All she wanted for her birthday was to make homemade sushi and donate $100 to WWF to save the tigers. I bugged her for over a month for more ideas. Two years ago, another 11 that I know well, wanted her own MacBook, an iPhone(with Instagram), the latest American Girl doll, and a party for 20. Now that 11 is honestly pretty dang sweet and outward thinking, but she has always wanted a little bit more and wanted to be a little more grown-up. Always in a hurry.


This 11 has no problem staying little. She has no need to be one of the cool kids. She probably doesn’t even know who the cool kids are. She doesn’t care if she has the right hair or clothes. She wears her sister’s hand-me-downs without question. She’s in no hurry. Ever. A true stop and smell the roses girl. I have so much still to learn from her.


She’s true and sweet and silly and kind, and will wait to grow up when it’s time to grow up.


And her favorite birthday gifts(besides the donation), were the pie in the face game, a puzzle that was too easy, and a Style Me Up coloring book for ages 5-8. Screw that ageism crap.


Yet while she wants to stay little, she’s the first to offer to help – to cook, clean, unload the dishwasher, feed the cat, clean her room, walk the dog.


She’s a good kid with a beautiful and generous soul, and I’ll keep her close and little and sweet for as long as she lets me. The time to be little and innocent is short. She has so many years coming to be all grown-up.


So for now – Happy 11 sweet Esther. We love you.



My super power is being a conversation killer. I used to get offended when it would happen, but now I kind of laugh it off as their loss. Typically it’s nice to have nice chats with people. but sometimes people want to be a conversation killer when they’re talking to someone who is going on and on about Trump or something. So here’s my tip on ending a conversation dead it its tracks – when they ask what you do for a living, tell them that you stay at home with your kids. They will have nothing else to say to you. Ever. Every single time. It’s become almost a social experiment for me at parties. I love telling people that what I “do” is stay home with my kids. I mean because if I stay at home with my kids I must have nothing else to talk about.


I could answer this question differently. I could say that truthfully I am a writer. That I am a blogger. That I run marathons. That I’m in sales. I’ve been in sales for nearly eight years – building a team and a business. But I do all of this from home…because my number one priority is still..and as it was when I quit my corporate job 10 years ago..to stay home to take care of my kids. This is my choice and I’m honored to have the option to choose this. I don’t miss corporate America. I don’t miss meetings. I don’t miss many many things. And even though I have a job and do other things that produce not only quality brain stuff – but also money, I will always tell you that I stay at home with my kids. And not just to have you walk away from me. Although sometimes…yay!


So this year I’ve been blogging less. I’ve been walking away from the parts of blogging that were not happy things for my brain anymore. And I’ve walked away from one of my bigger yearly projects because I feel like there is something else for me. During a very brief conversation with a friend Sunday night, we both asked each other what was next with our lives. I am 47 today..and she is about 10 years old than I am..and I LOVE that we are still asking that question. We are not washed up just because we are not in our 20s. We are not done just because we are middle aged. We are not disposable and not interesting because we’ve stayed at home with our kids for a time. We are not done reinventing ourselves. We are still defining our lives. Our long lives. Our meaningful lives. And we can still dream and become what we want to be when we grow up. And we both feel that in 2016 there will be some new definitions and clarity to what that is.


That is what being 47 is for me. It’s being open to new possibilities, to still defining what my now and future is, and to be okay if my chosen profession today is a conversation killer for you.


This quick conversation with this brilliant friend is exactly what I needed when I needed it. I believe it was not just fate that put us together in my dining room on Sunday night.


And as I was going back over our chat in my head, I jumped on Facebook. Within minutes, two of my dear friends posted similar sentiments that released me completely of something that has been weighing hard on me this year.


One posted “…I don’t care if people like me or not. If they don’t, that’s their problem, not mine.”


And the other “…I want to FOCUS on only the people who love me and seek out my company and stop chasing the ones who don’t care.


You can’t make people like you. And spending time on that is worthless. Focus your love and energy where it belongs. I’ve reconnected with a true old friend this year, and THAT is important and fills a heart.


This post is horribly written, and at 47 I just don’t have anymore fucks to give about it.


So I guess what I’m saying is that I’m not dead yet. And at 47 it’s okay to keep reinventing myself professionally. And personally, I will surround myself with the people who are good people and give some fucks about me in return and make relationships easy like they should be.


It makes me laugh to think about how we always ask 17 year olds what they want to be when they grow up. What they want to study in college. Where they want to live. As 30 years later I’m still here deciding those things because why not. It’s a long and beautiful life with so much new and beautiful to experience. I will not settle. I will never stop exploring what’s next. And I will not focus on who I cannot change and who doesn’t want to be with me. I will focus more on who does. Those people right in front of me. I will never look past them.


47 is going to be a very good year.



She is 10

Esther turned 10 last weekend. Her birthday was met with complete chaos in our lives. Instead of being able to spend weeks(months) planning a party, gifts, and a cake  – her day was met with last minute dinner plans, store bought cupcakes, an emergency trip to American Girl for a gift, and an IOU for a slumber party/birthday party once we are settled in our new home.


And for the first time ever in my seven years of blogging, I didn’t even do a birthday post for one of my daughters on their birthday.


Instead of focusing on the birthday girl last weekend, we instead MOVED, both worked full-time, and had a very very very sick five year old.


But Esther, being Esther, smiled right through it. While the girl loves a good party, nobody is as flexible or forgiving as Esther.


