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Category Archives: Chelmsford Patch

Taste of Chelmsford Inspires Our Children

TasteBag1A night of taste.  Of individual pallets and community spirit.

The Taste of Chelmsford really holds double meaning.  It speaks not only to the outstanding flavor put forth by local restaurants and caterers, but also the generosity and character of local residents.

With all proceeds directly benefiting the PTO enrichment programs at Center Elementary School, supporting this night is all taste.

Enrichment programs built to further the growth and horizons of our children.

Programs like a rousing musical presentation to launch the school year by John Kelleher, who performs as Johnny the K.  An all-out theatrical performance about character building, as I hear it told.

Continue reading the rest of this post on Chelmsford Patch…

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2013 in Brad the Dad, Chelmsford Patch

 

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The Night Before: An Adventure Story

He didn’t know who to trust.

His senses were dulled, his mind numb.

It’s been too long.  Why hasn’t anyone come to get him yet?  If this was another training exercise he will have to reconsider exactly what-it-is that stops him from quitting this team.

“I don’t need them,” is supposed to come out of his lips at this point, but it never does.

Is it because his head feels like it’s full of jelly, or is it because he truly doesn’t believe those words.  Either way, he has been half-awake for far too long.  If he is going to face the challenges of tomorrow, sleep will be absolutely necessary.  The only problem was that this is exactly what he has been telling himself for the past 3 hours.  It sounds good in theory, but why isn’t it happening?

Fine.  Time to face the problem head on.  It’s another training exercise.

What were his instructions again?  Enter an arena you have never been in before.  Enter it without anybody you know, anybody you trust, or even anybody you know enough not to trust.  Enter it alone.  And alone he will enter, positive that it is all he will ever be.

The only other instruction?  Listen.

This one almost seemed more emphasized than the first.  Listen no matter what and at all costs.  The person that is not you, is right.  Oh, this was made abundantly clear.  So clear that he was purposely staying up an extra 3 hours to remind himself of this most important instruction.  There, that was the reason he couldn’t sleep.  He was practicing.

Practicing freaking out.

It happened without him even knowing, and it happened shortly after that last thought.  Sleep came, and unbeknownst to him, sleep came after 3 minutes of tossing and turning, not 3 hours.  His thoughts became one with the night and the day before him awaited with a patience grace.

The challenging day knows when to arrive and what to do.  It’s coming no matter what.

Right on cue the day came, and not only did he pass his challenge with flying colors, he decided that he wants more.  He wants back into the arena he was desperately trying to avoid last night.  Somehow he forgot about the instructions regarding having fun, making new friends, and playing with new and exciting toys.  He forgot about how exciting the school bus was rumored to be, he forgot about being told that his teacher is awesome.

Turns out, kindergarten is fun.

Just like Mommy and Daddy said it would be.

Brad the Dad can be reached at bradmarmo@gmail.com and found on: Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

This article originally appeared on Chelmsford Patch on 9/15/12.

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2012 in Brad the Dad, Chelmsford Patch

 

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Dad: Abandoned and Alone

I sit here by myself wondering what happened. Wondering what happened, and how it happened so quickly.

Why did it come to this?

Where did I go wrong?

A quick glance at my phone provides a few moments of company, but even that brief interaction won’t fill the void that I have. I’m alone. I’ve been abandoned.

The high pitched sound of laughter is gone. The ease of conversation has long since faded away. The proud looks my wife and I would share when one of the boys said “please” or “thank you” are now but a memory. I even miss the fighting. Who had the matchbox car first? Why is this one’s hand so close to the other one’s arm? Is it the end of the world or did little brother just eat big brother’s corn? The very same corn that only moments earlier big brother adamantly declared he wasn’t going to eat. Go figure.

The good and the bad, I miss it all.

Sure there are times in marriage when I yearn to be alone. A long day of work followed by a rough commute home often leaves me with a healthy appetite for silence. Silence often not achieved in our house until well after 9pm. Silence that is about as close as Antarctica when sitting at the dinner table with two picky eaters. But now that I have this silence, I find that I really don’t want it. Grass is always greener, right?

