ten years

Dear Husband,

Ten years ago today I put on my white dress and veil and met you in that little church you just had to get married in. The one all our friends said would immediately go up in flames as soon as the two of us walked in. They thought they were so funny. We walked in that church. We did the thing. You made an honest woman out of me, and I? Well I finally married the guy. The one. That guy that I had been waiting for since I saw Sixteen Candles at seven years old. Don't laugh, no matter what you think these days, you have always been my first choice. You were the one I ran back to, not once, not twice, but three times. You were the one I held out for, held my breath for. I know. It doesn't seem that way now, but I really did. I really do. Still to this day I wake up in a panic after dreaming that I'm back in college and you're not returning my phone calls... Then I notice the two kids in our bed and all is right with the world again. But in case you still don't believe me, let me refresh your memory.

We met on a Friday night. It was sweltering in late July, and for so many reason I did not want to go to that party at Patty and Danielle's. But Lauren made me because she said I couldn't sit around and mope at home on a Friday night. I went, just to be supportive, and just to show I was against the entire thing as a whole, I wore hat, minimal make up, and a tank top I'd bought at a Santa Cruz thrift shop my last year of high school. I was at that party no more than twenty minutes when you walked in, fresh off your important wireless company job. I didn't know that then, I just saw you all dressed up in your mandarin collar and Clooney hair cut, and wondered, Who invited this guy? On my way out for a beer run I smiled at you and you gave no reaction at all. So I commented, "Who died?", and I think I threw you off. Upon my return from said beer run you said, "Nice hat", and I knew you were exactly the person I should be hanging out with at the party, but I stayed with my group of a good while.

What I didn't know then, but I know now, is that we were the two least likely people to fall in love. I was post break up, you were way past serious relationships. I felt like I was on a time table for love and romance, and you had no desire to reestablish the word "girlfriend" into your vernacular. No matter, there we were, acting like assholes to each other because I guess we both thought, if I can get this person to hate me, I won't have to admit that I like them. It was pretty much love at first sight.

We spent the first semester of my senior year at Fresno State ignoring the obvious. I was freshly twenty one and you taught me the importance of social drinking. You taught me how to have fun again. I loved those nights that we just sat in a bar and drank, getting to know one another, but not too much for fear we'd fall, but slowly we did fall. I let go first, then you, and we tumbled into a place so scary and uncomfortable we (actually, me) ran. I did. I ran the first time. Because I was so afraid you would say, "no", if I asked if you could love me back. My heart could not take it, so I ran.

On a side note, I still should have taken you to formal that semester. You should have said no to that other girl. Just my opinion. Also I should have gone solo, but my pride. Oh my pride just couldn't stand it.

We spent the spring semester on the edges of the obvious. We'd see each other at a party. We'd run into each other on campus. You'd call me at work, or when you knew I was in class. Leaving me voice mails. I got an email that Valentine's Day from you, just saying that we should hang out soon. There was a party soon, something so non threatening, as to ignore the fact that we missed each other so damn much. And then I gave in. That night we went out as friends, just to get some drinks. We weren't even drunk, just high on nerves and anticipation. You offered to drive me home, and I simply said I'd rather go home with you. So, we went.

We became so tangled that semester. Never coming up for air. Staying in on Saturday nights, watching movies and SNL, walking to get beer in the warm spring air. I'd tell you I had to study, and you'd tell me to do it at your place. We found that comfortable place where we didn't have to fill the spaces with words or actions. We could just be. Before we knew it, it was summer and we filled our days and nights with each other. I was happy and you were too, and for the first time it felt real. Like a real relationship. But it didn't last.

With the fall came the break up. We were just too serious. I wanted it all. I wanted the ring and the commitment. I wanted all of you and all your time. And you didn't want to feel. You just wouldn't admit how serious this was becoming. So you ran. Fast and swift. It was over before I could catch my breath.

I went through all the scenarios in my head. I looked for ways to catch your attention. I walked the routes I  knew you would walk on campus. I went to the same bars on the same nights. I actively ignored you as if you would notice. I spent the winter mourning the relationship, drowning my sorrows every night of the week, binge watching law and order before people really binge watched TV. And I waited. I waited for your call.

And you called. And I did my best to play it cool. But I wasn't, because I was back to you in less than five days. We rushed. We rushed into it. We set no boundaries. As you moved closer to graduation, and I spent my days working, as we drifted further and further apart. But every time we talked about breaking up, we just couldn't. It's not what we really wanted. And so we fought. We left each other in bars. We threw drinks at each other, and didn't call each other. And I was so mad because I thought we were done. I thought we were through. And we almost were.

