Perseverance

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When it’s time to go to bed and your child is demonstrating a quality that many people including adults are lacking, you have to just nod your head and tip your cap in Derek Jeter style.

I’ve done every teacher/ parent move in the book. He gets a five and two minute warning and then it’s time to head off to bed, but this kid is persistent. He tried it all… and he continues to try it all.

• I need to pee.

Even though you insisted 60,000 times you didn’t have to pee three seconds before this statement?

• I’m thirsty.

Impossible because you literally are holding a cup full of apple juice.

• I had a bad dream.

You have to be sleeping in order to dream… I call BS on this one.

• Please leave the bathroom light on because it’s so dark outside.

It’s night time. It’s supposed to be dark out.

• I want a hug and a kiss.

I gave you a hug and kiss when we came upstairs and the fourteen times I put you to sleep tonight, and when you asked for a drink… I see a pattern here.

• I have to tell you a secret in your ear

Unless the secret consists of you telling me you’re going to sleep right now, then I don’t want to hear it.

• Where’s Peppa Pig? I need my Peppa, George, Susie Sheep and Pedro Pony!!!

You mean the same Peppa Pig that you just threw across the room and said get this out of here?

• I’m really squished right now… there are too many stuffed animals in my bed.

Why the hell did you put them all in the bed in the first place?

After all that… the most effective move he made… the move that showed he won’t give in… the move that will define him is this:

When all else fails, curl up in the fetal position and pretend to be asleep!

Nice work kid… a tip of the cap to you:

Field of Dreams

Lets start out with the negative… on the drive to Jackson’s first baseball game… In the course of a seven minute ride to the field he asked, “are there yet,” 27 times. I was sure as sure as soon as we get there he’d want to go home.

There were, however, a lot of positives in his first game. Lots of great points to build off of. At such a young age players haven’t had a chance to develop bad habits, so establishing proper technique and having the time to work on skills no matter the child’s age is always a plus.

Which brings us to Jackson’s first “official” T-Ball game. Jax showed incredible speed, a quick first step and the ability to cover all positions as evident from his first time playing the field. About 12 seconds in he took off into the outfield, crossed over two other fields, went down a massive hill and literally into the parking lot of the next school before anyone could even get within shouting distance.

Later that inning… he took off for a second time. He was found in the woods a few minutes later.

Although he seems to show above average skills as a fielder and the speed to be a plus base runner, it was at the plate where Jax showed off his major league ready skills.

Batting three times in three innings he went 3-3 with three runs scored. (Mind you everyone went 3-3 with three runs scored. However not one other child hit from both sides of the plate. I’m not sure if he’s going to stay a switch hitter, and it’s clear he doesn’t have the sweet swing of Will “the thrill” Clark just yet, but I’ll pretty impressed with a barely four year old hitting righty and lefty in his first game.

 

 

I had fun… he had fun… and he looked damn cute doing it! The only thing better them playing the game yourself, is watching your son play it.

The Bonds of Baseball

A few years ago Marc Fisher, of the Washington Post wrote, “Baseball has lived for the better part of a century on its unchanging character, its role as a bond between generations, its identity as a quintessentially American game that features a one-on-one face-off of individual skills tucked inside a team sport.” For almost 120 years baseball has been dubbed the “national pastime.” 

Children still take to Little League fields every spring, some on pace for the college scholarships and others are content to stand in right field picking dandelions and looking at airplanes fly overhead. The song “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” is still as well known as any on the radio and writers and directors have used baseball to tell amazing stories like, The Natural, Bang the Drum Slowly, Shoeless Joe (the basis of Field of Dreams) and The Sandlot.

This is a game that has stood the test of time. A game that to this day has not succumbed to the fast paced mentality that other sports thrive upon (at least not totally). Baseball is and will always be a game handed down through the generations. From father to son and son to grandson, baseball will always in and of itself stand for family and transition. In an ever changing society there has always been one constant in life… baseball

Baseball belongs to me. It belongs to my grandfather and to my sons. The memories can never and will never fade. The thought of my grandfather standing across from me on the other side of a sprawling, beautiful manicured lawn plays over and over in my head like an old silent movie. It’s as vivid as is it were yesterday. Shopping for my first “real” baseball glove. Watching him intently as he showed me how to break it in. Oil it, tuck a ball inside just right and wrap it up with twine. I still have that glove. It smells like days past, like Charles Place, like a younger version of my grandfather when he was still able to move without pain to show me how to field a ground ball like the Scooter… it smells like baseball.

