Coronavirus: The Third Month (June)

Day 76: Monday, June 1:

Dear Stephanie, let’s get married and have kids so instead of spending quarantine binging Netflix we can tape balloons to our car and drive by some six year old’s house and sing happy birthday from six feet away.

Day 77: Tuesday, June 2:

I’m regretting panic buying $100 worth Of LEGO’s to end up with two kids ignoring them and instead playing with cardboard Amazon Prime boxes and a Tupperware lid for the last few hours.

This quarantine thing is intense!

Wife: “You should never question my choices, because you’re one of them.” Me: “That’s exactly why I question your choices.” _ Wife: “Good point!”

Day 78: Wednesday: June 3

The world is still fighting over toilet paper and today my son decides to give our few rolls left a bath…

Day 79: Thursday, June 4:

How do you keep two kids busy while you conduct Zoom Meetings all day? Give them a vacuum, a few baby wipes and put them to work!

Day 80: Friday, June 5:

What do you do when you can’t go out for pizza and you have ZERO DESIRE to cook… you put the kids to work!

Day 81: Saturday, June 6:

Today I got to catch up with good friends to celebrate one of their 40th birthdays. Interesting enough, Jax used to remind me to take my keys, wallet and cell phone… today he said, “Dad don’t forget your mask and Purell!”

Day 82: Sunday, June 7:

FOLKS… WE GOT SOME BIG NEWS HERE… OUR FIRST LOOSE TOOTH! This kid is growing up too fast! Bring on adulthood!

Day 83: Monday, June 8:

Today we attempting an early morning walk before work and virtual school started.

7:30am: leave house

7:32am: stop because Jax is so hot and “needs a sip of water”

7:36am: stop for rocks

7:37am: stop to pick flowers (that are actually weeds)

7:39am: now Oliver’s cold

7:40am: stop for sticks

7:42am: go home because both boys are really, really tired.

45 total steps logged.

Day 84: Tuesday, June 9:

Happy birthday to the only person who isn’t on Social Media. To my not so little brother! We’ve come a long way from me almost getting you eaten by a snake in the backyard when we were kids! Jax and Ollie couldn’t ask for a better uncle!

Day 85: Wednesday, June 10:

I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday present than spending the day with my family! It was our first family outing and first time out to dinner in MONTHS!

Day 86: Thursday, June 11:

Hard to imagine how my kids were ever able to survive a regular school days without 23 snacks.

Day 87: Friday, June 12:

Today Jackson had his VIRTUAL FIELD DAY!

Field Day VIA a computer might have been the most frustrating aspect of Distance Learning. My kids would rather watch the timer in the corner of the screen on the zoom conference than actually participate in virtual field day. Jax has now asked 16,000 times when this is over because he wants to go inside already!

PS: Do they give college scholarships for balloon dribbling?!?? Jax had a record of 30 before the balloon popped. What does that count as? Forget it… This has now turned into a way for me to feel athletic again!
As a matter fact I’m playing the Rocky theme right now and shoving the kids to the ground!

Day 88: Saturday, June 13:

My two little Dirt Devils/Beach Bums! There’s nothing like burying yourself in the sand as kid!

Day 89: Sunday, June 14:

During quarantine I’ve been slowly working on a project that I had wanted to do for ages. I figured the perfect time was now! In between Zoom meetings and distance learning (and you know life) I decided to build a high back sofa/bar table for the basement. Mind you I’m lucky to come away with ten fingers after using a pencil sharpener. so this was quite the challenge. But, table saws, circular saws, hacksaws and vice clamps be damned, because it came out pretty good.

Day 90: Monday, June 15:

The tooth has fallen out (been pulled out). All packed up in an envelope with a note. That Tooth fairy better start looking for some spare change!

PS: Yes the first tooth only yielded a dollar and a pack of baseball cards, but remember the tooth-fairy is a nonprofit…. she’s on unemployed from her other “paying” job bc of Covid-19, so with that being said, “you get what you get and you don’t get upset!!!”

Day 90: Tuesday, June 16:

You want to wear a cut off tank top and rain boots up the street on your power wheels while carrying garden tools? Sure, at this point at least you have on pants.

PS: Today I learned my children can fix a squeaky wheel with hand held garden tools. Don’t ask!

