Christmas Ninja Stars

We do this family Christmas photo event every year and every year it’s a debacle. I just don’t understand why we continue to put ourselves through it. More so, I don’t know why Staci keeps letting us back. Although, this year she smartened up and made us take photos deep in the forest where no one could hear the screams.

The best way to describe the process is to break it down into chunks. Each section brings its own problems and creates its own issues. All atr equally chaotic and none are mutually exclusive… they occur naturally and each that proceeds the next creates and increases the chaos.

The Pre Photo Phase:

The whole morning routine is thrown to shit. Everyone is up at the same time, which means my morning coffee is sucked down while trying to wrangle two cranky toddlers who want nothing more than some apple juice and a few episodes of Blaze and the MonsterMachines. Instead I’m squeezing their heads through matching button down flannels and cardigans. The screams can be heard from neighborhoods afar. Feeding them goldfish for each article of clothing they successfully put on is all I can do to stop child protective services from showing up at my front door.

Once everyone is layered up with enough fleece and corduroy to protect from even the deepest freeze of Mount Everest, we all realize that mom hasn’t even started to get changed. Her 12 outfits still lay neatly on the bed each screaming to be lucky enough to be chosen as this years Christmas’ photo regalia.

As the tiny humans begin to unravel downstairs they wait for their fashionista of a mother to emerge from behind the velvet curtains and through the fog machine to cheers and excitement like a Victoria Secret Model on some primetime fashion show.

The Travel Phase:

Each of the past five years has ended in some sort of travel mishap, or disaster. The cars aren’t the same, but the results always are. Somehow, someway the travel phase always results in violation points on someone’s license and children so tightly squeezed into their booster seats that their eyes are likely to pop out.

Each round trip to and from family photos has produced some pretty significant accidents and lofty fines. Two accidents (one involving the photographer herself), a half injured turkey, and a speeding ticket (or two). We’ve been lost so many time we now know the backroads of New England better than Cookie Monster on Waze.

Let’s get this show on the road

The Photo Phase:

Cue the most amazing photographer who’s ever walked the Earth. “AUUUUNNNNNTTTTIEEEEE STAAAAAAACCCCIIIIIIIIIII!!!!”

You can heat them from across the Christmas tree farm. You can see her turn slowly, like it’s a horror movie. Her hair flips slowly as her wide smile turns into a grin that is half happy to see you… maybe it’s more half paranoid about what’s about to happen.

She smartens up each time she meets us, this time she has set up stations. That’s the trick with toddlers. Keep them on the move, keep them guessing and don’t let them catch their breath. It’s almost like running the hurry up offense. Keep the clock moving and keep the entire defense on the field. Eventually they’ll tire out.

The look that says evil is coming

Props are just par for the course when taking Christmas photos. They can provide the perfect backdrop for two brothers. The trick is getting that photo snapped before the props become weapons. The beautifully painted wooden “Let it Snow” sign that bear the calligraphy of a professional become shields for chocolate-chip cookie ninja stars.

And the tricycle that was perfectly set up in between two symmetrical Douglas firs quickly becomes a get away vehicle.

Faster than a speeding bullet and fueled by 12 large cookies

The Post Photo Phase:

Pictures happen quickly. There are lots of moving parts, lots of bribery and lots of tears. It takes the patience of a saint. Staci, Saint Staci that is, has it. She perpetuates sainthood. She’s good, she’s really good.

The photo session comes to end with as much anticipation as the end of a root canal. With puddles of tears, new clothes stained and tattered, the cries slowly quieted (and that was just from mom and dad). The kids on the other hand were hyped from the 15 Candid Cookie Eating takes, but I digress.

After herding these animals back towards the parking it was finally time to breathe a sigh of relief. Kids are tired. Parents are tired. Hell, the photographer is tired. It’s time to hitch a ride out of there.

Things are never easy and we always say we’ll never go through it again. That is… until we see the magic that Staci, Jax and Oliver have created. They are magicians and the photographs will forever be magic.

