Happy 5th Birthday Jackson

Dear Jackson,

Today’s the big day… FIVE! 5! V! Cinco! Anyway you say it… you’re a big boy now. You continue to amaze me at every one of life’s hurdles. It’s not about the easy times that show one’s character… it’s the hard times that define us.

You are kind… you are caring… and you are generous. I’m not sure there are three more important qualities anyone can have. I’ve seen you share your toys, hug and kiss your brother when he gets hurt and look after your friends who need help. Yes, sometimes you’re the one who pushed Oliver off the bed, but you always are the first one to help him back up! You need to continue to be that person. Help those in need, look out for others who aren’t as fortunate as you and smile… always smile.

I’ve watched you struggle with things, I’ve watched you get frustrated and I’ve watched you always come out a better person in the end. Sure you’ve made me curse under my breath a few times, but for the most part those days are few and far between.

I can’t believe how fast time goes. You’re five years old already? This morning you told me you don’t need help getting breakfast anymore because, “dad I’m five now, I don’t need help anymore!” Listen dude, you’re always going to need help, don’t be afraid to ask for it. And even if you don’t need it, I’ll still be right there in case you do!

I love you Jackson. Happy fifth birthday!

Love Always,
Dad

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April 27, 2014

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April 27, 2015

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April 27, 2016

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April 27, 2017

April 27, 2018

April 27, 2019

“It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.” -Albus Dumbledore

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!

Happy Valentine’s Day

In what seems like 100 years ago I met a young lady with the whole world in front of her. She asked for some help carrying things up to her dorm room and of course the gentleman that I was… Could not leave a damsel in distress. In all reality I volunteered to carry some water bottles up to her room… but so started what would become two children, two dogs, a house, some laughs, some tears and a whole lot of love.

There’s been work. There’s been more work. There’s been interviews that have led to more work. Work that’s lead to more work. And then after that there’s been work because the work we do needed more work to be done. And all that work sometimes leads to frustration, short tempers, and the need for a quiet peaceful night. And then you get home to these two amazing, loving, kind, beautiful children and everything is right in the world again.

There are times that are tougher than others, there are times where you can imagine where the last 18 years have gone. I remember continually limping into the orthopedic on crutches and depressed that my track and field career could be over… I remember her accompanying me time after time comforting me helping me through one of the worst times of my life at that point. I knew then she was the one… She was less confident for a while as she wouldn’t agree to be “my girlfriend.” That was until the cast came off and I thought things couldn’t get any better.

I remember sitting on the rooftop of the hotel in Wildwood. I remember being on the phone with my buddies, I remember the butterflies I remember the nerves I remember walking downstairs and being told by Jay and Brea that I better shave and put on something nice I remember sitting on the rooftop of the hotel in Wildwood. I remember being on the phone with my buddies, I remember the butterflies, I remember the nerves, I remember walking downstairs and being told by Jay and Brea that I better shave and put on something nice.

I shaved, I put on a purple Abercrombie polo, and I wore sandals. I was such a dork. I walked on stage, got up in front of thousands of people and asked the most amazing woman I’ve ever met to marry me. I’m still not sure if she actually said yes… but all these years later we’ve made it through a whole lot of stuff… good and bad… a couple of houses, multiple roommates, doggie hospitals, knocked out teeth, multiple wetlands violations, wiggle ball tournaments that led to broken vertebrae, parties that led to getting “iced,” winter power outages that led to sleeping like revolutionary war soldiers in front of a fire, baseball games, Football games, Backstreet Boys’ concerts (not my idea), glasses, contacts, Lasic surgery, great friends, great neighbors, great family members, a marriage that is stronger than ever… and most importantly… two of the most amazing children any parents could ask for.

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” -Ferris Bueller

I’m glad we’ve taken the time to stop and look around a bit. You’re a better mother than I ever thought possible, you deal with my annoying personality daily and you’re not so bad to look at.

I love you more now than the day we met. Thanks for letting me carry your water bottles up to your room.

Love Always,

Me

…and Jackson

……and Oliver

………and Buster

…………and Max

There’s Something About This Book

I don’t know what it is about CHICKA CHICKA BOOM BOOM. For some reason it has enamored the children in this household for years. I’m not sure if it’s the colors, the rhyming or just the repetition, but this book is so worn it’s literally in two pieces… and it’s a board book. I mean board books are literally made to withstand hurricane strength winds and other natural disasters. This book has been read so many times it is now comprised of separate parts… and my kids still love reading it.

