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!”

A Christmas Story in our Front Yard

IMG_2730Poor little guy! #ChristmasStory #Randy #ICantPutMyArmsDown #DaddysGonnaKillRalphy

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Christmas Story is still the most overexposed yet underrated movie of all time. Just a straight up holiday tradition in our family. Christmas Eve = A Christmas Story marathon.

I’ve heard people talk about how it’s so overexposed and overplayed that it has lost it’s shine. Yes Turner Television owns the rights to this movie and basically plays it from Thanksgiving to Christmas on repeat and yes it’s one of the most quoted movies of all time. But to hear people say they don’t enjoy it anymore… Well fine… Don’t watch it; that means more Bumpus Hounds for me!

The thing is if you watch the film for nostalgia, it’s great. If you watch it as a family tradition, it’s perfect. But if you’re like me then you watch it for the supporting cast who make the movie what it is.

The Old Man…. Just an angry dad. He’s pissed at work, he’s pissed at the furnace and has one of the greatest quotes of all time: “Frah-GEE-lee … must be Italian.” (He’s also a Packers fan and calls the Bears the Chipmunks of Chicago!)

Mom… Mom is just that mom. The quintessential loving and overprotecting mom. Ralph’s swears… She makes him eat soap, but feels so guilty she tastes it too. Ralphy gets into a fight and she hides the truth from the old man. Through and through this mom is creating some good old fashioned Momma’s boys! Her reaction to The Old Man every time he says something stupid reminds me if how Steph looks at me when I try to tell her I know how to fix something.

Randy… Poor kid. Left behind, left out and overlooked, but leaves us with such memorable scenes as the one above, the “show me how piggies eat”, and his amazing reaction to his brother in a pink bunny suit. (Who hasn’t laughed at their siblings misery before?).

Honorable Mention: Flick…
Set off the TRIPLE-DOG-DARE craze and possibly Influenced an entire generation of people who were scared to death of getting stuck to anything frozen!

Poopie the Snowman

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I was never really a snowman kinda kid.  I was more of a snow fort and snowball fight kinda guy.  But the snowman is a right of passage, its a staple in the northeast, its what sets apart the men from the boys.  Jax has been out in the snow before, but he hasn’t had the honor of meeting one of the famous snowmen made by dad… and none of that Olaf crap… I’m talking the real snow man that uses sticks for arms and a carrot for a nose and poop for eyes…

…wait… what?  

Yup.  My kid’s first snowman and I used dog poo for the snowman’s eyes.

I feel awful but, I am sure he won’t remember.  There is a time for keeping things simple and this was that time.  I wasn’t about to go find some coal.  Who even has coal around these days?  I mean I guess if you had a steam train running through your backyard… then maybe you might have some coal laying around… but not us.  This family is all about using what is available to you… and there is an abundance of poo in the front yard these days.

I think Jax liked his snowman friend.

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Snow, Sledding and Fear Mongering

This weekend Jax took part in a winter right of passage.  His first time out in the snow in his little toboggan. The first sledding experience of a child’s life is one of the most exciting events of growing up.

He was elated, then nervous, then elated again, then nervous… etc, etc, etc.  But that is what makes sledding so fun.  The no-nonsense, need for speed thrill of a ride down a hill steeper than anything you can see on a ski mountain.

I’m concerned though.  Not concerned for his well being because he might get injured speeding down a hill with only a a little piece of plastic between him and his rear end… I’m concerned that sledding is becoming nonexistent in today’s society.  How and why this is happening I am not sure.  But when I was a kid and the snow started coming down my brother sister and I were polishing up our sleds and lining our boots with plastic bags!  …what do you mean you never put plastic bags over your socks?  Your mom didn’t tell you everyone did that to keep their socks dry?  That’s fine you enjoy your soggy, cold socks… because my little tater tots were warm and cozy!

The hill on Chimney Drive was a thing of legend.  It was busier than a Stop and Shop the day before a blizzard.  It ran like a well oiled machine… down the hill on the left and the middle… and back up the hill on the right.  The middle of the hill was reserved for dare devils… with jumps built for getting more air than the General Lee.  There was no concern for personal safety… there were no worries of broken limbs or concussions… only hopes and dreams of being the first person to get so much speed that your snow tube would take you down the hill and into the stream that ran through the woods!

Speaking of snow tubes… they are the most underrated form of transportation in the world.  If I could I’d take one to work.  Just a beautiful, smooth ride through and through… and you know everyone who had to use the little plastic saucer was always so jealous when we showed up with our pool tubes that doubled as a snow mobile!

I feel like kids these days are either too busy playing Minecraft or not allowed to go sledding because their parents are afraid they might get hurt… I saw a child last winter sledding down a hill in my neighborhood with a helmet and elbow pads… come on Barry Bonds… take off some of that body armor and live a little!  Why is everyone so afraid over everything now-a-days?????

With the impending storm on its way to CT in a few hours… you can bet your bottom dollar (what the hell does that even mean?!!) that Jax and I will be out there sledding… maybe we’ll just hold off on the hills for a few more years though.

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