Day 91: Wednesday, June 17:

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Started Kindergarten in the classroom and ended it by the pool

The last day of Kindergarten also meant the last day of Distance Learning (for now). What a crazy, crazy cRAzY school year it was for this little guy! Mom and I are so incredibly proud of you and your accomplishments!

Day 92: Thursday, June 18

Today, after putting on my mask in the Big Y parking lot, I looked in the rear view mirror… I realized this is what my ears look like with a face-mask on:

Day 93: Friday, June 19

Dear Apple,

Can we just not with the screen time reports this week?

Love, mom and dad

Day 94: Saturday. June 20

Pre-Father’s Day Father’s Day Party: my wife, the boy’s mom planned a party for today…. my response to that… Thank you. This was perfect. I actually for once enjoyed myself. I did just enough cleaning, organizing and cooking, etc to keep sane.

Stephanie, I don’t know if you noticed but I actually went in the pool. That’s a big deal. We may argue and butt heads. But, If there’s anyone who is going to be by my side for all the nonsense that is me and what comes with it… I wouldn’t want anyone by my side but you.

Day 95: Sunday, June 21:

Father’s Day is always perfect when spent with the family, especially my two superheros!

Day 96: Monday, June 22:

My wife buys our kids a lot of kinetic sand, play-dough and painting supplies for someone who wants to stay married.

Day 97: Tuesday, June 23:

Today was my first official day I have taken “off” from work since Christmas Break. It was nice to spend some quiet time without the phone/emails for a little while. The boys and I went to the beach (mom was stuck in the office!!!)

With the tide out we were able to walk out almost to the top of the jetty! Nobody fell in (more importantly no one pushed anyone in!)

Day 98: Wednesday, June 24:

Today was a LOOOOOONG DAYYYYYY! Coordinating chrome book and iPad drop off at school for all the amazing students who borrowed devices during distance learning will take a lot of a guy! But, coming home to these two smiling little boys (SCREAMING, “DAAAAADDDDDIEEEESSSSSSS HOMMMMEEEEE!!!!” Will always help being a long day of to a happy close!

Day 99: Thursday, June 25:

My day today… on a Zoom Call with my assistant principal while working from home:

Assistant Principal: “Would you be able to…”

… my two kids run by the camera: one wielding a sword, one naked, both in ski masks and capes…

Assistant Principal: “Never mind.”

Day 100: Friday, June 26:

ONE-HUNDRED-FREAKING-DAYS-OF-QUARANTINE. It’s been 100 days since schools across the nation began distance learning and the quarantine began. As we mark that significant number in this global pandemic not much has changed. Cases are still spiking, masks are required almost everywhere

Day 101: Saturday, June 27:

Roman, our newest little nephew, was baptized today. It was nice celebrating with family for the first time in long time. We also learned Jax is a pretty good photographer!

Day 102: Sunday, June 28:

Heard the wife yelling this from the other room earlier: “STOP DOING THAT!!! WE CAN NOT GO TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM DURING A PANDEMIC!”

Day 103: Monday, June 29:

We’ve officially lost it here. No school for the kids, rain outside and Oliver wants his 14th M&M yogurt of the day. I have to draw the line somewhere. 13 M&M yogurts before noon is acceptable, but when you try for 14 you have gone too far. Sorry little man, but that temper tantrum is going to have to last a lot longer than…. forget just eat another damn yogurt!

Day 104: Tuesday, June 30:

What a way to end the month. I came home to Jackson narrating a live video of Oliver playing with his Magic Trax! Apparently he’s started his own YouTube channel. Best part, he signed off by saying, “Thanks for watching. Don’t forget to like and subscribe!!!

I guess that takes us into month four… hello July!

PS: Thanks for reading. Don’t forget to like and subscribe! 😂😂😂

Mickey Mantle, Mike Trout and Jackson Carmine

First there was the Commerce Comet, then came the Millville Meteor… and now-wearing number 7 for his local fall-ball team is the Bristol Bullet.

I was psyched when Coach Dave hooked up our switch hitting slugger with Mickey Mantle’s number. I always wore 24 for my favorite player Rickey Henderson, but I was a right handed hitting speedster who liked to steal bases and slide head first. Jax is shaping up to be a pretty damn good hitter from both sides of the plate!

