This is a post I knew I’d have to write one day, but never wanted to actually have to write. I have no idea how I’m going to get through without completely breaking down. But having just been through this awful course of events, if I can spare a few lines of sorrow, yet in some way figure out how to break the news to my kids, this will have been worth it.
Our Buster was our first baby. Steph and I brought him home when we were newlyweds 15 years ago. We were broke college kids and we would go to eat at Olive Garden and then go play with the puppies who were in need of of a home. It was a fun way to spend a Friday date night. Buster was there for a while. A few weeks maybe and he grew on us. I decided to bring Buster home as a surprise for Steph the day after our wedding. It was the perfect gift for both of us.
Through the years he ate through a few jackets (he preferred the taste of Northface), he was the reason for the demise of no less than 578 chapsticks, ate multiple meatballs and once farted out biscuits after eating a bag of bisquick.
Buster enjoyed many wall rides with his bestie Sadie and drank his fair share of spilled beer, but he always preferred a glass of Chardonnay to wash down a steak he had pulled off the counter (sorry Vinny)
He tolerated ear tugs from his younger brother Max and rougher than necessary “love pats” from young toddlers who didn’t know better. He kissed them and snuggled them and enjoyed eating all the food they spilled on the floor.
Over the last few months, when I imagined the end of Buster’s life (I know, morbid thought), I always pictured the vet telling me that he had some incurable disease. We never wanted him to hurt and I assumed the decision would be clear cut and obvious. But it wasn’t. I assume now it never is.
Buster’s struggles the past few months, specifically this week, we’re tough to watch. But even to the end, he was sniffing around looking for some scraps of food one of the boys left behind, or something Max might not have finished.
Everything happened relatively quickly at the end. We tried to gently tell the boys how Buster was getting old and really needed to go see the doctor soon. You can never prepare anyone especially kids for something like this, but somehow I think Jackson knew.
As I was about to leave for the vet, I had each of the kids give Buster a kiss. They did, and then they saw that Steph was crying. Jax walked over and gave her a hug and kiss.
This morning, I chose to speak to each of them separately, Jax after breakfast and Oliver tonight (we didn’t want to ruin his thanksgiving party at school today 🙄.
There’s no need to go into details about the conversation. That’s between a dad and son. But Jax took it well. He said he was sad, but I could tell he already had known. Oliver is still too young to “get it”. But I’m sure he’ll have questions I’m not sure I’ll know how to answer. But that’s ok because I’ve learned sometimes it’s ok to not have an answer. Just to say I don’t know and then give a hug and a kiss and be there. We always will be, just like the memories of the last 15+ years we have of Buster. They will always be there.
This blog entry will Chronicle (pun intended) a father and son’s continuation of the first time reading the Harry Potter series together. We finished book one and now will move onto Book two: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I’ll update it after each chapter so that I can capture the most memorable moments. Come back often and check in on our progress and leave us a note or some feedback!
I hope you enjoy the journey as much as I know Jax and I will.
Chapter 1: The Worst Birthday
We start the book with so much excitement, as we begin with Harry returning to the Dursley’s for the summer, and things are hardly going well. On Harry’s birthday, Harry is screamed at and berated by Uncle Vernon. Jax recognizes this and asks me to stop, while he thinks. He calmly asks, dad, whet book is he going to get a new family? We’re barely into Book 2 and Jax already dislikes The Dursleys and is asking why he needs to stay with his aunt and uncle.
I move slowly closing the book at saying, “great question, you’ll find out more clues to help you answer that soon!”
Chapter 2: Dobby’s Warning
This chapter was a fan favorite!
Dobby’s tennis ball sized eyes and his funny voice (watch out Jim Dale and Stephen Fry this dad does a mean Dobby voice)
Aunt Petunia’s pudding
Harry getting locked in his room with bars on the windows
The FLYING car!!!
