. Jackson met his new best friend and Oliver met his new body guard. As a dad you can’t ask for much more. 

Here’s to hoping these two invent something together as cool, if not cooler, than “All Out Basketball!”