Raising Baby T. Rex: Happy Holigays Are Here Again

Happy Holigays! If you were celebrating this week, I hope it was lovely. If you didn’t have a holiday to celebrate this week, I hope you got some sweet free time back to yourself and some free sweet treats from holiday-celebratin’ friends with surplus baked goods.

This is the first holiday season that Remi is really fully aware of and super-duper stoked about what’s going on. This is not, as we had hoped it would be, the first year that Remi would look like she was enjoying seeing Santa at the pay-to-sit station at the mall. That said, she and Santa had this exchange while she was acting shy and overwhelmed.

Me, trying to gently nudge Remi towards Santa because there was a long-ass line and she suddenly decided she didn’t want any part of this experience after talking about it for days: “Remi, tell Santa what you want for Christmas!”

Remi, whispering to the floor so quietly that no one could hear her except me: “I want dragon eggs.”

Mall Santa, leaning towards Remi kindly and trying to get through the day honestly: “What do you want for Christmas? Do you want a doll?

Remi, whispering slightly louder but still inaudible to Santa: “I want dragon eggs.”

Me, trying to move this situation along: “She wants dragon eggs, Santa.”

So anyway, Santa brought her dragon eggs for her stocking and one very large and fancy How to Train Your Dragon play set that says on the actual box as a warning to adults that it will take two hours to put together. Two hours! This was obviously Waffle’s job because I don’t read instructions and like to just figure it out as I go, which often does not go well when dealing with Ikea-level toy construction projects.

The back of the box literally has a warning that prophesizes that this set takes two adult hours to assemble. YIKES.

Remi’s first Christmas, she was just under four months old and we didn’t get her any gifts. We let our families do the spoiling and took a picture of Remi with a stocking filled with toys she already owned. She truly didn’t care and couldn’t even sit up by herself, so we thought, why make it a big thing?

Remi’s second Christmas, she was just old enough to sort of open the wrapping paper and to understand getting new toys, but didn’t really grasp the concept of the holiday. We didn’t even get a tree in 2017 because we were afraid our extremely active one-year-old would topple it or make a mess of it. So we got a felt tree that you hang on the wall with little velcro-on felt decorations and Remi had a blast with that.

Remi’s third Christmas, she was two and had a lot of fun looking up at the lights on the Christmas tree from beneath the tree, playing with various singing hoilday decorations from Target, and opening presents. She loved watching the train around the tree at Waffle’s parents’ house and sort of understood the concept of present-giving-and-getting.

All three years past with Remi and for the decade as a childfree couple before that, Waffle and I split Christmas Eve and Christmas Day between our families. Our families live about two hours from us in opposite directions, so it was very convenient to do one family celebration, sleep in our own bed, and do the other family the next day. Even last year, while Remi was somewhat excited about Christmas, it didn’t seem worth it to do our own big thing on Christmas at our house. Remi was most interested in playing with new toys and seeing the grandparents.

This year, we spent all of Christmas Day at our own house, just the three of us. Remi is very aware of Christmas this year and was very excited for Santa to come. She had a hard time falling asleep—we watched on the monitor as she quietly tossed and turned—she was so anxious for Santa to come with her dragon eggs. Thank goodness for Remi’s holiday cheer. It saved our holiday season.

On the second weekend of December, Remi starting showing symptoms of a bad virus. Even though we all had our flu shots, she got a nasty flu. I’m so glad she had her shot because if this was the milder version, I don’t want to know what the more virulent version is like. Remi couldn’t sleep, didn’t want to eat, and was sick enough to stay home for a whole week of school.

Soon after, Waffle and I fell ill as well. At some point, I somehow developed hand, foot, and mouth disease?! No one else in the family had it, so I’m assuming I picked it up at the pediatrician’s office when I took Remi during walk-in hours. I’ve never ever had HFMD, ya’ll, and it was torture. It was so painful that I ended up going to urgent care where they diagnosed me and told me there was nothing to do but wait it out. I’m over the virus now, but the skin on my hands and feet are still recovering and the peeling is horrific. Waffle got sick to the point that he also went to urgent care and was diagnosed with pneumonia. PNEUMONIA.

Ya’ll. It was a bad time in our house this month. We could barely function. With a week left until Christmas, we hadn’t finished shopping, didn’t have one single decoration up, and the house was blanketed wth accumulated mountains of laundry, stacks of dirty dishes, and literal trash. Just…trash that we tied up and couldn’t muster the energy to remove from the house. Had it been just Waffle and I without a small human, I think we probably would have thrown in the towel, called it, and decided to do better next year.

