This dad FINALLY gets to celebrate Halloween (and he’s doing it in a MOOSE costume)

Post from Penn:

I can’t tell you how psyched I am about Halloween this year.  Not because of the near perfect weather, the chance to check in with neighbors, the fun block parties, or the increasingly skimpy adult female  costumes (whoever is responsible for this trend deserves a medal, in my opinion – Kim begs to differ).

It’s because for the first time in my life, I get to go trick or treating with my kids.

As a former local news anchor, Halloween always happens at the start of a period called “November Sweeps.”  You CAN’T take time off from work, and at my station I was at the anchor desk until about 8:00pm. I’d rush to my neighborhood (well, not “rush” – there are like a billion kids stumbling through the street like drunken sailors) and find my kids, and see them knock on two doors before they crash from the impending sugar coma.  Not enough time.

So this year I am making up for lost time.  I am picking the kids up from class and we are getting dressed immediately. I am taking enough pictures to fill up a NORAD server.  I am toasting pumpklin seeds.  I am setting up an adult margarita station in my driveway for pregame.
Oh, and I am wearing exactly what my kids want me to wear.  But that’s the rule now, anyway, right?
Sure, I love the ironic, irreverant, borderline insensitive costume. This year it’ll be the Ebola Hazmat suit, Breaking Bad Guy, or “Zombie Anyone Famous who Died This Year”.  But those are for adult parties.
For the 31st, PARENTS WEAR WHAT THE KIDS WANT.
Which means this year, there will be 6,238,549 families dressed in Frozen costumes this coming week.
Don’t believe me? Check out Google’s costume predictor for most used outfits this year!
1. Elsa
2. Olaf
5. Anna
I mean, the movie came out LAST YEAR!
Granted, this will probably be the last big cash influx of the Frozen Empire, but we are contributing, once again.  There was never any doubt.  In JANUARY, Lola and Penn Charles came into the kitchen and assigned the costumes.  She’s Elsa, he’s Olaf, Kim’s Anna, I am the Moose, or Reindeer, or whatever.  Discussion over.
But how fun is it to dress up as a family in the same theme? I love the “Team Halloween” concept. Sure, the costumes invariably look ridiculous on the grown-ups, but the kids LOVE it, and the parents can get in on the action as well, instead of skulking at the edge of the lawn, awkwardly waving and waiting for the kids to run back to them.  We are allowed to have fun, too, right?

We hope you enjoy our Halloween Video. We had a blast making fools of ourselves, once again.
And send us pictures of your family’s “team costumes”.  We’ll post em in our next blog!

Dear Chasing Fireflies: Our catalog obsession

As an adult — you probably have a favorite store or designer. Penn can lose himself in an Apple store for days. Me? Drop me off in front of a Williams-Sonoma and I’m good for at least a week. (YES! I NEED a ruffled pie plate in every color)

For our children, it’s Chasing Fireflies. They don’t have a brick and mortar store — but they send these catalogs. THE CATALOGS. They are like something out of a dream for a little one. The clothes and costumes are fantasy-like. I don’t even know how we got on their mailing list years ago but they are our special occasion go-to since their catalog made it to our mailbox.

SIDE NOTE: You remember those striped Christmas Jammies we wore last year? Yep. We bought them from Chasing Fireflies.

Additional side note from Mom on a SoapBox: I don’t know about you — but it’s been harder and harder for me to find age appropriate clothing for my little girl. She’s seven. Does she need an off-the shoulder, midriff baring shirt? A scoop neck, glitter dress? SHE’S SEVEN. So I’m thrilled when she circles a sweet dress in the Chasing Fireflies catalog.

So imagine our children’s reaction when we got a call FROM Chasing Fireflies. It looked a little like this:

Our family will be featured in an upcoming catalog, you guessed it, in our Christmas Jammies.

We put this video together for them: It explains our children’s obsession with their products and how we handle it.

Watch it. Share it. And get the catalog.

PENNterest: Penn takes on a Pinterest project

Post by Kim, craft by Penn

I grew up in an incredibly crafty, do-it-yourself family.

Long before Pinterest, my mother and grandmother went to the store and bought patterns to make a lot of our clothes.

Before home improvement superstores, my father would take on massive projects around the house.. for fun. The house needs a new roof? Bathroom need new tile? Why pay someone to do it when you have two hands to do it yourself.

Fast forward a few years. I marry a guy that is CLUELESS. He admits it.  So that means if something is broken in our house I dive in to make the repairs.

Penn even pokes fun at my Pinterest obsession. I mean… what’s not to love? The JOY in finding a perfect “pin” and the inevitable TEARS when it doesn’t turn out anything like the picture. I’ll admit — I have an unhealthy relationship with Pinterest. I have more Pinterest #FAILS than successes. Still.. it’s Autumn. This time of year just calls out to the craftiness in my genes.

