covid celebrations

Christmas was only a little weird with the absence of extended family, but we made it work with Zoom and texting. We stuck to the usual traditions: Spent a little too much, ate a little too much, drank a little too much. It was a nice, relaxed holiday at home.

We also celebrated Ellie’s 12th birthday in December! Holy carp, where did the years go? How did our little bundle of mad cackles and songs turn into such a thoughtful, loving young lady? Well, OK, she’s still full of mad cackles and songs, as evidenced by our New Year’s photos:

It’s rare to catch her without headphones on; watching crafting videos on YouTube or listening to the Stardew Valley soundtrack on repeat, I suspect. She’s caught on to the fact that working from home means wearing a sweatshirt every day so your classmates don’t see you’re still in pajamas. Despite spending most of her 11th year in pandemic hell, she’s still our big girl, our bright-eyed kid.

And I missed Gwen’s birthday back in September; second child syndrome strikes again. Gwen is our wild child with boundless energy, whose every emotion is multiplied tenfold. Of all of us, she’s probably been most deeply affected by COVID. Even though she’s doing well in school, she misses her friends and her freedom. She wants to go places and do things, and our tiny bubble is, well, tiny. She’s found some solace in cooperative games like Animal Jam, and diving deep into the world of Pokémon.

We’re all gaming a lot these days (*cough* Stardew Valley, Among Us, Cards of Darkness, the NYT Spelling Bee, Animal Crossing, and something called Phogs *cough*), with the exception of Tim, who has taken up a mantle of household maintenance. He’s installed a neat and tidy power outlet system for the TV, added smart switches to some of our existing outlets, and had a three-days-long battle with the sink and dishwasher to re-plumb the whole thing, from which he emerged, victorious. That’s worth celebrating, too.

I have a birthday coming up in a few days, and I expect it will be uneventful. Uneventful is a good thing in times like this.

Christmas 2017

Christmas blew past in a whirlwind of food and family. We’ve had a wonderful time with my brother and sister-in-law, plus birthday festivities for Ellie. It’s been a great week, and I’m looking forward to a few days of solid R&R before the new year.

Christmas 2016

Wrapping up a successful Christmas; Santa was good to us this year. He seems to know how much we enjoy LEGOs, but he also came through with new card/dice games and expansions for old favorites, and sleds for outdoor fun.

We’re having quite the Classic New England Winter (TM) so far; lots of snow, regular pristine, white coatings of the stuff, which means a fair amount of plowing and shoveling and sending the kids outside dressed like waddling, hot-pink-and-purple marshmallows. In an effort to ward off the winter blahs, I’ve strung lights up to the point where our living room can probably be seen from space.

I scheduled an extra-long winter vacation, without realizing it would be almost as long as my summer break was. Not that I’m complaining, but I’m at a bit of a loss since I didn’t have any plans save for 1) surviving the holidays and 2) catching up on a backlog of fanfic reading. With the first one out of the way, I intend to start on the second, with a bit of writing of my own thrown in for good measure.

Gwen’s Christmas List

Last night, Gwen decided to write out her Christmas wish list for Santa, and the above was the result. She did this mostly without help, which is impressive, given she’s still in the early stages of learning how to read and write.

Kindergarden has been a struggle for her. She’s the youngest in her class, and she started off the year with some separation anxiety. She also became easily frustrated by more challenging tasks. Things seem to be improving, though, because yesterday, she told us she was “thankful for school, because it teaches us new things.”

That she voluntarily wrote something on her own is a milestone, and I’m sure the motivation of OMG PRESENTS helped.

In case you were wondering what the above actually means:

  • Poppette Shoppie
  • LEGOs (“Wagoz” KILLS ME because this is exactly how she pronounces her L’s)
  • Rudolph toy
  • Coco Cookie Shoppie
  • Beados
  • Zoo toy

And at the bottom, she wanted to clarify that this is her “birthday party” (“boyfda prde” I’M DYING FROM CUTE PLEASE SAVE ME) wish list, even though we tried to tell her that it was for Santa, and that her birthday is many months away. She would not be deterred.

I’m going to cherish this piece of paper forever.

Christmas 2015

Christmas craftiness

I went a little nuts making ornaments this year. I blame Pinterest, taunting me with all its “easy” tutorials and perfectly composed photographs.

We have boxes full of ornaments for the tree, so it’s not like we need more shiny, dangly things, but I just couldn’t resist. I bought far too many crafting supplies, got hooked on scrapbook paper (so. much. cute), and only burned myself with the glue gun once.

The results speak for themselves:

This year’s binge also gave me ideas for gifts for next year, and gave Ellie and I something fun and creative to do together; definitely worth the money and time spent.


What a perfect day. Quiet time with family, the excitement of opening gifts, fun playing with new toys, yummy cookies and food — we really couldn’t ask for more.

a very hipstamatic christmas

oh christmas tree

Oh, Christmas. You are fast becoming my favorite holiday again. There were a few years where I wasn’t so sure about you and your glitter-filled tripe, but throw two little ones into the mix and suddenly I’m all about Santa.

penguin backpack!

