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Today You Are Eleven

2018 April 9

Today you are eleven.

A whole new decade, a whole new journey, a whole new phase of life. For both of us.

Today you are tall for your age. Already topping one of your grandparents and edging in closely on another one of them. Your build and stature are all me. But a little bit cooler.

Today you are Descendants and Zombies and something called Vampirina. You want to watch your shows on your own, without your little brother in tow. And sometimes, he lets you.

Today you are a voice to be reckoned with. Confident, secure, inspired. I can only hope that you keep even a bit of that in the years to come.

Today you are legs. All legs. And even though they look best in skinny jeans, you prefer boot cut. No one even makes boot cut anymore. But I will keep trying to find them.

Today you are letting your hair down for the first time in your life. You are not 100% comfortable with it but you’re 25% comfortable with it, 25% of the time. And it looks beautiful every time.

Today you are still a reader. A lot of your friends are on screens a lot. YouTube, Musically, apps of all kinds. But you still prefer a trip to the library and endless free time to just read a book. And one of my favorite things in the world is sitting right next to you, reading mine.

Today you are a picky eater. Still. Sigh. Pasta, rice, chicken. But you eat steamed broccoli like it’s pizza. So there’s that.

Today you are fitting into some of my clothes. The ones from when I was a little skinnier. The shoes that I was about to donate to Goodwill. It makes me happy and sad at the same time.

Today you are ready for middle school. A few more months of elementary school lay ahead of you but your mind and focus have already moved on. I remember your first day of first grade like it was yesterday. I guess time just does that to all of us. It moves on.

Today you are ice cream cake and sleepovers and The Greatest Showman with your friends.

Today you are a good friend to many and a best friend to few. You haven’t fallen into the “clique-y” aspect of girlhood yet. You can hang with a different kid every day of the week and be perfectly content. I know that in the big picture of life, this quality will be an amazing one to have. I know that in the short term of middle school, however, it may feel like a bad thing. I hope to be able to show you why it’s not.

Today you are coming to marches with me to fight for gun control and asking about school shootings and seeing the world around you in a grown up way, for the first time. You don’t seem scared of it. Yet. May you always keep that fearlessness in your back pocket.

Today you are sleeping in and staying up a little later than usual. The mornings are nice. The late bedtimes, not so much. But I know that your brain and your body are going through a lot right now so whatever patterns fall into place are ok by me.

Today you make us proud. Your kindness, your compassion, your sense of responsibility and your confidence. Your brains and your determination. Your everything. We are proud of every single piece of it.

Today you are ripped jeans and black Converse and denim jackets and t-shirts from the boys department and an arm full of bracelets. It’s all amazing.

Today you are eleven. The first year of the next decade. The last of the first. And there will be ice cream cake to celebrate it. Because it deserves to be celebrated.

Happy birthday, D. x

Making My Monday

2018 March 12

“We are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars.” – Oscar Wilde

I wish I could tell you that I am heading into this week with an excited frame of mind. But I am not.

Weekends are extra sweet these days and scrambling this morning to get two very tired kids out the door when I just wanted to tuck them back in and let us all sleep some more was a rude awakening. Work stuff is a drag lately and I find myself spending more and more time thinking about what’s next instead of what’s now which is making the now harder than ever to embrace. And I have successfully avoided the gym for over a week now for no good reason which means today…no excuses.

So here’s to a Monday that feels like a Monday. I am going to embrace it and just let my ho-hum attitude have its way today. We are entitled to do that every once in a while, don’t you think? In the meantime, here are a few things that I want to share. They may not be changing my foul mood altogether, but they prompted me to write this post. And for today, that’s enough!

This New York Magazine feature on How to Raise a Boy. A must-read for any of you with a son at home. Be sure to read the “More from this series” links at the bottom or find the whole feature on my favorite new app, which I told you about here. It was eye-opening – especially the mini stories – and alarming and educational all at once.

