Family Traditions

Traditions and rituals are more than just repetition… they often tell a story. A family sets it’s foundation on traditions… from the small of a secret handshake with your son or the big of a thanksgiving feast with all your relatives. On the macro level, traditions can teach children where their family came from or give them insights into their cultural or religious history. On a more micro level, traditions can serve as reminders of events that have shaped your family or reminders of great friendships.

There is irrefutable research that shows families hat engage is “traditions” have a stronger connection with one another. Traditions can be particularly effective during times of change or grief. When we moved and he had to go to sleep in a new room, Jax knew every night we would read a few books and “count the stars on his ceiling” before I kissed him goodnight. It provided him with a sense of security in a new environment.

Jax and I have our secret handshake: (Shout out to Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson who were the inspiration for this). But, Oliver and I were still searching for that father-son tradition.

That was until I realized we need search no more… we didn’t need to find one, because traditions aren’t just thought up one day. They are created authentically and often times are the moments that you don’t even think twice about. It was there right in front of our faces!

Every night before he goes down to sleep, Oliver climbs up on me and settles his head on my shoulder and says, well he doesn’t really say anything. He isn’t really talking much at this point. But, I know what he’s thinking… he’s thinking he really wants his dad to sing him to sleep… a lullaby, a beautiful, calming rendition of his favorite song… Hush, Little Baby.

This is our tradition. Jax never really took to my singing (probably because it sounds like multiple cats crying). However, Ollie… he loves snuggling with dad and listening to the smooth, sweet tones of his father’s voice whispering one of the most well-known lullabies as he drifts off into dream land.

The best part of this… I have no idea, literally none whatsoever, what the lyrics to this song really are. I’ve tried everything. I rhymed real words and made up words… I’ve tried looking up the lyrics, but I can’t remember them in the heat of the performance. I feel like I do when I’m in the car belting out Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing… apparently it’s not, “smelly wine and sheep perfume.” Then there’s anything by Notorious BIG (including the ever confusing), “Birthdays were the worst days/ Now we sip champagne every Thursday.” I know a few words and the rest are completely made up.

That brings us to the greatest tradition our family knows… dad and Oliver’s version of Hush, Little Baby:

Hush, little baby, don’t say a word, Daddy’s gonna buy you a mockingbird.

And if that mockingbird don’t sing, Daddy’s gonna buy you a diamond ring.

And if that diamond ring don’t shine, Daddy’s gonna buy you an air freshener that smells like pine.

And if that air freshener doesn’t smell right, Daddy’s gonna buy you a dragon kite.

Different lyrics… same tradition… and it puts the kid to sleep… EVERY.DAMN.NIGHT.

Doesn’t matter where… when he hears Dad’s version of Hush, Little Baby.., he’s out cold

Why Tattoos are Life

Tattoos have been around for centuries and getting a tattoo inspired by your children or your favorite book is nothing new… therefor it’s no surprise two of my tattoos are directly connected to my sons and Harry Potter.

As a guy who enjoys tattoos… I wanted to get some ink done to represent my first after he was born. I decide on a meaningful representation of father and son taken from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows [short story] “The Tale of the Three Brothers.”

The story’s moral is that you should live life for the right reasons: love and those you love. The youngest brother in the story youngest brother was a humble man asked for a thing that he could use to live a long and happy life. One in which he was allowed to see his child grow. He was given a cloak of invisibility. And thus because of this he attained a great age and passed The Cloak of Invisibility to his son. I was happy to get a tattoo representing a moment that every father dreams of… Passing down something (knowledge, skill, an invisibility cloak) to their child which will ensure he will live long, happy and successful live.

When I decided it was time to get a tattoo honoring my newest little man it was obvious it would be something related to his name, Oliver, and also had to have some connection to Harry Potter. The olive branch has a very symbolic meaning which made it the perfect choice both references. The Olive Branch symbolizes a beginning of a new life. In the Harry Potter story, Oliver Wood is the first Quidditch player we meet. He is the keeper and captain of the Gryffindor team. He’s an athlete, a leader and a loyal friend. He’s also and one of my favorite characters in the story.

My most recent tattoo is just as special to me as the other ones I’ve gotten that were dedicated to my sons. The first time I visited the Harry Potter theme park in Orlando, Stephanie and I were walking out after a long hot day and as we pass a shelf loaded with stuffed animals and other HP merchandise, Jax starts pointing and laughing uncontrollably. He was pointing at the blue Cornish Pixie hanging on the shelf… so of course we bought it for him. He still has it to this day… so I got his Pixie (that he calls Pickie) on my inner arm.

Here are my other Harry Potter inspired tattoos:

And a quote on my ribs dedicated to my sons: “If anything should happen to me, the love for my sons should never go unsaid.”

Do you have a tattoo inspired by your child(en) or of Harry Potter? Show them in the comments below!

Ollie’s Winter ONEderland

img_5486-1I’ve professed my unadulterated hatred for children’s birthday parties (sorry to anyone who has recently invited us, or plans to invite us to their child’s birthday party… No really, I’m so excited to attend). In all honestly though I don’t hate kid’s birthday parties. I just wish they weren’t as stressful for the adults.

On one hand you have the person attending the party. All the stress of what to get, how much to spend… how long to stay. It’s too much decision making to partake in on a day off from work. I worry at every party I take my boys to how much money worth of family heirlooms they are going to destroy. It’s scary, trust me.

