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The Milestones That Matter

2016 February 8
by WWGD

Kids-WhatWouldGwynethDo

My son woke up in the middle of the night the other night and went to the bathroom all by himself.

Mundane to many, I am sure, but he just turned five and this was the first time he did it by himself, without calling out to us from bed to come and help him.

As parents we often mark the passage of time and the growth of our kids by milestones like birthdays and anniversaries and the beginning of the school year but in that middle of the night minute, when I was bleary-eyed and heard the toilet flush without the usual “mama” cry that precedes it…I realized it’s the every day moments that mark so much more.

The first time my daughter said she didn’t need to hold my hand crossing the street. The first time they order off the adult menu. The first time they don’t look back for you at school drop off…or don’t rush to you at pick up, opting to chit chat with friends instead. The first sleepover. The first time they fill their own water glass without spilling a drop. Toast their own bagel. Cut with a knife.

The every day moments that remind us they are growing and maturing and changing and evolving. That the role we have fulfilled in the early years as parents will also evolve and change along with those moments…that we are still needed, but in a different way.

Those are the moments that are milestones. And I am going to soak them all up as they pass me by. The birthdays and the calendar years mean one thing…but those little moments. Those little moments mean so much more.

A Trip to the Mountains

2016 January 19
by WWGD

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My husband and I were both raised in Montreal where trips to the nearby mountains are one of the only ways to survive the endlessly long and frigid winters. As much as we love living in the sun by the beach, this time of year we always crave the cold, crisp mountain air, walks in the snow and evergreen forests that seem to reach for the sky.

So this weekend we found some.

We went up to Mammoth with some friends for three days of skiing, apres skiing, tubing and more. I had a lot of anxiety going into it (have to say, so far my anxiety level in 2016 has not been impressive and I am working on changing that asap) because it was our first trip with Luna (who is now four months old!) and even though we were staying at the very pet-friendly Westin Monache, it felt like the weekend would mean lots of stress and little relaxation.

Thankfully little Luna proved me wrong. She did great on the drive both ways and happily hung out in her crate in the room while we explored the town (this was our favorite meal in Mammoth — and I haven’t had that many memorable meals in Mammoth…), did some runs and marveled at our kids marveling at the piles of powdery snow everywhere.

My daughter took some lessons and amazed me at her progress. There is something so incredible about watching your kids naturally take to something – especially something that you love so much. Skiing behind her and watching her fearlessly make her way down the face of the mountain with a huge grin on her face is one of my favorite joys in life.

My son, on the other hand, is taking a little more time warming up to the sport part of our snow trips. He would happily just wander through waist-deep snow, narrating his way under his breath with tales of the ninjas and snowy monsters that lay ahead, just waiting for him to take them down. He is also quite good at apres ski, like his mama, until he spills his hot chocolate all over himself and decides he is done.

My husband is most at home in the mountains, I think. He is an avid and long-time snowboarder and while he loves to surf, nothing makes him happier than finding himself back on the mountain. We left him on his own to get lost a few times and when he found his way back, he was definitely happier than when he left.

And I guess that’s why we take all these little getaways, isn’t it? It’s always a lot of work to pack up a family and to make your way from point A to point B. It’s always a little too expensive and it’s always kind of stressful. You always end up yelling at your kids at some point or having someone get sick on the drive (it was our daughter this time) or missing a flight. But when you make your way back home, back to the comfort of your own bed and your kitchen and your routine…you are happier than when you left.

My Daughter’s First Email

2016 January 11
by WWGD

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A few years ago, when my daughter was six or so, I set up an email address for her. I shared the address with family and a few very close family friends and asked them to send tidbits her way so that some day, when she was old enough, she could log in and enjoy a time capsule of her young life through the eyes of those that love her the most.

This is my first email to her.

Dear D,

You’ve got mail (you won’t understand that reference, but that’s ok; we won’t understand a lot of each other’s references as time goes on).

Today, you are officially logging on. This is your email address. Your little piece of Gmail. Your passport to the virtual world, in many ways.

I don’t know how old you are going to be when you read this. I haven’t decided what the right age is for email. For your own screen time. For any of this.

I don’t know a lot of things about parenting in the digital world. But I hope we can figure it out together.

I want you to know that email – and everything else that comes as an extension of this little innocuous address – is a wonderful tool for communication. It is efficient and helpful and knows no boundaries. It will serve you both personally and professionally. It will keep close ties tighter and it will forge new paths. It will enlighten and amuse and help you pass endless hours with distraction. It will be your calling card for years to come. Your personal address that has no limitations, no zip code, no restrictions at all.