This piece on about being 40 and pregnant. Apparently 50 is the new 40, at least when it comes to our bodies. But how do you feel about it for your mind and lifestyle and emotions? I am almost 40 and often say I would have another baby if we could figure it out financially, etc. but I think it’s more than that holding me back. It’s fear and exhaustion and the known (versus the unknown).

And speaking of fear and exhaustion, let’s talk about this book. I shared it on Insta stories when I first got it but now that I finished it, I have to share it here in more detail. You need to go buy this book. It is self-help but in the most non-self help kind of way. It’s inspiring and encouraging and honest and raw and resonated with me on so many different levels. It has little doses of Christian stuff here and there and from a non-Christian, I can say it wasn’t preach-y or overwhelming at all. It all just made a lot of sense to me. Rachel talks about fear and exhaustion and the unknown and makes it all feel ok. Surmountable, even. And prompts you to not just picture your dreams in vivid detail, but to go after them, head first.

It’s what I think a lot of us need at this stage of life. A little push to dive in head first. We’re comfortable and restless at the same time. Bored, but tired. Striving for mediocre because it’s the easiest way to get through the day. Maybe we need someone to help us dream a little bigger and a little brighter. To encourage us to find our energy again and to put it to good use. Starting tomorrow. 😉

Have a good Monday. x

Making My Monday

2018 February 19

Hello, Monday. Here are five things making you a little easier to swallow this week:

Today’s (semi) holiday. First, I say semi because it seems that most people are actually working today but my kids are not at school and the mailman has the day off and, well, that’s enough for me to take it a little easy on the work front. Second, I say semi because…the image above. Ha. Happy President’s Day to you, however you are spending your day, on or off.

March For Our Lives. It has come to this and I am sure glad it has. Kids protecting themselves because our country won’t do it for them. These students in Parkland, Florida are fighting back and it is the most inspiring thing I have seen in this country in months. Follow them on social here and donate to their fund here. And then support the teens in your community on March 24th.

Middle school information night. I am oddly excited about my daughter going into middle school next year. Check in with me then to see if the feeling sticks. She is excited, too. We have our first parents info night this week and since I know next to nothing about what to expect, I am going in with eyes wide open. On the one hand, I cannot believe that my first born is almost a teenager. On the other, I love this phase just as much as the others…so far.

A hair appointment. It has been months since I have seen my hair stylist and you can tell. I thought I wanted to grow it out again and shun the lob look since everyone and their mother (ie me…I am the mother now) have it but the truth is, there’s a reason why. I am loving Kristin Ess’s work (and her products, more to come on that front) and I am thinking this is the way to stay for now.

And, of course, what would this post be without food? I always look forward to food. Our backyard lemon tree has been in overdrive and the fruits of its labor are amazing. I found this seemingly easy recipe for one skillet lemon butter chicken from Halfbaked Harvest and it’s safe to say, it will be on this week’s dinner menu. If it’s good, will share. If you live in north county San Diego, come over for lemons.

Have a good week, friends. Feel inspired today. Change is coming. And it’s going to be good. Be a part of it. x

Making My Monday

2018 February 12

Making My Monday is a regular feature I used to share each week, with the intention of starting out the work week on a positive foot. I would think about the things I was looking forward to in the days ahead so that there was anticipation and excitement in my Monday morning instead of dread and fatigue. I am bringing it back. So here are a few things making my day today – would love to hear what you have shining bright on your horizon for the week:

Galentine’s dinner. I am having a little Galentine’s dinner with two friends tonight. I have a lot of thoughts on female friendships in your 30s and 40s which I want to write about soon, but in the meantime, suffice it to say I am very grateful for the girls I have in my life that I can depend on for support, wisdom and a good laugh and I am excited to spend the evening with two of them.

Rain. I know, nothing is more annoying than a Southern Californian talking about the weather in February and trust me, I am beyond grateful for the sunny and 73 streak we have been on…all season long. But we have some much-needed rain in the forecast this week and I just love the way it refreshes us – physically and emotionally.

Finishing up this book. I finally started it after letting it gather dust on my nightstand for six months and I really like it. Yes, her writing style is super casual and at times a little sophomoric, but the message is focused and strong and I like that it’s straight-forward compared to a lot of other self-help books I have tried. It has upped my badass factor considerably already and I am only a few chapters in.