I glance around at my surroundings.

You know how you never really notice car commercials until you are actively looking to buy a car? That’s pretty much how I feel at this moment. Seemingly everyone in my vicinity was with their family. Sharing a laugh with a loved one while separating the kids from each other during a minor dust up, smiles on their faces as they shake their heads knowingly.

Me? I was alone. Abandoned and alone.

“Your check sir. Oh my, where did your family go?”

“Thank you. There was a meltdown and everyone’s already in the car.”

Brad the Dad can be reached at bradmarmo@gmail.com. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter at keyword: readbradthedad

This article originally appeared on Chelmsford Patch on 9/9/12.

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2012 in Brad the Dad, Chelmsford Patch

 

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Some of My Favorite Moments as a Dad

I’m relatively new to the game.

My oldest is about to turn 5 and my youngest 2, both within the next two months.  I imagine at some point I will write about the excitement I have when they learn how to ride a bike without training wheels, how proud I am watching them graduate from high school and hopefully college, and how thankful I am that they found the perfect person to spend the rest of their lives with.  All things I really can’t begin to wrap my head around at this point.

You want to know where my head is right now?

The other day while mowing the lawn I noticed the 1-year-old, our little freight train, standing at a window and banging on the screen yelling, “Dah-de. Mower.”  This act is nothing new actually and is pretty much par for the course whenever I cut the lawn, but all of a sudden it took a little twist.

The conductor of our little freight train, the 4-year-old, decided to join in the fun and pulled up two chairs to the window.  So you can imagine my surprise when the next turn I took past this window featured my two boys, both sitting in chairs, clapping and smiling and yelling, “Yay Daddy!”

My own little cheering section.  Thankfully I turned the mower just in time and wiped a potential tear from my eye before they could see.  Honestly, probably one of the top 5 feelings I’ve ever had as a dad.

The birth of my 1st son is obviously going to get a mention here.  All of that nervous energy, all of the build-up escalating exponentially leading up to that special day and all of the unknown surrounding pretty much everything was nothing compared to the feeling I had when I first laid eyes upon our firstborn.  Yet, as a male, I stayed relatively calm and collected and kept my eyes on everything going on in the room, with my wife, as well as our new baby.

I mean, I had a job to do.  Granted the doctors and nurses were actually the ones who had a job to do, but we are guys, humor us.  My “dad moment” here actually came when I walked into the waiting room to announce to both of our parents that all went according to “plan” like the calm and collected male that I was… and pretty much lost it and broke down in tears.

Calm and collected indeed.

I’m not sure my next “favorite moment” is actually a specific occasion, but more like a shooting star type of occurrence in that they don’t come too often, but when they do they actually take your breath away.

I’m talking about when my two boys spend time together by themselves and of their own volition.

Nothing really brings me greater joy than watching them, on their own, play together with cars or trains or whatever.  It brings me back to a neighbor once telling me when I was in my 20s, “Oh, you just can’t have 1 kid.”  At the time I nearly knocked him out, but now I totally get it.

These two boys are connected for life, and even if they don’t know it right now, they love each other with all of their hearts.  It might not seem like it when the oldest thinks it’s funny to tell his brother that “Mommy is home” when she just left to run errands minutes earlier, or when they decide to pummel each other over who gets to play with Sarge at any given moment, or which one gets to claim the better real estate while giving Daddy a “wrestling hug,” but somewhere inside each of them is a brotherly bond that will never be broken.

Nothing displays this bond more so lately then when big brother reads his little buddy a book.  Picture the little guy snuggled up next to his role model, with his thumb in his mouth and eyes intent on the book, pulling his thumb out only to say “fluffy” when prompted by his older brother asking why this particular bunny wasn’t the one they were looking for.

Want to turn into a puddle at the drop of a hat?  Walk into that scene when you are least expecting it.

