Moving in from Chicago, newcomer Ren McCormack is in shock when he discovers the small Midwestern town he now calls home has made dancing and rock music illegal. As he struggles to fit in, Ren faces an uphill battle to change things.
And that’s where our story begins. There in a small midwestern town, it was there that Kevin Bacon saved the world. Without his historically brave fight for freedom Jackson and his mom wouldn’t have had access to the world of school dances. Ed Sheeren on repeat, inappropriate lyrics by Pitbull and Justin Timberlake blaring through the speakers for all the kindergarteners to shake their groove things to.
Fast-forward decades since Kevin Bacon stood up for the rights of us all… a little boy with the sparkles of disco-balls twinkling in his eyes asked a beautiful young lady if he could escort her to his first school dance.
The smile this kid had, knowing he was going to a school dance with his mother was HUGE! I have to admit seeing your children smile is one of the most amazing experiences. That is until you see your child smile while presenting his beautiful mother with a little wrist corsage before his first “mother/son” dance… that smile… this one:
…that smile is life changing.
I’ve never seen Jackson so excited. He couldn’t wait to put on his “suit” and pin on his boutonnière. He was changed and waiting at the door with mom’s flowers for a half an hour!
I didn’t get to witness the booty shaking, i wasn’t there for the loud music and slow dancing, but heard it was fun for all.
I am not sure if you are turning three or twenty three today. It seems as if you have grown so much in the last year. You have so much energy and are full of life. You laugh loudly, hug tightly and fall hard! You are an amazing son, a loving little brother and an all around happy little boy.
In the past year you have learned to ride your big boy bike, you started peeing on the potty (and on the floor and on the walls and in the front yard… ohh and in the pool), you don’t sleep in a crib anymore and you learned how to thoroughly annoy Jackson. You love building and knocking down block towers and playing with trains. I also see a pretty strong right arm developing as you throw a baseball (amd other objects all over the house).
I am proud of the things you have accomplished. I am proud of how you overcome obstacles and most importantly I am proud of how you have become your own little person. Being the second child has to be hard. I wouldn’t know, because like Jax I’m the oldest, but you continue to forge your own path.
That’s all I can ask you to do. Be kind, be helpful be respectful and be you (that and don’t poop on the floor at school anymore). Do those things and you will continue to be
“It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.” -Albus Dumbledore
PS… I don’t know what’s more congratulatory worthy… Oliver turning three years old, or Steph and I actually surviving three years with two kids.
As 2019 its door and the start of a new decade opens, it’s a time to reflect and look forward to the amazing things on the horizon. As far decades go… the 2010s were as Larry David would say, “pretty, pretty, pretty good.” And considering this last one was my fourth… I know a good decade when I see one. But really… four decades… that is pretty crazy. I’m now 40 – as in 40 years old.
This decade saw so many ups and downs, So many gains and so many losses. However, all of the losses make the gains so much more exuberant. I became a dad and also an uncle (which is like being a dad, except you can just send the little tyke home when you are done playing with them!!!)
This decade was pretty nuts… I “went viral” as is the popular phrase these days for my Harry Potter Cupboard Under the Stairs that i build for the boys… so that in of itself is pretty indicative of what this decade was like!
If I had to summarize the last ten years in a sentence or two it would read something like this… I fell more deeply in love with my beautiful wife then I ever imagined possible. I lost my person, my grandfather, but I gained two of the most amazing little boys anyone could ever ask for. (ohh… and I won a Super Bowl)!
The decade started out with me taking the career path I always envisioned, as I took my first administrative job as an assistant principal, which I later parlayed itself into becoming a principal, including turning that first building around from a “Tier 3 Schools” in need of improvement to a “Tier 1 School of High Distinction, High Achievement and High Growth” in under three years. I’m proud of what was accomplished and I’m proud of the amazing students that worked so hard every day.
As I said earlier, there were losses. I lost my last two grandparents. Pop, left us the day after Thanksgiving in 2016. Jackson still talks about him, and unfortunately Oliver will only know him through the stories that are still told at the dinner table like folk tales. Steph lost her father, which was one of the hardest to explain to our little ones.
I was able to walk in the footsteps of Harry, Ron and Hermione in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (four times). I caught wide receiver Jordy Nelson during a Lambeau Leap and visited Broadway a few times.
Stephanie and I moved into our dream house in an amazing community with some of the greatest neighbors anyone could ever ask for. Our children love all their new friends and we are so lucky to have amazing people around us everyday.
There is no better part of the last ten years than that of bringing into this world two of the most amazing little boys that have ever lived. Jackson and Oliver have made Stephanie’s and my life so much more than we could have ever asked for all those years ago. They have changed my life. They make every moment of my life better, more important and most of worth living.
It hasn’t always been perfect… but two decades have gone by with you and my hope is that the next many decades are spent by your side. Our boys are lucky to have you as their mother, their protector and their best friend.
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.
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.
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.
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.
She made it through 37 years of life with out a broken bone or stitch ever. Needless to say from now on the kids are allowed to play in trees; however Stephanie is not!
I asked Jax how mommy broke her arm… I’m not sure he quite gets it.
-She got a boo boo and then she had a friend that gave her a bandaid. You know, actually five bandaids and they fell off so her arm broke.
-She was at the park and hit it on a bench.
-She hit it on the lamp because she thought the light bulb was the light switch but it wasn’t. So she burnt the bone.
-I noticed that mommy said her arm was swollen and maybe that it turned black and blue and one time I saw a match but I didn’t touch it because I didn’t want to get a blister… what were we talking about?
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)!!!