Dobby finally told Harry why he was there – he had a warning: according to Jax, “Harry shouldn’t go back to Hogwarts because Dobby is trying to tell him that Voldemort is coming back to get him! “ this was followed up by one of the most insightful questions I’ve heard as a dad and educator… “Dad, can we hurry to the end of the book, that’s when Voldemort will try to fight Harry again, it always happens at the end!” This kid is a very, very thoughtful reader, with lots of tools to help him comprehend!
Drawing conclusions ✅
Relating background knowledge ✅
Chapter 3: The Burrow
We read this chapter excited mostly about how incredible it was That a flying car picked Harry up from his bedroom. The entire scene was so suspenseful, the sneaking out, getting his trunk, uncle Vernon trying to grab Harry as he barely gets away as Fred and George slam on the gas and free Harry from the Dursley’s. A pattern that Jax is beginning to pick up on!
I talked a little with Jax about how often times the author leaves you clues (JKs MO) about what they want you to figure out on your own. We talked about how the Weasley’s house is described and how Ron says, “It’s not much, but it’s home.” The deep thinking that is occurring as he processes so much information in these chapters is impressive. Most of the time he processes out loud, other times, he does it internally and sometimes I have to prompt him.
I asked Jax what he thought of the burrow and how that was similar or different to Ron’s opinion of his own house. Hearing his description of how Ron thought he was “poor” and that he was “embarrassed” by the above line was rewarding for a dad/educator trying to get their little reader to think deeply about the text!
Chapter 4: At Flourish and Blotts
A LONG CHAPTER that took three separate nights to compete (part Jax tired and part… mostly… dad exhausted).
We covered a lot in this chapter including (with Jax’ commentary in quotes):
Why might Harry be embarrassed of his money. “Do you think he’ll share it with the Weasleys?”
The Weasley vs the Malfoy rivalry. “The Malfoys are the worst.”
The famous and over zealous Gilderoy Lockhart. “He thinks he’s the best wizard and he only likes Harry because he’s famous.”
As we ended the chapter I caught him sneaking a peak at the last chapter… I love that he’s wanting more!!!
(Come back tomorrow for the next chapter!)
Chapter 5: The Whomping Willow
It’s been a busy few days, but hearing Jax (and Oliver) ask about Harry Potter read aloud time is a welcomed addition to my day.
Both boys were excited to read together (I struggle with letting Ollie listen in, because I’d like it to be a unique experience for him like it has been for Jax, but for now intermittent participation in our read alouds will be permitted!)
The Whomping Willow and a flying Ford Anglia dominate this chapter. But it was Ron and Harry smashing into the brick wall at Platform 9 3/4 that had the boys hysterical.
There’s something about watching (or in the case picturing) someone falling over that seems to always bring out a chuckle (think America’s Funniest Home Videos). Of course both boys needed to stand up and act this scene out… with multiple takes.
Interestingly enough their door might be less forgiving than the brick wall in King’s Cross Station between Platforms 9 and 10 because I’m confident one or both of them had a concussion after their physical comedy. It was like watching a Chris Farley do a Harry Potter skit on SNL
As the chapter came to a close we saw our favorite mean professor yell at Harry, leaving Jax to say, “I’m glad he’s not my teacher!!!”
Chapter 6: Gilderoy Lockhart
The best part of this chapter is the two references to real life events that Jax makes quick connections too as we read. We being in the greenhouse, where Professor Sprout is explaining that the lesson of the day will involve repotting Mandrakes, which Hermoine explains are a are plants that look like pale green babies with leaves growing out of their heads and produce a cry that is fatal to anyone who hears it, so the entire class has to put on earmuffs to handle them. Which reminds Jax of his brothers newborn photo shoot from four years ago!
Jackson’s Reference Exhibit 1:
The single most annoying character in this series comes into play next. He’s the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Gilderoy Lockhart. I loathe this character (and this chapter in general). Jax describes him as a liar and says he definitely thinks he’s good at “stuff, but he definitely isn’t.”
