ETC’s first Christmas was in NICU. They were a month old, still required oxygen support and feeding tubes, and our days were spent waiting for them to outgrow episodes of apnea and bradycardia.

I wanted nothing to do with the holiday or the season, but as the days wore on, little Christmas surprises kept showing up at their bedsides – Christmas hats knitted by a blog reader, Santa hats knitted by a community group, little ornaments from various anonymous sources, crocheted blankets from “NICU elves.”

Little by little, Christmas came to us from others who took it upon themselves to lift us up when we were exhausted by simply surviving.

Life in the NICU, no matter how many people there became family, was foreign. It was a complete deviation from everything I had come to expect at Christmas, which is typically a time dripping in tradition. We couldn’t do Christmas how we normally did, and I was OK with that. I was also incredibly grateful that my babies had a Christmas, regardless of it being a Christmas entirely new to us and pieced together by family, friends and strangers alike.

I didn’t know then that we were receiving the gift of a new tradition.

Each year since, I have returned the favor by dropping off a bit of Christmas cheer for the babies at our NICU, and ETC are now old enough to join in the family project — candy cane ornaments, this year.

They don’t really understand what NICU life is like — I am thankful that most people don’t. But they know there are babies there with families who want nothing more than to be home together, they imagine how different Christmas in the hospital must be, & they want families to know we are thinking about them.

I don’t remember what our tree at home looked like that year — I don’t even remember decorating one, and I only have a vague recollection of picking one out. I don’t know what gifts I bought for others or received from that year. My memories of that Christmas are mostly soaked in tears, but I also remember the kindness, and I unpack our NICU treasures with reverence each year.

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Who’s the leader of the land that’s there for you to stream?

OK, that intro was a little gross, I know.

But it’s true! How much of the world does Disney own or at least rule just a little? A ridiculous amount, that’s for sure. Disney has been on Netflix for some time now, but September marks a new era for the partnership.

Disney already topped my list for holiday favorites on Netflix, and we have a long love history with Princess Sofia.

This new deal, however changed the game some. We had just bought Zootopia mere weeks before it started streaming, and we have already queued it up at least three times in the last week, just because Netflix makes it easy to watch 15 minutes here or there.

I’m a total superhero junky, and while I’ve been too busy to remember to hit the video store to rent (yes, we still use one!), the new Captain America movie (Civil War, right?), so I’m hopeful it’ll be available to stream as quickly as Zootopia was.

Speaking of Zootopia, I haven’t professed my love for that movie here on my blog. If you haven’t seen it yet – do not pass go, go directly to Netflix and stream it because it. is. great.

I took ETC to see it in the theater this spring, and I was flat-out guffawing at the DMV scene with the sloths.


Aside from the LOLs, the movie is genuinely good. You know how you watch The Little Mermaid now and cringe just a little bit at the example Ariel is setting for your young, impressionable minds? Yeah, Officer Judy Hopps is no Ariel. She is responsible, honorable and has valuable lessons for us all on how to treat each other. She even learns some valuable lessons of her own along the way.

We just won’t talk about my irrational crush on a cartoon fox (voiced by Jason Bateman).


As a Netflix Stream Team member, I was provided with a Sharp Roku television, and I receive free Netflix instant streaming service in exchange for sharing relevant topics and messages with you and your family. All opinions expressed on are 100 percent my own – those cannot be bought!

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I’ve written drafts of this in my head for months now, and nothing sounds right. I’m honestly not sure what “right” is. Here goes nothing.

My babies started kindergarten this week.

Well. It hasn’t truly started because their school starts kindergarten on staggered days – small groups of kids run through a full day with their teacher and see the ropes, meet their teachers and see the various rooms for art/P.E./music/computers/Spanish/library and generally get to test out what kindergarten will be like, minus the full-blown chaos of herding 23 5(ish)-year-olds.

Kindergarten teachers, you are saints. Let’s just get that out of the way right now.

I digress.

Tomorrow will be their first day with the full class, then we have three days off for Labor Day weekend, then they’ll really start kindergarten.

I have Feelings about this.

