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.

Oliver’s First Fourth Day of Daycare

Lately, Oliver has been floating all over the face of the earth. Just a Nomad living a nomad’s life.

Daycare to daycare.

Teacher to teacher.

Cot to cot.

… until today. Until the day he finally found a place to call home and a cot to call his own. (Don’t get me wrong where he was previously was amazing. They treated him like family. They communicated more than I could ever have imagined and he loved it there). But now… he’s home. He’s the little Italian boy… in the little Italian daycare.

Listen, this ain’t our first rodeo… we’ve been here before. We’ve done the first day of day care thing before. We have this down like clockwork. – Lay out his clothes, pack his lunch, lay out all his extra clothes, bottles, cups, bowls… all packed and ready for transport.

Forms were filled out. Emergency contact list had been updated. We were set… all we needed to do was get the little guy there, drop him off and head to work. All seemed to go according to plan until it was time to leave. The cries filled the room. Panic set in and guilt gripped our hearts. It’s what every parent who drops their child care off at daycare for the first time goes through… and it’s terrible.

The teachers tell you everything is ok and that he’ll be fine… hell I’ve said that to a thousand parents on the first day of school for years. It hurts just as bad each time. But it does get better and it did get better. Ollie turned out to be the star student.

His best subject: NAPPING!

“Awww Sheeeeeet!”

By now you know from my writing that I don’t take parenting as a chore, I don’t pretend that it’s easy… and I surely admit to my mistakes. I also love to laugh at… I mean, with my children. Having a child is an amazing experience. It’s stressful, tiring and frustrating at times. It’s also the most rewarding experience in the world, especially as we find ourselves experiencing the many significant moments in our children’s lives, moments that show they are growing up (usually too fast!) One of those first major milestones is a baby’s first word(s).

I’m sure we’ve all heard about the crazy things other children have said. But for most of us the usual “momma/dada” or “mommy/daddy” combination is pretty common. Those two are usually standard for kids’ first words. For many children… it was usually only one: “mom” or “dad” (and yes, it really, really does matter which one comes first). Just ask my wife!

After “mama/dada” it’s usually a crap shoot which words come next. It could be anything. Our second little guy, Oliver, doesn’t care what you call what’s in front of him when it’s time to eat. As a matter of fact he doesn’t care what he calls it… he just wants more of “it.”

Right now we are stuck with the word “APPLE” as his word of choice. He seems to pretty much call anything that goes in his mouth an apple. And his other favorite word… well really anything he can throw, he calls a “BALL”. Developmentally… at least the words fit the context of what he’s trying to say.

Then again… I guess “ball” and “apple” are better than what he calls a fish:

“Awww sheeeeet!”

Los Chivos de Hartford and Oliver’s First Game de Beisbol

Baseball continues to play such an important part of my father/son(s) interactions. Especially now that Oliver is more than a sack of potatoes with eyes, and being that he can engage in activities for longer than twelve seconds now it was finally time to take him to his first baseball game.

I’ve written about how growing up baseball was so important to me and how it shaped me as a young man. I’ve discussed how it shaped my relationship with my grandfather (Pop) and now how it’s shaping my relationships with my sons. Then again… it’s America’s Past Time and a father/son rite of passage… so how surprising is it that my first game with Oliver was such a big deal.

No it wasn’t at the Cathedral that is Yankee Stadium we didn’t get to see Derek Jeter’s last home game, but we did get to witness one of baseballs top prospects, Brendan Rodgers, in one of MiLB most amazing parks, Dunkin’ Donuts Park, home of the Hartford Yard Goats. Not to mention they have the dopest logo and mascot in all of sports. Needless to say it was baseball, it was live and it was amazing.

We sat in the right field stands for a night game (which is not recommended for a 15 month old, let alone a four year old). The view was amazing and the stadium dogs, chicken fingers, pretzels, ice-cream, french fries and waters were tasty (by the way: that was just for the kids). We watched the Yard Goats win 11-1. They played as the Los Chivos de Hartford and rocked sick alternate jerseys for the game. Highlights included Brendan Rodgers going 3-4 and Peter Lambert pitching a complete game four-hitter.