We found our way back that summer. By Thanksgiving you were back, one hundred percent, as we worked though our fears and our issues. But they would crop up again. I would play the marriage card, I would in act time lines you were never going to follow. We'd spend the next few years watching everyone couple up and marry. We'd save our money and buy our first home, while you were in Alaska no less. You came home from a six week stint working in the frozen tundra to a "new" to us house with old furniture. And again, we'd still fight over boundaries and rings and why the hell weren't we getting married?

But we did. You even went the old fashioned, Alex P. Keaton route and asked my Dad if you could marry me. For some reason that is one of my favorite things about you. I never thought I'd marry a man who would ask. I never even knew I wanted to marry someone who would ask. I ruined my own proposal, I didn't want to go out of town or out to dinner for that matter. It makes sense as we are not the "big proposal" type. My proposal was perfect, I was tired and pissy, and you were fucking fed up with my ass, so you got down on one knee outside our half bath in that tiny shit hole of a house. It's so damn poetic, I can't stand it. and that is not sarcasm, that's the truth.

We married. We did the thing. A year and a half later we bought a bigger house and about nine months after that we became parents. That's when all this shit got real. I spent five years trying to convince you to love me and marry me, and that is cracker jack in comparison to what we have to live through now. This parenting shit is hard. So hard, that it makes our marriage hard. But we do hard John Crutchfield. The mess and the chaos is where we thrive. How bored we would be if we just agreed on everything. What would we do for fun if we couldn't talk shit to each other or argue over politics or religion or the Kardashians? And what the hell would we do without these kids? We would be so bored. Oh sure, we'd probably go to Cancun or Hawaii two times a year, but we'd get sick of each other and be stuck without little buffers to lighten the mood. You know I'm right.

Here's the thing. You think I'm not happy here. In this life we've made these last ten years. It's so far from the truth it makes me want to cut you. But I understand. I'm not always easy to live with. I complain. I have pity parties. Some days I don't want to be touched. I don't want you to grab my boobs while I cook dinner. I don't want to hang out in the garage with the neighbors, I just want to watch some Grey's Anatomy. I'm sorry. I'm sorry that sometimes you're not the first priority. I'm sorry that sometimes I really don't want to have sex. I'm sorry that most nights I'd rather sleep. I'm sorry that I don't fight as hard as I used to, but that's what happens when you are comfortable. You don't think you have to fight anymore. Because the comfort feels good and it feels right.

It feels like I've fought for you and this relationship for so long. Would it be crazy to say that I just want to live? I want to live this life with you and be comfortable. I want to live this life with you and be happy. I don't want to be anywhere else. I want to be right here, with you, and the kids, and I want to relax. We don't have to fight so hard anymore. I'm right here. I've been right here the entire time. I waited for you. I held my breath for you. I don't need sweeping romantic gestures, I just need you, dummy. I've always just needed you. Sure I've take you for granted. Sure I've pushed you away when I'm in a funk. And I will always take my shitty days out on you. But you knew that. None of my bitchiness is new. In fact you should find comfort in it.

It's been ten years since I walked down that aisle. I wasn't even nervous. I knew. I had know all along that this was the place I had always wanted to be. Still after ten years of marriage, by your side is where I've wanted to be all along. Even when I'm hangry, tired, and PMSing, it's always been you.

It will always be you.

Happy Anniversary, Crutch. 

I love you a hundred and fifty four seven five {Mac turns 5}

I find myself in a land of cliches as my baby turns five today. I want to talk about how time flies and that if you blink you'll miss it. In all honesty it doesn't seem that long ago that I was pregnant with Mackenzie. That the Hubbs and I were still arguing over her name, that I was still sick despite my entrance into the second and then third trimester. The memory of her "birth day" is still so fresh in my mind, and yet so far away. It is as if I've blinked and we have landed here, at five.

Mac's fourth year was so full of wonder and discovery. She is so aware of the world, and so very logical about it. Nothing is missed by my Miss Mac, even when you try to lie or white lie, she will seek you out and cross examine you better than any attorney. We will never pull a fast one on her. This past year she learned her letters and her numbers. She became aware of words and books. She has fallen in love with drawing and storytelling. She loves music and card games. This was the year Mac decided she wanted long hair, the first time she demanded clothes without ruffles, and has on occasion put toys back at Target, so she could buy shoes or clothes. She discovered the magic of secrets at Christmas time. This year she went from my toddling baby to a fun loving, adventure seeking girl.

