Adventures in Parenting #52: Santa Belly

So it's been a while since I've had the chance to write about the Coop and the outcry against this negligent behavior has been fierce. But I was waiting for the right time to make my/Cooper's triumphant return and as anyone will tell you, January 23rd is the perfect time to write about Christmas. Timeliness! Last year's Christmas was a whirlwind of new traditions, given that it was our child's first go-round. We read The Night Before Christmas, Cooper slept right through the prime present opening hours, and then we ate lunch at Applebee's. After a CPS investigator ruled that they couldn't take our child away from us just because we took him to Applebee's on Christmas but that they would be keeping an eye on us, Lindsey and I decided we'd better make his second Christmas significantly better. This time around was less new tradition-centric and more, "How many things can we jam into like three days so that we're all super tired and grumpy?"

The week started off Sunday night with a cookie party one of Cooper's teachers threw for a bunch of kiddos at church. Cooper insisted on wearing his boots for some reason. And I really mean that; he refused to leave the house until his demands were accommodated. At this party, we got the kids all hopped up on sugar then asked them to sit still for a picture. Within 10 seconds of this picture, two of the four were in tears and the other two were desperately searching for more cookies.


On Monday afternoon we had a Christmas celebration with Lindsey's family. A good time was had by all but since we tried to stretch Cooper past his nap time by, oh, maybe three hours, the last half of the day was spent with me chasing him around the house and scooping him up every time things didn't go his way and he was reduced to a puddle of tears. This kid cannot handle his emotions when he's sleepy.

On Monday evening we opened presents as a family. Again, having skipped over a large chunk of his nap time, Cooper's attitude toward receiving gifts was somewhere between "unsure" and "downright angry."


Now last year, you may remember (as I'm sure Cooper will never forget) Lindsey and I totally punted on gift buying and took whatever Target had left on the shelves on December 23rd. This year, we really came through in that we bought a few small gifts, one big gift (a Cozy Coupe car), and then filled in the gaps around our tree by re-wrapping gifts he had received for his birthday but wasn't old enough for or didn't have room for and pretended like they were brand new. So if you gave Cooper the car puzzle or the Little People barn playset for his birthday, he's really enjoying it six months later. Oh, and also, we totally forgot about the Cozy Coupe we'd "hidden" in the garage and so he didn't get his big gift until Martin Luther King Day. (I know what you're thinking and yes, we are putting some of the savings from not buying presents towards Cooper's future therapy bills.)

If that wasn't enough activities for one day, after presents we headed over to Patty's house for even more insanity. For the uninitiated, Patty is my boss, a close friend to us all, and a crazy person who turns her entire neighborhood into Whooville for Christmas, with an active Grinch and everything. It is literally my worst nightmare. But Cooper had a good time with his friends so I guess it was worth it?


On Tuesday, we did all of the things. Cooper and I had brunch with my friends Kyle and Rachel and their little one. The two kids spent most of the meal staring at each other and then Cooper tried to leave in order to chase a truck in the parking lot.


Then we both had some work to wrap up. Then we headed to a friend's house for our annual viewing of Home Alone except traffic was bad and I was getting frustrated so I just quit halfway there and came back home. Then we had to pack for the evening's trip to Lubbock. Then Cooper decided he needed to walk around outside in the cold while wearing only his boots and a sweater.


When we finally started packing the car, Cooper lost his mind. He loves the car because he is basically a golden retriever. He kept running back and forth between the garage door and wherever I was in the house and mixing his emotions, sometimes clapping and yelling, sometimes crying and yelling but always yelling. Eventually I just stuck him in his car seat and he literally cheered, you guys. I've never seen him as excited as he was for the 30 minutes he stood in his seat while I continued loading everything up. Once we finally hit the road, he promptly passed out and his first long road trip went off without a hitch until we got to our destination at 1:30 in the morning and Cooper woke up ready to party. Needless to say, Tuesday was not a particularly sleep-filled night.

On Christmas Eve, we opened presents with my family. Cooper wore his Santa Belly pajamas and engaged in the following activities:


He put on the mustache from a Mr. Potato Head:


He attempted to steal the gifts given to his younger cousin:


He made a piece of wrapping paper levitate with his mind:


He struggled with excessive tape (who hasn't?):


And then he crashed HARD (not pictured).

On Christmas morning, Cooper ran around the house like a crazy person, having no idea that there were EVEN MORE presents residing in a side room just feet away. I imagine this is our last year of him not having some understanding of the concept of Christmas but I'll take it as his lack of knowledge let us all wake up, settle into the day, and eat breakfast before doing the Santa thing. Eventually we let him dig into the Santa gifts:


And of course, out of all the tremendous gifts he received, the one he appreciated the most was the $3 plastic rake that we Santa found on the clearance rack at Target:


Oh and then he again stole his cousin's gift:


And then he made this face because why not?


Once Friday rolled around, we decided we'd had enough family time, sugar consumption, and sleeping in the same room as a wild toddler and we took our leave. But first, we needed to get a picture with Cooper and his great grandparents, whose hospitality we had just enjoyed. I took seven pictures and in none of those pictures were all three of them looking at the camera and smiling so this was the best we could do:


Next year we stay home and do nothing for two weeks, Brian