Baseball is a form of communication in and of itself and I don’t mean the language of the game or the intricacies of how someone might describe the perfect swing of Teddy Ballgame or Junior. It’s a silent language that doesn’t need to be spoken because it’s the silence of the game that speaks volumes. I sat at my grandfather’s feet as he relaxed in his chair. We barely spoke during innings. We watched, and he inserted stories of Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio. It was like I was there. Most people my age never saw Gehrig or Berra play… but I did. Through my grandfather’s words I saw Murder’s Row torment pitchers and watched Maris and Mantle chase Ruth.

No one can ever take that from me. No one can ever tell me those things didn’t happen. They are history, they are symbolic to me. The sound of a baseball snapping as it hits your glove. Feeling the vibrations that ring through your hands and arms as your bat makes connection with your favorite pitch (low and inside- something I could pull).

Practicing robbing home runs in front of Pop’s shrubs led me to firmly believe I would be the starting shortstop for the New York Yankees when I grew up… (damn you Derek Jeter).

Regardless of whatever happened to my dreams of becoming an all-star infielder, I’ll never really know… but what I do know is that soon the name Fragola will again be running out of a dugout and taking his rightful place on a baseball diamond.  Jackson starting t-ball is about the single most exciting thing I have been looking forward to as a parent!

Buying his first baseball glove and then a father and son’s first time ever playing catch. (Yes I cried a little in the sporting good store).

Playing catch with my son is more than father – son bonding time. It is a family heirloom that gets passed down from generation to generation. One that I look forward to sharing with boys of my sons. It’s also an an opportunity for me to share my passion for the game and share stories of players like Rickey Henderson, Don Mattingly and Ken Griffey, Jr as my grandfather did for me with the best players of his time. And I look forward to being able to tell my sons about the old days when packs of baseball cards were only a few dollars and rookie cards were all the rage.

Super proud dad moment. The first time your son wants to go through his baseball cards on his own… thanks @Topps for keeping the family tradition alive. #BaseballCards #Topps

Soon I’ll just be a dad in the stands or maybe one day even a coach in the dugout. But for now I’m content passing on the love for the game to both my sons, one of whom has finally begun his amazing story as a baseball player.

PS: ThrowBack to ’86: I wasn’t much of a power hitter in case you couldn’t tell from those scrawny arms… but man could I lay down a perfect bunt.

Baby Cheeks and Uncle Peep

It finally happened. I finally have a child in the family that I can have fun with, rile up, teach to make farting noises and then send home… no further responsibilities, no worrying if he is going to tell his teachers where he learned to burp the alphabet from. I am now the cool uncle.  That’s a huge responsibility.

I remember my “cool uncle”.  He taught me to play Techmo Bowl and took me to the arcade is his silver Camero that would cause even most avid motor heads jealousy.  Going for a ride in a four door Honda sedan might not be as cool as speeding through toll booths in an Iroc Z… and there may not be any arcades left around, but I know I can figure something out.

With that being said… here are some pieces of advice I got when I asked Twitter for help on being a cool uncle:

  • Back off. Defer to the parents always.
  • Make it clear you want to spend time with all of them, but be cautious about inviting yourself over.
  • The parents are in charge, and your opinion doesn’t matter.
  • If the parents say, “Peter, please don’t do that with our baby,” then obey them.
  • spoil him rotten and ensure that he likes your favorite football (Go Pack Go) and baseball teams (Pinstripe Pride).
  • With your decent, disposable income open a savings account for emergencies and/or higher education.
  • give frequent small gifts, like a cool new flashlight.

All great advice for a new uncle… a new COOL uncle. Although I’m not sure who’s more excited over the new family member… me or Jax, who apparently after hearing someone exclaim they wanted to “pinch baby Dominic’s cute little cheeks,” has given his new cousin his official nickname: Baby Cheeks. Well I guess if Baby Cheeks is now officially part of the family that makes me officiant Uncle Pete. Or as Jax would say, Uncle Peep… or as I would say… Cool Uncle Peep!

