Tag Archives: christmas

She Says… On to Next Year

Phew, friends. This has been a busy illness-ridden and family-filled holiday week. For many of you, too, I’m sure. If you missed our annual holiday video I posted earlier this week, you can watch it here!


After I posted the video, I got a lot of questions like “How did you get Owen to do that?” or “How long did that take?” or “How do you get it to look so good?”. My response to the last question is that it doesn’t hurt to be married to a professional videographer! Benjamin and I love working on this project together every year, and he even sends it out to clients as a holiday greeting, so yes, we go a bit “over the top”.


As for the first question, I gotta say, despite shooting the day between Owen’s stomach bug and respiratory illness, he was a total star. We always knew he had a flare for the dramatic, but he went far above and beyond our expectations this year. In preparation, we talked a lot about what each scene would entail and made “rehearsing” into a game. He didn’t really care for rehearsing at all, but when those cameras switched on, he did exactly what we asked… and more. So the answer to “how did we get him to do that” is mostly that he is a natural in front of the camera (though I like to say it’s because of my mad directing skillz).



Well. Yeah. That and the promise of M&Ms. At first I hesitated to turn this into a bribery situation, but after a few takes, Benjamin gave me that look that I know from experience means, “Kate, you’re nuts. Just give him a freaking M&M.”. He was so right. We were asking a lot of Owen, and he was easily satisfied with one M&M per request from us. As I said before, they are powerful motivators in our house!


For those who’d like to see a more behind-the-scenes look, we put together a quick collection of the funniest outtakes from our day of shooting.

This year’s video is such a gem that we’re already thinking about how to top it next year.

Thankfully we have a secret weapon in the works.


Wanna see?



Uh huh. I’m 11.5 weeks (and counting somewhat nervously until I get past the point where I miscarried back in July) and due July 16th, a week prior to Owen’s 3rd birthday. I’ve been totally rocked by exhaustion, hence the sporadic blog posts, but aside from feeling particularly emotional (have you noticed how many times I’ve mentioned sentimental crying over the last 9 weeks, even though I’m generally not a crier?), I have felt pretty great.

We feel so, so fortunate that I got pregnant again so quickly and naturally.

This was a very merry Christmas for us indeed!

She Says… Ill-Timed Illness

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Yesterday was one of the roughest days in parenting I’ve ever had. I mean, I’m sure there were worse days in those early months when sleep never comes and you rock for hours and barely have time for a shower between feedings and, well, feedings. But you guys? Yesterday was HARD.

And it didn’t have anything to do with the fact that it was Christmas.

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Remember that stomach bug from Friday? Yeah. That happened. And although it was relatively minor in terms of puking (once at school and once in our car on the way home from the doctor), it was the first of a series of events that led us to The Hardest Day Ever.

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Saturday morning Owen’s stomach was relatively back to normal. He had a little cough and some extra boogers, but I figured just a little cold that was the tail end of the stomach bug. We had an ok day (shot our entire Christmas video, which was no small feat), but by the end of the day I could tell Owen wasn’t feeling well again. He kept mentioning his stomach, but I could see by his watery eyes and thick cough that we were on the verge of his usual asthma-induced respiratory infection as well. By Sunday morning it was full blown. I could hear a wheeze, his airway was constricted, his cough was raspy and wet, and our emergency albuterol inhaler was doing little to help any of those symptoms. I did what I always do in this situation and schlepped us all to the doctor. That won us Owen’s 4th (FOURTH!!!) chest x-ray in his short little life, and a diagnosis of an asthma flare-up likely brought on by the germs the stomach bug let in.

Just in time for Christmas.

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We left with a prescription for two medicines — one for a nasty ear infection that had mysteriously popped up between Friday’s doctor’s appointment and Sunday’s, and another sort of emergency treatment (stronger than what we normally give him) for the lung/breathing issues. I hate to dose him up with so many meds, but I felt confident that we really needed them this time. Owen rarely, if ever, acts sick at all, and on Sunday he was at his most pitiful. Just so uncomfortable and sad.