On Monday I received a text from a friend. Her daughter came home from school and said to my friend “Esther is always so happy. Even when she’s a grump.” I smiled and nodded because it’s so true. I don’t know many people who are as happy as Esther.


We have drama(3 girls) in our home, but the drama never comes from Esther. I’ve decided to use her as a barometer for when things are really bad. Because if Esther is unhappy, well then there must be a real problem. The rest is probably just noise and angst if Esther is still smiling.

She bookends our days and nights with smiles and hugs.


I call her my beautiful dreamer.


May she dream and smile forever.


Happy (Belated) Birthday, sweet Esther. Sorry for the shortest post ever…but you know – moving, work, and a sick sister. Forgive me…again.



A Letter To My 46 Year Old Self

December 22, 2054


My Dearest Tracy,


Happy 46th Birthday! I know what you’re thinking right now. You’re thinking – whoa when your mother was 46 SHE WAS old. Because people in their 40s were OLD. And maybe you are even thinking as you drive by the colleges in your neighborhood that those college kids look about 13 years old and that you are MORE THAN OLD enough to be their mother. Also, you worry that they aren’t wearing a heavy enough coat for the weather.


Well get over it.


You should see what 86 looks like. Oh honey, you just cannot even imagine how it is when you feel about 29 years old inside and then you pass by a mirror and wonder who the hell that old person is with your eyes staring back at you. Well, by my age let’s just say that I’ve peed myself more times than I’d like to admit because of that scary old lady who now shows up in my reflection. And I know you’ve started to feel that way about yours. That you expect to see your perky 32 year old adult face. But now…




Well get over it.  Because at 86, well 46 is youthful. It’s the prime of your life. And it’s time you started enjoying it more. So here’s a little list of 10 things I want you to appreciate now and continue to think about as you age. Because things really start to go to shit eventually, and peeing yourself actually becomes such a minor inconvenience.


1. See those wrinkles all over your face. Maybe starting down your neck. Oh honey – those are nothing. Just minor beautiful marks of age and wisdom. 40 years from now you might lose small kittens in your wrinkles as they are so deep. Please stop buying the latest and greatest creams and lotions and embrace this natural process. Spend your money on good wine and time with friends instead. Oh – and by the way you did it! You aged “gracefully” and “gratefully” if you will, and you never did do botox or get any nips and tucks that sadly continue to get more popular. The best remedy for wrinkles is laughter. Laugh more.

2. Do you remember the other day when your husband said “Hey Trace, you have a little chocolate smudge on your face?” And you were all like “DUDE – don’t touch my fucking face!” Yeah, because it wasn’t chocolate but an age spot that showed up on your cheek? Well maybe it’s time to just get used to people trying to wipe chocolate off of your face, because that is the first of many spots to appear. Also, this gives you an excuse to just eat all the damn chocolate that you want.

3. So your butt is starting to go south, huh? Oh poor dear. And your knees are saggy. You look down and wonder how your grandmother’s knees became attached to your body? You can run 50 miles a week(You DO!), do 1000 squats, yoga, CrossFit, and eat right – but gravity is REAL. Who gives a shit though, right? You are fabulous just how you are and it’s time to embrace it, and sure maybe giggle about your body at every age. And don’t bitch to me about gravity until your 32AA boobs miraculously reach your belly button. Think about that for a moment.

4. Sex. Have more. Sure it changes as you’re getting older. You’re tired because you ate dinner at 4pm and went to bed by 7pm. Or your kids never left home. Good news – yours DID leave home! Sure you don’t look like you did when you guys first met when you were 29, but who does. And who cares. Enjoy it while you’re still flexible and not worried about breaking a hip.

5. Don’t ever stop exercising. Ever. Little secret – you no longer run a marathon in under four hours – but you still run marathons. Exercise will always keep you young and fit and mentally present. I mean there was that one time you went for a run and kind of forgot where you were – but we are blaming that on menopause.

6. Don’t live in a world of denial and vanity – and just buy those damn reading glasses. Stop making your kids read everything for you, borrowing glasses from friends, just ordering the special, or stop reading all together. Embrace the readers. Get cool readers – hell even Anthropologie sells reading glasses. Don’t suffer and do without for vanity ever. Oh, by the way Anthropologie is no longer in business. I guess $200 velvet fedoras adorned with vegan leather plumes are no longer in fashion.

7. Wear whatever the hell you want to wear. Except purple. Don’t ever wear old lady purple or a damn red hat. There’s not an age when you should not wear certain items – short skirts, tank tops, bikinis, high heels. Wear what you are comfortable wearing and show off those amazing legs for as long as you want to, dammit. Societal rules be damned. Sport that bikini if you want to. The human body is gorgeous – in all of its imperfections, wrinkles, and sags. Embrace it and never cover up the grace and beauty of aging. Flaunt it and live a wonderful life without worrying about comparing, covering, or cowering.

8. Travel more – sorry, even if it means going into debt. Even if it means blowing all of your retirement savings and pissing off your children because you will leave them with nothing. Even if it means living in a one room apartment with your 40 cats. The only way to really continue to understand the world is to see the world. Don’t stop taking the journeys your started in your 20s – because by your 80s you still won’t have seen it all. But try. Continue to travel to help others. Continue to travel to experience new places, cultures, and food. Continue to travel to unwind and touch all of the oceans.

9. I hate to tell you this – but this whole internet things just continues to get bigger – with more and easier ways to connect with friends and strangers. Don’t ever be a stranger to technology. You can talk about the good old days when Facebook was all the rage for the middle aged people. But it’s not anymore. In fact there’s a Facebook museum thing you can visit and pull up your wall from 2015. It’s adorable. Stay current – it keeps your mind sharp and makes it easy to spy on your grandkids.

