At the Seasons End


Congratulations are in order. Pop the Cokes, shake the Gatorade, toss sunflower seeds in the air.

Our Cardinals’s secured first place in the National league last night, and the overall top seed in the playoffs with an 8-4 with a win over the Twins. As a result we nabbed a league best 8-3 record. It’s a moment like this that you hope for as a kid. It’s a moment like this you yearn for as a coach. The opportunity to be the best overall team and win a championship as a team. That’s what we are. A team. And every last player on the Cardinals is an integral part in the success of our 2015 season. As parents and coaches we are proud of what they have accomplished. But it’s the first of three steps, and now we move on to the playoffs.

Our 8-3 record has not been easy. All but one of our games has been close and our Cardinals have persevered due to great defense, smart in-game decisions and timely hitting. It’s this tough road that has shaped this team into a playoff ready—nerves of steel—never quit—bring it on attitude that is perfect for a long run in the playoffs. Each team that makes the playoffs has the opportunity to win it all so we’ll have to stay focused in order to come out again on top. We have to stay true to what has gotten us here, and I know that if we are at our best with our full team. There is nobody that we cannot beat. Our first playoff game is this Saturday versus the Mets. It’s fitting that we are playing the Mets. They beat us twice this year. The certainly have our number.

Another tough game? I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Jenny Craig? Hack.

10277416_10153921510593275_1790853468354266167_nWeight Watchers? Ponzi scheme.

Crossfit? Waste of time.

21-Day Fix? Forget it.

Want to lose weight? Coach little league baseball. More specifically coach WAA Cardinals little league baseball. After Saturday’s game I think I lost 10 pounds. The stress of these close games is having me consider placing a puke bucket outside the dugout for me to use between innings. The kids, of which my son Aaron is included, sure know how to make a ball game interesting. With something to prove and first place on the line, the Cardinals fought back and held on to win another close game 7-6 verses the D’Backs. After almost giving the game away again to the D’Backs, the bats finally came alive in the fifth and it was perfect timing. The kids are learning from their mistakes, smiling, having fun and as coaches we could not be more proud. With only two games left, and a record of 7-3, we control our own destiny. If we win out, first place is ours, and I’m confident of our chances.

A Birthday Note For Sweets

RebekahRebekah is 15 today.

My Sweets.

The girl who started out at 5-lbs, 6-oz is now 5’6″ tall. She’s bright, smart, different, compassionate and loves to smile.  But I’m her Father, and am expected too say those things. (the picture to the left is from 2005)

On Friday she received a card from one of her girl friends from school and so that anonymity is preserved I will not name names.  However.  This was the writing on the inside:

Dear Rebekah,

You’re probably wondering why I’m giving your b-day card 2 days early, well silly I can’t give you your card Sunday. :)

Happy Happy 15th b-day beautiful!!  You are an amazing best friend, and sister.  I feel so happy talking to you.  Your beautiful and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  :) I’ll always be here for you even when times are tough! :) You’re an amazing singer. We really should hang out soon!! :) Even when times get tough, no matter how big or small the problem, I’ll be there for you to infinity and beyond. <3 You’re amazing at so many things but my fav is just being yourself. :)

If I hadn’t met you back in elementary school, I’d probably be a weird girl with no friends. You gave me a sense of hope, love and always told me never to give up! :) I’m so glad you’re my sister. :) The two of us can be weird together but that’s okay because we don’t care what people think.

<3 ya more than this whole world!! :)


Happy Birthday Sweets.  You are indeed a very special girl, and you are loved.

18 Years, and Counting



Today I celebrate 18 years of marriage with my wife Julie. 18 years of memories:

In 1996, we made a promise

In 1997, we were blessed with the best gift we never knew we wanted. Joseph Paul

In 1998, I graduated from CCS, Julie was changing lives

In 1999, we took a chance and moved to Atlanta, GA

In 2000, our reward for that chance was a beautiful little girl we named Rebekah Louise

In 2001, we took a chance and moved to the state of New York

In 2002, our reward for that chance was a beautiful little boy we named Aaron John

In 2003, we were regulars at the Strong National Museum of Play

In 2004, we cultivated our garden

In 2005, we spent many days in Maryland with Joanne

In 2006, we saw RENT in NYC

In 2007, we welcomed my brother and his family to spend Christmas in NY

In 2008, we traveled to OZ

In 2009, we saw my mother get remarried

In 2010, we spent lots of time in Disney thanks to our generous parents

In 2011, we bought a home

In 2012, we took a chance to forge our own path with Brandtatorship

In 2013, we left the country to celebrate a retirement (read: freedom)

In 2014, we started the college tours for the best gift we never knew we wanted

In 2015…



Screen shot 2014-12-12 at 1.28.27 AMMountain Dew.