As an elementary school principal Lockhart’s instructional ineptitude drives me crazy. As a teacher in his own class, he has no idea what he’s doing and he can’t even fake it well. The pixies he releases destroy the classroom, hanging students from the ceiling and tossing wands out the window. Lockhart is unable to stop them or to recapture them so he walks out and leaves the job to Harry, Ron, and Hermione, which leads Jax to agree that Lockhart is a, “really bad teacher!!”
Then again the Cornish Pixies bring us to our second favorite part of this chapter… The first time we 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 on my inner arm.
Jackson’s Reference Exhibit 2:
Check back soon for the review and updates of our next chapter read aloud
Chapter 7: Mudbloods and Murmurs
An interesting chapter as we start to see how “mean” other people can be and how others could and should respond to those when they are mean.
The highlight of this chapter read:
Jax asks, “How many Harry Potter books are there?”
Jax response, “What if Voldemort has seven lives and Harry has to fight one in each of the books?”
Come back soon for our new chapter read aloud: The Deathday Party
I’ve always enjoyed reading what other people think is wrong with my parenting, or why things are the way they are. For example, Jax being able to ride a bike without training wheels. There’s a million and one suggestions about how best help, or why you should push you child if they aren’t ready. Excuses… comments like:
Their bike is too big
They can’t brake properly
Their bike is too small
They don’t know how to ride a bike
Their bike is too heavy
They’ve forgotten how to ride a bike
They’re scared of getting hurt
You’re asking them to do too much
Perhaps they’re just not ready to ride a bike
He’s Seven and a half and hasn’t ridden a bike with out training wheels yet. The thing is, it’s not because of those very scientific researched based suggestions above… it’s literally because he didn’t give a shit until this weekend and honestly I didn’t press him.
I didn’t press him… not because I’m all about “my kid will ride his bike when he is ready”… Blah blah blah… but because it’s 2021 and I have no time for anything let alone fifteen seconds to try to teach him to ride a bike. I’m not pressing. We play baseball and basketball all the time he lives in the pool all summer. He’s having fun outdoors. So do I feel guilty that he didn’t ride a bike yet…yes… do I stress… no. If he’s not pressing…
Then this weekend he asked. He wanted to give it a try. We loaded the trunk up with bikes and water bottles and a few baseball batting helmets (yup, you read that right).
If he’s ready to ride… I’m all in. So, we hit the grass field with a feeling of half freedom and half fear! Jax rode a few feet at a time with dad (me, obviously, just wanted to take some credit here) holding on tight. It didn’t take long however, for the balance and speed of the Family Hurdle Gene to take over…
…and with that I present the next TOUR de FRANCE WINNER:
Continuing with tradition (for the seventh year in a row) I tweeted at JK Rowling for advice in dropping the boys off at Platform 9 3/4.
I’m sure by now you know that September 1 is a sacred day for witches and wizards everywhere! Back to Hogwarts day is when the Wizarding World boards the Hogwarts Express from King’s Cross Station heading to Hogwarts.
And just like that tradition, another year has gone by with no acknowledgement from Mrs. Rowling. I thought this being year seven, with seven being such an important number in the series, she’d have responded:
Seven was the most powerful magical number, based on centuries of mythology, science, and mathematics, and therefore had a very important role in the wizarding world. Arithmancer Bridget Wenlock was the first to note this through a theorem which exposed the magical properties of the number seven.
I guess we’ll have to try for lucky number eight next year.
If baseball is America’s national pastime, then collecting baseball cards is a close second. People everywhere are searching every nook and cranny of their childhood home for those boxes and binders of cards! Could there be a Frank Thomas NNOF, or a mint Ken Griffey, Jr ’89 Upper Deck? Closets, crawl spaces, and attics across the country are full of cards from every era. Years ago, the Mantles, Ruths, Williams and others from the prewar days were stuck in bike spokes or lost forever as children grew out of the hobby.
Baseball card values depend on many factors, like age, condition, scarcity, and the collectible market trends at the time. Mantle’s Topps RC card recently set an auction record and sold for $5.2 million, people everywhere claim they have an original 1909 Honus Wagner T206 card. Every year there is a new card that sets the market on fire, a Mike Trout Gem Mint 10, an Ohtani Gold Foil, or a 1993 Jeter SP. There is always something new. Either way, few things for collectors elicit the adrenaline rush of finding a legend’s rookie card.
