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

Kindness Matters

“Random acts of kindness,” “look for the good,” and “pay it forward” have become popular phrases across social media, talk shows and in every day society.

Kindness has so many benefits not only for the person receiving the kindness but for the one who experiences the good feelings that are produced when being kind to others. The endorphins that are created from doing something kind activate areas of the brain that are associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust. Those same feelings can be contagious. They can be passed on to others and in turn help support positivity.

Teaching kindness is one thing… modeling kindness is another. Stephanie and I try to model the character traits we want out sons to exhibit. Do we do this every second of the day? No. Are we perfect? Not by any means. But, over the course of time saying please and thank you, saying sorry, holding the door for someone you don’t know and just smiling takes hold. Our children see kindness and in turn show kindness.

Jackson’s teacher reached out to me last week to tell me that a child who struggles with motor skills, was having some trouble reaching his name tag… Jackson left his center, walked over to the other child helped him reach his name tag, put it on him, held his hand and walked him over to his center. You can’t ask for much more. This little boy is kind at heart. He cares for other people, he be always puts others first (except for when he wakes his mom and I up at 5:30 in the morning on weekends).

Last week I got an email from one of Jackson’s teachers (his teachers are absolutely amazing. We need to more often recognize the amazing things teachers do). It described an act of kindness from Jax they made me so proud, an act of kindness that you can’t teach.

I know I’m not perfect. I’m far from. I know that I could have handled many situations differently and better than I did in the past. Hindsight is always 20-20… but one thing I absolutely got right is this little boy. The world needs more Jacksons in it. I think we’d all be in a better place if we stopped to notice and model more of what we see in our children.

Oliver’s First Fourth Day of Daycare

Lately, Oliver has been floating all over the face of the earth. Just a Nomad living a nomad’s life.

Daycare to daycare.

Teacher to teacher.

Cot to cot.

… until today. Until the day he finally found a place to call home and a cot to call his own. (Don’t get me wrong where he was previously was amazing. They treated him like family. They communicated more than I could ever have imagined and he loved it there). But now… he’s home. He’s the little Italian boy… in the little Italian daycare.

Listen, this ain’t our first rodeo… we’ve been here before. We’ve done the first day of day care thing before. We have this down like clockwork. – Lay out his clothes, pack his lunch, lay out all his extra clothes, bottles, cups, bowls… all packed and ready for transport.

Forms were filled out. Emergency contact list had been updated. We were set… all we needed to do was get the little guy there, drop him off and head to work. All seemed to go according to plan until it was time to leave. The cries filled the room. Panic set in and guilt gripped our hearts. It’s what every parent who drops their child care off at daycare for the first time goes through… and it’s terrible.

The teachers tell you everything is ok and that he’ll be fine… hell I’ve said that to a thousand parents on the first day of school for years. It hurts just as bad each time. But it does get better and it did get better. Ollie turned out to be the star student.

His best subject: NAPPING!

Top Ten Ways You Know You’re Obsessed With Harry Potter

Are you Harry Potter obsessed?  Are you a Potterhead?  If so, then get your quill ready to check off each item below… if you find at least 8/10 of these apply to you, then I’d say you’re well on your way to receiving your Hogwarts letter:

10. You own multiple copies of each book.

Regular Editions, Ten and Twenty Year Anniversary Editions, Special Cover Edition, Re-ReReleased Extra New Art Editions with a forward from J.K. Rowling’s editor’s granddaughter… we’ve seen them all… and we own them all. If it’s reprinted we’re rebuying!

9. You make sure other people enjoy the series as much as you do\

When you watch the movies with someone else, you watch them to make sure they laugh and cry at the right parts! It’s critical they other see the series exactly like you do! If they don’t cry when (SPOILER ALERT) Hedwig dies they need to be disowned from your life!

8. You have your own Harry Potter Shrine

Your office, bedroom or bookshelf is a museum of all things Harry Potter. Legos, Funko Pop! Buttons and stickers. If it’s HP related you have it on display!