Valentine’s day. I love it. Not the overpriced prix fixe dinner menus or the red roses (I prefer white) or the cheesy cards. I love handmade cards and school crafts and a small dinner with my husband and our kids and my favorite chocolates and maybe a glass or two of wine. I think we are going to do fondue at home this year. It’s one of our favorites and it’s so easy. Just to celebrate the love we are so lucky to share. Because we probably don’t do it enough.

Long weekend. The best end to a busy week is a long weekend on the horizon. It’s the easiest way to make this Monday a little brighter — knowing next week’s will be extra sweet.

Have a great start to your week. x

*image above from our Sunday trip to Shop Pigment, one of my favorites in San Diego. Read all about how we make the most of our weekends here. We did it right yesterday. 


Four Go-To Weeknight Meals

2018 February 8

I haven’t been sharing my weekly meal plans here as regularly as I used to (should I bring them back??) but I’ve been back in the kitchen a decent amount since the new year and it feels really good. I’ve been reading through cookbooks and scouring Instagram recipes and have found lots of new bits of inspiration and things I want to try and will share them as I do. But for today, I thought I would share our go-tos instead. These are the meals we rotate in and out of our weeknight schedule every month (sometimes two or three times per month) because they are easy, quick and appeal to the whole family – for the most part. Inspiration is always good, but ease is even better sometimes, so here they are:

BLT pizza – if you’ve been following this blog for a while (and especially if we’re friends in real life and you’ve eaten at my house), then you know that this flatbread concoction from Gaby Dalkin of What’s Gaby Cooking is one of my all-time favorite recipes. When we’re pressed for time – which is most of the time these days – we make it with a whole wheat pizza dough from Trader Joe’s. Add burrata, bacon, chopped up tomatoes, arugula and a drizzle of olive oil and salt & pepper and dinner is served — and SO delicious. Disclaimer: my kids have not entirely warmed up to this one yet so we usually just pick up an extra dough and make a classic cheese for them.

Fish (or turkey) tacos – tacos are easily a once per week staple here. Sometimes they are made with flour tortillas (these uncooked ones from Costco heat up in a flash and make it even more delicious), tilapia topped with green sauce, avocado, cheese and lime. Simply sauté the tilapia in the green salsa, do some easy chopping and serve. Add some Trader Joe’s corn salsa and it’s a game-changer. Dinner can be done in 15 minutes. When we go the ground turkey route, we cook that up with some taco seasoning and go old school with crunchy shells, shredded cheese, tomato, onions and taco sauce. Avocado if we’re in the mood. Also a 15 minute favorite.

Sausage and broccolini pasta – sausage and broccoli are a common pairing but this recipe from Jenn Segal makes it even better with a little butter, chicken broth and fresh parmesan. I swap out the broccoli for broccolini and chop it up a ton so my kids feel less intimidated by all the greens and I use chicken sausage to lighten it up a little. This might take 30 minutes to make but the ingredients are simple and the leftovers for lunch the next day are always worth it.

Pesto chicken bake – can’t call this one a “recipe” really, but it’s definitely a go-to around here. I make my own pesto (because I work from home and when I need a mid-day distraction, I often head for the kitchen – recipe for that is here) but any jarred or fresh pesto will work. I simply season some chicken and layer it in a casserole dish, top with the pesto and shredded cheese and bake away. Let’s say 350-400 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Serve with whole wheat pasta or quinoa or salad and done. Everyone is happy with this one. And when everyone is happy, so am I.

*image above via What’s Gaby Cooking 

Why My Blog Failed…And Why That’s Ok

2018 February 5

I started this blog in August of 2009. Almost nine years ago. A semi eternity in the online world.

I remember it clearly. My husband was away on a business trip and I was home alone, trying to balance work, my toddler and a creative itch that was not going away. I had wanted to write for years, wanted to be a writer. And as I was toiling the day away at my PR job, a blog seemed like a natural outlet.