It may also disappoint you every once in a while. It may be the bearer of bad news, sad news, frustrating news. It may go unanswered when you don’t want it to. It may spam you and bombard you and call your name even when you are nowhere near it. It may make you want to log off sometimes. Even though I know that proposition seems crazy right now as you log on for the first time, it will happen. And it should. You should.

Whatever it delivers, whatever impact it has on your life, I hope you treat it as a gift. I hope you understand that today’s technology (and tomorrow’s for that matter, because that’s what you will be living) is a gift. It is there to enlighten your life and to allow you to explore a world far beyond the one you know right now. But only if it’s treated properly. Only if it’s treated with respect and dignity and self-awareness. Only if you hold on very tight to the real world every single time you log onto the digital one. The two must live hand in hand.

I don’t know who you will write your very first email to. I hope it’s to me. I hope you will let me know that you understand a little bit about the journey you are about to embark on. I hope you will let me know that you will be ok with it. That you are excited but mindful at the same time. That you will listen to our advice about all of this tech stuff and heed our warnings about safety. I hope you don’t share too much or take in too much. I hope that you will write me on days when you feel like you can’t talk to me. I hope you will send me messages when I least expect them. I hope that you will share bits and pieces of your life with me…a time capsule that I can keep forever. I hope that you know that behind this email – behind every email and social media account and virtual handle – there is a person. A person just like you, with feelings and dreams and emotions. I hope you remember that every time you log on.

But most of all, I hope you open this email with a smile. I hope you look through all the pictures and notes and stories we’ve shared with you through these early years and know they will always be sitting right here, waiting for you. Always here to bring a memory to life. Always here to remind you of the people, places and things that bring you the most comfort and love. Just waiting for you to log on. Because as amazing as this whole new world you are about to explore may be…I hope the one you’ve known before it will always be in your heart.

All my love,

Mama

My Menu Plan

2016 January 10
by WWGD

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If you follow me on Instagram, you saw that our Sunday morning was very quiet and mellow. And the theme continued most of the day. I ran out for a pedicure (and opted to go polish-free which I highly recommend, it feels so clean and fresh), we cleaned the house and washed sheets and opened windows. We took a family walk which consisted of one husband on a bike, one kid on a scooter, one kid carrying the scooter he got sick of riding and one mama trying to keep a very ambitious puppy on task. Ok, that wasn’t the most mellow highlight of our day. But I didn’t even find the energy to go to the grocery store as I usually do on Sundays. Luckily, we already have all the ingredients for one of our favorite easy meals on-hand so the rest of the evening will be spent cooking, closing windows, listening to music and sipping on wine. All the elements of a perfect Sunday night. Here’s what we’re eating the rest of the week, in case you need some ideas:

Monday – homemade pizza using this recipe for the dough (our all-time favorite – thank you, Jennie!)

Tuesday – this garlic basil chicken with tomato butter sauce that I pinned ages ago and have yet to try

Wednesday – panko crusted salmon from Ina’s new cookbook, How Easy Is That?, that I already love…and I haven’t even cooked from it yet.

Thursday – take out…it’s a short week since we’re heading to the mountains for some much-needed fun in the snow! But I am sure there will be plenty of yummy meals to be had…and cooked by someone else 😉

What are you cooking up this week? Please share your favorites below so I can pin for later!

*image above of our favorite chocolate croissants – the frozen ones from Trader Joe’s! – on a quiet, mellow weekend morning…we are really good at those around here

**disclaimer: this post contains an affiliate link

What I Am…

2016 January 5
by WWGD

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Pinning. Black fireplaces. We’re trying to decide if we want to take the plunge with ours and embrace ebony for a little wow factor. This is what ours currently looks like.

Reading. So far, so very captivating.

Trying for the first time. Leaving my locks a little flat so far, to be honest. But will give a proper review once I finish the bottle.

Burning right now. It is so good, it really is. Spicy and sweet and rich. Especially on a dark, rainy day like today. Warms my soul right up.

Wearing. I was in search of leggings that didn’t scream gym and these were them. Can pair perfectly with booties OR trainers, depending on where the day takes you…mine doesn’t seem to take me to the gym as often as I would like.

Loving. “Rush” is the perfect neutral daytime shade in a creamy, smooth texture.

Supporting. I have met Tori here and there around town and while we’re not personal friends, her story hit a personal note with me. As I imagine it will with any young mother. If you have a minute to take a peek and make a donation of any kind, I know it will make a difference to her and her family. And to you and your outlook on life as well.

*image above via Design Sponge, photo credit Maxwell Tielman

**disclaimer: post contains affiliate links in a few spots

My Menu Plan

2016 January 3
by WWGD

MenuPlan-WWGwynethDo

This might be the hardest Sunday of the year.

