A Christmas Miracle

Christmas. It’s a time to appreciate what you have and reflect on the important things in life. It’s a time for giving and a time to enjoy the most important people in your life. That is unless your have kids. Then it’s about winning. It’s literally about winning Christmas (obviously winning is about being the best present giving “parent” since Santa is the best overall).

Setting aside all the magical gifts that Santa delivers down the chimney and under your barely standing, brown five week old Christmas tree, parents often both agree on an amount to spend on their children, or at least decide together what gifts will be bought for the kids. The thing is… if your anything like us it’s not just about the season of giving. It’s about the season of “who got the best gifts.” You want to try to take it easy… you know, just get little Susie an Easy Bake Oven, but it’s easy to want to go overboard and become the favorite parent. It’s amazing how fast that Easy Bake Oven turns into a live unicorn.

Although, the other side of this… Just understand you may wind up sleeping on the couch once your partner catches wind of your plan. Steph and I haven’t gotten to that point yet, as long as the kids are happy on Christmas morning… that magic of the holiday twinkling in their eyes… that’s the real gift.

Buying for the little one is easy. Oliver would go nuts over a toilet paper roll, or a box of tissue paper. Put a few random legos in a coffee can and you have created the greatest gift of all time. You can’t measure happiness in money or gift amounts, but you can however measure happiness in laughs and smiles. We all want to make Christmas morning as magical as possible, so it’s best to take advantage of how easy it is to please the little ones now.

We try to take it easy. We (Santa) buys lots of books and puzzles. This year we are going to have Jackson pick a few old toys to donate to someone in need, as he replaces those he donates with new ones Santa brings him. We aren’t naive to think that Christmas isn’t about presents, but I think this mom and dad also relish in the little things as well… a healthy and happy family. Two little boys who love each other and most importantly the fact that we got them to sit long enough with each other to get a decent Christmas card! It’s a Christmas miracle.

Elf

Boys night watching #Elf 🌲🎅🏼

Half and hour in and my four year-old has already made approximately 187 references to Elfie (his #ElfonTheShelf). Check out @thedadexperience on Thursday, December 20th for a hilarious look at how that damn Elf has ruined parents everywhere. There’s also an in-depth look at the #Hanukkah equivalent of the Elf called #MoistureOnAMat

What breakfast, lunch and dinner looks like with two children

“The best way to spread Christmas Cheer, is singing loud for all to hear.”

Vandalism with the Elf on a Shelf

Beautifully placed garland on a Christmas tree

I share a lot on here, but one thing I refuse to do is to share pictures of our Elf on the Shelf. We’re not a Pinterest family (well Steph tries to be, but her projects usually look like the after on a failed Pinterest page… but the effort is there).

Our elf doesn’t recreate movie elaborate Christmas movie scenes depicting himself dressed up as the main character. He doesn’t tend to use props and for the most part he sits in the same place he was when everyone went to bed (usually until someone panics first thing in the morning because we realized we forgot).

Tonight, however, I watched my wife, the mother of our children, help Elfie (yes our Elf’s name is Elfie) toilet paper the Christmas tree… if you could call it that. Now I don’t know what kind of childhood this woman lived… wether it was under a rock or simply spent in a bubble, but the fact that she didn’t know how to toilet paper something is telling.

I walked down stairs to multiple rolls of toilet paper carefully patterned and intricately placed like lacy garland on the ensues of the tree branches. I watched as Elfie sat, embarrassed perched high atop the Douglas Fir. Embarrassingly realizing that he would have to take credit for this “prank”.

What toilet papering should look like:

What Stephanie’s idea of toilet papering looks like:

Luckily there was someone in the house with a bit more knowledge and experiences when it comes to toilet papering. I won’t say who he is for confidentiality reasons… but I know Elfie appreciated the more random and vandalized look of his prank now that an expert lent his expertise.

Jackson really enjoys finding him each morning and this year is Ollie’s first time being interested…even with that though, it’s a good thing we don’t do the social media thing with our elf… he would have been embarrassed by this who situation. Sorry Elfie. Sorry.

Happily Ever After

We’ve been through a lot. Raising two little boys is more work than anything I’ve ever imagined. It’s not easy, it’s not pretty, it’s definitely not clean (I was puked on three times today and the diapers that I change were unlike anything that I’ve ever seen before).

The thing is… I wouldn’t trade this for anything in the world. Thank you to my beautiful wife, two dogs (no man is whole with out his best canine best friends) and most importantly thank you to my two little guys… even if it means getting puked and pooped on…

Legend says “Marriage lets you annoy one special person for the rest of your life.”

Tantrum Time

Terrible Twos and/or Torturous Threes? How about the Fearsome Fours? Honestly, I don’t know what to call them… and more importantly I don’t know what i can’t stand more… either the people who don’t have kids and have advice for parents on what to do better, or the parents who tell us how amazing their children’s behavior always is.