Still I look at her and see my baby. Her hands are still impossibly small, just grazing the tops of my palms when she sets her hand in mine. I can still pick her up, but just barely. Her little noodle arms still wrap tightly around my neck. She still needs to rub my ear when she falls asleep at night, and I can't deny her that need. I can't stop picking her up or snuggling her neck, because I know all too well that one day she will be too big to lift. To big to fit in that place in my lap that seems carved out just for her. On a recent night, as we laid in her bed, she asked me to sing to her, which is just cruel on all accounts since my voice is horrible. But I indulged her with a song I sang to her as a baby, a Lemonheads cover of Frank Mills, that for some reason I still remember from my freshman year in high school. It's always seemed like a sad song about a lost friend, and at the end she quietly said, "I don't want to grow up Mommy". And I cried a little because she gets what I already know, that this time with her, as this tiny little human, is fleeting. She will always be my baby and there are so many adventures on the horizon, but she will only be this small and this too-insightful-for-an-almost-five-year-old, just once. How does she know that?

Her smile can stop time and her laugh is infectious. She has a sense of humor rarely found in a child her age, and will laugh and repeat jokes if she knows they will make you laugh. Those are things you cannot teach, those are the things that come with you when you are born. I watch her and think, how did I get this lucky? But like with most things in life, right time, right place, right heart.

The best thing about Mac turning five, she understands numbers and values. For a full month she would tell me, "I love you a hundred and fifty four seven five", and I would say, "I love you a hundred and fifty four seven five times a billion". Then we would just giggle, and try to out number each other. We would come up with crazy combinations, but none could ever hold the value or express the right amount of love because this kind of love is unmeasurable.

This kind of love lives somewhere between here and infinity.

Happy Birthday Mac, Mommy loves you one hundred and fifty four seven five. And many more.

Motherhood is a job {Period}

This is a post you can file under, "I can't believe we are still having this conversation".

Last week I read this blog post, originally from xoJane, now in it's crowing glory on Time.com. It's title, Unpopular Opinion: Being a Stay-at-Home Mother is Not a Job. The title alone boiled my blood, but curiosity got the best of me.I knew it couldn't be as awful as it sounded. The author obviously knew that it wasn't going to be embraced my the masses as the title suggests ("unpopular opinion), still I had to see for myself.

Here is the opener:
"I was able to do nothing but focus on giving my daughter 
the best early years at home that I could provide. 
That was a gift. Not a career."

Oh, boy.

Read the article for yourself. I'm not going to rehash it here. I can't. It would take me a year to make an argument for every piece of the article, which is what I really wanted to do, but that wouldn't solve a thing. If I'm honest I'm still analyzing it daily as I do more and more "motherhood" chores and think, sometimes this job does kind of blow. In case you are wondering I say that about my "outside" job too. Most of that doesn't matter, what does matter is the idea that being a Stay at Home mother isn't a job. Does that mean that being a Work from Home mother isn't a job? What about a working mother who comes home and plays a Stay at Home Mother on the weekend? I'm not rallying for awards or medals of honor, but lets be frank here,

Being A MOTHER, in general,  is a really hard job.

It doesn't matter if you work outside the home or inside the home, being a mother has been the hardest job I've ever had. And yes, I believe it's a job. Because I'm required to be here. I'm required to show up every day, and be kind and polite and graceful. I'm required to cook, clean, taxi, launder, powder, and raise tiny humans to be amazing big humans. Okay, fine, I don't get paid in real money, but I still work my ass off daily. I have two supervisors that I may never please, that I may never impress, that may never promote me. Sure they love me anyway, but my bosses are total hard asses and super demanding. Especially at three in the morning when they want a glass of water.

So yes, my dear friend at xoJane, being a mother is a kick your ass, never get a pay raise, beautiful, covered in sloppy kisses, wonderfully fulfilling JOB.

It's a position I did choose it, though I never had an interview. I chose to be a mother, and I also chose to be a full time Stay at Home mother for six years. It was my choice as a woman and a feminist. Did you all know that I was a feminist? It's not a bad word, hell it's the word that allowed my mother to burn her bra and wear pants to work. It's the word that allowed my Grandma to work her night shift to pay for school clothes and milk. It's the word that will allow my daughters to choose any job they want, including a Stay at Home Mother. Because supporting feminism means having choices, like the one to stay home, the one to work, or the one to become whatever we want. Including mothers.