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I thought at that point that it couldn’t get any worse. That once he got the first few doses of that medicine, he’d be feeling better immediately.

But I was wrong.

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Monday he went downhill. The medicine seemed to help his asthma, but his cough was still really bad and one of the two medicines (or the combination of the two) wreaked havoc on his system. He was stricken with nearly constant diarrhea, his attitude was all over the map (this must be what it’s like to have a schizophrenic child — his emotional state was off the charts in every direction), and he suffered from incredibly uncharacteristic insomnia.

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By Christmas the diarrhea was even worse (which I didn’t think was possible), and he was barely eating or drinking because his body was such a mess. His insomnia had caused a sleep debt that was turning him into a maniac, and I wasn’t far behind. Thanks to lots of amazing presents and seeing lots of family, we made it through. Barely.

Thankfully, even amidst the drama of the illness, there were wonderful, happy moments of what Christmas with a two year old should be like (as you can see from these pictures!). The magic of Christmas is a powerful thing.

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Today was far better, as we stuck religiously to the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce and toast, with probiotics added to just about everything for good measure). He started sleeping a little more and we saw glimpses of his happy little personality coming back.

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Unfortunately now the diarrhea has given way to the most atrocious diaper rash I’ve ever seen in my life, so even though his stomach is feeling a bit better, he screams in pain whenever we even discuss the idea of a diaper change. It’s so, so sad to know how much it hurts him, but we have to keep applying ointment and rinsing.

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This too shall pass. I know. But damn. This part is HARD.

She Says… Happy Holidays!

Happy holidays, everyone! Merry everything, from our family to yours.

If you want to catch up on previous years’ holiday videos with Owen in them, check them out here:

She Says… The REAL Santa

Remember when I asked at what age kids “get” the magic of Christmas? Yeah. Owen has answered that question a million times over for me since I wrote that post. NOW. It’s here. THIS YEAR. He’s not quite 2 1/2, and the twinkle in his eye when he looks at Christmas lights or talks about Santa or says the word “Christmas” says it all. I’m not generally a crier, but I can’t even tell you how many times in the last few weeks tears have sprung to my eyes at just how precious Christmas magic is through Owen’s eyes.

The epitome of Christmas magic is, of course, seeing Santa. And I mean the REAL Santa.


I wasn’t sure that we were going to get an official Santa picture this year. My parents never did this growing up (too expensive and silly), so I never really thought it was a big deal. But the way that Owen listens to stories about Santa (The Polar Express is his favorite bedtime book right now) with his eyes wide and expectant made me think that maybe this was a little bit of Christmas magic we were missing out on.

So this past weekend we decided to go for it.


I heard rumors that there was an awesome Santa at a nearby mall. I knew that waiting in a long line would ruin the Christmas magic for all of us (me especially!), so first condition was that we had to get there early and be one of the first people in line. Check.

We met several other adorable children in line and the waiting part was far easier than I expected. When Santa came in ho-ho-hoing, I almost burst into tears. You should have seen Owen rushing up and shouting, “HI SANTA!”. He believed so totally and completely.


When it was finally Owen’s turn he hopped right up on the big guy’s lap and started babbling to him about Christmas and reindeer and our tree. When Santa asked him what toy he wanted, he grinned and said “a trash truck”. He couldn’t stop smiling.

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Magic, I tell you. Christmas magic.

She Says… Holiday Gift Guide for 2-3 Year Olds (Part II)

So if you missed the first 5 of the Top 10 Things Owen Doesn’t Even Know He Wants for Christmas, check out yesterday’s post. If you read that and you’re ready for more, here are the last 5.

I must say, I’ve been LOVING seeing these posts on other blogs I read. It’s great to see what others are getting — they give me such great ideas! Also helpful for upcoming birthday parties for the 2-3 year old set.

6.  Pig popper. How cute is this toy?! I saw it in a magazine and immediately went to order it online for my nieces. Of course you can’t have just ONE popper, so I got them a pig and a cow. I can tell you with 100% certainty that my little rambunctious boy will adore having a ball launching toy he’s allowed to use inside. 6popper

7. Magic Mic (NOT to be confused with Magic Mike. That might be more of a Christmas present for Mommy.). Our little performer will get a kick out of this toy, as he already loves to put on a show for our friends and family (and anyone who will watch). It’s not fancy, but I predict it will provide hours of entertainment. Also? Perfect stocking stuffer size to fill up his ridiculously oversized stocking. 9microphone

8. Fisher Price Lil’ People School Bus. Not sure if this one has been purchased yet, but Owen has played with it at every friend’s house and doctor’s office. He’s now squarely in the “pretend play” stage, so he’s big into making up stories about the little people. Can’t beat how classic this one is.8bus

9. Melissa & Doug Sandwich Making Set. Our play kitchen (that Owen got last Christmas) has gotten lots of mileage so far. I think some new fake food is just what the doctor ordered to keep the momentum going. I am a huge Melissa & Doug fan, and their wooden food sets are by far the best I’ve seen. Now I just need to convince Owen that his set has gluten free bread so he can eat it!7food

10. Ah, the pièce de résistance. The big ‘un. A Mini Kick Scooter. This is what I pictured being Owen’s “unwrapped” gift under the tree (you know, the one with the big bow on it that you were THE MOST excited about getting). A few months ago I watched Owen hop on one of these scooters and, without any direction, start scooting down the sidewalk. His little body knew exactly what to do. I know he will love this. However, he’s getting so many other presents that I just don’t think we need it right now. And, frankly, giving a kid an outdoor scooter in the dead of winter in New England just seems cruel. I’m thinking this will be a MUCH better 3rd birthday gift next July. Still, I’m including it here because if Owen knew he could ask Santa for one, I’m sure he would.


So there you have it. 10 awesome gifts for 2-3 year olds. I hope Santa (or whoever brings your presents) is good to you and yours this year!

She Says… He’s Making a List (Or Holiday Gift Guide for 2-3 Year Olds: Part I)

Well, Santa is, at least. Not Owen.

Thankfully I have convinced Owen (and he believes me, for now…) that you get to ask Santa for ONE special present, so we haven’t yet gotten to the stage of him making a long list that I feel like I, umm, Santa needs to buy. In fact, we have such a large extended family who all LOVE to give gifts that I’m doing my best to take the gift explosion down a notch and keep it as small as possible. It’s quite clear to me that Owen NEEDS very little in his life, and he has plenty of toys. I don’t want to steal the joy of coming down the stairs to piles of presents under the tree (as I have such sweet memories of this myself), but with all of the generous people in Owen’s life, we, err, Santa gets off the hook really easily.

Still, I started adding things to my his Amazon list a few months ago in preparation for the “What does Owen want for Christmas” questions. And I am getting almost as excited as he will when I see what has been purchased! Several readers and friends have asked me what is on “Owen’s list” this year so they can get some ideas for the 2 year olds on their list. Ask and you shall receive.

Owen’s Top 10 Christmas Gifts (ahem, curated entirely by me… he has no idea he wants these things!). I added them all to the This Place is Now a Home Amazon store and included links below.

1. The one and only thing he has said that he will ask Santa for is “a trash truck”. I just scored this Matchbox Mega Shift Garbage Truck while I was out running errands and I KNOW he is going to love it!

2. Lego Duplo “My First Fire Station” set. Owen already loves his duplos (big legos) and he’s incredibly good at attaching them together. He always wants us to make boats and cars. I’m hoping this set will help him expand his requests.

3. Play Doh Toolin’ Around Playset. We’ve been doing some SERIOUS playdoh around here recently, but we’re lame and use things like cookie cutters and forks. He will totally love all of these new tools.

4. Marble Run. Have you guys seen these? I hadn’t, but apparently they are a classic kid toy. This one has modular pieces so you can build different tracks and roll the marble down. I can tell this will be a hit.

5. Neo Train set. Several family members asked to buy Owen a wooden train set this year. Though I love those sets and they are such a wonderful toy, they are also quite expensive, take up a lot of space, and encourage lots more buying (more trains! trees! buildings! a train depot! more trains! more trains!). We recently played with this cheaper, more compact alternative at a friend’s house and I knew that was the answer for us. The tracks are super flexible and the trains/cars turn on with a switch and zoom around the tracks.

Phew, that took long than I expected, so the next 5 things on the list will be tomorrow’s post.

In the meantime, tell me, what gifts are on your list this year?

She Says… “Happy Harmonica!”

Yesterday Owen and I had a playdate at a friend’s house who celebrates Hanukkah. Owen has demonstrated such a strong understanding of Christmas (well, as far as Santa and presents and reindeer and sleighs are concerned) that I decided to test the waters discussing Hanukkah on our drive to their house.

Me: You know, your friend Jonah celebrates Hannukah instead of Christmas. That means he won’t have a Christmas tree, but he’ll have some pretty candles called a menorah instead. You can say, “Happy Hanukkah” to him, instead of “Merry Christmas” (Owen’s new favorite thing is to yell HAPPY CHRISTMAS as loud as he can into everyone’s face).


Since we haven’t delved into Jesus or religion or personal beliefs with Owen yet, I decided to steer clear of the bigger discussion here. Still, Owen didn’t bat an eyelash that some people do one thing, and others do something different. Similarly, I recently casually threw into conversation that some families have a mommy and a daddy, and some families have two mommies, or two daddies, or lots of parents, or one parent. With the same wide-eyed smile, he just said, “Yeah!”.

No questions asked. Total acceptance.

Adults could learn a LOT from 2 year olds sometimes.

She Says… “Oh! I love it!”

I wish you all could have been sitting in the passenger seat of my car when I drove Owen home from school yesterday.


After putting up a little fight when it was time to come home (sound familiar? He seems to be having a bit of trouble with transitions the past week or so…), Owen was a little whiny in the car. He was mid-sentence when he stopped talking and his jaw dropped to the ground. “OH!” he shouted breathlessly. “I LOVE IT!”. I nearly slammed on the brakes just to see what he was so in love with.

I followed his gaze to a bush covered in colored Christmas lights. One bush. Some dinky little lights. Yet, he couldn’t even speak he was so enamored. Like he’d never seen anything so beautiful in his little life.


It was so completely one of those moments where this little person taught me such an important lesson. I couldn’t stop grinning the whole way home.

On Sunday we got our Christmas tree, and during Owen’s naptime yesterday I put on the lights (white, in our case, but they still elicited the same awed response) and got the stockings out of basement storage. Again, I wish you could have been a fly on the wall when he came downstairs. He jumped around the room shouting out everything that was different. The lights! The stockings! One with SANTA ON IT! Snowman decorations!


A Verizon Fios salesman came to our door to try to sell us something later that evening, and Owen jumped right out the door and screamed at him, “WE GOT A CHRISTMAS TREE! AND STOCKINS! AND SANTAAAAAAAAAAA!”. What can I say, the kid does not discriminate who he shares his enthusiasm with. Today he told his teachers all about the “hangins”, which I think is the cutest name for stockings (get it? hanging stockings became hangins?) EVER.


The level of his excitement and joy is astonishing. And hilarious. And precious. And beautiful.

Oh! I love it.

She Says… Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays everyone!

The last few years, Benjamin and I have made a video instead of sending out Christmas cards, and this year we knew exactly who would be the star.  It took us a little longer than we expected, though, because our actor had some diva-like demands.  Naps every two hours?  Warm milk in special bottles?  Even diaper changes and wiping up spit-up!

Here’s what we came up with.  I hope you all have a great holiday!