I thought the name was quite witty (and honestly, still do). I had admired Gwyneth Paltrow as an actor and a tastemaker long before goop and I had always considered her an interesting, stylish public figure. I also knew many people didn’t understand or wanted to deny her allure, so thought it might intrigue the haters as well in some way.

It began with a random post about McDonald’s. No image to accompany it. No real purpose. Just a random post.

That’s where it started to fail. The very first post.

It set the tone for the blog. Random. Some days I wrote about motherhood, some days about home design, some days about food. Rarely about Gwyneth Paltrow, actually, despite what industry experts recommended I do. I never found a niche that captured my attention long enough, so I decided to be a generalist instead. I think that’s fine when you’re trying to grow your passion, but not necessarily when you’re trying to grow an audience.

Nonetheless, the blog grew through the early years. I added some imagery (most of it terrible until recently), I did interviews with other interesting moms, I contributed to other web sites and blogs, some of them well known. Gwyneth Paltrow started to follow me and even retweeted me once. One of my posts went semi-viral and ended up on the front page of Yahoo! and The Huffington Post and AOL (when it was still sort of a thing) all in one day. My audience was there. Ready to grow.

And then I let them walk away.

The day that that post went wild was a defining factor in my online future. The comments were largely positive but as with anything online, negative as well. And I dove into the negative ones headfirst, barely coming up for air. People hated my perspective, my writing, my marriage. It was all there in black and white, and it left an indelible mark on my creative heart. I felt so vulnerable and insecure and right then and there I subconsciously decided that my public persona would never really be public. I rarely allowed myself to deep dive into my content after that. Everything stayed marginally superficial for the most part. I didn’t talk about my real life the way I could have. I didn’t write from the heart the way I wanted to. As social media evolved and became such a huge component of growing an online audience with “authenticity” and “personality”, I held mine back. I didn’t want to open myself back up to that feeling of being attacked and ridiculed and judged by complete strangers.

So I let them hold me back instead.

I continued to write and look for content to share and some of it was (is) really good. But it wasn’t consistent. Some weeks, I would post every day. Some weeks, not at all. People that liked my point of view and my voice didn’t know when and where they could find it and trying to keep up with a main blog, a Facebook page, an Instagram and a Twitter (when it was relevant) made it even harder to share on a consistent, quality basis. I was terrible about self promotion and that’s more than half the challenge online so while I should have been cross-linking and doing loop giveaways and spending hours per day “engaging” with other bloggers and potential readers online…I didn’t. Instead I came and went when I pleased.

And my readers did the same. But mostly going, instead of coming. I didn’t blame them.

Which brings me to today. Almost nine years later. Still at this same URL. I see how most traditional blogs have largely gone away in favor of highly personal social media stories and beautifully curated image feeds. I follow some of the bloggers that I followed in the early days and their stories and mediums have changed along with everyone else’s. I see the ones that propelled to true success, their faces shining alongside their words, their fears and insecurities tucked to the side while they put their hearts out there and really engage and inspire, not only through their stories but through their personalities. I follow a lot of them, in awe at how fearlessly they share. Their beautiful work and their intimate, personal approach to such an impersonal medium.

And I look back at my little blog. I silently thank the people that still stop by every once in a while. I come at it sporadically, when the mood or inspiration strikes. Choosing to share less than more. I even started a second one because I still like the medium very much and don’t want to give up on it. I took a long hard look at what failure means to me. My sister recently told me I am afraid of it. I don’t know how to deal with it, apparently. It’s why I am a perfectionist and a clean freak and a multitude of other type A things. I was raised that way. But I disagree. I don’t have millions of monthly followers – on this platform or any. I don’t have brand partnerships or speaking engagements or the book deal that was really the dream at the start of it all. I don’t have a persona that people know and recognize because of my work. Not even after nine years of publishing it.

And I’m not afraid to say that in a lot of ways, it failed.

And I know why.

I’m not afraid of that at all.