We were pretty lucky in the beginning with Jackson. We never really had to deal with temper tantrums. Granted now we’re paying the price, as he has become a little toddler terrorist, taking what he wants and leaving destruction in his path. For the most part though, (he was pretty active), but he never really had temper tantrums.

Oliver, however, is a professional tantrum thrower. For being the happiest always smiling little guy… he sure knows how to throw down. I’ve witnessed this child lay on the floor and cry until you’d think he’d be dehydrated and then while still screaming, get up silently and laugh in my face thirty seconds later.

Those moments are what us parents dread the most, either in the mall or restaurant… or even just at home. When your child is flopping around on the floor like a fish just pulled up on the deck of a boat, screaming and crying like he just found out the next season of his favorite Nexflix series wouldn’t be released for another two years. And how do we try to stop it? We try reasoning with a this tiny human who won’t fully develop reasoning skills for another few years. I always here, “Use your words,” which is like asking me to hold a conversation during Game of Thrones (not happening).

Listen… a toddler tantrum, or any age tantrum for that matter, is a ride out the storm kind of situation. I try to stay calm (and more importantly try not to have an anxiety attack if we’re out in public) and just make sure everyone is safe. We save the talking for later.

Oliver can cry with the best of them. I’ve seen those crying fits come and go. Nothing, especially with a one year old, can prepare you for the intensity of an outburst especially when that outburst happens for the most asinine reason… have you ever suggested that your child not eat dog food? Or tell them to avoid touching a hot stove because, I don’t know… it’s hot? Yea, that’s all it takes. And, Oliver is no different.

Here’s a perfect example… we are decorating the tree and have a fire roaring. The perfect atmosphere to get into the Christmas spirit. The problem here… the placement of said fire. It’s not where my one year old wanted it to be. So what else is there to do but lay on the floor and kick and scream. Obviously, you want the fire on the other side of the room.

Yes my child, one and a half years old, was pissed off because he wanted the fire to be moved to the other side of the room.

… and on that note, bring on the tantrums.

Family Traditions

Traditions and rituals are more than just repetition… they often tell a story. A family sets it’s foundation on traditions… from the small of a secret handshake with your son or the big of a thanksgiving feast with all your relatives. On the macro level, traditions can teach children where their family came from or give them insights into their cultural or religious history. On a more micro level, traditions can serve as reminders of events that have shaped your family or reminders of great friendships.

There is irrefutable research that shows families hat engage is “traditions” have a stronger connection with one another. Traditions can be particularly effective during times of change or grief. When we moved and he had to go to sleep in a new room, Jax knew every night we would read a few books and “count the stars on his ceiling” before I kissed him goodnight. It provided him with a sense of security in a new environment.

Jax and I have our secret handshake: (Shout out to Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson who were the inspiration for this). But, Oliver and I were still searching for that father-son tradition.

That was until I realized we need search no more… we didn’t need to find one, because traditions aren’t just thought up one day. They are created authentically and often times are the moments that you don’t even think twice about. It was there right in front of our faces!

Every night before he goes down to sleep, Oliver climbs up on me and settles his head on my shoulder and says, well he doesn’t really say anything. He isn’t really talking much at this point. But, I know what he’s thinking… he’s thinking he really wants his dad to sing him to sleep… a lullaby, a beautiful, calming rendition of his favorite song… Hush, Little Baby.

This is our tradition. Jax never really took to my singing (probably because it sounds like multiple cats crying). However, Ollie… he loves snuggling with dad and listening to the smooth, sweet tones of his father’s voice whispering one of the most well-known lullabies as he drifts off into dream land.

The best part of this… I have no idea, literally none whatsoever, what the lyrics to this song really are. I’ve tried everything. I rhymed real words and made up words… I’ve tried looking up the lyrics, but I can’t remember them in the heat of the performance. I feel like I do when I’m in the car belting out Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing… apparently it’s not, “smelly wine and sheep perfume.” Then there’s anything by Notorious BIG (including the ever confusing), “Birthdays were the worst days/ Now we sip champagne every Thursday.” I know a few words and the rest are completely made up.

That brings us to the greatest tradition our family knows… dad and Oliver’s version of Hush, Little Baby:

Hush, little baby, don’t say a word, Daddy’s gonna buy you a mockingbird.

And if that mockingbird don’t sing, Daddy’s gonna buy you a diamond ring.

And if that diamond ring don’t shine, Daddy’s gonna buy you an air freshener that smells like pine.

And if that air freshener doesn’t smell right, Daddy’s gonna buy you a dragon kite.

Different lyrics… same tradition… and it puts the kid to sleep… EVERY.DAMN.NIGHT.

Doesn’t matter where… when he hears Dad’s version of Hush, Little Baby.., he’s out cold

Two of America’s Most Wanted

I guess, the Halloween spirit has turned my children I tom harden criminals. I’m now raising two of America’s Most Wanted, apparently they have kidnapped our neighbor’s pumpkin and are demanding ransom.

Watch out Halloween decorations… because just as the poet Tupac Shakur once said… “You done put two of America’s most wanted
In the same stinkin‘ place at the same stinkin‘ time