Introducing my first Nephew: (I really hope I can afford a cool enough flashlight for him)

Bronx Born Brainwashing

brain·wash: ˈbrānˌwôSH,ˈbrānˌwäSH/ (verb)gerund or present participle: brainwashing; make (someone) adopt radically different beliefs by using systematic and often forcible pressure.    “the organization could brainwash young people”

synonyms: indoctrinate, condition, reeducate, persuade, influence, propagandize, inculcate “the evidence is compelling that these cult members were indeed brainwashed”

You’ve read the above definition right? Good. Then you clearly know that my sons being Yankees fans is in no way brainwashing.  You are BORN a Yankees fan.  You aren’t made one. You bleed PINSTRIPES.  I grew up a Yankees fan because the Yankees are in my blood.  Bronx born, Pelham raised… Yankees for life… 

… so what if it takes a little NYY nightlight to help make sure my youngest is on the right side? 

It’s not brainwashing if it’s in your blood!  

“It’s Deja-Vu All Over Again.”

​”It’s deja-vu all over again.” -Yogi Berra. Baby grows bigger, starts eating more than milk and then begins jamming anything he can get his hands on down his throat. It was inevitable, and it’s happening now.

It’s starts simple, I remember thinking it was cute watching Jax gnaw on his little teething toys. First it’s all, “Aww look… he’s biting on the little plastic keys, how cute.” 

Then… not long after… it’s, “pick up the small toys, clean up the dog food pieces, and batten down the hatches, because this kid is about to eat any inadament object within reach. You’d think this wouldn’t be a big deal the second time around… but you know what… it’s harder. You think you have moved past all this nonsense so you start to let your guard down and before you know it your five month old is chewing on a drier sheet. 

Fingers crossed friends.  Things are going to get interesting… AGAIN.  

Project Big Boy Room (New York Yankees Style)

img_0911-1Jackson’s transition to his bigboy room was was what you do expect… a little hard at first with a few nights wanting to sleep in his old room. However for the most part he was excited to have a new room, with a big bed and most of all he was excited to help create it.

I wanted to have him help (in all reality he does have more DIY skills than I do… and is by far a better painter). Case in point: how is it possible to slice your finger open while opening a can of paint… img_0918 But I digress… the room was a navy blue and we decided to go with Yankees Away Jersey Gray with a large blue accent.  Everyone knows that the easier part of painting stripes or lines is using a laser level to make sure everything is straight.  But not Jax and I. We go by eye, or eyes, I mean between us we have four.  I’m sure the lines came completely level.

From there the gray paint just went on with ease… went on the floor, the windows, the dogs, Jackson, in my eye my eye… the ceiling… you get the picture. Ohh yea… Peppa Pig’s tent also recieved a little touch up as well: img_0942-1   Luckily the decorative hand towels were within walking distance and provides us an easy cleanup.  img_0912-1

Meanwhile, we both went to work on separate projects for the room. Jax created his own personal Mini-Monet painting

…and I transformed an old step stool into a Yankees baseball card collage.

I also refinished Jackson’s bedstand (that was once my dads and the was mine) from the red color in the nursery to blue, and added a few finishing touches:

Then it came time for the bogboy bed assembly. 14 trillion parts, yet according to the directions I would only need a Phillips head screwdriver and an allenkey… I needed a wrench, a hammer, some screws, my screw- gun, wood glue, and five zip ties.

Smartly, after seeing me assembly his bed, Jax decided to nap on his beanbag chair… on the floor: img_0976-1

From there things started coming together and we were able to add a few more Yankees details to the room to help add to the theme.

The final corner stones of the room came last as I added the three feature pieces.

1. The first being the actual second base that was used in the first game Jackson ever went to at Yankee Stadium (Derek Jeter’s 2nd to last home game) signed by Jeter and mated with the ticket from the game, the Jeter retirement patch from his jersey and our picture from the game:

2. The second is an original signed artist print by Bill Lopa which was also signed by Mariano Rivera. This painting is HUGE and looks amazing mated with navy blue suede: IMG_1636

3. Last, but certainly not least… what New York Yankees Room is complete without the famous Yankee Stadium Facade?  IMG_2567  …add to that, Jackson’s Yankees newborn photo on canvas and that’s a wrap… img_2778


PS… Yankees theme or not… had to have a Harry Potter tribute too: