We just returned from a quick visit to the Lady in the Shoe’s house for a belated Xmas celebration. As always it was a great visit…and chaotic.
This picture was taken during the middle of the gift bonanza, and I think it is a pretty fitting snapshot of the chaos that is the Lady in the Shoe’s world.
The crazy part is this mooning episode was unnoticed by everyone. We didn’t see it until we looked at the pictures. I can’t tell if that’s because it was so chaotic or subconsciously we all expect these events and block them out as they pass by.
Seems like most aspects of life move in some sort of cyclical pattern. For example, we arrive in diapers, and most of us will exit in diapers.
Christmas is no exception. As a kid, Christmas is a pretty special time. I’m sure a lot of that has to do with getting “things” we want, but for the most part, the excitement is just the joy of the experience. Weeks on end of Christmas specials, holiday cookies, talk of Santa, time off from school, plans to be with family. It’s a time when the world seems to slow, and kids are at the center of the excitement.
At some point, life grinds you down, and eventually some of the Christmas magic wears off. Bachelor Dude often questioned the jolly holiday. A large dose of religious dogma mixed with an extreme helping of consumerism seems like a dangerous recipe. But kids make those questions seem irrelevant.
Nothing warms the heart of a parent like seeing their children filled with happiness, and Christmas makes that joy burst out of their little bodies. Parenting is the bridge that brings that Christmas joy back to adults…at least for the Dude it is.
I have to hand it to the Moms of the world though. I’m going to go out on a limb and stereotype a bit here. I’m sure there are a lot of Dads who can fill this roll as well, but from the Dude’s experience, Moms hold Christmas together…and they love every second of it.
Mrs. Dude has been planning and budgeting for months, and it still takes a last minute sprint to finish all of the odds and ends. Odds and ends, mind you, that no Dads the Dude knows could understand and/or execute.
The shopping alone would knock 90% of the Dads out, but then there’s wrapping…oh the wrapping! It never ends. But Moms are totally awesome wrappers…as if it’s in their gene’s…the wrapping gene. Bows, and ribbons, and wrapping paper that fits the person. Dudes buy one roll, try to wrap the first gift, give up half way through and put all the presents in bags with tissue paper piled on top…done.
But for Moms, it goes way beyond just shopping and wrapping…especially when it comes to the big fat guy in the red suit. Based on the stories the Lady in the shoe is sharing about my oldest nephew, we are realizing this could be the last year that the Princess whole-heartedly, unquestionably, without a doubt believes in Santa. The news spreads quickly with those kids at school, and kids aren’t dumb.
So Mrs. Dude went all out. We wrote a letter to Santa, The Princess saw Santa at least three times, we got an email video from Santa, we tracked Santa as he flew, we even allowed the creepy Elf on a Shelf to stare creepily at us from random spots in the living room for the last three weeks (I don’t care what anyone says, that Elf is super creepy.).
But the icing on the cake was the Santa display Mrs. Dude crafted on Christmas Eve. Stockings hung by the chimney with care, a plate of cookies and carrots that the Dude had to eat, and the coup de grace, the fireplace door cracked slightly with a “jingle bell” strategically placed as if Santa dropped it during a quick exit, and glitter on the hearth! Did you know Santa left a trail of glitter?! Me neither. But he does, and it’s awesome.
Santa's Trail O' Glitter
And The Princess ate up every bit of it. She was so happy, and the happiness is so genuine that she makes everyone around her happy. That’s the power of kids at Christmas, and I’ll trade that happiness for the pragmatic questions any day.
As a result, and despite brief occurrences of the Dude’s bah-humbugness, we had a great Christmas. We had quality time with our extended family (arguably the true meaning of Christmas), ate great food, relaxed, played with new toys, the Dude was able to get a Christmas Day surf session, and to close out the holiday season, we enjoyed one of the best Christmas traditions of all, an annual viewing of Christmas Vacation.
In the immortal words of Clark W. Griswold, from the Dude Family to your’s, we hope you had “the hap, happ, happiest Christmas…”
PS – I’m sure you will all be excited to know that Santa added a cheetah to Little Dude’s zoo!
Santa is a rad dude. He gives kids great reminders about the meaning of Christmas. Sure there’s some bribery involved, but the message is clear; be a good person and life will reward you. Santa also offers kids a great opportunity to enlist their imagination, a tool that improves with practice.