We have been in a holiday bubble in our little home for two whole weeks and tomorrow we have to emerge from it back into the real world. No more staying in pajamas all day. No more cake for breakfast (well, at least not every day). More places to be and things to do and no holiday soundtrack to get us through it all.

How will we survive? We are tackling it with a clean home, lots of fresh air, and a menu of our favorite meals to help us ease back into our real life routine slowly…and with happy bellies. Here’s what we have planned:

Sunday – today is a heavy prep day for the week ahead. I am making these muffins so my kids have easy, quick breakfasts ready because I know getting out the door for school is going to be a challenge this week. I am also making this simple chia seed pudding so my mornings can get me started on the right foot as well. Finally, I am prepping a big batch of this new favorite pasta salad so I can have a healthy lunch option to eat at my desk as I catch up on business and plan ahead for 2016.

Monday – pork tenderloin with roasted potatoes and arugula; I keep pork prep very simple: season with salt and pepper and brush with olive oil, sear in a pan and then pop it in the oven. If I feel ambitious, I do this. And I never regret it.

Tuesday – Taco Tuesday

Wednesday – Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce with penne. This is my absolute favorite sauce right now but a few things are key: you must use the best crushed tomatoes you can find (my personal favorite are the actual San Marzano brand, you can taste the difference, I promise – though the Amazon price is way too high, I pay like $3.99 at a local specialty grocer and I stock up; also, the recipe calls for whole but I use crushed and prefer it) and you must be patient and let it simmer away. The recipe says 45 minutes, I say 60 if you have it.

Thursday – take out, because we will need it by Thursday

Friday – Giada’s rosemary chicken burgers. If you haven’t made these yet, please do. They have become a fast favorite around here that the whole family loves and will be the perfect way to cap off the first official week of 2016…I have a feeling it’s going to be a good one.

Happy Sunday, friends!

The One Resolution You Should Make

2015 December 30
by WWGD

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I am telling you this as a friend. A really good, loyal, honest, virtual friend.

I know that right now you’re thinking about the year ahead and all the things you should do. I am willing to bet some of them have something to do with exercise. Or diet. Or staying away from your phone.

I think you should forget all that.

I think you should resolve to strive for something more meaningful this year. Something that may actually make a difference beyond January 10th. Something that, I hope, will set you on a path this year that will last for years to come.

The diet and the exercise and the phone will always be there to work on.

But this year, this moment, you should work on you.

Resolve to make 2016 the year of you. Not the year you were the best mom or the best employee or the best wife or the best friend. Not the year you were 10 pounds lighter or read more books or cooked more (though all those things would be lovely…).

Make it the year you were the best you.

I am not here to tell you what that means or what it looks like. I can tell you that for me, it has meant working a little less and living a little more. Finding creative outlets and treating them like a job, not a luxury. It has meant putting time and effort into having real, meaningful conversations with my husband on a very regular basis. It has meant patting myself on the back for everything I have accomplished and everything I still have on my to-do list. It has meant becoming one hundred percent truly comfortable with alone time. Quiet alone time. Not just because I am given a break from my typically busy, loud life, but because I can relish how it feels to be alone and not just appreciate it, but enjoy it. It has meant living my life guilt-free whenever and however I can. It has meant not worrying as much about diet or exercise or my phone. It has meant worrying more about the world around us and how it’s impacting my children and my parents and my closest friends and plotting how exactly I am going to make a difference in it. It has meant learning to say no, without remorse or guilt, just because. And saying yes just as often.

Yes, in a sense it may be seen as a laundry list of resolutions. But in practice, it’s so much more. It’s not about putting effort into many little things, it’s about focusing on one: becoming the best me that I can be. I am still working on a lot but I know I’ve made great strides. And with a new year and the blank slate that lays before us, I know I can do even more.

I may still eat too much or exercise too little and I know I still spend too much damn time on my phone, but most importantly, I know that I am the best I can be. For right now, for this chapter of my life.

And it’s a path I look forward to walking for many years to come. I hope to see you somewhere along it, too.

Resolve to make this the year of you.

Happy 2016. And thank you, as always, for taking a moment out of your day to spend it with me. xx

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Always Christmas

2015 December 27
by WWGD

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Oh, Christmas.

Always so full of promise and anticipation and expectations.

And always willing to surprise.

Ours was nice, don’t get me wrong. But in many unexpected ways. The Norovirus that hit not one but THREE out of the four of us with brutal intensity (we’re just waiting on number four to get it for New Year’s…). The perfect dinner reservation that was anything but perfect. The five-year-old who cried that Santa didn’t bring him anything on his list.