Obviosly, pulling a rookie card out of a pack of an up and coming superstars or finding a rare and expensive legend are especially coveted. Jackie Robinson first appeared on 1948-49 Leaf and Hank Aaron’s rookie card is in the 1954 Topps set. Roberto Clemente’s first baseball card is a 1955 Topps card and maybe the most famous baseball card, besides Wagner, is the Mantle rookie either his 1951 Bowman (which I prefer), or the aforementioned 1952 Topps.
Baseball card collectors have always had their own reasons for collecting. Some collect their favorite team, or player, but in recent years, a large push in the card industry has been the intentional investment in the rookie cards of unproven players, hoping they will become stars one day and that their card will skyrocket in value. Everyone is buying out the minor league top draft picks; Juan Soto and Robert Acuña are proving those collectors who invested early to be correct (and rich). They were the focus of the “new” collectors recently. That was until the newest and hottest card in decades was released.
On August 23, 2021 the hobby was turned upside down. A card was released that not only shows what some in the hobby say is the most handsome player to ever don a baseball jersey, but also say it could become the first $10 million baseball card.Introducing the most sought after card in the industry right now… Oliver’s 2021 Rookie Card:
Get it now folks… order on eBay, wait in line at Target, or take your chances in a razz. Either way get this kid now, before it’s too late.
Listen here readers (and by readers I mean the mother of my two children). Let me be VERY clear we… are not starting a half birthday tradition. We already have mom’s birthday weekend which has suspiciously transponder into a birthday month. I can’t deal with now having to remember half birthdays and anniversaries and other dates that are all jumbled up into forty something years of celebrating other people’s days.
When your birthday is in January and it’s covid …you get a 1/2 birthday party. He said it was the best birthday ever , spent with his preschool buddies. Today, this amazing, chaotic, handsome, weird, hilarious little guy celebrated 4 1/2! With that being said (and knowing that I’m not in charge around here) Happy Half Birthday to Oliver!!!
Half birthday or no birthday, I watched my little guy play with his friends, they played soccer and basketball. They swam, they played tag and ate cake. He didn’t ask mom or dad to play or push him on the swings… he just played. He laughed and gave hugs to his two amazing teachers who showed up to see their students (which is probably why mom and dad were put on the back burner). I get it, when you’re in pre-school and your teacher shows up to your birthday party you’ve pretty much solidified yourself as the coolest kid in the school!
I’m sure the day will come when his electric smile and HUGE brown eyes won’t want mim and dad to lay with him at night, or read him a bedtime story. I know there will come a time when I won’t be able to lay awake holding him close after he sneaks into our bed (thinking he did it slyly and no one noticed). He’s growing up so fast. Four, four and a half, or five years old… it doesn’t matter… Oliver is growing up way too fast.
Another one bites the dust 🦷. To bad he put all the Tooth Fairy’s money in the band’s tip jar at dinner tonight.
What do you do when it’s 9:45pm and you kid loses a tooth and you have no cash? We are literally repurposing birthday and Christmas money over here. Big shout out to Steph for leaving her purse unattended tonight at dinner which allowed Jackson to request at least seven songs in a row from the live band at dinner.
PS: Jax I want you to know how much I hate teeth. When you read this one day… just know how grossed out I was, but I kept a straight face and held strong like the brave and heroic dad that I am.
Two year ago today Stephanie and I were excited to celebrate with Jackson his Pre-K “graduation”. We were excited, nervous, yet most of all optimistic. Later in the summer we were notified of his kindergarten teacher. We didn’t know much about her, but we hoped for the best.
As an elementary school principal I have high expectations for teachers. One of the most important characteristics of an excellent teacher is the ability to create a learning environment for all, not just for their students, but for the families they serve as well. I firmly believe that the most effective educators are learners at heart and work diligently to create an overall culture of learning.