A Little Good

As a parent you do your best to “teach” your children well. You hope, even though they are like wild animals at home, that in public (at school) they are behaving themselves, or at least don’t act like they were raised by wolves.

You hope that children have empathy and are caring, kind and compassionate. You want you children to add something good to the world. That’s all Stephanie and I want (well that and maybe one night a month we’re it doesn’t take thirteen hours to get them to sleep). You hope that a little SEL can go a long way!

With that being said, I can say that today was one of those days where Jax did exactly that… he added good to someone’s life. We are so incredibly proud of this little boy! A special thanks to his teacher for a positive email home!

The Big-Boy-Bed Game

We made the switch to the big boy bed for big boy Ollie this weekend. It’s always a blessing and a curse when you make that switch. It was more a blessing for Jax as he actually slept better with out the crib front on. Oliver not so much.

Cue the curse

The first attempt was a success… I got him changed and he laid himself down with a. Big smile and he was out like a light. But, that was it. That was the highlight of our transition. From here on out it became a cruel and unusual punishment for mom and dad. That early nap wasn’t a sign of things to come, it was a fluke… there was a flaw in the plan. We didn’t take into account that Oliver is just so much smarter than us. He lured us into a false sense of security and we fell for it.

Bottom line, he won’t stay in the damn bed. We put him in he slid out, walked down the hall and let himself in our room. Over and over and OVER again.

He did laundry:

He wandered aimlessly around saying he won’t go to “sweep” and that he is a dinosaur:

He even pulled up a quiet seat in the bathroom in hopes no one would notice him:

It was a game of wills and in the end a toddler will almost always win. But this kid better recognize he’s dealing with two pros, two seasoned veterans of the toddler nonsense. When you come at these two parents you better come hard because we don’t mess around…

Case in point: toddler gets out of his bed every fifteen seconds… no problem… Front of the old crib gets zip tied back on and then wedge a a large rocking chair to keep it from moving for the night.

Just like in Coach Herm Edward’s locker room, in this house, “You play to win the game!”

And in the end… the way end (like 10:25pm- three hours after we first put him to bed) he fell asleep in his old crib, zip ties and all, and we won… Sort of.

Get Well Soon Bammy

There aren’t many people in life you can count on. There are family and friends. Those are almost always constants and as parents of little ones especially, being able to have someone(s) to count on is priceless. Two working parents put pressure on everyone. Demands are high, works, family, personal time… there needs to be at least 45 hours in a day.

It’s crazy how time fast flies. There are no more naps or relaxing weekends. Don’t get me wrong I love every second of running to school events and baseball practice, every last second of it. It’s who I am now… a dad. It’s the best job in the world.

The thing you reading most when you come a parent is show important it is to have family and friends around to help. Being a working family, both Stephanie and I work what feels like 60+ hour weeks, makes it almost impossible to get in everything we want to be able to do. That’s where you lean on your support systems.

Since both Steph and I started new jobs we have been relying on family more than ever. Having amazing neighbors to rely on is more helpful than anyone realizes, but having someone who is there morning noon or night, when they are sick or tired… knowing that person treats your children probably even better than you do… that’s the ticket. That’s the support system you know you sometimes take for granted, but also appreciate more than you can put into words.

This past week has been so tough on two working parents, since Bammy has been in the hospital. I can’t even imagine how tough it’s been on Bammy. The thing I’ve come to realize is you can not take for granted the people you have in your life… because things change fast. People change fast, luckily Bammy is one of those people who no matter the circumstances you can always count on her!

Get well soon Bammy. We love you!

We Talkin’ bout Practice?!??

So it’s FALL BALL time again. Jax has been honing his skills throughout the summer. We’ve even been watching some games together where he’s able to sit and focus for more than 30 seconds. He loves watching players dive for balls in the field and was excited to start this new baseball season.