Because I still have my vast, general approach to content that I actually care about; my highly inconsistent, widely unread musings – some good, some just fine; my semi private approach to a public forum. And I am ok with it. All of it. Because it feels like me. Like how I want to do it and stay true to myself. At a slower, quieter pace than most. Just the way I am doing it. Maybe the way Gwyneth would do it, some day, in some other place.

And I realized that maybe – just, maybe – that failure is really a win, after all.

*photo above via Death to the Stock Photo 

How We Combat Flu Season…All Year Long

2018 February 1

I don’t know about where you live, but around these parts, the flu season has been NASTY this year. It feels like everyone we know has been battling some sort of super bug ever since December. And while we weren’t completely immune to it, I do think my kids managed to stay fairly healthy throughout the season, with the exception of a 24-hour fever that turned into nothing. They stayed healthy through back-to-school season as well and have avoided more than one major stomach bug in our community in the past year. I can basically feel myself jinxing their strong immune systems as I type this but thought I would share some of the preventative, proactive things we do all year long to keep them as healthy as we can, especially during busy bug seasons like this one. I don’t think our routine is ironclad. Fevers do sneak in. Stomach bugs do happen once in a while. But I believe that the things we do daily for our health offer a level of protection and immunity that we all benefit from and help my kids to bounce back quicker than many. Here’s what we do:

A daily probiotic. I read an article years ago that compared illnesses in preschoolers who took a daily probiotic and those who didn’t and the results were astonishing. Those who took one had considerably fewer fevers, stomach bugs, colds, etc. during the school year. From that day on, I was sold. My kids each pop one every morning, all year long, to help with gut – and in turn, overall -health. These are the ones they like the best. They can be tricky to find so I stock up when I do.

A kids multi-vitamin. We supplement our morning probiotic with a multi-vitamin (with fiber because again…healthy gut leads to healthy everything). There are lots of studies about how kids don’t need a multi-vitamin if their diet is balanced but if you show me a seven year old boy or a ten year old girl with a truly balanced diet, I will be shocked. Mine chew theirs up easily and it supplements what they may be lacking from their mac and cheese diet and keeps them strong. We use these.

A kids immunity vitamin. If it has “immunity” in the name, I am sold. My kids take an immunity vitamin every day simply because a) it’s easy and b) it’s extra protection. The ones we like have elderberry and zinc and are in gummy form so they are easy to take and digest.

Oils. Oils are certainly a buzz-worthy – and big – topic among modern-day moms but I stick to just a few basics for our every day routine that I really like. I diffuse a Thieves-esque blend daily during busy sick seasons (ie. now) on our kitchen island which is the central hub after school and into the evening. This is the best (and coolest looking) diffuser I have bought in a while and this is the oil we use for immunity. And then my kids apply a “Healthy Hero” blend to the soles of their feet every night before bed. We love this one, in particular, because it’s already diluted and safe for kids and comes in a roller that my kids can apply themselves.

Finally, washing up. My kids know that the minute they come in from school, they have to wash hands. Properly. It still takes daily reminders and sometimes I send them back to do it twice if they get lazy about it, but it’s a must. I also put a mini hand sanitizer bottle in their lunch bags which, admittedly, does not get used every day. But it’s there for part-time use and that’s good enough for me. I also wash their water bottles nightly with hot water and soap and wipe out their lunch bags to ensure that any leftover cafeteria crumbs – and germs – are gone. Sound like a lot? It may be. But so is two weeks in bed with the flu, my friends. Trust me.

Wishing you and yours a healthy, happy February! x

*goes without saying that I am no doctor so take all these tips and advice to heart knowing that they are just coming from a fellow busy mom who is doing her best 🙂

The Sunday You

2018 January 21

A while back I shared a post about our “Sunday Home.” The basic premise is that come Sunday evening every week, we like our home to feel a certain way to prep us mentally and physically for the week ahead. We believe that when your physical space is in (semi) order, then your mind and emotions can be as well and we find that a few regular rituals every weekend help us get to that place. But there’s more to the practice than your environment so today I thought I would share some tips for “The Sunday You” and how you can spend a little time each weekend giving back to yourself – emotionally and spiritually – to start the week on the right foot. Disclaimer: we are not church-goers so you won’t see that on this list but if you are, then obviously it’s an important component of your Sunday you. But it doesn’t mean it has to be the only element…

Exercise. My usual gym is closed on Sundays so it’s up to me to find a way to get active on Sundays. Ideally, it’s something that involves my family like a group bike ride or hike but it can be as simple as walking the dog or a yoga video or just a really good stretch. I like my Sunday mornings extra lazy but when I consciously find some time to be active at some point during the day, it nurtures my body and puts me in the mindset to start the week on a healthy note.