When those rare moments happen, those in which they forget that they are in constant competition with each other and just get lost in the joys of being next to one another, I take a little mental picture and store it away for the horror show that is known as dinner time.

Brad the Dad can be reached at bradmarmo@gmail.com. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter at keyword: readbradthedad

This article originally appeared on Chelmsford Patch on 8/19/12.

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2012 in Brad the Dad, Chelmsford Patch

 

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The Technology Balance: A New Hope

As the “Summer of Mayhem” begins to wind down for my family and I, a few moments were recently taken to reflect upon a slight change in routine that I made towards the end of this unprecedented stretch of family events, weekend getaways, summer BBQs, 2 trips to Chicago, our annual family vacation to the Jersey Shore, an unplanned family event of a sad nature, and finally our boys’ fantasy football draft weekend extravaganza.

This change in routine I was reflecting upon was related to my recent, internal struggle with smartphone addiction.

Earlier in the year I wrote about technology in a broader sense; about how it pertains to my kids and what this instant access to any and all information means for their upbringing.  But recently I started internalizing this issue and wondered about how advancements in technology were affecting me.

Am I a different person now because of this unimpeded access to information and/or the ridiculous ease of communication that is available right in my hand, or more worrisome, my ever-growing reliance on it?

Long story short, such thoughts caused me to bag the cell phone for 90% of our weeklong family vacation (the other 10% was work related), and I have been “struggling” to get back to my previous level of activity ever sense.

The businessman in me lobbies for the smartphone and says that the more efficient and omnipresent I am at all times, the greater success I will have.  The philosopher in me argues that I am missing the here and now by obsessing over where I am going and what’s next.

For better or for worse I didn’t come up with any answers during this reflection, but rather fell back on the trusty belief that, as with anything in life, you need to find the right balance.

For example, as much as I’m starting to rebel against this new wave of technology, it was actually a lifesaver right before my wife and I left for a wedding in Chicago (1 of the 2 aforementioned trips).  My 4-year-old was pretty much losing his mind that we were leaving for the weekend because, well, everything is basically life or death with him right now.  It’s hard to fault him in this case as it was a pretty daunting situation to ask a kid so young, yet also old enough to grasp exactly what was happening, to handle without any sort of emotion.

I started to think of ways to stay in more frequent contact with him during our trip to help ease the separation (the amount of times I wish I was just able to text this kid is downright scary) and all of a sudden a random thought popped into my head – I can not only print to our wireless printer from my fancy phone when in range of our home network, I can also email it, when not in range.

A predetermined email address was given to me during the initial software setup that allows me to send my printer an email, and not only will it print the body of said email, but also anything attached.

I quickly found a picture of our two boys on my phone and emailed it to our printer as sort of a trial run before we actually left the house.  I then asked my oldest to go check the printer and sure enough he came back with 2 pages in his hands, 1 containing the actual email and the other the picture.  He had a big smile on his face at this discovery and I told him to check the printer often for I would send him more pictures all weekend of our trip to Chicago.

And I did.

Reports from his grandparents watching him were that he was beyond excited for these pictures and could barely wait for the next one.  I sent him a picture of the airplane we were about to board when leaving, our rental car upon arrival, random buildings in Chicago, the deep dish pizza we had for lunch, 4 jets flying in tandem from the Chicago Air & Water Show going on that weekend, a fire station in the city, a few pictures of just his Mom and I so he could see our faces, the church where the wedding was held, pictures of the bride and groom, and finally the airplane that would take us home.

With each picture I would also send him a short message in the email about what we were doing and how much we miss him and his brother.  He even made a booklet together with his grandparents to keep all of the pictures together.

All in all, a random grand slam for Daddy and a nod to the power of today’s technology.  Balance is hard.  It’s very easy to go to the extremes, as often seen in our diet and exercise routines as well as the age old work versus play tug-of-war, but finding that sustainable, middle range is the real challenge.

