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.
It’s been 20 years since the first time I wished you a happy birthday. I think I bought you a pair of plaid Abercrombie pants and a six pack of Smirnoff Ice. I probably took you to Olive Garden or Applebee’s and I’m sure we saw a movie afterwards.
It’s been years since that Olive Garden date and a long time since our time was our time. It’s no longer about birthday months or even birthday weekends anymore. As working parents we are tasked with so much more than just being a mom or dad. Parenting can feel isolating and lonely with its constant demands. Yet, somehow we balance it even if it’s not always perfect.
In my short stint as a parent, I’ve already wondered, more times than I like, if I’m doing it right, but one thing I do know is it’s hard. Yet somehow, even in the toughest times including giant tantrums or the occasional full on crying until they pass out, you stay strong. I appreciate you staying strong even when I’m a pain in the ass or act like your third child (or fifth if you count the dogs… then again at least I don’t pee or poop on the floor)!
You may not see it, but you are strong. You are strong for them… Jackson and Oliver will never forget that. It will make them strong and caring and most importantly, empathetic.
Twenty years later, the birthday presents that were plaid pants and Smirnoff may have turned into a teakettle for your night time chai and a travel coffee mug for your long commute after a Board of Eduction meeting… and dinner and a night cap has transformed into standing over a pot of Mac and Cheese and watching Frozen 2 for the 700th time… but no matter what, I loved you then and love you everywhere in between those Abercrombie pants and the teakettle.
Another year has come and gone, yet this one, this year specifically is like none other that any of us have ever experienced. This year you spent almost all of 12 months in lockdown. The Corona Virus Pandemic and this Quarantine led the way for an unprecedented time for a three year-old to grow up.
However, this day isn’t about viruses, Covid, or vaccinations. It is about you. A little boy who seems to have grown three feet over the past year. While you still might spell your first name with two Ls and forget the numbers 13 and 14 when you count (and maybe say your favorite number is “blue”), you have developed into a voracious reader, who can’t get enough Chica Chica Boom Boom or Paw Patrol.
You have survived as the second child, which has to be so difficult… just ask your uncle Vinny. The thing is, you are forging your own path. You aren’t just a shadow of someone else, you have your own personality. You are hilarious, energetic and so incredibly brave. Braver than I think I could ever be (I’m scared that the bravery is just craziness, but that’s for a different blog entry). You follow your brother’s lead when you want to, but also kick him down the stairs when you want to lead the way.
I watch how others act around you and how they they react to you. Your aura is invigorating. You can turn a lazy, snowy Sunday by the fire into a dance party. You can raise anyone’s spirit, even after the most stressful day… and for that I owe you. You make being a dad so worthwhile. You make being your dad so rewarding… and for that I owe you more than you’ll ever know.
Oliver Peter, keep asking questions and defying the odds, keep trying things that other people don’t think are possible, but most of all… keep being you.
Happy 4th Birthday.
I love you,
“It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.” -Albus Dumbledore
September 1st has a significant meaning and evokes deep “feels” for all those who follow the Wizarding World Calendar. September 1 is day the Hogwarts students return for a new term by boarding the Hogwarts Express (or occasional a flying a Ford Anglia).
While schools across the United States prepare to go back to school virtually, or in some sort of hybrid model, as J.K. Rowling has said, “Whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”
So in keeping with tradition, for the 6th year in a row I tweeted @jkrowling to get some advice for parents dropping off their children at Platform 9 3/4. Every year September 1st rolls around, I tweet the same thing to JK Rowling “Dear @jk_rowling any advice for parents sending their little ones to #Hogwarts for the first time?!?? #BackToHogwarts”.
I never get a response or any advice from her, but maybe this year will be the year! So for now, Stephanie and I have to do our best as Muggles to figure out how this whole Platform 9 3/4 thing works.
Today marked the end of Stephanie and Jax being in charge of our friends pool and cat while they were away. I’m happy to say (to the dismay of Mr. Dave) that the cat and pool survived during this time.
We love these friends, but every time Steph comes home from their house she wants something new. A few months ago it was a boat… then it was a deeper pool… not she’s asking for a cat. A cat??? With two kids and two dogs!!???? That’s friends disownment territory right there.
