happy birthday, jenna.

Look at this happy girl! This photo is a more than a few months old, from the Spring, so you've changed a bit since then, but it captures your spirit so perfectly.
While your little hands still feel so tiny in mine, I see very clearly how much growth comes between age two and three. Your baby features have faded away, making room for longer legs, beautiful, wavy hair and eyes that look more and more like your big sister. In fact, most days, people ask me if you are twins, which gives me all the feels.

Like most three year olds with big sisters, your language has exploded. You ask good questions, and you looks us in the eye when you do. We talk about all sorts of things, but mostly, about what we're doing after breakfast, or after the park or after your nap and most importantly, what's for dessert after dinner. There is always so much we are always looking forward to. And even with your newfound vocabulary, let's hold onto 'hang-a-burger' - said in your thickest East Coast accent - for your favorite 'hamburger.' I hope we never forget this one.

Another Jenna'ism that we especially love is your care and keep for babies, real and pretend. When a baby is near, you are not far behind. While your older sister is off solving pretend world problems, you can be found tucking a little one in blankets, or warming up a bottle or singing a happy tune to calm a sleepless baby doll.

Even with your recent maturity, which feels like it appeared overnight, you manage to remind me that you're still my baby. I'll never turn down the chance to rock you in my arms, push you in the stroller, tickle you for a deep belly laugh, sing you to sleep or wrap you up like a little burrito. It is in those moments and because of your sister and you that I find myself slowing down more, discovering joy in  what most would call ordinary moments and am humbled with gratitude when I take the time to really recognize them as extraordinary.

Your sweet little singing voice that hums to the beats that seem to dance whimsically through your only head, creative dance moves, laser focus with legos, cheerful play with your sister - intermingled with bouts of WWE-like moves - all bring such happiness to our family. Your smile, though. It's magic. It's just about my favorite thing in all the world.
I love you, sweet Jenna Bean. Happy third birthday.

Photos by the gifted Siri Berting



The beautiful thing about blogging is that as long as you can hang on, this page will hang on, too. For me, this is really a space of celebration and joy, of everything from the everyday to the biggest of days, just like today.
photo by my amazingly talented friend Siri Berting
To my biggest girl, I want to say happy birthday. You're five! We've been counting down the days since the calendar flipped to 2016, and it is with so much love and happiness that we honor you today.

When people ask me how I feel about having a five year old, the truth is that it's hard to remember life with you as anything but this very age and very grown-up season. If I stop to remember our first moments together, I am struck by the same surge of light and energy that joined our world on the day you were born. Five years later, that light and energy has stayed with us, for it is you that warms up every room, shines on me when I need it most and fills my soul in ways that no one else can.

With every birthday, I am reminded to thank you for making me a mom. Thank you for helping me work on humility. Thank you for helping me find my giggles. Thank you for showing me deep down, what really matters.

In the early days, when it felt very hard for me to leave you, I remember observing moms and daughters obsessively, wondering when the days of sacred, shared looks and giggles and outings like mani/pedi dates would be our thing. In the trenches, as a young mom, days like that looked out of reach. So far away. 

And yet, it's here. Those what-felt-like fairytale days are here. While I will always look fondly on the newborn days, where we are, right here, right now, is where we are meant to be; practicing writing letters and words while we cook dinner, braiding hair for ice skating lessons, rolling out our yoga mats, kicking the ball around with your dad after dinner, slurping popsicles, being brave and discovering a love for the water, lots of questions, lots of pretend play, lots of give and take and mostly, lots of patience and love for your little sister who wakes up to spend her every minute following every move you make.

On your last day of pre-K, your very favorite teacher told me that you were a bright light in her life. You reminded her to be soft, gentle and to love, always. My hope for you today is that you feel that gentle, kind love in the same beautiful way that you share it with others.

Happy birthday, sweet Mari girl.