In this particular instance, the scales tip back in favor of technology and its advancement of the ease of communication.  It made my boy happy during a trying time, and that makes me happy.

My hope for the future of humanity is temporarily restored and all is right in the world.

To my incredible readers: My guess is that this balancing act with technology is far from over and that this post will turn out to be the first in a series.  Kindly keep an eye out for more and please share your thoughts and experiences on – The Technology Balance. 

Brad the Dad can be reached at bradmarmo@gmail.com. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter at keyword: readbradthedad

This article originally appeared on Chelmsford Patch on 8/26/12.

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2012 in Brad the Dad, Chelmsford Patch

 

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Family Vacation as Told Through 80s Cult Classic Movies

I had to do a double take.

Was that Arizona born Rick Kane learning to surf Oahu’s North Shore despite harassment from local Hawaiians, or was it my oldest son conquering the waves of the Jersey Shore on his new boogie board?

Much like Rick, my son’s background and experience left him completely unprepared for the challenges before him.  Before heading to Hawaii, Rick grew up surfing wave pools in Arizona, while my son’s ocean experience consisted mainly of the cold, unforgiving shores of Southern New Hampshire where one doesn’t last very long in the chilly waters, let alone master its waves.

Fortunately for everyone involved, both stories feature overcoming the odds in the face of adversity by the end.  Rick overcame his outsider status and wave pool background by mastering the North Shore with the help of his wise and knowledgeable teacher, while my oldest mastered the intricacies of balance and timing waves on his boogie board with an equally wise and knowledgeable teacher of his own – me.

Watching him catch waves by himself and rush back out into the surf to do it all over again was a special experience for me that I will never forget.

But none of the above would have been possible if we didn’t rent our favorite beach house to begin with.  Faced with monetary pressure and a few other outside factors, this year’s family vacation was in jeopardy from the start.  Naturally, I asked myself what Hoops McCann would do in this situation.  Would he give up without a fight?  Would he let the evil Beckersted family take over Cassandra’s grandfather’s house and officially ruin what would affectionately become known as One Crazy Summer?

No.  Hoops and the Stork Twins would work tirelessly to save the day just as my brother, sister and I worked tirelessly to raise supplemental funds and coordinate an appropriate week for our family vacation in the face of an extra busy summer schedule.

While there was no epic boat race to end the summer, putting the kids to bed when they know it is the last night of vacation is something of a race to the finish in and of itself.

Speaking of races, a cross-country car race like that in Cannonball Run has nothing on the “race” that our cast of characters had on the way down.  Leaving from Massachusetts with 2 kids and barely 2 inches of vision out the back window above our bags, my wife and I were like J.J. McClure and sidekick Victor Prinzi cruising across the country in their souped-up ambulance as a cover, but in our case, using the guise of a mild mannered nuclear family in an SUV to evade the law.  Unfortunately, Prinzi’s alter ego, Captain Chaos, was played by my youngest son and was not available to get us out of jams, but rather create them.

My newly engaged brother and his fiancee reminded me of those characters played by Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr.  Not a care in the world, full of mischief and nothing but the open road in front of them, this pair was only missing a red Ferrari and priest outfits to complete the simile.

Who would have thought that my parents would be the ones to resemble the car driven by Jackie Chan and Michael Hui?  In the movie, these two drove a tricked-out hatchback outfitted with all kinds of computers and gadgets and you honestly never knew when and where they would pop up during the race.  I’m 99% sure I left the mid-journey pit stop of my parent’s house in NJ before they did, but sure enough at some point during the trip we got a text message to beware of traffic at an exit that was at least 5 exits ahead of where we were.  Did they utilize their rocket-powered engine while in stealth mode to shoot right by us on the highway?  I guess I’ll never know.

In the end, it was another epic week on the shores of Southern New Jersey that will never be forgotten.  All movie comparisons aside, spending time with family and friends for an entire week with only the rumble of your stomach to let you know it’s time to stop building sand castles with the kids and grab some food is absolute bliss.