True teachers believe in everyone, encourage us to reach our highest potential, and convince us that we can do anything we set our minds to. They help foster a love for reading, writing, and learning. They take pride in the little things their students accomplish and the milestones they make. They celebrate student accomplishments and although teachers know they only have their students for a short period of time, they are proud to see them succeed and move on.
The past two school years for our son have been more than that. They have been a time for him to develop into the amazing little boy he is today. A leader, a kind soul, an inquisitive little boy who wants to know more about everything. That is part him and part her. Her being the teacher who has inspired him to ask questions (and to make sure the questions are on topic and relatively appropriate… I know my son and relatively appropriate is pushing it).
Mrs. G you are a saint. You are a true kindhearted and special person. I know my son. He’s not perfect (god knows none of us are), but he tries. He loves you, and I’d like to think that I know positive student/ teacher interaction. You helped support his love for learning, but more importantly his love of “wondering”. You never shut him down. You never made him feel like he was asking too many questions. You helped shape his inquisitive mind, while pushing him to want to know more. That, I will never be able to thank you enough for.
Mrs. G, as an educator I truly believe there is not better compliment you can give another educator than to say you want your children to be in their class… with that being said… do you have any interest in looping to second grade?!??
There’s nothing in the world as a parent that’s worse than waking up in the morning to a list of things that need to happen… Four-year-old’s birthday party… play date at the playground on the other side of town… Or meeting some new people from your child’s class.
Don’t get me wrong, there isn’t a parent we’ve met that I haven’t enjoyed hanging out with. We’ve met some of our best friends through the boys, but at what point do parents of young kids get a break. It never ends. Baseball, soccer, swim lessons… play dates…
First, of all any attempt to label the word play as “session” annoys me. Why is everything timed now a days… “hey boys, your play will commence now. You will have fun for the one hour that has been allotted for this activity.” Why do we need to formalize the word play? A session should be used for scheduled visits with your personal trainer or therapist (although I’m not sure which one I need more after this pandemic shutdown!)
But, I digress… I woke up this morning to this email. (It was the greatest email of my life):
I needed a day of this. Both parents needed a day like this. We just need to normalize not having anything to do.
PS: We I wound up inviting multiple people over to swim in the pool this morning… so much for relaxing!
Apparently this whole Covid lockdown thing has driven people to want to remodel and do construction to their house the likes that no one has ever seen before. Many things have been put on hold due to the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), but home renovations aren’t one of them. I see neighbors putting in new decks, ripping out old cabinetry and installing new HVAC units left and right. How people are not going bankrupt with all this going on is beyond me.
While I understand most of the world is concerned for their health and well being and you and your family are just trying to get through each day right now… someone here is planning to turn the boys’ bedrooms into a reincarnation of the Palace of Versailles. The thing is I’m totally not up for making decisions about anything at the moment that includes random people making messes around my house that I (for all intents and purposes) can’t leave for more than a few hours at a time.
The thing is… I want to be able to be agreeable and more importantly help… maybe even take on these home projects myself (even if they are far from DIY). I wish I could. I try. I’ve done a lot recently… some plumbing and electrical, but I’m not so sure I should be the one operating a circular saw.
Even my boys know this. They tattle on me if I use a hammer around the house and god forbid I break out the screw gun. I wish I could do more. I have friends like this. They can just build an house in a weekend. I’ve gone to his house and he’ll hand me a beer and ask me to check out his new shed.
“Wait, you built a shed? When?” I’ll ask.
His response, calm, cool and collected,
“Today… I finished before you got here.”
“It’s 11:30am!!!” I’ll reply. Dejected.
Today… he built a shed today… I ran a few miles… maybe answered some emails… but he built an arc to save the animal kingdom overnight. I’m just not there yet. I built a bar/table for the basement. I’ve hung a couple of shelves and installed some blinds. But I’m just not ready to drive a flatbed truck and use saw dust as cologne.
I’m trying. I’m not perfect. But at some point we’ll have a new front door and maybe a shed. Hopefully I’ll come out of all of this with all ten fingers and the majority of my 401k.