Day 137: August 2
The world is ending. The Tropical Storm that just hit us was extremely intense. We’ve lost power and the heat and humidity is threatening to take over… it’s going to be a long few days.
Day 138: August 3
Eversource still has not even sent people out to “assess the damage”
Day 139: August 4
…AND I QUOTE: “it will take days to recover power!”
All I knows not enough baby powder in the world for how hot and humid my house is right now
Day 140: August 5
Happy anniversary to a mom and wife who has successfully navigated work, marriage, parenting, and even more difficult… the apocalypse that has been 2020! We may be celebrating in the dark today, but they say candlelight is romantic, amirite? ❤️❤️❤️
Day 141: August 6
Phone and website= down Outage map= “experiencing issues” No text responses Last tweet at 4pm= we’re assessing damages No power for 12 hours… “we’re here when you need us” slogan= NOT A SUPER GOOD LOOK
Day 142: August 7
Spent half the year in quarantine and now we have no power for who knows how long and have to drive to a main road in town to call find out when we might have power back. At least we have each other:
Day 143: August 8
Hour 75 with no power and there is still no end in sight. The pool is turning green and is now half empty because we’ve had to use that water to flush the toilets . I know things could be worse, but 2020 just give us a break !
Day 144: August 9
We are now leaving on approximately hour 99 with no power we made pizza on the grill and ate outside on a relatively nice night.
That was until a tree came down across the street taking out two poles and is now laying across the whole road. Fire trucks and police car sirens are blaring and chainsaws are roaring. So much for sleeping tonight.
Day 143: August 10
Eversource to the rescue (sarcastic voice). We are now on hour 122 and we finally have a crew out here to “assess the situation!” Fingers crossed for some positive news.
Day 144: August 11
“BY THE POWER OF GRAYSKULL…”
Day 145: August 12
Mother Nature is now F-ING with us. We had power for almost a day and then all of a sudden, the power is gone again. It was only out for five minutes or so, but my PTSD kicked in and everyone in the house almost fainted.
That’s being said we made it though the (almost) second power outage and are now on our way to cranking the AC to North Pole come and leaving every electronic device on in the house.
Day 146: August 13
Today was a horrible, horrible day. Buster had a seizure and we had to rush him to the vet, but this time he is having long term effects. They think it may be neurological but we have to monitor him for the next 72 hours. (UPDATE: After a very visit and days of monitoring hes back to his normal self. Just a little slower. Jax has been so good to buster and is helping him around the house. Oliver even offered to take him around in his little wagon! #BrotherlyLove
Day 147: August 14
It’s been a long summer of reminders. I’m done:
Day 148: August 15
Six year old: “Dad, I want some alone time but my brother won’t leave me alone.”
Me: “Dude, same.”
Day 149: August 16
Cousin hang out day. The four boys got to hang out today.
Day 150: August 17
We’ve been cooped up together for far too long. Apparently, there’s now a cover charge to enter the house. Jax has set up shop in the mudroom with a cash register looking like a bouncer.
Day 151: August 18
Steph told the kids to be good and not fight for 20 minutes so she could take a shower in peace, and then we all laughed and laughed.
Day 152: August 19
This quarantine nonsense has (occasionally) allowed for some quiet time to spend as a family doing things that during a busy summer we would never have the time to do. In those quiet times I always find peace in my life.
The world is upside down, backwards and who knows what right now, but taking time to put away electronics and look through our baseball cards provided us boys one of those quieting moments.
Day 153: August 20
One good thing about quarantine is we’re obviously home a lot more than ever before. So Jax has had time for weekly piano lessons and to practice. He’s beginning to enjoy it and has learned to play a few songs (of course one of those songs happens to be Baby Shark, because why not.
Day 154: August 21
It’s been what feel like 500 years, but tonight we actually got to go out without being parents. A date of sort we both made it through appetizers before we took a nap!
Day 155: August 22
Swimming is a kid favorite activity, picking up after the multiple changes of clothes is not a favorite parent activity.
Day 156: August 23
[8 AM] Wife [walking into living room]: “What time did you get up?” Me: “5AM.” Wife: “But it’s the weekend! WHY SO EARLY?!” Me [sipping coffee]: “I’ve had 3 kid-free hours of silence.” Wife: ….. Me: …. [smiling] Wife: “Why didn’t you wake me?”
