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!”

An Unexpected Trip

A couple of weeks ago I got a scary call.  We’ve been to the hospital before… heck Jax was born in a hospital… shocking development I know.  But two Mondays ago an unexpected emergency trip by ambulance to the hospital was one of the scariest days of my life. Getting a call from Stephanie at 4:00, while I am at work and over an hour away, in which she tells me that Jackson is on his way to CCMC by ambulance was not the news any parent wants to receive. Needless to say my ride to Hartford was the longest and shortest ride back from work I’ve had since I started in my new School. 

  • Temp: 102 (98.6 is normal)
  • Oxygen Levels: 81 (98 is normal)
  • Heart Rate: 204 (60-100 is normal

When a pediatrician sees these vitals and then immediately calls an ambulance to take your son to the closest Children’s Medical Center, there is every reason to panic. Seeing your child struggle to breathe has to be one of the most horrible things to watch. Stephanie and Grammy stayed calm for the most part… I on the other hand was close to having a heart attack not knowing what was going on as I sped through traffic on the busiest highway in Connecticut during rush hour. Somehow I made it to the hospital before the ambulance did… flashing lights and sirens and still took them longer to get to the hospital then me… driving from an hour away.

I paced and wandered and looked and waited and paced and paced and paced. Clear and happy thoughts were not something that were floating around in my head. I was nervous… I was scared, but mostly I felt helpless. You have this little human who you are in charge of, you are responsible for and who looks to you for help. 

I spent a lot of that night “trying” to be funny. I made some jokes and laughed a bit with my son. But the humor was just a shield from pain, a costume that showed a stoic face to project a cool, calm and collected parent. But beneath that was hiding the true sadness and fear of not knowing what was going on. Spending most of my life as the “fixer” makes situations like these even more difficult to deal with. 

No this wasn’t (or didn’t at least seem to be) a life threatening visit to the hospital, but anxiety still runs rampant at times like these. At least for me. Although Jackson is almost three at this point, there are still so many firsts to still deal with. This first ambulance ride to the hospital is one I won’t soon forget. 

Jackson is fine, recovering from pneumonia and a viral infection in his lungs… (nothing lots of fluids, lots of Peppa Pig reruns and extra hugs couldn’t take care of). We wound up getting out of the hospital around midnight that night. As I reflect on how lucky we are to have our little man back up to speed and feeling good again, I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you how freaked out I was at the time. 

Everyone from the EMTs to the staff at CCMC was AMAZING… caring, responsive and understanding. They catered on Jax in his elf PJs like he was a king. Whether it was bringing him toys to play with, crayons or sneaking him extra apple juice and graham crackers… thank you for caring for my son… and keeping this dad calm and out of the hospital himself. 

The Quickest ER in town

img_1682The hospital is always a scary place to visit. Whether it’s as a visitor or as a patient. Let alone when your the visitor and you’re two year old is the patient.

We had a bit of a scare Saturday morning. He woke up at about 12:30 coughing and wheezing like crazy. But, it was the screaming and crying that was worrisome. It’s panic mode when you can’t get them to stop. After about an hour we were able to calm him down and he fell back asleep, “spread eagle style,” wheezing but sleeping just the same.Then about 2:30 he woke up again and was having trouble breathing with a horrible cough again. The cough seemed to spread deeper in his chest the more worked up he became.

At this point it was hospital or bust. The kid took it like a champ. By the time we were on our way home he was 1 ice pop and 8 mL of steroids. He was happy, I was literally exhausted to the point of no return and he was now pumped full of hyper enduring drugs. Luckily, the energy that spread throughout the house like wildfire, died down just enough for dad and mom to get a quick power nap.  

Walkin’ the Mile 💉


Just a miserable way to start of a beautiful Saturday.  This poor kid had no idea what he was about to go up against.  He was just so cute walking through the parking lot, seeing the ambulances and giving high fives to police officers and security guards.

Needless to say he had no idea he was going to be encountering a needle wielding woman who only wanted him  his blood.  It’s tough watching your kid walk so innocently with a big smile knowing he’s about to get stabbed more times than an inmate in a prison fight. The worst part is trying to keep a calm demeanor, because toddlers are like fortune tellers or gypsies or something, one wrong look and they immediately sense imminent danger and their happy, go-lucky attitude turns into all out panic mode as they flee for the nearest exit.  

Luckily we made it to the waiting room, but not with out the saddest looks  from just about every human in the building as we walked down the hall. I’m not even quite sure who the looks were for… Might have been for me knowing what I’m about to endure as well. It was a short distance but the walk felt like a epic journey down that white hallway which was lit by buzzing UV lights. 

We got the waiting room and he immediately made himself at home, pulling out an US Weekly and leafing through the pages.  (On a side note why are all hospital magazines decades old? Is it necessary on a day like today for my son to have to read about Jennifer Anisten and Brad Pitt filing for divorce?  I mean get something from this decade at least!)