But we do have a small human who is amazing and enthralled with everything, so we rallied. We got a tree at the last minute and Remi encouraged us to put the lights on. We were going to leave it at the tree, but got in the spirit and ended up putting some little decorations out and tidying up the house. It’s a lot of little things. Window clings and door hangers and some tinsel on the tree. I didn’t break out the yards of garland or the elaborate holiday displays. We made it feel like Christmas, though, and what our decor lacks in complexity is compensated for by Remi’s delight in every minute detail.

We tried to pack all the holiday fun into one week that we could. Remi helped me make cutout sugar cookies. Did I use a mix instead of baking from scratch? Sure did! Did Remi have a great time helping me roll out the dough and cutting out shapes? Heck yeah!

Remi helped us hang candy canes on the tree in lieu of getting all the boxes of ornaments down from the attic; we added a light smattering of ornaments that were mixed into one of the boxes we did bring down. For the first time, Remi fully understood the concept of Santa Claus and was so excited to leave cookies and carrots (for the reindeer) out for him on one of her ocean-themed plates. We watched holiday specials of her favorite shows and, of course, the new How to Train Your Dragon: Homecoming holiday-themed special (several times).

On Christmas, we had so much fun sneaking around putting Remi’s presents under the tree and planning a full day of family fun including frosting cookies, a big traditional holiday meal, hot cocoa and pajamas, and, of course, presents. Waffle and I even surprised each other with a few presents for each other, even though we both said we wouldn’t buy anything. Remi made the holidays so much more fun for us as a family. The way she lights up and finds joy in simple holiday surprises makes the joy linger for us, too. This year, Remi’s fourth Christmas, we started our own family traditions as a family of three. And Santa ate all the cookies!


3 Queer Parenting Things I’m Currently Overprocessing

1. Parenting Things I Googled This Month

  • can toddler get hfmd without symptoms
  • safe cough remedies for toddler
  • honey cough at night toddler
  • how to help toddler sleep with a cough
  • natural cough suppresant toddler
  • when to take toddler to doctor for flu

2. The Doc Is In


3. Happy Holigays!

May the gifts of the season bring you this much joy.

KaeLyn is a 37-year-old (femme)nist activist, word nerd, and queer mama. You can typically find her binge-watching TV, standing somewhere with a mic or a sign in her hand, over-caffeinating herself, or just generally doing too many things at once. She lives in Rochester, NY with her spouse, a baby T. rex, a xenophobic cat, and a rascally rabbit. You can buy her debut book, Girls Resist! A Guide to Activism, Leadership, and Starting a Revolution if you want to, if you feel like it, if that's a thing that interests you or whatever.

KaeLyn has written 219 articles for us.

9 Comments

  1. Way to rally! I am all too familiar with holiday sickness, as my daughter somehow manages every year to stave off the flu until she’s done with exams. But not this year!

    I hope the peeling and itching stop soon. That illness sounds awful.

    Happy holigays everyone!

  2. My four year old led the way in our house with feelings about the tree and decorations. Yours looks gloriously large! She said my four foot tall tree was too little. Couldn’t I please make it grow? So my wife and I got a bigger one from the thrift store. The little one said it needed more ornaments and a kind friend donated a box full.

    We stayed pretty low-keyed with a house full of kids. It’s just what I’ve always wanted!

    Happy holidays to you and yours! May the season be full of lights, giving, and love!

  3. I caught hand foot and mouth once from a friend’s kid. AWFULEST SICKNESS EVER. (Weirdest part was my friend didn’t believe me..saw my copiously peeling hands a few days later and said “wow so you really DID have hand foot and mouth!” so yeah..)

    So glad your fam was able to rally and have such a lovely holiday!! Starting new family traditions is the best. Thank you for sharing these stories from your delightfully queer home..it’s like a mini “mommy blog” (remember those odes to perfectionist heteronormativity!?!) except it actually gives me excitement and hope about my own future kiddos and family traditions someday!!

  4. I like your articles because my kid is about the same age as yours and we’re kind of going through the same milestones as Remi. This was the year that he “got” Christmas and, gotta say, family Christmas with a toddler is 10x more fun. He also got to go sledding and that was a blast! Although, regarding Santa, my wife & I are taking the approach of “neither denying nor confirming” his existence. He hasn’t asked about Santa but the name definitely got dropped a lot.

  5. omg yes my family was sick for the holidays too. 4 adults, a six year old, and a baby, all coughing in chorus and sweating through our sheets. We got an advent calendar for the kiddo which I came up with fun activities to fill each box with (bake cookies! make eggnog! decorate the tree! go for a winter woods hike!) and every single one we skipped out on because we were all too sick to do anything. We’ll do that stuff in January, I guess. Well, not the tree.
    My daughter and I both got hand foot and mouth when she was 4, and she still occasionally mentions how awful it was and how much it hurt to walk.

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