Last night at our new year’s eve celebration at Reef a friend asked me, with a straight face, how we managed to do it all. We get that question a lot. Time after time, once I finish laughing, I try to explain the best way I can. I relate our life to that of a busy restaurant kitchen. You never see stress or hear the chaos behind the line during a busy dinner service and yet if you were to walk through those swinging doors you would witness a very different world than that in the front of the house, where everyone is eagerly enjoying their dinner and libations.

Our life is very similar.

Take Christmas decorating for instance, no one was there to witness the chaos in our home while we spent the day decorating for the holidays, but many saw the final results and remarked on the beauty of the 193,392,103 lights that I asked Bryan to adorn the outside of our home. I *may* have gone a little overboard on amazon buying those silly laser light things. Clark Griswold has nothing on me.

Honestly, I should have known that it was going to be a day of epic proportions when Bryan woke me up, laughing hysterically, recanting what happened minutes before in the garage… “You have to hear what just happened!!!!” Followed by more laughter and an explanation, “we were getting the boxes of decorations out from the top of the garage when a mouse leaped from the top of one of the boxes onto the top of Kennedy’s (our oldest daughter) head and ran down her arm… everyone was freaking out!!!”

So it was no surprise when the first 15 minutes of decorating went something like this:

Baby J body slamming Bryan as he was attempting to fix a lower string of lights…

Grayson stressing over ornament placement…

Baby J trying to bounce a glass ornament like a ball, because hell, it’s round so it must bounce…

and what appears to be Baby J, yet again, attempting to hide an ornament up his nose.

Seriously. And that was just the first 15 minutes.

Finally, Bryan was successful in capturing our mischievous little runaway allowing us to return to the task at hand… Being jolly, damnit.

About an hour into the holiday circus, we were blessed with an epic toddler meltdown. You know like in that one holiday song… “On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me… an angry screaming giant toddler…”

No? That’s not how the song goes?

Maybe not, but this was how our angry toddler freaked out over the glass chicken ornament:

“I want to do it!!!!”

“It’s mine!!!!”

“Give it to meeeeeeeeee!!!!”

“I’m sleepy…”

“Oh, look another ornament to destroy…”

“Forget this, I’m outta here… I’d rather scratch my butt…”

We then re-lived Kennedy’s horror from the morning, which then led to Grayson chasing her around with a little mouse nutcracker pretending to bite her.

After trying to dustbuster our baby, we had to referee the typical arguments over who gets to hang which ornament and explain why the train belongs to everyone and not just Baby J, although he was putting up a pretty good fight. Eventually Patsy Cline, who must have been feeling left out, escaped the kitchen and challenged the kids to catch her… this activity, much resembling one of those greased pig races, ended up with at least one kid in tears. Oh the joy…

Once we were finishing the decorating and Bryan had hung our cheesy little kissing ball, the same one that he proposed under just three years ago, I looked up to see my crazy family working quietly together to finish the tree trimming. And they actually looked happy and sweet. So I thought… maybe, just maybe, I can set up my tripod and get in a shot or two so we can have a few memories recorded with all of us in the photo for once.

I should have known better.

And I did… I was able to get in three whole photos only to discover, once they uploaded, that Madison was making faces at the camera while no one was looking.

Here they are zoomed in for all their glory:

I was about to start packing up the boxes to be returned to the Rat King in the garage when Grayson found the dreaded elf on a shelf. I thought we had shipped those back to the North Pole to live with Santa, but apparently I was wrong. There they were mocking me from the bottom of the plastic box.

Grayson’s screaming in excitement was just enough to warrant some attention from Baby J. Delighted by this discovery, he grabbed the elves and chased his sisters and brother around the house. If you know anything about this exhausting tradition we parents were fooled into thinking was fun, you know this is a big no-no for the elf on the shelf. This nifty little book they come with explains in great detail how these elves lose their magic when touched by children.

This doesn’t phase Baby J. He is the honey badger of toddlers… Baby J don’t care.

Eventually we finished our decorations, but not before I ended up looking like the reindeer below. We hope you all survived the holiday season and look forward to sharing our beautiful chaos in 2017. Happy New Year!

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