7. Harry Potter Tattoos anyone? 

Whether it’s the obligatory All Was Well… or a basic Always, or something much more complex… every obsessed potter fan has or wants a Harry Potter Tattoo.

6. You listen to a Potter Podcast

If your ear buds are in I bet you’re listening to Mugglecast or The Leaky Cauldron. If not go download them now… Tell Andrew Sims I sent you!

5. The only reason you exercise is to earn your Potter related race medals

Virtual races are all the rage today, and for good reason. The proceeds raised go to charity and your race race hardware are Harry Potter themed. MILES MANAGED!!!

4. You’ve dressed your kids/pets up as Harry Potter characters

There’s only two reasons to have children. The first is to have them do chores and house work for you. The second… of course it’s to wrap them up in a cute Gryffindor scarf or capture them wearing the sorting hat.

3. You’ve been sorted into one of the Hogwarts Houses

Every Potter obsessed fan knows their house… and they are steadfast in their house loyalty. Hopefully those pesky Pottermore quizzes sorted you into the house you always thought you belonged to. (And no not all Slytherins are bad… I’m not!)

2. You follow J.K. Rowling on twitter

You Tweet at her on a regular basis desperately hoping for her to recognize you. Most of us Potterheads have at least 9 3/4 of our tweets dedicated to tagging or mentioning our author-hero.

1. You encourage (force) your children to love the Potter World as you do.

They don’t really have a choice right? It’s Harry Potter or Fantastic Beasts… those are bedtime books and the only presents they get for holidays are Potter related!

Owl Post: This Lovey is MAGICAL

 

Wizardry has brought me so much JOY.  It taught me that my imagination has no limits and can take me to amazing places. It has inspired me to create.

I designed the Wizard Collection to teach kids at a young age about magic. I transfigured this print by using basic geometric shapes to tell the story about a boy, his scar and the magical journey he took us on. This collection is for any fan of the Harry Potter book or movie series, no matter how old you are.

“Age is foolish and forgetful when it underestimates youth.”  – J.K. Rowling

The Owl Lovey is this round’s Baby Jack Lovey of INSTA30, a photo contest we designed to challenge our brand reps. We started with 30 people in January and have narrowed it down to our elite 8. Two people will be voted off this week so please take a moment (Wed – Fri) to look at their Owl Lovey pictures and cast your vote. (Wand not required)

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ETZm_cYmCB-lY2OrPsFwm-lorQO8UdKN/preview

 

Video footage courtesy of Baby Jack & Company // Chronicles of a New Dad Peter Fragola who has recently joined our team as a writer and influencer.

GET $5 OFF YOUR VERY OWN WIZARD OWL WITH CODE “OWLPOST”

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ETZm_cYmCB-lY2OrPsFwm-lorQO8UdKN/view

Chronicles of a New Dad and Baby Jack and Company: A Magical Pairing

 

Almost 4 years ago to the day I started this blog as a fun way to keep track of my son as he grows. A couple of years later we had another son which created more memories and more shenanigans which generated more writing. The writing about my boys is what I love. Being able to tell stories about how amazing they are and how normal it is to screw things up as a parent is what I enjoy most.

The more writing I did, the more people noticed. The more people noticed the more I was asked to write for other people, which turned into more traffic and eventually a boom. (Pick up your copy of Letters From Dad: Thoughts on Fatherhood, Family and Life on amazon today). Then one day I designed a Harry Potter- Cupboard Under the Stairs themed reading room and things took off… interviews with Parents Magazine, interviews with NBC, as well as coverage from Mugglenet and newspapers from the UK, Central America and of course all across the US. Cumulating in almost a million hits, views, likes and shares.

Then my phone rang and on the other end Mikey Mouse offered me the chance to work with him and the Disney crew on an amazing project (well more Disney and less Mickey Mouse). The more I thought about it the more I realized it just wasn’t what I wanted my blog to lead too. It wasn’t the right fit. Yes I know what I’m saying… getting a chance to work with Disney is a great opportunity… but, honestly it just wasn’t the right fit.