I think we did better this year about not overloading Ellie with presents. Her big gifts were a penguin backpack, a Duplo zoo set and a box of art supplies. “Santa” tried to think creative & practical. But I think the gift that put the rest to shame was from my brother, aka “Uncle J”, who found the coolest play tent ever. It’s now taking up most of Ellie’s room and serves as a home to her ever-growing collection of stuffed animals:

tree tent

The rest of the family was spoiled as well. I’m proud to say I got everyone into Fitbit! Tim surprised me with an iPhone, something I’ve always wanted but could never justify given our budget. Now that he’s traveling and I’m walking more, it makes sense to have my own phone (and it means I can more easily torture my Facebook friends with photos of my kids, muwahahahaha!)

ellie at the maine jump

We also spent a day with our “surrogate family,” Tim’s family friends who we call Nana and Tom. They sent us home with a ridiculous amount of yummy food and gave Ellie a Little People school bus (among other things), which she hasn’t stopped playing with since:

the wheels on the bus go!

As far as keeping up with healthy habits over the holiday, I only cheated a little. There were two days during which I missed my 10k steps because I was either tired or too busy with holiday stuff. I also stopped tracking my food, but I don’t feel like I overindulged or ate differently than usual. I’ve been a lot more active thanks to one of my presents, Just Dance 2. All in all, I think I made it through the holidays without overdoing it, so I feel really good about that.

smug hipsta

my favorite month

I think December will always be one of my favorite months. For one, Ellie was born on the 20th, and I will always remember that month in 2008 as one of anticipation, pure joy and utter chaos all at once–like being five years old on Christmas morning all over again.

But December is also the month we discovered Gwen would be joining us, which is a story I never told here because I was too busy hibernating for the first part of this year. Now is as good a time as any!

Last year at this time we were actively trying to get pregnant–something I never want to do again. Not that the process itself isn’t, uhh, fun, and not that the result isn’t worth the effort, but (in typical Caroline fashion) I can’t do something without getting obsessed and I’m the least patient person you’ll ever meet. I’m Miss “If I can’t do it right the first time I don’t want to do it at all.”

In other words: I may maintain an adult exterior but on the inside I’m still five years old.

So I’d spent the two months since I stopped taking birth control in typical obsessive fashion: Sobbing unattractively every time I peed on a stick. Buying pregnancy tests in bulk and taking them every day, even when I knew I’d get a negative result. Charting temperatures and tracking fertility signs (ladies, a litmus test: If you can utter the words “cervical mucus” and your guy or gal of choice doesn’t run screaming the other way, you’ve picked a good one.) Examining false positives under different light sources at a thousand different angles. Reading fertility message boards and learning the acronyms (TTC! DTD! BFP!) all the while convinced we’d never get pregnant, I’d never be able to have another baby, I’d have to go through all sorts of painful procedures and exams and on and on and on.

Let me reiterate:  All this over the course of two months. Two months. Some people go through this for years, and I don’t know how they do it because I’d have imploded with anxiety by month four.

I’ll also remind you that Ellie was a surprise. A big surprise. We weren’t preventing, but we also weren’t expecting anything to happen for a long time. I’d convinced myself over the course of the last two years that she was a miracle, and repeating that miracle would take nothing short of, well, another miracle.

Anyway, Christmas came around and I promised myself I’d have a nice time with family and try to forget about the pregnancy nonsense for a few days. Well, mostly. I was still taking tests obsessively but I was determined not to be mopey about it, and on that front I succeeded. We visited my parents, spoiled Ellie rotten for her birthday and all was well.

On Christmas Eve I got the stomach bug that had been circulating and spent most of the day in bed feeling feverish and trying not to puke. I took a pregnancy test just for the hell of it and thought maybe I’d seen the faintest of faint pink lines (if I held the test upside down while jumping around in a counterclockwise circle three and a half turns), but I’d been seeing false positives for weeks. In keeping with my “No Stressing on Christmas” mantra, I didn’t get my hopes up.

Ellie woke up at 3 a.m. on Christmas Day, refusing to sleep, wanting to cuddle. So in a bleary state of exhaustion I thought, “What the hell, I’m up” and decided to take another test. This time the faint pink line was not so faint… hmm. So I tried another brand of test (see the part about me being obsessive) and the second line was blatantly obvious. I did a happy dance in the bathroom, then crawled back into bed and tried (unsuccessfully) to sleep for the next three hours.

Before Tim woke up that morning, I put the test back in its foil sheath and wrapped it in green tissue paper. I stuck a bow on top and snuck downstairs before the rest of the family, placing the test in Tim’s stocking so it would be the first “gift” he opened–and when he did, his absolutely perplexed look was priceless. His first words to me were, “You mean… it’s over???? Thank god!!!”

Oh, no, my dear. It’s just beginning! Proof:


(Hard to believe someone so laid-back came from someone so insane, isn’t it?)