Day 157: August 24
We’ve done a lot of family time and some (attempting for) alone time during this pandemic. With these two little monsters calm time is not usually and option. Today was what Steve Irwin might categorize as some “beautiful creatures in their natural habitat.”
Day 158: August 25
Raise your hand if you’ve felt personally victimized by a toddler today…
Day 159: August 26;
Who had “unsurvivable” and “catastrophic” hurricane on their 2020 BINGO card. I hope everyone has evacuated and is safe down there! (PLEASE TAKE YOUR PETS WITH YOU!!!) Ts and Ps 🙏🏼
Day 160: August 27
The planning of the reopening of schools has been a very detailed and interesting experience. we’ve been in “quarantine” for five-plus months and it’s crazy to think that in a couple of weeks we’ll have our students back walking the hallways again. It’s even crazy to think that teachers in our town are prepping to have Jax back in his own school. Educators are the real heroes.
Day 161: August 28
The last Friday before my school is officially back full time. We’ve been trying to prep Jax for going back to school too. We’re all going to sleep a little earlier. (Which just means more time of the boys complaining about having to go bed before actually falling asleep at the same time they always fall asleep no matter what time we put them to bed).
Day 162: August 29
Day 163: August 30
When you and your BFFs are ready to get things started. TMNT Arcade Style!!! This game has been quite the babysitter tonight so moms and dads could sit by the pool and relax a bit.
Day 164: August 31
Today is officially the last day before teachers come back to school in my school district and students then are back a week later. I began this DAY BY DAY QUARANTINE CHRONICLING the day my school district (and most school districts went out). So unless there is some crazy development, this will be the last day by day monthly update of the #CoronaQuarantine.
There were smiles and tears. There were screams and cries. There was anger and there was love. These last 164 days have challenged this mom and dad more than anything in the past. We learned so much about ourselves as people and as parents and I know our boys are ready to back to school (albeit HYBRID).
Virtual learning hasn’t stopped an amazing teacher from making sure her students are OK in person, even after the school year is done. Teachers are the hardest working and most underappreciated people in the world! (I won’t reveal who this teacher is)… but know that I would want my sons in her class every year!
Day 107: July 2:
My favorite part of summer is when my kids ask for the sprinkler and then I turn on the sprinkler and then they cry hysterically if they get wet from the sprinkler and then they yell at me to turn the sprinkler back on after I turn it off.
Day 108: July 3:
It may just last the night, or maybe only an hour, but for now brothers are best friends and they’re both so excited for a slumber party!
Day 109: July 4:
We spent the Fourth super low-key and it was perfect! We are so lucky to have amazing neighbors! Best part is they actually put up with us and even better, their kids like our kids
Day 110: July 5:
What do you do after spending an entire day with your neighbors? You wake up and spend the entire next day with them on their water slide! My kids would choose this water slide over anything!
Day 111: July 6:
Last night I tucked my Oliver in, kissed him goodnight and he hugged me and said “goodbye daddy.” So, I guess I won’t be sleeping until he moves out.
Day 112: July 7:
Things I have tried during Covid Quarantine to ensure better sleep:
–threats to call Santa
–earlier bed time
–later bed time
–threats of violence against stuffed animals
Times either of my children have slept through the night as a result:
Day 113: July 8:
He thought I wouldn’t dunk on him… let alone actually dunk HIM!
Day 114: July 9:
We made it to Cape Cod. I have not taken a REAL vacation in years. This was the first time I actually tried to shut down from work in ages (granted I didn’t do so well considering I conducted virtual teacher interviews from the beach and also called hundreds of families about our distance learning survey), but that’s me… I love what I do… and I don’t ever take a break from it!
Day 115: July 10:
This is what family vacation is all about. Forget Corona, forget quarantine and hand sanitizer. Family vacations are all about getting a KING SIZE BED for mom and dad and having the kids sleep in it. Relinquishing an amazingly comfortable mattress and 1000 count Egyptian cotton sheets for a pull out sofa bed is parenting at its finest!
Day 116: July 11
The family… sans masks… sans tears… just happy to be out of the GD house!
Day 117: July 12:
Screw you CORONA! We still livin’ our best life!