I was very content where I was… clearly my first job of being a parent is the most important part of my life, but being a school principal is not far behind. If I was going to branch out it would need to be something perfect… but who knew that something perfect was sitting in my Cupboard Under the Stairs the whole time.

When I got the call from Kelley, owner of Baby Jack and Company I was sure I was getting “catfished”. There was no way this amazing company that focuses on the thing that my son loves the most… his taggie/lovey and that they also create educational toys, and have their own Wizard line… and now they want me? Like she actually wants me to join her team? And I’ll have an official title… Creative Director? This is too good to be true!

And the whole time one of her “Loveys” sat quietly in the Cupboard Under the Stairs… a gift from an amazing friend. I guess it was fate. They say everything happens for a reason… this isn’t Disney… but to me, it’s so much more. A company that focuses on what is most important to me, parenting, family, education and of course Harry Potter.

Hopefully with a little magic this company will take off even more that it has already and I hope that I can positively contribute to already phenomenally successful business.

Please check us out at https://babyjackandcompany.com/pages/babyjackstore

Check out our blog as well… especially since the picture they used of me came out pretty good! https://babyjackandcompany.com/blogs/the-magic-of-the-lovey/we-found-him-hiding-in-a-cupboard-under-the-stairs

Homework, Homework, Homework


It’s unreal how fast time goes by. It’s also extremely funny how life constantly repeats itself, or at least come full circle.  As an educator for almost 20 years I’ve been involved in my fair share of home work controversies.  Either too much, or too little… not clear enough directions or not enough time to complete.  As an elementary schiol principal I see how some homework policies of the past are outdated and as a parent I see how there is a need for more clarity around what is expected from the children and what is expected from the parents.

Homework these days is a controversial topic.  It’s like politics, no matter the side you’re on, you vehemently disagree with the other.  As an educator I have read pages of research, fevoeeed surveys and observed and reviewed my own teachers’ homework expectations, assignments and procedures.  I believe homework should be designed to emphasize quality tasks aligned with curricular objectives, have a clear academic purpose, and be relevant and engaging to students.  It shouldn’t be busy work and definitely shouldn’t be a chore for parents, or cause stress or anxiety to the students.

As a parent of child with particular strengths and areas of particular need I completely understand the why it’s so important to create assignments that allow for accommodation of varying student needs and how providing the appropriate resources is vital for student success.  Homework, even for my little three year old should be differentiated, as it should be for all learners with variety and choice.

The big piece for me… something I feel is crucial to making homework an effective keening tool is the “feedback and use of the homework as an assessment of and/or for leaning.  Is what my so  is being asked to do going to support his goals and objectives and also support his growth and development towards mastering grade level standards as homework should be designed as means to assess on going learning.

The Roles of Parents/ Guardians has spawned conversations in educational board rooms and social media platforms for years.  For ages, parents have questioned how they are supposed to balance unstructured time with their children when they work all day, go to sports practice, piano lessons and then still have hours of homework. But honestly what should the role of a parent be in the homework process.  I always tell my parents at school, “let us do the heavy lifting. Let us do the teaching during the day. We want you to just enjoy your time with your child.  Spend time together and love reading.” I want  parents to serve as a support to students and not have to  teach new skills.

As learning styles and needs vary between students, so should that of what we ask our students to do for homework. Teachers should be purposely planning their assignments including the accommodation of varying student needs and resources as well as their current academic strengths and areas of need.  This includes assignments that are differentiated for all learners with variety and choice with the expectation that teachers are using homework as means to assess on going learning and that students are receiving feedback will be timely and specific.

With that in mind, I was exciting to work on Jackson’s first homework assignment/project.  As the students are working on communication skills and the identification of “self” Jackson was asked to create a sign that depicts the things he likes.  (I may or may not have broken a few rules and done a few parts of the project myself)… but then again he’s three… he can’t hold scissors yet let alone cut with them.  I think his poster shows off his varying likes and also is a good support for him when he is communicating those likes to others.  Hopefully, homework assignments in the future are as fun as this was to do!