10. Keep trying new things. Don’t ever get set in your ways. I see it starting for you already. People are interesting creatures how they migrate to what is easy and comfortable. Don’t do that. Don’t atrophy your body, spirit or mind by routine and the predictable. Try new things, go new places, have sex at 2pm on a Thursday, take up snowboarding, go back to school and learn something new. Read new and more books. Give back to others in new ways. Challenge yourself.


Honey, you have 60 more years of a beautiful life to live. 46 is still young with years left to discover the beauty of yourself and the world. Don’t let the mirror scare you or control you – because what we have to give – our human gifts – come from the inside. And that my dear is still oh so young and fresh and ready to do big things.


Live a good, honest, big life. The best is yet to come. No regrets. Hell – that tattoo you get for your 65th birthday is still your favorite.



Happy Birthday, Tracy.



Old Age

“Mommy, you’re going to be closer to 50 than 40 now.”


I don’t like that you’ve learned math.


“But 50 isn’t that old. I mean it’s not dead old.”


True. But it sounds kind of old.


“But it’s only halfway to 100. So think of all the numbers you still have left.”


They shouldn’t teach math in school.


“But I wish I was you instead of me.”


You want to be old?


“No, I just want to be old enough to do what I want all of the time.”


You still don’t get to do everything you want to do when you’re 50.


“Well what age do you get to do whatever you want?”


I don’t know. But I’ll let you know when I get there.


“Well, even if I don’t get to do whatever I want for a long time, I’d still rather be old than dead.”


Me too.


“But remember, almost 50 isn’t that old or close to dead, so you should just be happy you’re here.”


I am happy.


“I’m happy you’re here too. And I’ll still love you when you’re really old and when you’re really dead.”


Thank you.




I planned to write this post last night, or very early this morning before she woke-up. But life got busy and I haven’t had time to really sit down to write in weeks. I was going to go on and on about Five and how she’s oh-so-Five…or maybe how I’m not quite ready for Five…or maybe talk about how big Five is…or maybe even talk about what she’s doing that is so special at Five. But none of that matters really, because what she reminded me today was that she is writing her own story each and every single day with her own experiences, words, and love of life.


If I had written about her last night I would’ve missed talking about how she woke up this morning. “Mom, look at my toes peeking out lower than my blankies. I think I’ve grown just overnight just like that!” She almost screamed when I went in to wake her. “Measure me right away Mommy so we can see that I’m really now big because I’m Five.”


Quickly followed by a quick snuggle on my lap with tears of “Mommy, I don’t want to be Five because soon I will have to leave you forever. If I stay four we will always be together. I don’t want to get big.”


But then she later tells me not to hold her hand down the steps to dance class because she’s big enough to go anywhere without holding hands. She then pushes doors open that seemed so heavy just a day ago exclaiming “See how strong am I now? It’s because I’m Five.”


And then there’s the mouth. Not from a sweet Five year old – but a teenager that came to reside in her body today. Telling me that she needs to wear a character shirt(Oh Dear God) instead of the (NICER) outfit that I picked out the day before, because now that she’s Five  – she can wear what she wants and when she wants. And if that means wearing a shirt from Target every day for the rest of her life – WELL SHE CAN DAMMIT!


Okay, she didn’t say dammit – but I’m kind of expecting it to come out of her mouth tomorrow.


And at one point today she rolled her eyes at me when I asked if she needed to help with something, and then she sighed and said “Mother, really.”


Her sisters just laughed. And I told her that I was letting it slide today, but tomorrow she’d be in trouble for talking to me like that.


And she had a beautiful day turning Five with friends, family, gifts, and cupcakes.


“Mommy, how old will I be tomorrow when I wake up?” She asked as I tucked her in tonight, ending Her day.


“Five still, sweetie. But Five and one day.”


“So even bigger?” She asked. “It just keeps happening doesn’t it. I’m not sure it will ever stop.”


“Nope, you’ll get bigger every day until one day you’ll be bigger than me.”


“Wow, well I’ll be sure to tuck you in bed when that happens, okay Mommy.”


Happy Five, Astrid. You brighten our days every day and every night just because you’re you.




I’m been writing little notes about turning 45  on ‘Canal Park Lodge’ mini paper for the past 36 hours. How I want to say that my life is better at this age without botox, or how I look better now than at 18, or how I’m so practical that I prefer a gift of fuzzy slippers over lace undies. On how I can still rock a bikini and appreciate a birthday morning spent in a hotel pool in Duluth instead of waking up next to my husband in a hotel on the Left Bank in Paris with my kids thousands of miles away.


But that is all bullshit.


Because my reality and my here and my now and my imaginary wants of life are all a blur right now as I hit nearly a mid-century. My reality still has three kids at home – three honestly very little kids without total freedom from college educations until I’m nearly dead and botox is clearly a moot point and a weekend in Paris is waiting in line behind mortgage payments, bathroom remodels, medical bills and finally those college educations.


And there’s nothing wrong with that.


But I hate my birthday.


There I said it. I feel so much better than I did 14 hours ago when I woke up and had to pretend, mainly to myself, that I was excited for the day. Because frankly the 146 messages on Facebook are the only thing that makes birthdays in 2013 exciting for me.


(well and maybe dinner with my grandma)

Don’t get me wrong. I like a good hug and wish from my kids, and maybe a well thought out gift and plan from my husband….but it will never feel less awkward to celebrate my birthday.


