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 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.

Oliver Potter and the Staci Miller Newborn Photos

I’m not sure if i have a writing style… if you had to narrow it down I know a few people might say my style is “grammatically horrible,” or “not really funny”… something like that. First Person Narrative… I guess that’s the closest you can get to narrowing down the writing. I mean the blog is titled Chronicles of a New Dad… I’d like to think I’ve Chronicled my perspective on having kids in a unique way.

But, today… I’ve decide to change it up a bit… I needed to tell someone thanks. Thanks for quite a bit actually. So I’m changing things up a little bit and am going writing letter style.

Dear Staci Miller (Photography),

It’s been almost three years since you came into our life… expensive Nikon camera, gorgeous props and the patience of a saint. Yes, early on in our relationship you had a different name… Pink Elephant… different but still amazing. And that’s just it… i needed to thank you for bringing amazing to life.

Not many people can take the thoughts that swim around in this weird brain of mine… take those abstract ideas and make them concrete. You’ve successfully, in essence, painting the pictures of my mind and put them on canvas. You’re an artist with a flash and lost of fluorescent lighting.

The thing is, that’s not even what makes these pictures a masterpiece. It’s the fact that you have to deal with me… a hyper… anxiety riddled parent who is obsessed with details. I’m the Jack Nicholson (As Good As It Gets Nicholson) of parenting during new born photos. OCD to the max.

You’ve taken photos of a wizards hat and wand… you successfully posed an infant on a giant piece of cheese and most impressive of all captured numerous shots while getting peed on. It’s impressive to say the least.

There was the time at the barn where Jackson got bit by a rooster, the time where we got you caught up in a beach wedding with Miller Highlife cans in the background, the session where I made you take pictures of my sons butt and the time my pants were too tight to help hold Oliver’s head up. I admit to ruining quite the few “perfect shots.”

You took pictures while my son puked on your floor, peed on your brand new background and shattered glass Christmas ornaments (ok the ornaments were my fault… and I may have eaten a few cheese sticks out of your fridge, but you catch my drift… we’re not easy subjects to photograph.

But that all pales in comparison to the latest sitcom-like experience. You know the one where I made you snap photos of my son inside a flower pot while he was screaming (purposefully making him cry, because that’s what Mandrakes do in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets… (which by the way is my least favorite book and movie).

You did it all with a smile on your face and 85mm – 135mm lens in your hand (is that a real thing I know nothing about cameras?). You always welcomed us in your home, or your studio or some random farm, which if I were you I’d suggest every time since then Jackson can’t eat all your cookies and string cheese.

And for some reason you keep having us back and the pictures get better each time we do. For that… I thank you… from the bottom of my Harry Potter loving heart.


And then the unprofessional, I should have been helping instead of sneaking pictures w my iPhone, pictures:

 

Here is the link to Jackson’s newborn photos: https://chroniclesofanewdad.com/2014/05/10/5-10-14-newborn-photos/

5.10.14. – Newborn Photos

hp naut

So newborn photos happened today. These 2 I kinda just stole w my iPhone. The professional ones will be posted soon.

Yes I made you dress as Harry Potter. Yes I asked them to photo shop a lighten bolt scar on your forehead.

God bless these photographers. They work directly in the line of fire… Naked baby aiming his little firehose in every direction while the 2 chicks are maneuvering cautiously out of his aim… Impressive.

However some props were lost in the line of duty. 2 blankets, a boppy, a basket and at least 1 backdrop. Not to mention a healthy puke on moms shirt, boots and pants. I also enjoyed watching the photographers faces as he constantly laid out spread eagle for the world to see. He’s definitely his father’s son!

Shoot went well over all besides the fact that I got my balls busted for being a Harry Potter fan!

You can’t tell me getting your acceptance letter to Hogwarts wouldn’t be life changing!!!!!