Oliver is following on his brother’s footsteps. He’s becoming quite the reader. He loves listening to stories and interacting with the pictures. He’s engaged by text and wants to hear more every night. This kid just devours books and I wouldn’t want it any other way!

Oliver is learning his letters and loves climbing the coconut tree.

Please Send Help

Please someone help. Send help. Send reinforcements. Send in the National Guard. I’m so unbelievably tired. At this point my body just doesn’t even know the difference between day and night. I can’t remember what the inside of my eyelids look like anymore.

For some reason everyone thinks it’s just new parents who don’t get any sleep. It’s just understood that a newborn causes exhaustion and endless nights. Of course having a newborn involves screaming, midnight feedings, and every-two-minute baby breathing checks. It’s not that bad though. Honestly. It’s par for the course. So, know you’re not going to get a ton of sleep, people around you know you aren’t going to get a ton of sleep and everyone lends a hand and pitches in. People bring you food and drinks. They offer to hold the baby so you can nap or shower, or nap in the shower.

Then years go bye and a second kid comes along. No one cares. No one even bats an eye about your lack of sleep anymore. No one brings you a lasagna, or asks you if you want to go rest for an hour or seven.

At first, people understand that bringing new life also brings exhaustion. It happens, we’ve all felt it. Even Jackson as a baby, who slept extremely well, at least would be up only a few times to eat. The thing is, everyone thinks it gets better… it doesn’t. It doesn’t at all. It gets worse.

I’m positive I’ve read somewhere that it’s a scientific fact that parents never feel like fully-functional human beings ever again. Either that, or the meaning of what a “fully-functional” person actual means just slowly morphs as the years go bye, because I CAN NOT remember what it feels like to NOT be tired. My eyes have finally adjusted to their new norm. You know the one that “feels like you’re driving late at night and you convince yourself that you can just close them for just a second,” just to rest them, and then when you reopen them, you’re seven miles down the road with no recollection of how you got there.

Babys, toddlers… it doesn’t matter. They never sleep through the night. At first you just hope they lay down without screaming like a banshee for hours… then it moves to worrying if they are breathing (OMG he hasn’t moved in 13 seconds. Is he still alive?!?? I better get up and check). Later… no more crib… you hope that little bowling ball doesn’t roll out of bed even with that gigantic wrought-iron fence you’ve strapped to their mattress… you’re still convinced it won’t hold them securely. The worries never end.

The best sleep she’s ever had (hanging over the crib, passed out)

Even as they grow… sleep doesn’t just appear… it’s more of a vision of a watering hole in a dry dessert… a mirage. Toddlers want 18 sips of milk, 12 books, 7 kisses, and a few hours of snuggling before they’ll even consider closing their eyes. The appearance of sleep is there. It’s always there. Not because you are well rested, but because you’ve learned to function on an hour or two of sleep at a time. Even as I write this, I’m amazed at how much I can accomplish with the sleep habits of an insomniac. All parents, in one way or another, just grow and adapt. We’re ready for what our day has in store for us. No matter how heavy those bags under our eyes seem.

It’s more than sleep deprivation though. You know relaxing time you enjoy to do things like pee or shower? Yea… peace out to those days too. The other day I tried to put Christmas decorations away… actually not even away… just take them down put them aside, so I didn’t have to listen to the animatronic Santa sing one more damn carol. I got about three decorations down before I gave up because… “Dad what are you doing?” “Dad can I have a snack?” “Dad Oliver is flushing the trains down the toilet…” “Dad Oliver is trying to ride the dog again!” Dad can I have a snack…” Dad can Oliver have a snack?” …and that was all in one breath.

I always have a tiny human being hanging off me. Hanging on my arms, attached to my leg, under my feet, climbing the wall… they are always somewhere they shouldn’t be. There is NO downtime. NO quiet time. No time to just do mindless things you used to do to relax. The army should just start using toddlers for training their recruits. The level of functioning parents operate on with constant demands, screaming, toys wizzing through the air, and the high pitched screams that come from a toddler who can’t find their red crayon is magical.

Steph nor I have gone to the bathroom solo in four years. Somehow my oldest son has learned to pick locks. This little Ocean’s Eleven wannabe has figured out how to interrupt the one private time us parents used to have. You’d think you could have a few moments to scroll through your twitter feed, or check a few emails whist in the bathroom. That is, until the door slowly, quietly slides open and your child sticks their little head through like the “Here’s Johnny” scene from Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.

Have I mentioned how tired I am? The most rest I get during the day is my hour and a half at the gym lifting weights and running a few miles. Yes, that’s rest now. Don’t get me wrong… parents aren’t sleepwalking through their day. We just learn, we grow and we adapt. We got this. But with the lack of sleep I’m functioning on… if I hear the Bubble Guppies theme song one more time, I might just snap.