Always finds ways to test you just a little.

We hunkered down, our little family of four, and we found an odd sense of quiet happiness out of the most imperfect Christmas moments. We stayed in pajamas for days on end, not even glancing at the world beyond the front door. We shared quiet times and loud laughter. We soothed aching bellies and tended to midnight coughs. We made mimosas for breakfast and introduced our kids to Home Alone. Kevin was a hit. So were the mimosas.

Always manages to bring the spirit to life…if even in little bits at a time.

And the best part? I don’t have any photos to show of it. My mom, who is traveling abroad, promptly requested photos on Christmas morning of the kids with their gifts, with the tree, with anything. And I had none. Nothing posed, nothing candid, nothing on video. Nothing posted anywhere. I had thought about it a few times throughout the morning, sure. But the thought just swept right past me while I enjoyed the moment instead. Somehow I knew it would stay with me forever, anyhow. This imperfect little Christmas of ours. This time in our lives. This messy week of memories.

Always finds a way to stay with you forever.

Hope yours was lovely as well. xx

Today You Are Five

2015 December 20
by WWGD

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Today you are five.

Five seems like a whole new world to a mother. It’s the end of toddlerhood. Bye bye to the baby years. And hello to so much more.

Today you have mastered the art of snapping your fingers. They never sit idle anymore, you are always snapping away. At the breakfast table, while you’re brushing your teeth, while you’re telling me a story about your day. Snap, snap, snap. It has become the soundtrack to your days.

Today you are learning to read. You’ve pieced together several sight words but you want to take it slowly…still clinging to those toddler years like I like to do.

Today you are a leader. Your teachers call you the “CEO of the schoolyard”, in all the very best ways. Confident, encouraging others, inclusive, bringing out the best in your friends.

Today you eat a lot of fruit, to the point that the doctor told us to cut back. You’ve warmed to a few veggies but you’re also quite content with a steady pasta and grilled cheese diet. Honey Nut O’s for breakfast every morning, and stat. You don’t wait for your breakfast.

Today you are naturally funny. Witty. You have a sparkle in your eye that lights up every room you enter.

Today you are into Ninjago and Rescue Bots and drawing. You will sit with a box of markers and a stack of fresh paper and draw the day away. You copy your sister and try to make your own comics, pausing every minute or so to ask how to spell “villain” and “rescue” and “Batmobile.”

Today you are 39 lbs. Still tall for your age, all of your jeans are just a touch too short, it seems. But you wouldn’t ever complain.

Today you are interested in Star Wars. You’ve never seen a movie, and you’re not sure you even want to, but you’re intrigued.

Today you are still very close with your sister. The mutual adoration and respect and true love that the two of you have fills us up every day. Lets us know we’re doing something very right in this whole parenting thing. We hope you keep it forever.

Today you are a homebody. Getting you to leave the house on days when you don’t have to is near impossible. You’d spend all your days in your pajamas in the comfort of your own home if you had your way. I don’t blame you. It’s a nice home to be in.

Today you have self-appointed yourself Taylor Swift’s biggest fan. You know every word to “1989” – the entire album – and though sometimes your little voice can’t keep up with your brain while you’re singing along, you do it with more passion than anyone – including any little girl – I know.

Today you are smart. And polite. And respectful. And empathetic. So empathetic. And while we tell you how much we love you each and every day – sometimes several times a day because it’s just that much – I don’t think you will ever truly understand it. You will never truly bask in the love that surrounds you from all over. You will never take for granted one thing in your incredibly amazing life. You will never take in more love than you give to others.

That’s just you.

And that’s why we love you so.

Happy birthday, Kai.

Must-Have: Everlane Mini

2015 December 7
by WWGD

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I have been a longtime Everlane lover. Ever since my first my first experience (which had its pros and cons, you can read about it here), I have added several pieces to my wardrobe (this is my absolute favorite to-date though it looks like it’s no longer available in black) and have convinced my husband to do the same.

Now it’s the kids’ turn.

Today the brand debuted Everlane Mini, a micro collection of their signature basics made in petite sizes. They are starting it off small – only 11 styles – and carefully edited, as all their lines are.

I am loving this cashmere hoodie (though admittedly, not sure my kids would love the cashmere as much as I do), these cool beanies, these perfect pocket tees and these crew sweatshirts.

Overall, it’s a nice new option for minimally minded parents like us who want to skip the sequins and sugar-coated character tees whenever our kids will let us. And, as always, made in America with sustainability and conscious consumerism in mind…which is another nice lesson to wrap up for your kids under the tree this year.

Right next to their sugar-coated character toys, of course. 😉

*image above via Everlane

*not a sponsored post, but does contain affiliate links