If there are two guys you want your son to be similar to on the baseball field you could do a lot worse than Mantle and Trout. Growing up in 2019 (although we are Yankees fans, Mike Trout is a player who you enjoy watching and rooting for. While we bleed blue for the Yankees, I’m glad Jax will have Mike Trout, a fantastic baseball player and even more importantly a fantastic human being, to look up to as a role model.

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

The Bonds of Baseball

A few years ago Marc Fisher, of the Washington Post wrote, “Baseball has lived for the better part of a century on its unchanging character, its role as a bond between generations, its identity as a quintessentially American game that features a one-on-one face-off of individual skills tucked inside a team sport.” For almost 120 years baseball has been dubbed the “national pastime.” 

Children still take to Little League fields every spring, some on pace for the college scholarships and others are content to stand in right field picking dandelions and looking at airplanes fly overhead. The song “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” is still as well known as any on the radio and writers and directors have used baseball to tell amazing stories like, The Natural, Bang the Drum Slowly, Shoeless Joe (the basis of Field of Dreams) and The Sandlot.

This is a game that has stood the test of time. A game that to this day has not succumbed to the fast paced mentality that other sports thrive upon (at least not totally). Baseball is and will always be a game handed down through the generations. From father to son and son to grandson, baseball will always in and of itself stand for family and transition. In an ever changing society there has always been one constant in life… baseball

Baseball belongs to me. It belongs to my grandfather and to my sons. The memories can never and will never fade. The thought of my grandfather standing across from me on the other side of a sprawling, beautiful manicured lawn plays over and over in my head like an old silent movie. It’s as vivid as is it were yesterday. Shopping for my first “real” baseball glove. Watching him intently as he showed me how to break it in. Oil it, tuck a ball inside just right and wrap it up with twine. I still have that glove. It smells like days past, like Charles Place, like a younger version of my grandfather when he was still able to move without pain to show me how to field a ground ball like the Scooter… it smells like baseball.

Baseball is a form of communication in and of itself and I don’t mean the language of the game or the intricacies of how someone might describe the perfect swing of Teddy Ballgame or Junior. It’s a silent language that doesn’t need to be spoken because it’s the silence of the game that speaks volumes. I sat at my grandfather’s feet as he relaxed in his chair. We barely spoke during innings. We watched, and he inserted stories of Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio. It was like I was there. Most people my age never saw Gehrig or Berra play… but I did. Through my grandfather’s words I saw Murder’s Row torment pitchers and watched Maris and Mantle chase Ruth.

No one can ever take that from me. No one can ever tell me those things didn’t happen. They are history, they are symbolic to me. The sound of a baseball snapping as it hits your glove. Feeling the vibrations that ring through your hands and arms as your bat makes connection with your favorite pitch (low and inside- something I could pull).

Practicing robbing home runs in front of Pop’s shrubs led me to firmly believe I would be the starting shortstop for the New York Yankees when I grew up… (damn you Derek Jeter).

Regardless of whatever happened to my dreams of becoming an all-star infielder, I’ll never really know… but what I do know is that soon the name Fragola will again be running out of a dugout and taking his rightful place on a baseball diamond.  Jackson starting t-ball is about the single most exciting thing I have been looking forward to as a parent!

Buying his first baseball glove and then a father and son’s first time ever playing catch. (Yes I cried a little in the sporting good store).

Playing catch with my son is more than father – son bonding time. It is a family heirloom that gets passed down from generation to generation. One that I look forward to sharing with boys of my sons. It’s also an an opportunity for me to share my passion for the game and share stories of players like Rickey Henderson, Don Mattingly and Ken Griffey, Jr as my grandfather did for me with the best players of his time. And I look forward to being able to tell my sons about the old days when packs of baseball cards were only a few dollars and rookie cards were all the rage.

Super proud dad moment. The first time your son wants to go through his baseball cards on his own… thanks @Topps for keeping the family tradition alive. #BaseballCards #Topps

Soon I’ll just be a dad in the stands or maybe one day even a coach in the dugout. But for now I’m content passing on the love for the game to both my sons, one of whom has finally begun his amazing story as a baseball player.

PS: ThrowBack to ’86: I wasn’t much of a power hitter in case you couldn’t tell from those scrawny arms… but man could I lay down a perfect bunt.

Autographs

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Pretty stoked to start building the little man’s autograph collection. What better way to get it going than two legendary Green Bay Packers. Both Jerry Kramer and Fuzzy Thurston loved the picture and gave nice inscriptions too.