Overall, Santa gets a big Dude thumbs up, but Santa can also be pretty intimidating. A large dude with a deep voice, giant beard, and bright red outfit. That’s a lot to take in for little ones.
I can certainly understand some apprehensiveness, but judging by this picture, it’s safe say Little Dude feels pretty comfortable in the giant gift-giver’s paws.
You Don't Scare Me
* Dude’s Note: The Daily Pixels have been a bit less than daily, so we’ll switch to “Pixels” until we can live up to the “Daily” moniker.
The Princess had the pleasure of attending the Nutcracker ballet over the weekend. Nina and Rex brought her to the big city to watch the toe spinners.
Here’s a big thank you to Nina and Rex. Without you I may have been forced to partake in another episode of the torture that many refer to as the Nutcracker.
I’ve been. I think I was asleep in a bout five minutes. Just not my thing. Princess and I will have to bond over other life experiences…perhaps blogging.
But, as we all expected, The Princess fell in love. Rumor has it that she was on the edge of her seat the entire time, and during a quick moment of silence as the crowd stopped applauding, she let out a spontaneous “woo hoo” that echoed through the theater.
Based on her lack of interest in soccer, and what seems to be a natural inclination towards all things girly, dance seems to be a perfect fit for The Princess. It’s no surprise the Nutcracker is her jammy jam.
It’s fun to watch interests developing.
So after the ballet, I started to dig into what she liked, and eventually it led to me asking if she would like to be a dancer when she grows up. The Princess replied with….
The knowledge that all accountability falls on squarely on your shoulders can make you question your tactics and the results. Am I doing this correctly? Is there a better strategy? What are the consequences if I fail?
There is no larger responsibility than guiding a young life, and given the rapid pace of development in the early stages, there is no shortage of opportunity for insecurity. Parents usually maintain pretty high standards for themselves, but young ones are much more resilient than we give them credit for. The insecurity is often misguided
But that doesn’t stem the flood of uncertainty.
Is he eating enough? Is he eating too much? Why isn’t he pooping? Why is he pooping so much? Are we causing the reflux? Is he too small? Is his head too big? Is he focusing enough? Why does his hair look like he’s 50?
To add to the insecurity, we go to the doctor’s office where they make random measurements and tell us where our creation stacks up against averages. And inevitably the young one visits with other young ones, and the comparison contest continues.
Ooohhh…she’s doing this and we’re not. He’s this big and we’re only here. If he can do it, should we be able to?
We’ve had a lot of opportunity to compare, and I’d say the first lesson of parenting should be don’t compare….ever.
In Week Nine I mentioned my newest nephew, Little Dude’s senior by 19 days, The Intimidator. This beast was 20 pounds at birth….ok, maybe not, but he’s a giant…with a Cassey Cassum radio voice! The Intimidator has consistently been in the 95th growth/size percentile compared to Little Dude’s 25th percentile. And in the early stages, 19 days is a large opportunity for development. We’re constantly talking with the Lady in the Shoe about updates on the bambinos. It’s easy to let the mind run wild.
The first instinct is to wonder, question, speculate, but there’s no reason to draw conclusions. Everyone is different. Everyone will develop at a different pace. Sure, it makes sense to have a vague sense of developmental stages and averages, but no need to pay more than a passing glance.
The Intimidator will level out…or The Lady in the Shoe will have a 6 foot 200 pound four year old on her hands. My guess is nature will move towards a happy median.
But that doesn’t stop a Mom and Dad from feeling insecure.
Little Dude was consistently rolling over by Week 15, but here we are at Week 24, and I haven’t seen a roll in at least a month. I’ve heard rumors of a roll here and there, but nothing consistent. He’s not regressing. Just not rolling. As if he’s been there, done that. He’ll do tummy time and just chill, maybe roll onto his side. Then he’s over it and screams. But no roll.
What are we to make of this? Should we be concerned?
We’ve gotten a lot of input, and most don’t seem alarmed. As long as he’s not regressing things are good.
He’s using his legs. He’s trying to sit up. When he’s on his tummy he’s starting to find his knees. He’s starting to eat solid food.