I’m that one who is impossible to please as I ask for nothing yet expect something. Truly I’m the perfect Minnesota Mother Martyr who typically gets weepy by noon because I can already tell that this birthday is going to suck.


No cake, no presents, no dinner plan and it’s all I can do just to fold some laundry, clean up some cat puke and ask if I can boil somebody a meal of buttered noodles to take my mind off of it all.


And it’s not that I want to be spoiled. I just want somebody to really ‘get’ me.


And I worry for my daughters that they will never find that person who does.


Because honestly I don’t like fancy underwear, udon noodles or fruit mixed with my chocolate.  I don’t feel complicated, but maybe I am.


So tonight I didn’t feel like making my own last minute birthday dinner plans. Instead I let Jed get the kids take-out and I went to a friend’s house to have a glass(or two) or wine and cry a little and laugh a lot with a group of women who have turned 45 and have raised families, had careers, written novels and experienced good and bad birthdays also without botox.


And I came home feeling better than I have in a long time.


I love my family more than I could ever explain. They sustain me. They are me in so many ways. They are my 24/7 and my past and future and I cannot imagine love more than the love I have for them.


But today on my 45th birthday I needed a bunch of wise women to teach me that it’s okay to be where I am today – ‘just’ a mom in the trenches of making lunches and swimming at hotel pools on my birthday – and that Paris isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.


So today I am going to take a deep breath and remember good and simple things still happened today. Things I want to fold up like a tiny piece of paper that I put in a pocket next to my heart. Tiny moments of my children’s very brief childhood that are indeed reminders that they are the most precious gifts that I have.


I will remember Eloise and Astrid with their heads pressed together on the panda pillow on Eloise’s bed. Eloise was reading a large and complicated chapter book to Astrid, and Astrid told her that the book was a bit boring without pictures. So Eloise had the two of them drawing pictures together at the end of each chapter. They illustrated five chapters together today. Astrid came downstairs and explained the whole book to me with her detailed drawings.


And during this time my Esther played The Price Is Right on the Wii. This deserves a post of its own – but let’s just say that kids these days are really missing out by not hanging out at their grandparent’s house and learning the value of a new washer and dryer set.


So now I sit content with an hour left in my birthday. I’m wearing my fuzzy slippers and very un-sexy underwear. My make-up is smeared and my hair in a ponytail. My husband snores from the couch, my kids are asleep, and the 10pm news is almost over.


And I am finally okay and tear-free on a day that brought me more emotions than I would like to admit. Mainly because soon I will be 45 years old and one day and the pressure to care what the day brings will be over.



She’s been exceptionally quiet lately. And she hates when you ask her what’s wrong.


Because nothing is apparently wrong. She’s just quiet. Reserved. Introspective. Thinking.


She is much like me(and her father at times), and can really go days without really talking much or seeking out the company of others.
And introvert maybe. Indeed.


Yet she is the best friend you will ever have. Loyal to the death, giving, loving, listening and being there.


As she also is with her sisters. She gives them time that we don’t expect of her or anyone really, as well as her patience and gift of looking outside of herself always for the needs of others.


My biggest worry for Eloise is that she won’t even someday(or now) take the time for herself completely selfishly nor ask for what she really wants.


Making Christmas lists are a chore for her and for many birthday parties she asks for donations for a cause rather than gifts.


And she’s been unable to tell us what she really wants for her birthday this year. And I know this is part of the ‘really quiet’ week she has had. As I think she knows what she wants but it feels wrong, selfish, and silly to ask for something for herself. I know she wants a laptop so she doesn’t have to borrow mine daily anymore. She now needs to type and do research for school and I’ve let her set-up an email account. But she would never ask for one. Ever. Something that seems so big. Extravagant. Unnecessary. (In full disclosure she has asked to go to Paris, France for her 13th birthday – but considers it an education experience as he wants to go to the museums and work on her language skills. And maybe she is being kind and thoughtful asking years in advance so we can save up for the trip :).


She’s probably the last of her friends to own a piece of technology and it doesn’t bother her. She has thousands of books and many American Girl dolls and enjoys the company of her little sisters.


But she’s 11 today. And caught between this world of childhood and becoming a teen.


With what I see is no real hurry to grow-up. And I am so thankful for that. For her.


Eloise is one of the smartest, most thoughtful, kind, loving, giving and beautiful people I’ve ever met. And yet I know she doesn’t think she is any of those things.


To her she is just a girl. Who happens to turn 11 today. And she’ll do it very, very quietly.


Happy 11th Birthday, Eloise. My love, my daughter, my friend, my teacher, my first guide in this amazing journey of motherhood.


May all of your (very very very quiet) wishes come true. xoxoxo



I’ve been dreading this day for awhile now. Which is strange, as I’m not one of ‘those’ moms. I love watching my kids grow and change and learn and discover. I love the wonder that each year brings, just like we are standing on the edge of the teen years – and while I’m admittedly a bit scared, I’m also excited. I love life even more(and I never thought it would be possible) as my kids get older, because they can finally understand humor and sarcasm, the power of a well-timed punch line and that knock-knock jokes are ridiculous – and they can also make their own lunches and mop the floor without missing too many spots.

As kids get older they also read more interesting books – books that you can share, conversations become more adult-like, and they are welcome in all public places and have good manners. They also like to give you fashion advice and will quietly point out that piece of spinach in your teeth. They are truly like miniature girlfriends. Pocket friends that I can still put to bed early.

