Finding the perfect tree at Burlington Tree Farm.

Decorating the tree.

Sophie’s handmade Christmas present to us, from preschool (she couldn’t wait until Christmas to give it to us).

A late night writing Christmas postcards.

Christmas at Great Grandma Gebhart’s house + handmade train whistles from my uncle Skip.


Pop Pop’s lap overflowing with grandkids.

James and Owen with their new cars from Great Grandma.

Autumn and Amanda

Opening presents.

James’s new Jake the Pirate set from my aunt Ellen and uncle Skip (he loved it).

my grandma


Aunt Katy and sleepy Colleen

Uncle Kyle and (Great) Uncle Skip

Autumn and her mom, Lisa

Sophie getting some puzzle help from Autumn.

Andy and my uncle Roger in the kitchen.

Aunt Ellen

Christmas at my grandma’s farm, a tradition I’ve long loved.

Nini making pomegranate cosmopolitans.

Nini, Katy and me!

(They were delicious.)

Nini reading Eve Bunting’s Night Tree to the grandkids.

A Christmas gift for the birds—bagels covered in peanut butter and bird seed.

Hanging our gifts on the pine tree.

Mom and Dad (Nini and Pop Pop)

Writing letters to Santa.

Christmas around the house.

Sophie’s preschool Christmas gift to us.

The decorated mantel—Sophie wasn’t pleased with it so she added the ribbon and, if you look close, handmade snowmen hanging from it (of course, I left it).

A Christmas Eve viewing of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

Andy reading ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.

James and Owen, clearly ready for bed.

More Christmas around the house.

Letters, cookies, milk for Santa, and lots of carrots for the reindeer.

Christmas Eve, right before bed = joy.

He came!

The walk down the stairs.

Christmas morning.

Christmas day at my parents’ house.

Colleen and Sophie

Uncle Kyle

Opening gifts.


Colleen’s handmade hand-print wreath (with the help of Nini) to Uncle Tom and Aunt Katy.

Uncle Kyle and Sophie


My mom made beautiful teddy bears for each of the grandkids. They loved them.

Kids’ table.

Grown-up table.

The BonBonerie Christmas cookies.

Sophie trying out her new skates …

in my parents completely reorganized, repainted basement.

Christmas around my parents’ house.

Christmas dinner and paper crowns.

James, Owen, Sophie and Colleen

The teddy bears my mom made …

(they’re comfy).


Day-after-Christmas snow.

Gear. So. much. gear. (But of course, no boots. We hadn’t bought them yet.)

The kids’ first snowfall of the season—and their first snowman!

Making the traditional Uhl Family Christmas Cookies with Grandma and Paw Paw.

Owen taking a TV break from making cookies.

So good.

Christmas Eve w/ Grandma and Paw Paw.

Christmas morning—again!

Sophie opening her very special craft box, which Grandma put together.

Paw Paw and Grandma

Early morning sun.

Grandma made a craft box for all three kids—it’s huge and organized and labeled and filled with so many wonderful things—all three children play with it daily (thank you).

Thomas the Train tracks = love.

“The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: The presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.” —Burton Hillis

A School Year

Sophie’s first day of preschool, September 6, 2011

She was so excited.

Sophie’s last day of preschool, May 23, 2012

Her teachers said she was so quiet, her last day. I think she was sad. She’s still telling everyone she’s just on spring break. I imagine she’ll appreciate summers more in her later years.

“Time is what prevents everything from happening at once.” —John Archibald Wheeler


I started reading again. Thanks to boys troubled with sleep and summer sunlit evenings, I’d sit in Owen and James’s room, quietly reading in a rocking chair until they drifted off to sleep or the room got so dark that I could no longer see. And I still read many evenings, even though they sadly, gratefully, no longer need my presence to secure sleep.

I ate a dreadful amount of popcorn. And cheese.

I watched my baby boys turn into toddlers, with little boy haircuts, little boy temperaments and little boy language. Bottle parts no longer litter our countertop, all furniture is something to climb, the arms of chairs are roadways for small trucks and a moon sighting can make even the most tantrum-filled night happy once again.

I accepted my stomach. Mostly.

I fought back happy tears while watching my children witness the ocean for the first time. Perhaps it was the bigness of the body of water or the bigness of the moment but I understood why writers so often like to make hearts swell because mine, that day, did.

I watched my little girl grow, both inwardly and outwardly, into someone who is both physically taller and mentally deeper, someone who I love to listen to sing when she doesn’t know I’m listening, someone who wrote her name on my Christmas gift tag this year, someone who exhausts and exhilarates me, someone who I love more, more, more.

I ended my milk-making days and with that has come more time, (much) smaller breasts, no more bottles or pumping accessories to clean, a body that no longer allows me to eat ridiculous amounts of food, freedom and sadness.

I wrote an essay that’s been published in a book. I tackled more freelance work than I thought possible. I also reached the won’t-this-number-be-impressive-when-I-do-publish-my-first-children’s-book rejection status.

I helplessly witnessed grief envelope people I love, seeping into every crack of their everyday lives—losses of parents, a sibling, a son. It has made the mundane seem silly, the shortness of life seem shocking. And yet, it also has made the everyday—buttered toast and a hot cup of coffee, a cardinal on a tree branch, a small hand tightly clutching mine as we cross the street—greater.

I gave up on socks. For the last six months everyone’s clean socks have been tossed, mismatched, in a laundry basket in our bedroom. And every time I had to find six socks I cursed the mismatched pile, wishing I was the type of mother who found time to match socks and put them in sock drawers, which, I’m sure, would take much less time than spending five minutes searching for three matching pairs in that (insert curse word here) laundry basket every morning.

I found time to shower—almost daily.

I held my two-day-old beautiful, crying niece in the middle of the night, so amazed with my sister and so full of memory, of the feelings of sleeplessness and helplessness yet also intense love. I became an aunt and my sister became a mom—a most amazing mom.

I walked Brooklyn’s streets with my brother, through pouring rain, learning about his life, then—where he lived, where he bought his food, where he grew his food, where he biked, where he walked, where he ate a bowl of rice or a plate of hummus, where he put his wet shoes to dry. He’s moved and his neighborhood has changed. I want to do that again so I can better envision his life again. I miss him.

I wasted time watching TV. I had almost daily three-on-one tickling sessions on our living room floor. I spent entire dinners trying to convince Sophie to eat broccoli. I cleaned dishes. Picked up toys. Mowed the grass. Got the oil changed. Bought new mascara. Organized the coat closet. Forgot to take out the trash. Enjoyed quiet evenings with Andy. Argued about taking out the trash with Andy. Pleaded with a child to please go back to sleep at 3am. Let Tucker out. Let Tucker in. Nuzzled my face in my children’s hair. Dined with friends. Dined with family. Left a Chinese restaurant minutes after our food hit the table because our children were behaving so badly. Bundled up all three kids past their bedtime so they could catch winter’s first snow on their cheeks. Buckled and unbuckled car seats again and again and again. Drove to preschool. Drove to therapy. Drove for peace and quiet. Embraced joyful screams.

Here’s to health. Here’s to more of the comfortable sameness Tuesdays bring. Here’s to more happy moments than not. Here’s to another year and all the goodness a year can bring.

“Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man.” —Benjamin Franklin