We decided to spend this New Year's Eve at home and, for the first time ever, celebrate with the kids. I can't believe we've never celebrated with the kids before. We usually do something low-key and local with our friends while the boys hang out with their grandparents (and fall asleep way before the ball drops, despite their best intentions). And the times we HAVE stayed home with the kids, well, there was probably only one of them and he was probably only one or two years old (read: TLTP or "too lame to party").
Spending the night at home, watching TV, eating junk, and wearing yoga pants pretty much sums up the way I spent every other night of the year. Why not be consistent? In all honesty... a night in is my favorite way to spend any evening. I've been lame and anti social my whole life. There's no reason to change now.
Jon agrees that staying home is the bomb.
Since Christmas zoomed by, I had looked forward to NYE as one more opportunity to stretch out the holiday fun as a family. We started off the night by designing our own pizzas. I rolled the dough into two small pizzas for the big boys to top with sauce, cheese, and topping. Days of survival at home with the kids have taught me that the best way to avoid fights and whining is to engage the boys in an activity. Doesn't matter what the activity is (I've had the boys compete to pick Cheerios off the floor!). As long as their hands and brains are busy concentrating on something other than making fart noises or punching each other in the groin, there is (almost) peace in the home.
Both kids get an A for effort with their pizzas. But really, Ryan's was a total disaster. He spread his sauce all over the place and made a mountain of shredded cheese somewhere in the middle. He haphazardly threw in a couple olives and pepperonis for good measure. Imagine a Picasso pizza. Luckily, none of this dissuaded him from devouring almost the entire thing. Jake, on the other hand, was meticulous about his pizza and nearly drowned it in a carefully planned pattern of black olives.
After pizza, the boys enjoyed rootbeer floats. These were a huge hit with both boys. But the fun wore off the next morning when everyone peed their beds. No big deal. Just add another mountain of laundry to my collection.....(we do so much laundry around here, you'd think I was clothing a football team!).
Happy New What? We don't care! We get to wear funny hats and make noise!
The picture above is so fantastic because it captures my kids so well right now. Jacob is so enthusiastic about everything (and is missing his two front teeth!), Ryan is always covered in something messy and is most likely turning any object into either a weapon or baseball bat, and Jonathan has basically no clue what the f*** is ever happening and would very much appreciate to be air lifted out of this family. I guess that pretty much describes the picture below as well.
After rootbeer floats, I forced the kids to do a mini-photo shoot (they hate me so much). Then we prepared for the grand finale. There is no way in hell I'd intentionally let my kids stay up anywhere NEAR midnight. Even with a full night sleep, when the two of them are in the same room, they develop the disposition of Godzilla on a kale smoothie diet. So we planned their countdown for 9pm.
Our big finale was a King Julien (worst cartoon EVER) NYE countdown on Netflix made just for kids. Our childless friends, on their way to a bar, stopped by for a little bit (perhaps out of pity?) just in time for the kids' countdown. I'm pretty sure the combination of children high on rootbeer and dancing, singing lemurs on the television convinced our friends that the door to our home is really a portal to some unknown dimension (and confirmed that their pity is not misplaced).
In addition to the countdown, we celebrated with confetti poppers and a DIY balloon drop. I may not have mentioned this before, but I'm like one of the top five best Balloon Drop Constructors in the Pacific Northwest. Hand me an old tablecloth, duct tape, and some string and I'll deliver you a MASTERPIECE....Or at least a balloon drop worthy of a six year old's 9pm NYE living room celebration.
I wish I had a picture of the balloons actually dropping from the ceiling and the kids screaming in delight. Oh wait. Jacob screamed in delight. Ryan just screamed and clung to my chest.
After cleaning up multiple pee-soaked bedsheets the next morning, we rang in the new year with naked Nerf gun fights:
And enjoyed a family outing to our local gym. I ran four miles and, the best part, enjoyed a shower BY MYSELF. I guess I technically shared the shower with ten other women who happened to be in the locker room but there was not a single child or baby in sight and it was the most FANTASTIC thing that has happened to me all year (ha ha- it's the first day of the year, get it?!).
I don't make resolutions, but I can't help but reflect on Things during this time of year. Things like "how do I want my kids to remember me?" and "how can I improve my parenting" and "what can I do to make our days more like the way I imagine/hope they will be?" I can't help but dwell on the fact that my two biggest shortcomings lately are (1) lack of patience (i.e. lots of yelling), and (2) lack of engaging. With my sleep deprivation and frustrations over Jonathan's fussiness, I imagine our house isn't a very fun place for a kid to be right now. And I can't sit around waiting for Jonathan to turn a corner. I need to change my approach RIGHT NOW. Because parenting is really hard, I've accepted the fact that there is no permanent solution. The only thing I can do is make the conscious decision to be better, fail, repent, and try again the next day. And you know what? I'm totally OK with that.
Tonight when I tucked the kids into bed, I was tempted to do what I usually do: struggle with them all the way through the bedtime routine, get them in bed, and rush out the door like a bat out of hell. But then I thought again about how I want my kids to remember me. One thing I always remember about my childhood was how my parents would tuck each one of us in individually, after reading us a story, sing us our prayers, and kiss us goodnight. Ugh. My kids, on the other hand, will probably only remember their bedtime routine as a verbal wrestling match with the loser (me) fleeing frantically from the ring.
Tonight, instead of running for the hills at the first chance of freedom, I laid down on the bottom bunk next to my two year old and said, "Ok guys, is everyone safe in their bed? Because this is not a real bed. Welcome to your new space shuttle! Tonight we have a mission to fly to Jupiter. Jacob, I need you to be the pilot!" We embarked on our mission, captured some special space treasures, and evaded a ship full of aliens, before returning safely to earth, all through storytelling. We each added to the plot and contributed some lame (but giggle-inducing) potty humor. It was so much fun to engage with the kids this way and think like a kid again.
I know for a fact that I won't have the patience or energy to tell these kinds of adventure stories with the kids every night. But I do foresee many more space quests in our future. And I'm going to try really hard to take advantage of more of these opportunities to interact with my kids.
My boys (Ryan's face is so freaking creepy)
Happy New Year everyone. This is your friendly reminder to enjoy the crap out of life. Because it's really, really short. And it will all be over way too soon.