Puffy said it best:
“Don’t push us, cause we’re close to the, edge We’re tryin’, not to lose our heads, a-hah hah hah hah…
get the feeling sometime, that make me wonder Why you wanna take us under Why you wanna take us under
I get the feeling sometime, that make me wonder Why you wanna take us under Why you wanna take us under
Can’t nobody take my pride Uh-uh, uh-uh Can’t nobody hold me down, ohh no I got to keep on movin’…”
Day 118: July 13:
If there is a picture that represents our lives in 2020 this is it! All dressed up for a family photo with designer masks! #CapeCodCorona2020
Day 119: July 14:
We are home from the Cape and we spent some time just relaxing today. This quarantine thing has been stressful, scary, unpredictable, calm, insane, all of the above… but most of all, it has been a time to just reconnect with each other. Today we did just that. The boys and I took Buster and Max for a walk. No electronics, no phones, just us. It was as close to perfect as you can get… we were just missing mom.
Day 120: July 15:
Parenting books never prepared me for how much time I’d spend arguing for my kids to get into and then out of the bathtub.
Day 121: July 16:
15 years ago she (Stephanie) said “Yes.” Then we quickly got in line on the Wildwood boardwalk for the Half Blood Prince midnight book release. I read the book all night in the hotel lobby and finished it in the morning on the beach! Such a memorable day… and still… After All This Time, I’m Sirius-ly happy to still be Making Magic with you Stephanie, You’re a Keeper and there is no one else in the world I’d rather be quarantined with than you!
Day 121: July 17:
We’ve been in quarantine for 121 days and my six year old has been talking nonstop for 150 of them!
Day 122: July 18
We’ve tried everything as parents to keep our boys engaged in educational activities, but it’s mid July now… we put together a schedule for the boys to give them some structure during the summer quarantine and I think other parents might find it helpful:
7am-7pm: Unsupervised screentime, with periodic snack time.
Day 123: July 19:
Don’t underestimate a child’s ability to grasp what’s happening right now. I’ve discussed the pandemic and social distancing with both boys. I figured Jax would get it and for the most part he does, but I was surprised how informed Oliver was. He really gets it. He’s now decided to speak 3 inches from my face instead of the normal 1 inch.
Day 124: July 20:
Today while we were out practicing some mask wearing to build up tolerance for Oliver a women with no mask on her or her children screamed at us to take off our masks because were falling for the “hoax.” I won’t put my response here in writing… but WTF?!???
I just don’t get it. The people who refuse to wear a mask they’re almost like those last couple of leaves on the tree right before winter hits. They are so proud of themselves. They must be so excited sitting on the tree thinking we’re definitely gonna make it, we’re gonna make it. That is until all your friends are gone and you’re the last one hanging on for dear life.
Day 125: July 21:
Today while listening to our secretary of education speak about re-opening schools full-time in person, I realized that she has a bookshelf with no books on it. Listening to this woman speak about re-opening schools is like listening to my three-year-old try to explain how to play chess… in Latin. 🙄
Day 126: July 22:
You would think with two dogs and two toddlers one of them would be the first to ruin the new patio…
If you put your money on that you definitely lost. In the category of 2020 just keeps getting worse… I spilled an entire canister of melted citronella wax all over the patio today.
Day 127: July 23:
Today we, painted pictures, went in the pool, completed two puzzles, cooked dinner together and watched a movie. Or, as the boys described it to mommy when she got home from work:
“Buster and Max peed on the floor and dad yelled at us two times.”
Day 128: July 24
The boys are so used to staying in the house that they think pants are just optional at this point. God forbid I tell them we need to actually wear said pants when it’s time to go out…
Day 129: July 25:
Just heard from downstairs:
Jax: “Oliver USE YOUR FORCEFIELD…”
Oliver: “ OWWWWWWWWWWWW!” Followed by screaming…
Day 130: July 26:
Today, I decided to take the filter and pump apart to clean it, since the water was a bit cloudy the past week.
After dissembling the filter… I am pretty sure I discovered where Coronavirus started.
Day 131: July 27:
Today while playing with his stuffed animals Jax told me he wants to be a dad one day.
My response: “Have you seen the shit I put up with?!!??”