But this last Four has hit me hard.


You see, when they are three and under – they talk in that cute voice – comical almost and cannot pronounce all of their letters. It’s adorable. When they are three and under they have a bit of baby fat on their thighs and cheeks and the remnants of a toddler belly. They still cannot run very fast. When they are three and under, they still tuck neatly into your lap, can wrap around your hips when carried, and still need your assistance to get into the car.

But everything changes at four.


Their hair is suddenly long..and styled. Their words become clearer and sentences long and complex. Their vocabulary goes crazy and soon their sweet baby voice will be gone forever.


I’ll never hear again from one of my children “Mommy, I wuv you fowevah!” While they curl up on my lap with their blanket.

I mean sure we will snuggle and love, but their legs start falling over the edges of my lap and their baby fat has been replaced by angled joints that poke my ribs as we try to find that comfortable place that was like an easy puzzle put together just a few short months ago.


And this Summer, my Four will run fast down the sidewalks as she can nearly keep up with the big kids instead hanging back with the moms as we chat.


And I let her go.

It’s the same for all of us, even though I know I don’t want more babies and won’t have more babies – Four is letting go of all of that babyhood stuff and stages and I feel a catch in my throat when I think about the finality of it all.


So I think of the videos I need to capture – to hear that voice again when she is 15 and 25 and to see her three year old chubby cheeks and perfect line of baby teeth in her innocent big grin.


Because it’s ending here – this babyhood – and moving into big kid land with Four. How bittersweet is this age. Even though three was just yesterday, and Four is today, and more is yet to come – I find myself grasping to time with this last baby of mine, because truly – we all know there’s plenty of time to be a grown-up.

So I think I’m going to let her be a baby just a bit longer.


Because Four is really not all that big, right?

Happy Birthday, to my sweet baby girl. FOUR!



This is the first picture of Esther that I posted on my blog nearly five years ago.

Five years ago, my three year old Esther loved dressing up in tutus and playing with toys. My Esther is eight today, and I’m happy to say that tutus and toys still occupy a big space in her life. As they should.


Esther is the epitome of innocence because I’m sorry, but eight is still rightfully deep in ‘little girl land.‘ Let her eat too much chocolate cake, have extra whipped cream on her cocoa, and invite her Polly Pockets to the coffee shop.

Esther is excited for her birthday. Not because she’s all that excited to turn eight – but because she likes a good celebration. You just have to go back and watch her enjoying her fifth birthday and you know pure joy.


Because if you haven’t noticed yet – Esther is a small package of huge joy.


And I worry for her. People who hold that much joy are easily hurt because they don’t believe bad things could ever happen. Their optimism is unending..until it’s not.


I admit I hold Esther with a little extra care than I do my other daughters as her reality is just different than that of her sisters. She requires a few extra hugs and snuggles and homemade cupcakes on her birthday as store-bought just isn’t ever right.

Esther is a light in this world that I hope shines bright for another 100 birthdays. Because her giggle should last through several lifetimes.


Sometimes I think that her giggle could help end all wars and help feed the world. It’s that powerful.


How do we bottle that?


How do we bottle that innocence of a child this pure and good and give a little to everyone.

Because if we did I know the world would be something so much brighter.


Bright like my eight year old with the light in her eyes that shows us that the future must be good.


It has to be.

For her.


Happy Birthday sweet Esther.


This Is Childhood – Seven

Esther runs down the sidewalk towards me. Her ‘just off the bus’ look – disheveled braids, peanut butter dried on the side of her mouth, an off-center headband, a backpack sitting low and heavy off one shoulder, her skirt slightly turned to the side, the side-seam now showing in the front, worn-at-the-knees bright pink leggings, and her most noticeable attribute, a wide smile always on the verge of laughter as she lunges at me for a full-body hug and a kiss – including an “I love you mom!” for all the world to see and hear.

She turns eight this week.


At seven she is as unique as her mismatched leggings and shoe choice; and as colorful and imaginative as her pink headband and her non-uniform braids.


She is seven. Yet her seven is nothing like her sister’s seven two short years ago. While I’ve now enjoyed nearly 730 days of ‘sevens’ in my house, there’s no stereotype I can share with you that perfectly captures this magical age.


It turns out that seven can be complicated.

For one child, seven is second grade, spending more times with friends, starting sleep-overs and giggling with girls in the lunchroom while declaring “boys are still quite stinky.”


For another, seven is second grade, not worrying about the other girls, including boys in her list of best friends, and never sitting in the same spot at lunch.


Seven for one can mean starting to care about what other people think, insisting on wearing the ‘right’ clothes(and starting to shop at Justice, dear God), listening to the ‘right’ music, and fretting about what ‘he said/she said’ while realizing there is drama in the real world, not just what you see on Dance Moms on Tuesday nights when your mom lets you stay up late to watch non-quality TV.


Because seven can mean a more liberal bedtime…and an appreciation of non-animated shows.

Or seven for the other can mean not having a care about those things, living with your head in the clouds of happy oblivion while wearing twirly skirts, tights, Mary Janes, big bows, and watching episode after episode of Doc McStuffins with your baby sister.


Esther is snuggled in my arms. We are squished together on a chair. Just us, her blanket, four Pillow Pets and our cat. “Mom, do you think I’ll ever see a real unicorn, because that is my one big dream you know.” Esther says quietly as my lips meet her cheek. “I hope so Esther.” I say as I close my eyes and truly see her with the white unicorns in a green field with rainbows shining above her in the sky. “I dream of the land of unicorns where you will play one day. Anything is possible.”  Eloise, the former seven year old across the room interrupts us, “Mom, you’ve got to be kidding! Don’t encourage her!”