Being a mother is the most liberating thing I have ever done. I admit that the early years were rough. I had to give up a lot of me time, and for a selfish only child that was tantamount. But in the end, having a choice, choosing to stay home was very liberating. I let go of so many of my hang ups. Staying home allowed me to immerse myself in a world I knew little to nothing about. As if I went to a foreign country and learned the native tongue. Being a mother made me brave, it finally made me see that I was beautiful and flawed, and it allowed me to love an be loved in a way that has changed my entire life. No job I have ever held has done that for me. No career will ever be as fulfilling. Not even writing, because, let's face it, those books will never love me back, not the way my two daughters do.

Maybe being a Stay at Home mother isn't a career, but damn if it ain't the hardest job I've ever had. When I think about it, being a mother doesn't have to be your career of choice. Like the woman in the article states, it's basically just a bunch of odd jobs bunched together. I've held lots of odd jobs that weren't my career, but that doesn't mean they weren't hard and almost broke me. Some of the odd jobs I've held were physically and emotionally demanding. Much like motherhood, which has almost broken me a time or two.

Can we just decide that MOTHERHOOD is a job? Can we allow those around us to consider it their career? Can we just say yes, and shut our traps and nod graciously as we agree to disagree? Because if you say that calling Stay at Home Motherhood a job is doing a disservice to women, you are doing a much greater disservice to all women. One woman's day dream is another woman's nightmare. Have we learned nothing from our friendships and mean girl movies? I love me some real housewives of (insert fancy city here), but I'd cry buckets if I had to hang out with those crazy bitches in high heels and lipstick every day. Forget it. I'll take these two year old leggings and sports bra (even though I don't sport), any day of the week.

Bottom line: Motherhood is a job. A hard, easy, fun, boring, isolating, loving, amazing, life changing, heartbreaking, take up every spare moment of your life that you can't even pee alone JOB. I don't care if you work seven jobs or zero jobs outside/inside/beside the home, if you are a mother, then you have a job, and perhaps a career, that will take you to the ends of the earth and back. Twice. Maybe potty training, wiping snot noses, and singing the Itsy Bitsy Spider will never go down as "my life's work", but raising my daughters will. Raising my daughters will be the highlight of my life's work. Saying otherwise does a disservice to all moms and their little humans running around eating goldfish crackers. Because if I'm on call twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, then I'm calling that a job. And no one, not even Time Magazine will convince me otherwise.

So let's get back to work Mamas, where ever your office happens to be.

PS: Can we just take a moment to talk about Time Magazine? Come on Time Magazine! Did you learn nothing from your cover story a few years ago of that lady breastfeeding her ten year old? Are we MOM ENOUGH? Yes, for the last time, HELL YES. We are all working very hard at our "jobs" to be mom enough so you'll get off our backs! Go home Time Magazine. You're drunk.

We've come a long way baby

During Spring Break I took my oldest on a breakfast date. It was a complete surprise to her, and let me just tell you it was almost impossible for me to keep the secret. I had recently discovered a place in town that made Gluten Free pancakes on request, and just knew I needed to take my little gluten free girl for some. She had been having a hard time adjusting lately to gluten free living and so I thought this would cheer her up. But also, she needed some one on one mama time desperately. It's been a long time since it was just the two of us, and I knew it would do us both some good.

Since Mackenzie had school during spring break, I woke up as I usually would if I had to go to work. The morning before Caitlin and I had stopped at Starbucks after dropping Mac at school, before I had to rush off to work. From the time Caitlin woke up, all she wanted to do was go to Starbucks. She must have asked me a million times, and every time I kept replying with "we'll see". It got to the point where I was getting a little irritated, but I didn't want to ruin the surprise. So we took Mac and on the way to the car, she asked again.

Let's go to breakfast, was my answer.

She now had a million and one more questions. What would she eat? What would I eat? Not many places have breakfast food for gluten free people like us, but when I told her I knew of a place where they made gluten free pancakes, her face lit up! Where mom? Do you know how to get there? How long will it take? Can we listen to Taylor Swift? Yes, yes, and absolutely.

I brought a book from home and we read a few chapters while we waited. She colored her kids menu and read me some of the trivia. We checked the Fresno Grizzlies baseball schedule and talked about Disneyland. She asked me if we could ride It's a Small World first, and Dumbo second. We ordered her a gluten free pancake with strawberries, whipped cream, and chocolate sauce. I said yes to a Dr. Pepper. I said yes to just about everything.