……

………

…………. please… just five more minutes!

Oll-E > Wall-E

Both are pretty cute and they even sound the same

I’ve blogged about all the normal baby and toddler firsts… I’ve talked about cleaning nuclear-like diaper messes and first solid foods… I’ve written about bubble wrapping and baby gating the house for their first steps. Now don’t get me wrong those are all hugely significant moments in time, but they all pale in comparison to hearing you child speak their first words. I’ve been in educational for nearly 20 years… I’ve taught children to read, to multiply triple digit numbers and I’ve taught children how to explain their thinking, but teaching a child to speak… that’s just magical.

Parenting is just a series of events that makes you feel equally proud and sad… watching your child become more independent each and everyday makes your heart both swell with pride for the amazing little being you are raising and also makes your heart long for the days when your baby needed you for everything. Like Elton John said, “it’s the Circle of Life” (I’m not sure if that analogy works here, but it sounds good so if you don’t mind, please just roll with it).

Listen, becoming mobile matters, it’s a huge step (pardon the pun) in the growth and development of a child. Learning to talk… to have a reciprocal conversation… is like the when the caveman first discovered fire, or first time you realized you didn’t have to actually flip open a cell phone to use it. It’s a game changer

Oliver has been saying words for a bit now… some much more clearly than others. But to hear him say his own name… I don’t know why… it was really cool. It was special. I know he has asked for juice when he’s wanted it and I’ve heard him yell, “dog” when Buster and Max were being naughty, but this… saying his name… I feel like it transforms him from a parakeet to a real person. I’m not sure why (especially since he was literally repeating his name), but just stay with me here… it’s my blog so I can write whatever I want.

Talking is transformative, getting to a point where you’re child knows his name, can say his own name and can string a word or two together changes an entire parent-child relationship I’m just hoping we are getting to the point where we can get a response from Oliver when ask him, “why are you screaming and what was the purpose of throwing yourself on the ground just now?”

But for now… I’ll take the slow and steady progress, even if he sounds like that robot WALL-E when he talks!

1.21 Gigawatts

“That was the day I invented time-travel. I remember it vividly. I was standing on the edge of my toilet hanging a clock, the porcelain was wet, I slipped, hit my head on the sink, and when I came to I had a revelation! A vision! A picture in my head! A picture of this! This is what makes time travel possible: the flux capacitor! It’s taken me nearly thirty years and my entire family fortune to realize the vision of that day.”

That’s exactly how I felt yesterday. I’d spent my entire adult life wishing I could invent something. Create something to better the world, something mankind could benefit from… maybe even make me rich. And all this time it was right in front of me. In plain sight… already inside of an appliance we use everyday (one parents are especially used to… as a parent you could win the Nobel Peace Prize and not feel as accomplished as you do when you finish the laundry).

The AGELSTERILE. The part in every dryer that no one know about… why not?… because Jax just invented it. It’s there. It’s always been there… right in front of you.

That’s why I have this kid around… he’s a GD genius. Anyone know knows me know I’m not the handiest of people. I usually just take things apart and put them back together (minus a few screws) and hope it starts working. I’ve been relatively successful with that strategy. Although now I have a mason jar full of random screws, I consider myself capable of fixing most small household items. I have installed new smoke alarms, hooked up new lighting in the dining room and even rewired cable and electrical wires to hang the TV on the wall, but those projects paled in comparison to taking apart a dryer to install a new AGELSTERILE.

That’s why I am so glad I have kids. These major projects, the ones that could cost you or hopefully save you thousands of dollars, are where Jackson comes in to save the day.

I must have watched 15 how-to YouTube videos. I read the instructional manual, all to no avail… and I’m not to manly to ask for help, so I did. I called in the one guy who could assess the situation and make a confident decision… my four year old son.

I’m not going to say I knew what I was doing the majority of the time and I definitely won’t say that I knew the name of many (none) of the parts I was looking at, but I will say that spending time with Jax while working on fixing something was well worth the effort. He was great. He had his tool box and kept asking great questions. “Dad, what is this called?”

“Im not sure,” I’d reply often with a little sadness in my voice.

“It’s ok dad, I know what that is… it’s an AGELSTERILE,” he would respond with a confidence in his voice that made you think he knew something you didn’t.

This kid either has a fantastic imagination, or is the next Emmett “Doc” Brown, Ph.D. I’m impressed either way. Even if he wasn’t able to help me figure out where those three extra screws were supposed to go.