Self-care. I like to treat myself to self-care rituals any day of the week but the Sunday ones always feel a little more sacred. It can mean a face mask, a bubble bath, a pedicure, a reflexology appointment. Whatever it is, it should be completely indulgent and meant to do nothing but make you feel good. Take your time with it, find a quiet moment to steal away and enjoy it…guilt-free.

Conversation. There’s a reason why Sunday Suppers are a thing. Before you dive into a week of being chained to your desk, your social media channels and your co-workers, take some time to make real connections with the people in your life. It can mean big family dinners, takeout with friends, happy hour with some neighbors, or maybe just a long phone call with an old friend. Whatever it is, look for real human connections that fill you up and leave you feeling connected and grounded for the week ahead.

Work. Yes, I think a little work on a Sunday can be a good thing for you. I like to take just a quick 15-20 minutes to look at my schedule and to-do list for the week ahead, maybe draft a few emails (but don’t hit send until Monday!), pay some bills or organize some things for my kids’ schedules. Getting ahead of the week’s game even just a little bit puts me in a more mellow mindset come Sunday night and going into Monday morning and leaves me feeling prepped.

Daydream. This one is my favorite and probably the most important, in my opinion. Sundays are for day-dreaming and I give myself lots of time for it. I often spend the morning trolling real estate listings for the mountain home I hope to buy in Vermont some day. I pin images for gorgeous warehouse conversions like the one above and my husband and I talk about how we would build our own if we could. I read about restaurants in Paris and beaches in Greece and add them to my mental guidebook. I daydream about anything and everything that leaves me feeling inspired. Some of it online, some of it off. But all of it dancing around my mind just for fun.

After all, isn’t that what Sunday is really for? Just a little fun.

Hope yours is lovely. x

*image above via Emerick Architects

Small Things

2018 January 15

I shared a little something about my approach to the new year over on my essay site and it reminded me that small, simple every day pleasures go a really long way sometimes. So I am here to share some of my recents with you. May it lighten up your day in some way, big or small. Small is often enough.

Cooking from scratch. This weekend, I fell back in love with cooking. I don’t know what prompted it, really. Probably weeks of holiday indulgence and too much take out and a lazy approach to food that I finally wanted to shake off. So I spent a good part of the weekend sifting through cookbooks new and old and made a few things that I loved. First was the ethereally smooth hummus from Smitten Kitchen. So simple and so worth it. I have never been a huge fan of store-bought hummus which led me to believe that I just don’t like hummus but I was so wrong. I like this hummus. A lot. I also made Chrissy Teigen’s roasted jalapeño and chorizo queso the other night. First, this is the funniest cookbook ever written. Second, this queso was insanely good. A little too hot for my taste buds so I will make some adjustments next time but we basically had a bowl of queso and some grapefruit margaritas for dinner on Saturday and I don’t regret a thing. Not a damn thing. I also tried my luck in recreating the Zuni Café roast chicken that I had in San Francisco over Thanksgiving and that I have been dreaming of every day since. This one is a labor of labor. But you will love the results. I promise.

Reading. I have been trying REALLY hard to break my phone addiction (again) lately. And diving into books has proven to be the easiest/most successful way. I read this book about dogs because I now love all books about dogs…and it was very sweet. I read this page-turner which kept me thoroughly entertained the entire way. And I am now reading this thoughtful memoir which has kept me (somewhat) captivated and if nothing else, grateful beyond measure for my health. This is up next and will undoubtedly influence more time in the kitchen. A good thing.