It wasn't until after breakfast that I realized we had found a sweet spot, her and I. She will be eight in June, and I would have never ventured out alone with her when she was an infant or a toddler. I spent her first two years paralyzed with fear, stressing about how many changes of clothes to pack in her diaper bag, how many bottles I would need before we were due home. I would become so overwhelmed with the details, and would cancel trips to play dates and birthday parties last minute, because I was so afraid. As we used the restroom before we left, it struck me that there were no tears on this beautiful morning. She wore her pajamas and flip flops, made up of a leopard print sweater with Aztec print leggings. I didn't re-braid her hair. I didn't even have her wash her face. I realized that these dates, these moments with her are the ones I used to dream about, when she was finally asleep on my chest. The moments that I would day dream about as I drove her across town with her screaming and crying the entire way. This breakfast date was once just a dream I had. Because there was a time when I felt we would never get here. That my journey through motherhood would never have a destination as sublime as this.

We left breakfast that morning smiling and singing along with Taylor. When we stopped for gas she wanted to help and for the first time I said yes. And while the gas pumped I realized that she had outgrown her booster seat. It was time to take off the back, which was just another milestone that we had arrived at on this beautiful morning.

For the first time, since becoming a mother almost eight Junes ago, I felt that ease. I felt that glow. I felt that magical thing all the other moms always talked about. Finally since becoming a mother, all felt right in my tiny Caitlin centric universe. Finally. Thankfully. Amazingly.

Oh, my sweet girl. We've come a long way, baby.

Some bunnies had a fun Easter

Our Easter Weekend was jam packed this year. We were invited to two Easter parties on Friday, three birthday parties on Saturday, and still had to find time to actually celebrate Easter. I swore I was never going to be one of those moms that dragged her kids to every party we were invited to, but I guess you have to when your kids really want to go. So we did. We did all the things. We ate cupcakes for every meal, and washed it all down with punch and soda and Capri Suns.

Here is my little bunny, all dressed up for her school Easter Party. They provided the ears and the face painting. She provided the smile and the sass.

Caitlin lucked out since she was out of school so she got to join in all the fun. She couldn't wait to get her bunny nose and whiskers.

We stayed the night with our in laws on Saturday night so we could color eggs together. It was so much fun, and when I think about it, I'm pretty sure the big kids had more fun than the little kids.

We bought some weird contraption that promised tie-dyed eggs. For six bucks it was okay, but they didn't really look tie-dyed. They looked more like we accidentally splattered some paint on hard boiled eggs. Whatever, my kids were excited.

This girl spent the night experimenting with colors. She even tested an egg without the shell in the dye. We were sure to throw that one out.

Easter was awesome, except for one hiccup. Mommy packed us all up to go to Auntie and Uncle's and remembered the toothbrushes, the gluten free baking mix, and the flat iron. What is the one thing that mommy didn't remember? The damn Easter Baskets. So poor Mr. Bunny had to leave his treasures on the floor. I beat myself up about that all day.

Luckily, Auntie came through with some gift bags and paper shreds for the Easter egg hunt. Still their metal Easter buckets would have been better. And I still made sure to Instagram about that.

After we left Auntie and Uncles, we stopped at my Grandparent's house for more food and another egg hunt. Mac looks unsure, but I promise she was into it.

Easter weekend was so much fun and so exhausting. We took it all in stride. The most important part was that I had the entire weekend off and spent every bit of it with the girls and the Hubbs. We really did try to pack in every single thing into one Saturday afternoon and evening, and it was well worth it. Egg dyes and hunts won't last forever. The magic of chocolate Reese eggs before breakfast will lose some of the magic one year. And bunny pancakes will just seem silly when the girls are fifteen. But I will make them anyway. Because no matter how old they get, they will always be my baby bunnies.

Some fresh air {Spring Break Recap}

To say Spring Break was a breath of much needed fresh air is a serious understatement. After weeks of work and stress and Girl Scout cookie sales, finally we got a break.

Monday morning of Spring Break was awesome. I got up and was free to get ready for work. I didn't have to worry about lunches or snacks or thermoses. No one cried. No one yelled. There were no arguments about hair or shoes or waffles that were burned in the toaster. It was fantastic. It was as if a weight had been lifted off of me.

And that feeling set the tone and the attitude for Spring Break. We were free to get Starbucks before Mom had to go to work. We were free to eat dinner late, not worry about home work, or skip a bath just because. We read chapter books for fun, with no pressure of time or tests. We lounged and watched reruns of Glee and Clarence and Modern Family. And best of all we could breathe.