Now listen I’m not going to sit here and lie and tell you that bringing two children to a ballpark is easy, or that it isn’t without its difficulties (and choice words muttered under my breath from time to time)… but it is quite amazing to be with both my boys, especially with Oliver for the first time, at a baseball game.

It was great to experience everything as a family, to be with my wife and two boys. But of course being a dad and taking my son to his first game is extra special. I enjoyed every second of exposing Oliver to how the game works… and he enjoyed clapping when I clapped. He smiled and seemed to be enamored by the green grass and beautiful sunset over the first base side seats. He enjoyed the food and the fans, but I’m pretty confident in saying I enjoyed being there with him and his brother more than either of them will ever know (that is until they have sons of their own). Then again if you read this blog often… you already knew that, besides it’s America’s Past time and a father/son rite of passage… and everybody knows that.

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Click here to read about Jackson’s first game at Yankee Stadium: Jackson’s First MLB Baseball Game

How is This Possible?

How is it possible that this kid is feeding himself right now? And realistically he’s doing it and keeping it pretty clean. I have a four year old who can’t eat this neatly.

With Jax we shoot for a 1/4 ratio. If he can get 25% of the food on his plate into his mouth and avoid the floor than we count that as a win in this house! (a .250 batting average will get you in the Baseball Hall of Fame at this point).

Nice work Oliver! Now please stop growing up so fast!

Field of Dreams

Lets start out with the negative… on the drive to Jackson’s first baseball game… In the course of a seven minute ride to the field he asked, “are there yet,” 27 times. I was sure as sure as soon as we get there he’d want to go home.

There were, however, a lot of positives in his first game. Lots of great points to build off of. At such a young age players haven’t had a chance to develop bad habits, so establishing proper technique and having the time to work on skills no matter the child’s age is always a plus.

Which brings us to Jackson’s first “official” T-Ball game. Jax showed incredible speed, a quick first step and the ability to cover all positions as evident from his first time playing the field. About 12 seconds in he took off into the outfield, crossed over two other fields, went down a massive hill and literally into the parking lot of the next school before anyone could even get within shouting distance.

Later that inning… he took off for a second time. He was found in the woods a few minutes later.

Although he seems to show above average skills as a fielder and the speed to be a plus base runner, it was at the plate where Jax showed off his major league ready skills.

Batting three times in three innings he went 3-3 with three runs scored. (Mind you everyone went 3-3 with three runs scored. However not one other child hit from both sides of the plate. I’m not sure if he’s going to stay a switch hitter, and it’s clear he doesn’t have the sweet swing of Will “the thrill” Clark just yet, but I’ll pretty impressed with a barely four year old hitting righty and lefty in his first game.

I had fun… he had fun… and he looked damn cute doing it! The only thing better then playing the game yourself, is watching your son play it.

Oliver’s First Steps

There’s something to be said about a child’s first steps. It’s a new dawn, both for the child and for the adults. It’s both exciting and scary. It’s also hilarious. Watching a child take their first steps is like watching a penguin walk across a frozen lake.

They know it’s going to be a dangerous few steps… their body and more importantly gravity is telling them not to do it… but that darn penguin I mean child throws caution to the wind and takes his first step towards their destination. The similarities to a child’s first steps and the “penguin walk” are glaring: Extended wings (er… I mean arms) out to the side, slightly bent knees, and then the side to side shuffle as they move forward (rather than taking big steps). All of this helps penguins and children maintain their center of gravity during their treacherous hike across a massive glacier or in Oliver’s case the living room.

What does this all mean? In reality… for parents with an almost four year old and now a second walker… it means back into full on man to man coverage. No more cheating off Oliver to give double-coverage to Jax… it means everything needs to be boarded up again. Stairs, doors and windows. And with the way this meatball moves, fast and with a purpose he’s more like a wrecking ball then an infant.

“That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Here’s a hilarious story about Jackson’s first steps and my attempt to “walk for the first time again!!!!” https://chroniclesofanewdad.com/2015/06/10/a-dads-first-steps-a-research-article/