Unfollowing. This is a small step towards a lot of progress. Every time I log onto Instagram now, I make myself unfollow 10 accounts. Because somehow, somewhere along the way, I started following more than 1300 of them. And clearly they are not all sources of daily inspiration. The first ones to go? Fashion bloggers who are clearly just hawking out product after product link to get commissions. It’s exhausting, most of the clothes aren’t even my style, and while I 100% respect their right/need to make an income, if it’s going to be from me, I need to see more substance with the style. Moms who are using their kids for likes. This has been a long-time pet peeve of mine and while there are absolutely some beautiful and inspiring families on there who are fun to follow, I personally believe there are too many moms shoving their phones into their kids’ faces all days just to get “content.” Again, if there is substance behind it, great. If it’s gratuitous, I pass. People who I met one time at work or through a friend or at a dinner party and we exchanged social media handles in the moment because it felt like the right thing to do. It wasn’t. So who’s staying in my feed? People who share beautiful, inspiring, curated and not-so-curated images, ideas and thoughts that leave me feeling happy, dreamy, energetic or just plain moved. Some of my faves right now are @eyeswoon, @latonyayvette, @quince_ (that’s me after her wreath making workshop pre holidays in the picture above), @shutthekaleup, @masonprendergast and @theplaceiwastellingyouabout. Each one offers a little something that I take away with each post. Sometimes it’s something big, sometimes it’s something small. Right now, I appreciate the small things the most. And it feels really nice.

Today You Are Seven

2017 December 20

Today you are seven.

Seven is a game-changer when it comes to motherhood. It’s the gateway to big kid land. It’s saying goodbye to the baby days. The chubby cheek days. The extra hand tucked into yours any time you walk down the street days. But it’s also the beginning of so much more.

Today you tell everyone you are 4’3″ tall. I haven’t verified that account firsthand because it makes me sad to picture you so big. But it’s what you tell them. You weigh 60 something pounds. I think.

Today you are all Michael Jackson. We just took you to Las Vegas for your first time to see his show there and you watched it in pure awe, jumping up to dance when it moved you, sitting back to take it all in quietly when it felt like the right thing to do. My favorite moment of the weekend may have been when you saw the billboard with half-dressed women on it. Those almost seven year old eyes couldn’t believe what they were seeing. We laughed and kept walking.

Today you are sports. Lots of sports. Playing a little, following some, talking about it a lot. Team names and famous players and stats that have seemingly come out of thin air into your memory and locked themselves in. You collect baseball hats and one night last week I found you awake at 5 in the morning, curled up on the couch by yourself, watching SportsCenter. I sent you back to bed.

Today your favorite color is red. Your favorite food is (still) pasta though you can also appreciate a fish taco and have tried oysters, sushi, blue cheese and more. You’re an adventurous taster. Not an eater quite yet. But definitely open to tasting. You get the odd lemonade now with dinner. A baby no more.

Today you are skinny jeans and running shoes and t-shirts. Socks are an issue. You would not adjust well to living in a cold climate.

Today you are defining your voice as a little brother. You are forging your own path, making (some of) your own decisions, and finding your way. But never without checking behind you to make sure she has your back. And you still love to sleep in her room when you need some extra comfort.

Today you have a laugh that fills a room. It’s infectious. Bright, bubbly, giggly, hysterical. It lights up my world. I hope you always laugh just like that.

Today you are kind. You think of others first. You cry for those less fortunate. You wait your turn and say thank you without being prompted. Your heart is big. It’s one of a kind.

Today you are deep brown eyes and dark brown hair that shimmers with gold when the sun is just right.

Today you are the deep end and no training wheels and jumping onto anything you can find. You are very into American Ninja Warrior and scale the walls of our house like you are in competition, narrating your every move in the announcer voice that you love so much.

Today you are seven. Yesterday, when I told you it was your last day of being six, you cried. You didn’t want to grow any older. You didn’t want to turn seven. You didn’t want anything to change, you said.

And I feel the same, kid.

But today you are seven. And you are going to be really darn good at it. I just know it.

Happy birthday, Kai.