Because that first seven meant knowing all the lyrics to Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me.” While this seven means that you dance with your little sister in the living room during Yo Gabba Gabba and don’t mind anyone hearing you when you say you have a ‘party in your tummy…so yummy, so yummy!’


Seven for one questioned Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, if the world is really round, her bedtime, what was on her plate at dinner, why homework was really that important, the logic behind snow-pants when it was below zero, and the reason why my hair was turning grey.


Seven now means writing letters to Santa, drawing pictures for the Tooth Fairy, dancing with unicorns, dressing up as a Disney Princess, and using her Crayolas to color my hair pink and purple – because nothing is prettier than pink and purple…even when you are 44 it seems.

Seven the first time in this house meant moving up to more complicated chapter books; getting lost in Harry Potter or Anne of Green Gables under the covers in her room with a little bitty book light while she should have been sleeping.


While this seven is learning to appreciate a good non-fiction book, researching animals, the human body, the Presidents and the solar system, spouting random facts at the dinner table. Daily we ask her “How in the world did you know that?”


For one of my sevens – it was mastering the jump rope, hanging upside down on the monkey bars and easily getting her legs over on a cartwheel.


For my other – she’s given up on cartwheels(“They’re overrated!”), gets frustrated by the jump rope, finds herself separated from the group of girls in the neighborhood because she can’t physically keep up yet. She’ll be in the next yard over with the two and three year olds playing ‘Ring Around The Rosie’ and pushing them in swings.


I’m in the kitchen preparing dinner while my kids finish their homework at the table. Esther gets up, grabs an apron, while asking if I need help cooking. I give her some simple instructions and the ingredient list and she goes to work on the salad. I stop my work and notice how she doesn’t even need a stool to reach the counter anymore, how she can cut a carrot with the sharp knife, and how the mess of her salad preparation is so minimal compared to a year ago.

Both of my sevens could reach the glasses, pour their own milk, make their own snacks and even remember to clean-up after themselves. And both of my sevens remember to ask others if they also want something from the kitchen.


Both of my sevens liked playing with dolls and their little sister, noticed a friend who needed help and went to the aid of strangers, still slept with a blanket and vied for snuggles on the couch with me.


Because they were still only seven.

So if I may put an umbrella over seven, let me say that it’s one of my favorite years.  It’s the year that children become more coordinated with their bodies as they further develop their minds and gain an acute awareness of the world around them.


Sevens are on a never ending quest for more knowledge and skills.


Thus seven can be exhausting, and it makes you realize that very soon they will know more than you do, can do what you can do, and as they snuggle on your lap you notice their legs have turned long and lanky, their butts bony, and any ‘baby’ about your baby is officially leaving.


I’m folding laundry and Esther wraps her arms around me from behind. She gives me a hard squeeze and an “I love you mom.” I turn to return the hug and ask her what that was for. “Just because you are my mom and I like to hug you” she replies. I kiss the top of her head that now reaches high enough so I’m not even really bending down anymore and say jokingly “Promise me you’ll feel the same way this week once you turn eight, okay?” She giggles as she pulls away, “I’ve decided that I’ll never be too old to love you.”

I’m holding my seven year old to that promise.


Honored to have my turn in our ‘This Is Childhood‘ series. The This is Childhood writers are Aidan DonnelleyKristen Levithan, Nina Bazin, Galit Breen, Allison Slater Tate, Bethany MeyerTracy MorrisonAmanda Magee, Denise Ullem, and Lindsey Mead.


Double Digits

I asked Eloise for a hug goodbye when I dropped her at a slumber party last night. I asked her for this hug especially because when she wakes up, not in our home, on December 2nd today and turns 10, well I won’t be there to hug her and tell her happy birthday.

She did not give me that hug. She rolled her eyes at me and said “Oh Mom, really.” And then she turned back to her friends and they started giggling about something that I had no clue about, so I just said goodbye to the parents, turned my back and walked out the door.


Now don’t think that Eloise was rude for not giving me that hug. Eloise is not my hugger. Not my cuddler. Not my lover. She’s one of the most kind and generous and lovely kids I know but she’s not known for her displays of affection. She wasn’t a baby who wanted that human touch, she wasn’t a lap sitter and didn’t love to be carried places. She slept best in her swing or in her bed…not in my arms or a sling. She ducks when I go to wrap my arms around her and if I put my hand gently on her back she usually doesn’t hesitate to remove it. But she reciprocates ‘I love yous’ and lets her baby sister on her lap and will always carry her everywhere she so desires.

So what I’m trying to say here is that Eloise is her own person and I respect that. When I thought about what I would write that would capture my feelings about having a 10 year old, or what I think it’s like being 10, or what I think a 10 year old should know…well it seemed trite and forced and admittedly just wrong, because honestly the biggest thing I want you to know about a 10 year old is that they are their own person, with their own desires, likes, wants, emotions, bodies and minds. And I have no need to put words into what I want my 10 year old to know except I want her to know that I love her. Without fail. 24 hours a day. With or without hugs.


Instead. I want you to truly just know Eloise. I asked Eloise if she wanted to write something here about turning 10 or if there was something she wanted you to know specifically about her that would truly tell you who she is.


And she said “I want them to know about my favorite books and authors because I think that truly tells a lot about a person.”  So she made me this list and told me that this was all you needed to know.