I knew I was raising a superstar, but didn’t realize I was raising a superstar DIVA the likes of Keyshawn Johnson or Terrell Owens… or the infamous Allen Iverson

The minute we get to practice he’s tired and thirsty. He just can’t muster up the energy to go to his first warm up station. When the team is throwing balls through a hula hoop he needs to relax on the bench. When the other coaches are throwing grounders he wants to go home.

However, as soon as it’s time to hand in that lineup card this kid is ready to shine. He’s got his helmet on and he’s ready to bat clean up. He’s climbing the dugout fence to cheer on his teammates.

He went 2-2 and got his first hit in real pitch baseball. He’s a natural. He’s an All-Star… he performs best when the lights shine the brightest. (Just don’t ask him to show up for practice).

I assume the conversation he had with Coach Chris went something like this, “We sittin’ in here, I’m supposed to be the franchise player, and we in here talkin’ about practice. I mean listen, we talkin’ ’bout practice. Not a game, not a game, not a game. We talkin’ about practice. Not a game, not a, not a, not the game that I go out there and die for, and play every game like it’s my last. Not the game. We talkin’ bout practice, man. I mean how silly is that? We talkin’ bout practice. I know I’m supposed to be there, I know I’m supposed to lead by example. I know that, and I’m not shovin’ it aside, you know, like it don’t mean anything. I know it’s important, I do. I honestly do.

“But we talkin’ bout practice, man. What are we talkin’ about? Practice? We talkin’ about practice, man. We talk — we talkin’ bout practice. We talkin’ bout practice! We ain’t talkin’ bout the game, we talkin’ bout practice, man. When you come to the game, and you see me play, you see me play, don’t you? You see me give everything I got, right? But we talkin’ bout practice right now.

#BackToHogwarts (again)

Another year another September 1 and I still haven’t received my Hogwarts letter. It’s fine I’m really fine I’m not crying inside the Harry Potter- Cupboard Under the Stairs that I built for my children.

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, so Stephanie and I have to do our best as Muggles to figure out the whole Platform 9 3/4 thing. It’s not easy… but we do it anyway. It’s for the kids, right?

I’m not sure anyone realizes how much work and stress that Back To Hogwarts day is for us parents. It’s hard enough sending your five-year-old off to kindergarten for his first day when the school is right down the road, try sticking them on a magical train with only some old lady as a chaperone. I mean let’s face it Hogwarts isn’t the most safe place for kids. It doesn’t have the most danger-free reputation.

The good thing is Harry Potter is long gone from the Gryffindor Common Room. I get it, Harry didn’t mean to be an black cloud waiting to rain on everyone’s parade, but he definitely was. A murderous nemesis, a giant snake, detentions for all his friends? Not enough? How about dragons that attack children or the fact that the shambles was left in shambles after his last visit. The kid was a disaster waiting to happen.

Now, we are supposed to show at Platform 9 3/4 and act like it’s no big deal? And just because he saved the Wizarding world we are all just supposed to assume that everything is ok? But I digress… bottom line, another September 1st has come and I still can’t get any advice from anyone… I mean even Dumbledore met Harry at King’s Cross and he was dead… come on Joanne… help a parent out!!!

Also while we’re at it Mrs. Rowling… can you please do a guest spot on MuggleCast?!??

“a-b-c”

Whether you think of the Jackson 5, Alec Baldwin, or some used chewing gum the term a, b, c can refer to many things.

  1. an acronym for already been chewed when a friends asks for some gum because you are chewing on some and you dont have anymore offer them some abc gum
  1. Salesmen’s motivational acronym for “Always Be Closing“, the traditional slogan that emphasizes the need to be continually moving the customer towards agreement and action within sales discussions.

Whatever you want to call it is fine… but to Oliver (the term or acronym)… all he hears is a song title. The ABCs aren’t meant to be sung with love and a smile. They are meant to be sung with passion and power. Imagine James Hetfield from Metallica screaming those 21 consonants and 5 vowels.

Oliver has this down pat. He’s gonna be a metal head. As long as he keeps that LMNOP thing he got going on I see a platinum record on our hands!!!