He seems to be progressing. But are we missing something? Or just being insecure parents?
As if on cue, Little Dude gave us the answer today. To celebrate his six month b-day, Little Dude decided to form his first semblance of a two syllable word/sound, and to the Dude’s great honor, he spit out “Dada”… three times!
I wasn’t there to witness it, but Mrs. Dude assures me it was no accident. He was repeating after her directly.
Alright L.D, I hear ya. You’re progressing. No need to worry. I’m giving up my insecurity.
My guess is it could return from time to time, but I’ll try to keep it at bay.
Family and holidays go together like turkey and naps. (Side note, the Thanksgiving Day Nap is arguably the king of all naps.)
However, as life progresses, family dynamics progress as well.
Growing up, big holidays were spent at the Dude’s grandparents. Birthdays, Easter, and Thanksgiving would shift from time to time, but Christmas Eve was a given. Twenty five years straight, the Dude sat in the “No-no Room” singing Christmas carols, shaking Santa’s hand, and enjoying the company of the extended family.
Then life happened.
Changes in location, changes in career paths, and ultimately, changes in family life brought the Christmas streak to an end a few years ago. Now it’s a struggle to make one holiday with the extended family, never mind a prolonged streak.
Mix in the complexity of alternating holidays between Dude and Mrs. Dude’s families, plus factoring in siblings and their in-laws, and determining a satisfactory holiday schedule is nothing short of a miracle.
As families grow and life marches on, priorities adjust. The family focus that helped create my identity is shifting. I have great holiday memories of family dropping their everyday concerns and coming together to strengthen bonds that have developed over generations. Mrs. Dude and I now have the opportunity to create these memories for our kids. But roles are chaning. My parents are now the Grandparents that can’t say “no.” My sister and brother-in-law are now the fun aunt and uncle. And so on.
And while priorities change, the definition of family remains constant. The bond that families share, and strengthen by coming together to celebrate life and the company of loved ones, is not sacrificed. It’s fortified. A new generation is added to the familial chain. The bonds passed through the ancestry are extended once again.
While we can’t always share the holidays with each and every member of our family, the love persists. The pride and comfort of knowing who we are and where we came from carry on, and more importantly, are shared with new faces.
Happy holidays from the Dude Family to our family and friends. You may not be in our direct line of vision, but you’ll always remain in our hearts. We are very thankful to have you in our lives.
So, with that prelude complete…
We hit the road last Wednesday in search of some turkey. We’re alternating Thanksgiving and Christmas between Dude and Mrs. Dude’s families, and this year was a Dude Turkey Day. We went to stay with The Lady in the Shoe (as in “the lady in the shoe had so many kids she didn’t know what to do”), aka the Dude’s sister, and we had a blast. Lots of great food, wine, football, jokes, and time spent with the ones we love.
We went to Thanksgiving and…
I learned a few things:
My mother will sleep on a pull out couch in the middle of the house knowing there are two infants getting up throughout the night and four other kids up by 7:00 AM, and then she’ll change every diaper, run every bath, change every outfit, read every book, draw every picture, put the babies down for naps, with zero naps for herself, and bring four pies to Thanksgiving dinner…all to spend every waking moment with her grandkids. In all fairness, Papa Dude does most of this as well, but that Grandma motivation is hard to duplicate. I guess I’ve always known this, but it’s still impressive to witness.
Despite that fact that The Lady in the Shoe has four kids under 6 pooping in one house and a mountain of diaper experience, she made the bold statement that Little Dude’s poop is the stinkiest she has ever smelled! Can you believe that? Could this be?Given the wretched smell of the formula we use for his reflux, and the nasty stench of the spit up, I suppose I can believe it. But I wasn’t expecting this. I just assumed that horrible odor was natural for babies on formula. I guess I’m pleased to know it’s not normal to smell that bad, but the downside is that we now have the stinky kid.
Lastly, I learned that my Dad is crazy enough to sincerely ask the clerk at The Dollar Tree how much items cost! And, according to everyone at the festivities, I’m just like my Dad. Mrs. Dude, get ready for some absurd quirkiness as we grow old together.
But most importantly, we went to Thanksgiving and…
A rave/dance-fight broke out!
This video pretty much sums up the chaos that 6 kids under 6 can create when bottled up in one house.