I probably-maybe-most-likely have some Feelings left over from my weeks as a NICU mom, too.


When my babies were born 12 weeks early, I had no choice but to blindly trust a hospital full of strangers to keep them alive, help them grow and develop as they would had I stayed pregnant.

I was forced to trust strangers to keep my babies alive because my body couldn’t do it anymore.

(It should be noted that I paused here to simmer on that last sentence. Oof.)

No one is forcing me to send my kids to kindergarten – don’t get me wrong. This is a choice Rob and I have made after discussing the decision from every possible angle for more years than we have been parents. Ultimately, we decided this school was the best for everyone involved.

Still, in my ideal world, I would homeschool, keep my babies close in our simple, family-centered lives, and all would turn out like magic and sparkles.

My ideal world and reality don’t exactly match, and like a mature adult, I am mentally pouting because that just sucks.


I find myself once again trusting a building full of (experienced, educated, trained, remarkable), strangers to keep my babies alive, help them grow and develop as they would – had I been able to homeschool and do the job myself.

And like I still carry (maybe) unrealistic guilt from not having a full-term pregnancy, I am packing on (maybe) unrealistic guilt from not being able to educate my kids on my own.

I know the two aren’t even close to being the same thing. I know this. Knowing doesn’t change how I feel, though, no matter how much I try to force my brain to snap into reality.

Nearly six years and three beautifully healthy, strong, happy kids later, I am still working through what my emotions went through because of premature birth. My brain manages to live on parallel planes, remembering all the fears I had back then while seeing in real life that most of those fears never came to fruition. Maybe the reality of healthy, strong, happy kids will someday snap straight the memory of fearing every possible What If that raced through my mind nonstop during the first year or so of their lives. Maybe it never will.

I can only hope to have three kids who love going to school (most of the time, at least), be a reality that helps snap straight the fears and guilt I am connecting with choosing this path for them.

I am a mess, but as a friend pointed out the other night, this thing we call life is just like going on a bear hunt. You can’t go under it. You can’t go over it. You need to go through it.

I’ll see you at school, friends.

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Whoever decided to use Beatles songs to tell children’s stories is a freaking GENIUS.

Toby, Eleanor and Callista have loved the Beatles since they were babies, but they’re getting to experience the music in a way that makes so much more sense to them thanks to Netflix and Beat Bugs, an adorable show about five insect friends whose lives are shockingly similar to Beatles songs.

I love having the show playing for my kids on the couch while I’m making dinner in the evenings because they’re still, resting and completely entertained, and I get to cook and listen to Beatles songs.

What’s not to love?

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Between high-risk pregnancy bedrest, pumping for 30 minutes 4-12 times a day, keeping unusual hours with newborn triplets (now triplets who still. don’t. all. sleep. through. the night.), I have worked hard to find the end of Netflix, but in 6 years, it hasn’t happened yet. I suspect it never will.

Not only do I keep finding new movies and shows to fall in love with (currently blazing through my first experience with The West Wing), I become more and more impressed by the number of things my family has learned just from watching what’s on Netflix.

  • Eleanor makes special requests using “pretty please with cherries on top,” thanks to Lalaloopsy.
  • Toby knows that Mario and Luigi work as plumbers (“People who work with a wrench!”), and love spaghetti.
  • I can first-impression-hate a show based on its theme music and realize I’m right after suffering through an episode at the request of a persuasive 4-year-old (and declare that the show is something I don’t want to watch but am happy she finds it entertaining).
  • Shows like Yo Gabba Gabba (no longer on Netflix, RIP Nickelodeon contract), and Daniel Tiger have songs so catchy and so helpful that you’ll still sing them during “teachable moments” 4 years after first learning them. “Try new things ’cause they might taste goo-ood!”
  • Jem is truly outrageous and other vocabulary words that come up on different shows.
  • Jed Bartlet for President 2016.


As a Netflix Stream Team member, I was provided with a Sharp Roku television, and I receive free Netflix instant streaming service in exchange for sharing relevant topics and messages with you and your family. All opinions expressed on are 100 percent my own – those cannot be bought!

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