My cold coffee.

My soda drink of choice.

It’s a part of my identity with my family and friends. A running punch-line. An ice breaker of awkward silence.

I can keep silent no more.

On my birthday this year I made a decision. One that I intend to keep.

No more Mountain Dew. Ever.

Sound a tad unrealistic? Maybe. I have tried before to shake the Dew, and while I certainly do not drink it as much as I used to, this time I feel different about the quitting. I have to change the way I live my life otherwise it will consume me. I guess I equate drinking Mountain Dew to weakness. To allowing the same-old problems and trials that hold me back from the true living of life. Now, is drinking Mountain Dew really that bad… perhaps not, but it’s a bad habit forged out of comfort, not necessity. Bad habits are made to be broken. So I say to my soul, my life, my future: challenge accepted.

Here on this blog it’s as public a statement that I can make. Consider this my dewbriety, and since my birthday I have stopped consuming Mountain Dew.

That’s 14 straight days. 7 more to that elusive 21.

Not. One. Drop.


Welcome to Hypocra City: Population 1

I’m a hypocrite.

There, it’s been said.

It’s fact. I’ve tried to convince myself that it’s not the case, but no dice. I feel different. Act different. Think different. Things I thought I knew have evolved into things I thought I never would have imagined. My views on politics, life, recreation, and basic common sense. I know how I used to feel, but my mind is elsewhere. I know what used to be real, but my mind has challenged me to rethink. Frankly, I don’t know which way is right anymore. Lately, I find myself looking outside my environment, looking upon my life as a spectator watching tv or a film at the cinema. Don’t get me wrong or read into the perceived negativity. I’m not saying it’s bad. It’s just a different realization for me and something I’m finally coming to terms with. My sanity has been pushed to the brink several times and it’s taken close relationship or two along the way to steer me back again. But each time I come back to the path, I know I’m still lost.

Does changing positions on topics when you have more of the facts make logical sense? Maybe.  I’ve had the luxury of standing on a soap box passing judgment based on no factual evidence. No first hand experience. No time tested beliefs. Well, now that I have spent some time on the mental front lines, my position has changed on certain said topics. I’m down from my soapbox. Ready to wear the self-imposed mantle of hypocrite, while living in the land of Hypocra City.

Hypocra City is a place equipped with only one working stoplight, a Radio Shack, a Subway (because every town has them), and one gas station that’s only open until 9pm. And if you want to find some late night drinks, you’ll have to go to the local watering hole on the corner. It’s home to the best martinis in town. I’ll be the guy sitting alone at the bar listening to Chris Issak on the jukebox. Come over and say, “Hi“. And since I am the only resident, I will pour you a drink as bartender, and offer the stool next to me for some company and a song as citizen.

Then maybe I can change the city sign on Main Street to Population 2.

The Photos of Lewis Wickes Hine

photo 2 (2)Lewis Wickes Hine was an american sociologist and photographer that was born in 1874 and died in 1940. His photographs were instrumental in changing the child labor laws in the United States.  Many of his black and white photographs are currently on display in an exhibit at the George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film located in Rochester, NY. The work is striking, raw and honest.  Many photos depict factory workers in undesirable conditions. The large format photo at the front of the exhibit of the young working children is particularly nice.  Right down to the kid on the right caught digging for gold.

A couple weekends ago while at the museum with the family and my visiting brother-in-law Steve, my oldest son Joey and I stumbled across a series of five Lewis Wickes Hine portraits that we lingered on for awhile.  The subjects were standing proud.  Facing the camera and cropped from about the chest-up. Each were from a different social class. The man in a suit.  The young girls in pretty lace dresses, the older farm hand. The strapping young man.  I turned to my son and said,

“Joey, look at each one of these photographs.  Each one, a person, with a life that’s long since gone.  They had a family, people that loved them, what is their story? They each have one that’s unique.  We can make assumptions of thier stories by the way they’re dressed. Does this man in a suit own his own company?  Did this woman just bake the best blueberry pie? Perhaps this man in overalls works outside on a plow and gets up before the dawn. His skin, weathered from the sun. Does this girl have any sisters? Did she get married? Have a family of her own?  Joey, It’s fascinating. Here we look at them as art, but in reality they were people first. Each of these individuals had others that depended on them. I would love to know their stories.”

Joey responded: “Wow, this guy has a really big nose!! Uncle Steven! Come look at how big this guys nose is!” and he turned to find his uncle.


The Lewis Wickes Hine exhibit is on display until September 8th and the George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film.  Check it out if you have the time.