The last four days of spring break were jam packed. I was lucky that I had those days off. The pressure was on with two Easter parties, then a Saturday packed with four birthday parties. But still, I kept breathing. I tried to keep it light, and tried to let go of all that wasn't urgent. Because is anything really life threatening? Will wearing neon shorts with old stained t shirts really end the world? No, they won't. Will eating cookies for breakfast and frozen yogurt for dinner ruin their chances of a college education? I hope not. But will mom yelling and being stressed all the time take the joy out of the day and all the days she shows her crazy? Yes.

Spring break gave me the fresh air that I needed. The time I needed to focus on what was important, my time, my patience, my love for my girls. It also gave me a chance to try life from the other side, the less controlling side. With a little fresh air I could breathe and really look at what had been holding me back. My fears, my feelings of inadequacy, my desire to control all that is uncontrollable. I needed a little breathing room to see that letting some of that shit go really makes all the difference.

Not every morning is going to be carefree and weightless. We start school today. But I can be a little more carefree and weightless. Maybe we won't have cookies for breakfast and Starbucks stops, but I can and I will breath a little easier. I can make the effort to yell less, look the other way when one kid wears dirty sweats and the other wears shorts in the rain. I can focus on patience, and I can refocus my time. And I can let go of all that isn't life threatening. Because believe me stained t shirts and cookies for breakfast are not the end of the world. If they were, I wouldn't be writing this post.

Isn't it amazing what a little fresh air can do?

On my thirty seventh birthday

On my thirty seventh birthday I took a selfie. Because I had some good hair happening. And because despite my five thirty a.m. wake up call, I was happy. See that. I'm smiling. And I meant it.

On my thirty seventh birthday I spent my morning at Muffins with Mom. With both of my daughters, enjoying specially made gluten free and paleo muffins. I spent three days baking to make it there, and got up a half hour early to make it on time, but it was worth the smiles. It was also worth watching Caitlin be so proud as she told everyone around us that today was "Mommy's Birthday". My celebration was just getting started.

On my thirty seventh birthday my husband brought flowers home. Which isn't unusual because he's been known to do so. It's just the fact that he continues to do it, because I forget all about them after the first twenty four hours. Then he is left to water them until we both eventually let them die. Regardless, him bringing me flowers never gets old.

On my thirty seventh birthday I spent the afternoon with a room full of second graders and one preschooler. There is something special in the memories made when your little sister comes to class. There is also something extra special when you are the little sister that gets to participate in Heads Up Seven Up. I loved that the class totally accepted Mackenzie as one of their own.

On my thirty seventh I was proud to show off Gluten Free Twinkies that I made using a cake mix and a Twinkies pan. I was proud that I was tasked with coming up with the gluten free alternative for my daughter. It made me feel like I was one of those mothers who did such things from scratch. It's been awhile since I've felt like a super mom. The GF Twinkies were a hit, especially since it was the main ingredient in the Rabbit Racers, made by Caitlin's second grade class.

On my thirty seventh birthday I spent it with this guy, and the little family we have made together. Along with my parents we ate our hearts out at Cheesecake Factory. We laughed and talked and told the girls to calm down a million and one times. We enjoyed each other's company, and then we shopped until we almost dropped. I couldn't have planned a better evening out.

On my thirty seventh birthday I asked my Dad to buy me this CD. Because I knew he would, and because I remember listening to Hall and Oates with my Dad on our trips to Monterey after school for salt water taffy and fried calamari. Because when I was seven I knew all the words to Private Eyes. Because so much of my memories are set to music and that is all because of my Dad. Thanks, Dad.

On my thirty seventh birthday I was spoiled. Completely. By friends, family and co-workers. I was treated to a card with a posh bear riding an old timey tricycle. I got flowers and gift cards to Target. I went out to a fabulous dinner. I wore Toms and jeans all day. I spent the day with my girls, having muffins and building Rabbit Racers. I enjoyed a Starbucks and some coconut milk ice cream. I knew thirty seven would feel so much like thirty six. Just another year older, with not much changing. Thirty seven is not a major milestone year, but that doesn't take away its importance. Thirty seven a gift of another year. Another year of hopes and dreams and wishes. Another year to live and love and laugh and feel.

On my thirty seventh birthday I turned a year older, and instead of feeling sad about getting old, I felt happier than ever. Which has been the ultimate gift.