She is also a girl of very few words, will never seek to be the center of attention and you will rarely find her without her nose in a book. Also, she wear a panda hat as much as she can.


And then I cried. I actually felt sorry for myself because this 10 year old girl is already so much more than I was at 10. This girl here. She’s the one who in second grade returned to me all of my Judy Blume books, my Nancy Drew books, my Little House On The Prairie books, my Anne of Green Gables, and my Secret Gardens and told me that she read them all and they were just kind of ‘meh.’  So I boxed my childhood back up and put it back into the attic. I packed away my childhood of books that I had held onto for 35 years convinced that I would share them with my daughter and together we would have this moment that I created in my mind.


I found out that day that moments cannot be created and staged. My 10 year old, my eldest, my girl that made me a mother has taught me that moments are what happen when you are just living life and truly listening to your children. They are not made from reading Blubber for the 455th time and convincing your child why they should appreciate it too.


Without further ado – Eloise’s lists…

Favorite Books:

Series of Unfortunate Events series
Because of Winn Dixie
The Tale of Despereaux
The Tiger Rising
The Magicians Elephant
The Invention of Hugo Cabret
The Hunger Games trilogy
Island of the Blue Dolphin
Princess Academy
In Search of Mockingbird
In a Heartbeat
The Mysterious Benedict Society
Rules for Secret Keeping
Allie Finkel’s Rules for Girls series
The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel


Favorite Authors(Including poets):

Shel Silverstein
Lemony Snicket
Kate DiCamillo
Brian Selznick
Suzanne Collins
Scott O’Dell
Shannon Hale
Douglas Florian
Loretta Ellsworth
Michael Scott
Meg Cabot
Lauren Barnholdt

(Then I had to go Google half of these….Go ahead..I know you are now doing it too. I’ll wait…)

Happy Birthday Eloise. You are easily one of the most special people in all the world. And you are not just special because you’re my daughter and I cannot help but feel this way about you. You are special because you are just so simply and beautifully Eloise. Oh, and you are 10! 10!!!


Love you for always,


Oh..and a little 49 second clip of the new 10 year old. She would love for you to take the time to watch and to wish her a Happy Birthday. Thank you!



A Simple Scheme..



I have a secret to tell you.

If you have older kids and their younger sibling is having a birthday soon…..



I happen to ask them what Astrid would like for her birthday….and they casually mentioned that she would love a Pillow Racer and a bubble machine.



So I told the big sisters that I would be happy to buy them their own Pillow Racers for Christmas this year, but oh no..no, they said “oh we are too old for Pillow Racers!”


Won’t they be surprised when they open Pillow Racers this December…while their friends are opening iPhones and iPads.



Linking up with wordful Wednesday.



I’ll never forget what my mom said to me when I told her that I was pregnant with Astrid “Oh my word that is funny – just think – when I was 39 both you are your brother were out of the house already and here you are at 40 and just having a baby. Oh thank God that wasn’t me!”


And then we both laughed hysterically. But really it was funny. All of it.


My mother and I really don’t have a lot in common. She’s short. I’m not. She’s the oldest of seven and loves all babies. I’m the youngest of two and only like my own babies. She cannot bake. I can. She thinks Monet is just a costume jewelry brand. I know he’s more than that. She loves short hair. I love long hair.  She worked outside of the home. I stay home. She irons. I own an iron. Maybe. She bought it for me. It stays in the box until she visits.  She likes small towns. I like big cities. She had her babies in her early 20’s. I did not.


The list goes on.


Which is probably why she’s my best friend. It’s also probably why I was a complete asshole to her during my high school years.  But why, by the time I was 20, I realized what an amazing women she is and I’m glad I got to know her again – as a person and a woman rather than just as a mother.  Because she’s so much more.


And if I hadn’t stepped back in I would’ve missed a whole lot of laughter.


Because if there’s one thing we have in common – it’s our sense of humor. My god my mother is funny. And most of all – she can laugh at herself. Oh can she laugh at herself.   Every week there is something we are giggling about on the phone. If I hear or want to share something funny – she’s the first person I call because I want to hear her laugh.


I hope I can teach this to my kids – to not take themselves so seriously because really humans are hilarious.

My mom sent me this email a few months ago…as a prime example of her self-deprecation…

OMG let me tell you about making rice krispie treats:  I REALLY NEED TO DO A COOKING AND BAKING SHOW:)

Sunday I thought to myself – I have marshmallows and rice krispies, I think I’ll make some bars.  That WAS MY FIRST MISTAKE!
I took out my glass bowl, the butter and the marshmallows.  Then I figured I could put them in the microwave to melt them faster – right????  Have you ever put a peep in the microwave?  OMG these things were huge and of course going over the bowl.  I stopped the microwave and took out a pan for the stove – do you know that once you have nuked the hell out of marshmallows you CAN NOT melt them in a pan?  Those things become tough balls of goo!  After bouncing them around in the pans for what seemed FOREVER – I concluded that all the mushing, stuffing, bouncing and piercing was not going to work.  As is common with my attempting to bake I walked over to the garbage – oh yeah – and dumped them in the trash.  This truly had me laughing remembering how 38 years ago I tried making these things for a cookie exchange after my “real cookies” also didn’t turn out.  Although I didn’t have a microwave back then once I put them in the pan and they set I couldn’t get them out of the pan or cut them!  It all went in the trash.  So what have I learned from this?  I  know that I will not live another 38 years to ever attempt this again!  Thanks for the recipe though:)


And you’ve read her thoughts on the iPad.