But this time — I wanted my dear husband to give it a try. I found a great wreath I wanted to duplicate — and of course, there were no step by step instructions. Of course.

So here’s his first try at a Pinterest craft. You have to watch until the end. Classic.

Have more crafts he should try? Leave a link in the comments.

You’re never too old to be bullied (but now we’re doing something about it)

Post from Kim:

I’m guessing there isn’t a person reading these words that hasn’t had a run in with a bully. Growing up, those bullies were in the school yard and had to confront us face to face.

In the 2nd grade a group of girls called me over to their game of four square. One girl looked to her friend and commanded, “Tell her.”
“Tell me what?” I asked.
“We all hate you. Now go away,” the ringleader snarked.
I asked why, and the girl said, “Just because.”

I kept it together and did what any girl of eight years would do: I ran to the bathroom and cried. I remember what I was wearing, a Rainbow Brite t-shirt and yellow shorts. The shorts were recently stained from where my “Fox and the Hound” tin lunchbox leaked on my lap. The memory is still vivid enough to sting.

There were other times: Like when I was in 6th grade and a girl pushed me into a locker. “Just because.”  Again, I gathered myself. I went to the bathroom. Then, I cried.
The guy who always called me, “porker.” When I got mono and lost 15 pounds — he then called me “HIM” instead of Kim because my voice is so deep.

I know there are far, far worse stories out there. Heartbreaking stories.

Then yesterday, a post was written about my family. Here’s the link in case you want to read.
I read the whole thing (it’s surprisingly long). I went to the bathroom — but this time I didn’t cry. I got pissed.

Here, in front of me, was another bully — but this bully wasn’t powerful enough to push me into a locker or call me a name to my face. This bully wrote an entire post without even contacting us .. just put it online. I bet if this woman saw me in the grocery store with my family, she wouldn’t have the nerve to say these things to my face. I’m 38 years old and sick of being bullied. I’M DONE.

Several sympathetic friends reached out saying, “don’t worry, people are defending you in the comments” and “Don’t dignify this post with a response.”
Then I realized I by NOT commenting, I was letting this cyber-bully win.
I tried to make a comment to the actual post — but it was never approved. Hmmm… Well, here’s my comment:

“On the other side of your hateful words sits a real family, with real struggles, and real feelings.  We realize by posting videos online we open ourselves to this critique. The beauty of the internet is this: IF YOU DON”T LIKE IT, DON”T CLICK.”

Everyone is entitled to their opinions. We leave even the negative comments on the YouTube page, that’s how much we believe everyone deserves to be heard. But this isn’t sharing an opinion with your friend at carpool or a cocktail party, this is bullying.

Some advice was given to me; I was told to say a prayer for the bully. I did that — then got upset with myself for spending time on a prayer for this person when there are so many families that need the positive energy.
So here’s the thing that has brought me peace with this bullying experience: We have made a $500 donation to Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center charity in the name of Jezebel (the site that published the post).

I encourage you to talk to not only your kids, but your friends about cyber-bullying. After all, this hate was coming from an adult.

UPDATE: I’m moved my the support and donations to bully prevention charities. Thank you! But let’s agree that sending hurtful messages to the person who wrote the article is not advancing the situation. Thank you again for your kind words and support.

How our kids handled a weekend in the spotlight

Post by Kim:

Penn and I had everything we needed growing up. We didn’t necessarily have everything we WANTED (Guess jeans, a real Members-Only jacket, and Michael Jackson parachute pants), but our parents did everything they could to make sure we had the necessities (we got those jeans with the upside down triangle, a generic jacket with zippers, and a pair of pants that squeaked when we walked).
Now that we have our own children, we realize our own parents were onto something: There’s enough stuff; experiences are what matter. That’s why we try to bring the kids along for any opportunity to travel with our day job. Our company, Greenroom Communications, was hired to provide digital strategy and a social media launch for the Legends of Oz DVD release for Fox Home Entertainment. We have a team of social media ninjas who developed an AWESOME plan that included a Friday night Twitter party and a Saturday morning double-decker sing-a-long bus ride throughout New York City.

 

 

At the same time, we were invited to be on Fox and Friends Saturday morning to talk about our newest family video.

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I tried to remind the kids: 


“An airplane trip to New York is not something mommy and daddy did as children. We are fortunate to be able to do this.”

I went on: “A national television interview is not something mommy and daddy did on Saturday mornings growing up.”

And: “A double-decker bus ride through the city is not something mommy and daddy did as children.”