Now, about that extra 15 pounds I gained…

Brad the Dad can be reached at bradmarmo@gmail.com. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter at keyword: readbradthedad

This article originally appeared on Chelmsford Patch on 8/13/12.

 
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Posted by on August 15, 2012 in Brad the Dad, Chelmsford Patch

 

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Tolerance and Today’s Society: A Lesson for My Sons

Boys,

This is not a lesson for everyone, but it’s definitely a lesson for you.

As it stands right now, I’m bearing witness to a very complicated world.  Never before have we been this connected, and never before have the opinions of so many been able to be broadcast so clear.  For better or worse, we are now all connected and can band together at the drop of a hat to unite under a common cause.

Uprisings in the Middle East, while violent and still in progress, would never have been possible without this level of connectivity.  Protests against Wall Street here at home, while polarizing as far as support goes, would never have been possible without the Internet and its spawn, Social Media.

Use this power wisely my sons, for one thing I see right now is that many people simply have it wrong.  Groups who have, wrongly, never had a voice before, now feel that, wrongly, established voices should be demonized in lieu of the new kid on the block.

Let me make this very clear to you, my wonderful sons, you are but two people on a planet of billions.

Much of what you believe with all your heart, is wrong…in the eyes of others.  Just as much as what others believe with all their hearts, is wrong…in your eyes.  There is no way around this, nor should there be.  If we all thought and acted the same we would be but robots; lemmings who do nothing but repeat the actions of those around them.  But the fact of the matter is that the majority of us are free, and with that freedom comes expression.  With expression, comes variety of expression.

Know this boys, whatever life you choose I accept and love you just the same as I do right now when I kiss you goodnight and tuck you in with your stuffed animals.  You two, of a planet of billions, can choose to do and be whatever you want as long as you respect and tolerate the lives of those around you.

What I will not accept is either of you thinking that you have the right to tell anyone else what to think or what to believe.

This is my problem with the state of affairs as they are right now.  The word tolerance is being abused and misinterpreted.  Tolerance is not only for the small and oppressed, tolerance is for all, even the big guy.  Tolerance also does not mean acceptance; you are allowed to disagree with someone.  Like I said, there are billions of people out there, but unless one of those people is about to kill, hurt, or abuse someone else, you are to tolerate.  Walk away if you have to, but tolerate.

I love that people who have long felt alone and unsupported now have support through global connectivity.  But in turn, I expect that these groups tolerate the beliefs of others, even those established and that have been in existence for years.  Yes, and even if those groups are dated and archaic in their beliefs.  In many cases, such institutional beliefs have been around well before we were all born, and will be around well after we die.

Tolerance, boys.

Tolerance for those around you even though their opinions and actions might differ from yours.

To the progressive society, whose voice is louder than it has ever been right now – you are not correct simply because you are in the minority or now just discovering your voice along side those who have had theirs for a long time.  Tolerate those voices just as much you do that great uncle who still uses certain words and holds certain views.

Tolerate those voices just as much as you want them to tolerate yours.

I firmly believe that your generation is going to be the beginning of a momentous change in society.  I grew up amongst those of an older generation who still talked and believed in certain ways, ways long gone.  I don’t hold this against them, just as I’m asking you now not to hold this against others.

When you are adults, I’m going to be that crazy guy of an older generation.  And guess what?  My views are much more tolerant and acceptable because of my experience and upbringing vs. the experience and upbringing of my elders.  Again, there is nothing wrong with this older generation, they were simply brought up a certain way and had different experiences.  But my more tolerant experiences will now be passed down to you, who will then pass them down to your children.

So, I charge you boys with this – continue this change in society with respect, love, and tolerance for your fellow human.  Be kind, share the planet, and take pride in all that you do and say.

I love you both and know you will do the right thing.

Brad the Dad can be reached at bradmarmo@gmail.com. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter at keyword: readbradthedad

This article originally appeared on Chelmsford Patch on 8/3/12.

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2012 in Brad the Dad, Chelmsford Patch