Day 132: July 28:
Jackson complained this morning because his breakfast was not ready fr him when he came downstairs. I told him to be sure to leave his negative review on Yelp! and also, I don’t care!
Day 133: July 29:
My legs are in the best shape since I was running track in college. I think I have an idea for an exercise video for parents where all the lunges are just going around the house picking up juice box straws and wrappers.
Day July 30:
Steph is at work and I had a two hour meeting this afternoon that was extremely important about reopening the schools. Jackson and Oliver had to fend for themselves the entire time and they didn’t fight once in the playroom.
I heard them talking and giggling I couldn’t figure out what they were doing. They didn’t pick up their iPads or put the TV on once. When I was done they told me to come out of my office bc they had a surprise for me.
And when your two kids ask you to sit for a tea part (with wine glasses for the adult) you sit together the tea party.
Day: July 31:
… the end of the fourth month brings us right back where we were four-plus months ago, the same place almost every parent is in… what do we do with our kids… our children… our babies…
As the reality of homeschooling, home offices and quarantines sets in it’s easy to forget what we’ve left behind. On Friday, I walked the silent halls of my Elementary School. I was alone, everyone had left for the day… maybe for the year.
There were no colorful backpacks hanging on their hooks, or any voices of students working together on a rigorous task. Students’ chairs were turned upside down on their desks and the SMART boards were dark.
However, school was in session. Teachers were hard at work. They’re preparing for a completely new way of teaching the children they love so much. They’ve had no time to prepare for this. These educators,the ones I work with everyday, took what public education has been for centuries and flipped it upside down and inside out. The school district I work in has taken on the task with determination.
Washington, DC didn’t tell us what to do. The state didn’t tell us what to do. It was the public educators. The ones in the trenches. We are going to “war” with traditional teaching and also with the “virus” that has become a world wide pandemic. And… there is no one… not one staff that I would rather go to war with than my staff at Huntington.
There’s little we can do, us educators on the front lines. The teachers, principals and central office staff members want nothing more than to be on the front lines. We want to visit our families and help serve grab and go meals. But, we know there are people on the front lines already… the nurses, doctors and medical professionals who need us to stay back and help from afar.
So that’s what we do. We do what we can from afar. I’ve been lucky enough to have the platform to do that. From this blog I’ve been able to reach out to so many of my school families. I decided last week to do a live read aloud each night to help keep some sort of connection to my students.
The funny thing is I was hoping to reach a few students, maybe even a few from my last school… but then something happened. Hundreds, thousands of people tuned in. Channel 8 News asked for an interview and Chronicles of a New Dad and Jax were lighting up the 6:00 news.
It become a family affair, a way for a community to gather (or at least I see it that way). I feel that it helps me do “my part.” While I joke about another 15 minutes of fame, the message is clear… educators are doing their part to keep their students engaged and in the end, as a society, that’s all we can ask.
So our littlest one is ready to move into his own bed. It was a sad day. I had some tears thinking about both my boys growing up so fast. But, Ollie has been climbing out of his crib Bear Grylls’ style for a few weeks. It was time to make the move to his “big boy bed.” Everyone was excited for this day to come. Except now, instead of rolling over and falling asleep, all evening long he’s up, he’s down, he’s up, he’s down… at this point I’m willing to build him a new crib from scratch.
And then, to top it all off… the next day he’s a basket case because he’s so exhausted.
Welcome to the big boy bed dilemma. Being all by themselves with no sides, it’s like floating in outer space… with nothing to do again you. That can feel very scary, It’s been a tough go of it so far. Jax made the transition quickly, but we knew the that the typical toddler is going to get out of bed. The typical toddler is going to play in their room and that the typical toddler is going to have a mini toddler party in there.
We were prepared for those… what we weren’t prepared for was the wandering. The fact that he let himself out of the room and showed up in our bedroom… just staring at us… was shocking and possibly scared me for life. It’s unnerving to wake up with a tiny human crawling silently around your floor. He’s at least at the point where he now is going directly into the bathroom and peeing (which is hilarious to hear from a dark hallway… “I went pee pee in the potty… I want a tookie!!!” (Yes we bribed with food).
For now though, he loves his big boy bed. He still wants to read his books in his chair, but it’s been nice being able to lay down next to him as he falls asleep… even if it’s only for a few hours until he’s up creeping around the house!