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 Celebration of Life

The words of Mrs. Chronicles of a New Dad:

“Today we went to the beach to celebrate my dads first birthday not here with us, he would of been 67. The kids drew a picture and wrote messages in a bottle for Pop Pop and we cast it out to sea. We came to the area where he would always go and fish. I’ve never seen the sun shine like it did today so I want to believe he was there with us.” ❤️

Home Monitoring System

Being a parent has its ups and downs. It’s scary moments and it’s happy ones. If you’ve read this blog from the beginning you know I enjoy poking fun at parent life and how incredibly simple, yet so complex raising children can be.

However, nothing can prepare you for the day your NEST Home Monitoring system pages your phone to alert you that the house is filling with smoke. There is a level of panic that sets in that is unlike any other. Your babies, your significant other, you loving puppies, your valuables, and years of memories all going up in smoke.

You immediately panic. That is until your five and a half year old FaceTimes you to tell you that everything is ok, it was just grandma burning the meatballs.

It’s nice to know that my son also provides live coverage of ongoing events at my house. It’s like having my very own home monitoring system with built-in live narration from a kindergartner.

The good thing… we’re all fine (everyone except the meatballs)!!!

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.

#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?!??

‘‘Twas the Night Before Kindergarten


Twas the night before Kindergarten Jax was asleep, his lunch was set out.
Then there was mom and dad who’s faces wore pouts.

His outfit was hung by the closet with care. In hopes that the school bus would quickly be there;

Both boys were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of breakfast danced in their heads;

And mommy in ‘PJs, and I in my shorts,

Just settled down after finishing school reports,

When out in the yard there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,

Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon shown a shadow on the still of the pool

I yawned and I shuttered in the late summer cool.

When what to our wondering eyes should appear,

But a memory of a child so small we shed tears. 

We cried and we sobbed while we packed up his bag  

We were exhausted and beat, time to wave the white flag. 

We spoke not a word, but went straight to sleep,

We laid down with questions, but spoke not a peep. 

Yes, we were sad that our boy was growing so fast, 

But we knew it was time to move on from the past. 

While mommy and daddy wished time would go slow,

We realized Jax was ready, it was time to let go. 

So now as we lay, we wish him the best. 

All we can hope is mom and dad get some real rest.