The moment of truth arrived soon after Jax read about the falling of the Berlin Wall. As we were called in to a small room with two chairs, one which looked appropriately like an “electric chair” Jax began to understand why  we were there.  Sadly for him it was too late to run. I sat in the electric chair and was instructed to “hold him tight and not to let him move…”  I laughed sarcastically and wondered if they understood holding a two year old down is like trying to catch water with a strainer.  Luckily my PMT training came in handy as the basket hold at least kept him at bay until the needle began to jab him.  I literally watched in horror as they jabbed the needle, what seemed like 19 different times, in various directions and still did not find a vein.  I felt as if I were watching a live episode of Game of Thrones. 

 
After what seemed like hours of trying and more needle jabs than Barry Bonds in his prime, poor Jax was covered in tears and snot.  No SpiderMan bandaid was going to solve this problem and, “no nurse he doesn’t want your Lighteming McQueen sticker.” What he wants is to get the hell out of here and never come back.  

Your Move Ebola

I’ve about had it with this Ebola nonsense.  It used to be having a baby, the only thing you had to worry about was croup or maybe diaper rash.  Now the Rapture has come and is about to wipe out the planet in the name of Ebola.  People are just walking around passing germs around like they’re freaking tic-tacs.  No one knows what’s going on, governments holding secret press conferences, nurses catching it from patients, people being scanned at the airport… this is too much.

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The best part is, we are totally prepared to handle this thing if it spreads, right.  WRONG: The map shows the hospitals in the US that have Bio Containment Units.  There’s like four… FOUR!!!  Are you kidding me?  There are 11,910 Starbucks in the United States… but we only have four Bio Containment Units?  Priorities people!  Anyone with Ebola is getting shipped out to one of these hospital units… once the ten beds are full, then what?  Can we send them into outer space?  Send them to the International Space Station.  I bet zero gravity will help contain the spread of Ebola.

I’m not taking any chances here, no grocery store, no gas stations, I’m not even welcoming house guests anymore.  That’s it… My borders are closed.  Nobody in and nobody out.  Jackson is being raised in a bubble.

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Hey Ebola, Have fun running rampant across the amber waves of grain, purple mountain majesties and above the fruited plains, because you aint getting to us.  I’m not going to sit here and pretend like this is the Bird Flu, H1N1 or Y2K, which clearly were scams… this is real and you are not going to find us bleeding from our ears or pooping out our kidneys.  Your move Ebola.

Busy Weekend

The past few days in the life of “Chronicles of a New Dad” have been a whirlwind of events, emotions and shenanigans.  Let’s recap our holiday weekend:

Visit to Uncle Eli’s house… where there seemed to be so much adult fun babies and toddlers everywhere.  Oh, how our lives have changed.

July 4th boating trip… apparently the one size fits all tag on the infant life-vest was a little exaggerated, It looked more like one of those blow up sumo suits on Jax than a life vest.

Back to CCMC for more poo tests… the positive: this type of allergy is common and most children outgrown it by one… the negative: we need to watch for bright red blood in the diapers.

Dad set fire to the kitchen… in an attempt to get dinner ready, your good ole New Dad left the toast in the toaster oven about 45 minutes too long.  Flames ensued… screams followed!

Where in the parenting handbook do they show you how to properly do all this stuff… I don’t need to know how to mix formula, it says it on the can, all the cute little pictures and quotes they put in the parent guide they send you home from in the hospital took up all the room for the important information like… umm… I don’t know… how to effectively maneuver around toys, tummy time mats, a boppy, other children, bottles and two dogs while attempting to keep the rhythm when rocking the little one to sleep.

Or how about the fact that the parent guide tells you not to leave your child unattended in the bath when they are an infant?  REALLY?  Do some people need to know that?  How about a chapter on POOP and what to look for?  I would have been happy with a few paragraphs on how to react when the GI doctor tells you to “Be on the lookout for BLOODY poop!”  Are there people out there who don’t think red poop is something worth reporting?   

PS:  Working fire alarms only count as working fire alarms, if they work when there is an actual fire.

NOTE TO SELF: Replace fire alarms tonight.

5.9.14. – Hello Hospital

Parents worst night mare: the 1st hospital visit. Although you are your fathers son, so it shouldn’t be surprising as I’ve frequented every hospital and ER up and down the East Coast.

Out of all the possible ailments that could befall a newborn thank god it’s only an oozy belly button that has brought us here. But either way this sux.

General Food for Thought:

Don’t use the restroom in the patients waiting area.  Make the walk around the nurses station over to the elevators and next to the vending machine to handle business.  It’s for the best.

Handwashing can never be overrated. Ever!!

If you are sick, have sick children or are just getting over being sick, DO NOT COME OR BRING THEM INTO THE HEALTHY WAITING ROOM.  You and they are still petri dishes of disease and my kid does not want to meet you or shake your germ filled hand.

Every hospital should be outfitted with a Dunkin Donuts. There is one on every other street in America, there should be one in the place where coffee is needed most.

No matter how quiet the tv volume is in the waiting room, Dora the Explorer’s voice is like nails on a chalkboard.