I love her for these things. For her beautiful imperfections. For her beautiful laugh. For her big hugs that come from her tiny body. For her unending kindness and laughter.


I don’t need a mom to remember who wore a crisp apron, or baked the perfect cookie, or laid out the perfect table. I don’t need a mother who made my beds, or kept the perfect garden, or always had fresh flowers on the table.  I don’t think kids care about that stuff. Kids care about the quality time you spend, the hugs you give, the love you share, and the laughter that fills a house with joy.


Which makes my mother just about perfect(except for the short hair thing).


Happy Birthday, Mom. I’m so lucky that you’re mine.


A Very Foofa Birthday Party

Astrid turned three like a gazillion years ago(okay maybe just two weeks ago which is like a gazillion years in blog years) and just yesterday my mother and Mark both yelled at me for not yet posting pictures of her party. So here goes. I know – pins and needles, right?
Astrid requested a Foofa birthday party. If you don’t know what a Foofa is – she’s the pink daisy/garden character from Yo Gabba Gabba. And if you don’t know what Yo Gabba Gabba is – well that means you haven’t smoke dope in about 10 years AND you don’t have a child under the age of 6.   I happen to love Yo Gabba Gabba mainly because I think DJ Lance Rock is hot and not because I’m still into recreational drugs. Unless you count non-organic fruit snacks in that category – then yes, I’m high when I watch the show.


Here’s a Foofa to look at for your enjoyment.


My issue with having a Foofa themed party though was that I secretly(okay it’s not really a secret) despise character things – you won’t find my kids in character clothing nor eating a character cake in my home.  I know – call me cranky mother of the year here – but I believe it’s possible to do things tastefully and revolving around the theme your child wants without actually having eyeballs on their cake. Because really, who wants to EAT Foofa. In fact maybe I’ll make a character shirt that reads “Love your characters – don’t eat them” – right?


So instead of an ‘official Foofa birthday party’ we had a ‘Foofa Inspired’ birthday party and everyone seemed happy. Especially Foofa since we didn’t eat her.

I made Foofa Birthday Party Hats by covering regular party hats(I used ones that had Gabba colors on them so you could still see them through the pink) with pink fabric. I then hot-glued white ribbon and white daisies on them to make them looks like Foofa. These are super easy to make.

Instead of a Foofa cake with eyeballs – I made Foofa Inspired Birthday Cupcakes which are vanilla cupcakes in flower wrappers that I topped with pink butter-cream frosting and a candy daisy, and then I decorated the serving plate with real daisies. Astrid loved them!

My favorite pink Foofa waiting for her guests to arrive.

The rest of the party came together with pink and white tablecloths, flowers and balloons. Pink daisy wrapped presents, pink sprinkled homemade donuts and of course sweet sisters dressed in pink who would do anything to make their baby sister’s birthday absolutely perfect.

Happy Foofa Birthday, sweet Astrid. May you always have a daisy up on your head because who doesn’t smile when they see a daisy on someone’s head.



Project 365 week 21 – The Beavers, Braces and Birthdays Edition

May is busy. Every May I wonder how we will get through it all. If you don’t have school age kids yet, you might be wondering what I am talking about…so oh just wait. May is December on steroids.


But it’s a good busy. The busy May is full of happy things – end of school parties, field trips, graduations, Spring sports, recitals, concerts, award ceremonies, teacher gifts and recognitions, finalizing Summer plans – vacations and camps and the like.


School is out in exactly nine days and then we can all breathe a bit easier again.


Do you have a crazy May?


Thus, we had a busy week again – the highlight was my dear friend Kristi’s 50th birthday. Her husband threw her a surprise party which was absolutely fantastic!  There should be more surprise parties in our lives, yes?  Do you like surprises?


Astrid has been potty trained for quite awhile now and I just finally blogged about it. I wasn’t sure if I was even going to mention it because nothing says ‘mom blogger’ like a potty post, you know?


We are trying to figure out how to afford a Disney World Vacation.  This was until we had Eloise’s first orthodontic appointment on Thursday and any plans to actually leave our home for a vacation might be tabled until 2024. But that is another post for another time. Seriously, beauty and braces are expensive!!!


I have to find a new Starbucks to visit as Astrid now hit-on the cute Barista with her beautiful beaver story and we can never show our faces(or our beavers) there again.


Do you have anything exciting planned for the weekend?  We are going to Valley Fair tomorrow – our first time as a family to an amusement park. I hope someone goes on the big roller coasters with me!!!


Have a great holiday weekend.



How to Have a Successful Bowling Party…

1.  Rent out one of the oldest alleys in your town.

2. Husband realizes that his old alley doesn’t have computerized scoring. Has no idea how to score bowling. Oh those snobby New Englanders who attended the opera whilst us hearty Midwesterners were either getting lucky in the back of an Oldsmobile or bowling. Or possibly both.

3. Hire two year old to score bowling.

4. Everyone ties with a 59! Prizes for all.

5. Make sure all lanes have bumpers. No gutter-balls increase everyone’s enjoyment. Even mine.

6.  Invite 10 people that you like. And make sure those 10 people like to get a 59 when they bowl.

7. Let the older kids have their own lane and their own score-keeper because they want MORE than a 59. Because they are old and cool. And Midwestern.

8. Bring homemade cupcakes.

9. And enjoy the cards your friends made for you even more than the gifts.

10. Hug your best friend a lot. And congratulate her on her awesome score of 59!

Go forth and bowl my friends.