I suppose I just wanted them, at age four and seven, to be grateful for these opportunities. Remember, Penn and I decided if we had the means, our children would have amazing EXPERIENCES (I’m saying this with jazz hands and spirit fingers — “EXPERIENCES!”), not necessarily more STUFF. And THIS was it — THIS trip was an experience. EXPERIENCE IT, KIDS!
But soon, Lola had enough of the “experience.”  (She’s so much like me it’s scary). While Penn and our son get their energy from being surrounded by people, Lola and I need quiet time to recharge.


 I had spent so much time saying, “We didn’t do this when we were kids” that I forgot —  we DIDN’T do this when we were kids.
 I had to remind myself:
 we never took an airplane to New York City for the weekend as children.


We never appeared on national TV when we were growing up.


We never saw our dads perform on a double-decker bus as children.

Yes, these were great opportunities, but it was a lot for my little people. About an hour into the bus tour — Lola was done. She wanted off.
 So that’s what we did. Penn stayed on to lead the crowd in song — Lola, Penn Charles, and I walked back to the hotel. Lola didn’t want to hold hands. She wanted some quiet time ten feet in front of me (on crowded Manhattan streets). There was still so much to EXPERIENCE, but we closed the shades and tuned out the world for a bit. It’s what my girl (and I) needed.

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During those quiet moments I told the kids, “We don’t have to tag along on trips like this. You don’t have to do television interviews. Help me know when it’s too much for you too handle.”
Lola, now fully re-charged, scoffed. “In these interviews you and daddy do all the talking. It’s not fair. Next time, I’m answering all the questions.”
Well, ummm . . . okay.

Next, we hit the city as a family. 
We found the spot where Penn proposed to me years ago. We rode the carousel in Central Park. Stopped by the Plaza, where our favorite six-year-old Eloise used to hang out. We even had time to see our girl, Lady Liberty.

 

Lola actually cried when it was time to leave. She said while wiping the tears from her face, “Promise me we can do this all over again soon.”  There’s a tug on my heart when she cries. But this time, I must admit I was a little relieved. It had never occurred to me that these “EXPERIENCES” wouldn’t be 100% positive for our children, but I was grateful she was going to remember this trip fondly.
P.S. Before every video or interview or picture we snap with our cell phone — we ask our children’s permission. If they aren’t in the mood or simply don’t want to participate, they have veto power. I even read this post to Lola before hitting publish. She was mostly concerned that I wanted “pants made out of parachutes.”

Soooo, in case you were wondering, we do have real jobs…

We don’t just make ridiculous videos, dancing in our pajamas or channeling Sir Mix-a-Lot.  We are, in case you were curious, a full-service production and Digital Marketing Company called Greenroom Communications.  We make entertaining, highly shareable videos for companies around the world (so far, FOX Home entertainment, Shari’s Berries, H&R Block, Hasbro).

Here is our brand spankin’ new Demo Reel, courtesy of our brand spankin’ new Director of Video Production, Zak Ciotti

and here’s the Greenroom Communications website.

Baby Got Class! A back to school parody

If there was one of those facebook relationship status options for my children, at this point in August, I would choose “needs to see other people.” On both sides — we literally need to see other people.

It’s been an amazing summer but for our children and ourselves — we are ready for the routine the school year brings.
As working parents we had the familiar struggle of “what will the kids do while we work?” issue on a daily basis.

Our kids had a full summer of camps, play dates, fun babysitters, and a few work trips with mom and dad. We’ve spent A LOT of time with them — and we’ve treasured every (almost every) minute.
Just as much as WE are ready to walk them to the classroom door -THEY are ready to go.
Before they head back to school — my final few days of their summer break are spent filling out paperwork (didn’t I fill this out last year?), buying a random list of school supplies (do the erasers have to be pink?), signing up for committees (I swear this year I’m not going to forget any meetings), and trying, so desperately trying to get organized (THIS is going to be the year.. I can FEEL it).
So here’s our ode to the parents, students, and teachers as we start a new school year in the only way we know how.
 

MY WIFE COMES HOME IN AN HOUR – a true story

It is the panicked thought that goes through every dad’s mind, one hour before your family comes back in town.  About once a year, dad is left home alone, and  many of us take that opportunity to revert to our primal selves – We eat horrible food, we don’t make the bed, we meet up with the guys, we clean up NOTHING – that is, until about an hour before they get home.

TWO NOTES -

1. This was real – actually shot while my wife and kids made a quick trip down to Disney – the mess is real, the story is real, and thank goodness I have a tripod, because I had to photograph myself.

2. The guy who looks like Jason Sudekis is my buddy Jake Fehling – we are working on a Holderness Family spinoff called “Rapping Dads” – more to come.

Dads/Moms – does this sound familiar? Comment below.