Then there is the flip side… being the host of a child’s birthday party. You want to make it enjoyable for all.. you want to set the kids up for success while allowing for some enjoyment for the adults. Oliver’s birthday party did a little of all of that. There was something for everyone.

There was time adult talk and time for play for the kids. There was hide and seek and talk of politics and health. There were sandwiches as far as the eye could see (and knifes that sawed through antique furniture in the dining room). There was hide and seek and there was blue cake-icing that was mashed into the carpet in no less than four different spots.

However, after things settled down… thing is… it was all worth it. Family and friends together celebrating such an amazing little boy turning one. It is a huge milestone… for this little guy that milestone is more about the fact that he’s survived a year with Jackson as his older brother. Between full contact hide and seek and Jackson trying to feed Oliver anything he can get his hands on… it’s a miracle this kid made it to one!!!

PS: You know it was a good time when all the party penguins end up on the ceiling 😂🐧

15 Minutes of Fame

What a few weeks. Your neighborhood Dad Blogger became the newest viral sensation. I was a Kardashian (minus 40 billion dollars). I was Barstool Sports when they hit it big. I was everywhere you turned… no, but really.. it was fun while it lasted:

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The number of online articles, magazines, newspapers and news outlets that picked up the story was amazing.  Some wanted interviews and others just a few quotes about the project, but it was a lot of fun feeling famous for a few minutes! (and let’s face it nothing beats being the #1 best blog on “Stairs”).

Besides having a bunch of great articles written about the project, there were just as many amazing comments on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and Pinterest:

Going viral isn’t always a good thing… just look at whats happening with… well anyone who does something stupid on Facebook Live or Twitter… but in this case… going viral was pretty cool… it definitely provided me with a way to connect with people all over the world that I would otherwise not have been able to.  New Harry Potter fans and a lot of new readers on the blog are a direct result of this project… which is pretty cool!

Some of the Facebook posts had literally hundreds of thousands of interactions:

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The “Love What Matters” post and article has had over 10,000 unique interactions

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My original post on my Facebook account (where all the hoopla started) has had over 3,000 likes and shares.

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After the Parents Magazine article, they posted the video review of the project which has had over 120,000 views.

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People from everywhere were commenting on the project.  The world was my oyster for about two weeks…

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The shaded areas show where Chronicles of a New Dad was viewed in the few days after the Cupboard Under the Stairs blog was published. (Darker the color the more views there were
Here are links to some of the better articles and interviews that were written:
  1. https://www.fatherly.com/play/father-builds-replica-cupboard-under-stairs-harry-potter/
  2. https://www.popsugar.com/moms/Dad-Re-creates-Harry-Potter-Cupboard-Under-Stairs-44489977
  3. https://www.parents.com/toddlers-preschoolers/everything-kids/dad-recreated-the-cupboard-under-the-stairs-from-harry-potter/
  4. http://www.scarymommy.com/harry-potter-cupboard-under-stairs-reading-nook/
  5. https://www.babble.com/parenting/peter-fragola-harry-potter-cupboard-under-the-stairs/
  6. https://www.purewow.com/news/dad-recreates-harry-potter-cupboard-under-the-stairs
  7. http://www.yuryz.com/youve-got-to-see-this-dads-harry-potter-inspired-cupboard-under-the-stairs/
  8. https://www.simplemost.com/dad-remakes-harry-potter-cupboard-under-stairs/
  9. https://www.beano.com/posts/someones-dad-has-given-their-cupboard-under-the-stairs-a-harry-potter-makeover
  10. https://www.thebump.com/news/dad-builds-harry-potter-cupboard-under-the-stairs
  11. http://www.cluebees.com/more/just-in/this-father-recreated-the-Harry-Potters-room
  12. http://diply.com/dad-creates-harry-potter-cupboard?publisher=different-solutions&config=21
  13. http://helenair.com/lifestyles/simplemost/dad-recreated-harry-potter-s-cupboard-under-the-stairs-for/article_2de9793e-d097-5a08-b5e8-5c9811c4dac1.html
  14. http://www.morefm.co.nz/home/trending/2018/01/dad-builds-sons-the-perfect-harry-potter-reading-corner-under-th.html
  15. https://vipleyo.com/america/baby/2018/01/11/this-dads-harry-potter-cupboard-under-the-stairs-is-all-sorts-of-amazing/
  16. https://www.magicmum.com/dads-recreation-of-harry-potters-room-is-what-dreams-are-made-of/http://www.morefm.co.nz/home/trending/2018/01/dad-builds-sons-the-perfect-harry-potter-reading-corner-under-th.html
  17. http://harrypotter.trendolizer.com/2018/01/dad-recreated-the-cupboard-under-the-stairs-from-harry-potter-for-his-sons.html
  18. http://www.kidspot.com.au/parenting/parenthood/dads/dad-builds-a-potteresque-cupboard-under-the-stairs-and-we-want-one/news-story/d5feb87822f3f27eb077b51b46425c93

First Love

When your son’s first love is an electronic intelligent personal assistant. #Alexa #FirstLove #Echo #Amazon #LoveAtFirstListen ❤️😘

Thanks @amazon. As if he’s not growing up fast enough, now he’s already found true love… and the worst part is she very well might feel the same way about him… he is a pretty cool kid.

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!”