Penelope's 5th Birthday

Um..hi out there! I realize I haven't blogged in many, many months, but I couldn't let Penelope's birthday come and go without writing her annual birthday letter. I hope you are following me on Instagram where I post much more frequently :) Perhaps I'll be back here someday soon!

Dear Penelope,
Five whole years.
Five years since you came into our world and changed it forever.
Five years since you made me a Mom.
Five years of sunshine, fun, smiles, infectious laughs and the very best snuggles.
Five years of challenges that I never could have prepared for.
Five years of fun.
The longest and shortest five years of my life.

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A few weeks ago, we got all of our snow gear on for the walk to school. We were running late, as usual. You, in your hot pink coat with furry lining, a matching pink Trolls hat, and bright blue Paw Patrol boots, turned to me as I closed the door and said: Mom I’m going to run.

You took off down our long hallway with reckless abandon, feet churning and long hair waving, running with the pure, innocent joy of a baby. I had to stop and just watch you, to soak in the moment. How much longer will you do these things? How much longer will I see the remnants of a baby before you’re too much of a big girl and too grown to run without self-awareness or worry of anyone watching? It was that moment that hit me like a ton of bricks and all I could do was shed some tears and try to imprint the moment on my brain.

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You had a big year. You finished pre-k 3 and started 4s. You loved summer camp. You learned karate and earned a yellow stripe belt, followed by an orange stripe. You took dance class and absolutely loved it. You were a toy soldier in the school Christmas pageant and absolutely rocked it.

You became the very best big sister to ever exist, I’m pretty sure. Watching you and Henry together makes my heart sing. If Henry is fussy, you happily make him laugh. If Henry is happy, it’s likely you aren’t far away. If Henry needs a diaper change, you say: Mom, let me get my step stool! so that you can help. Not one moment of jealousy. Not one moment of not understanding why henry needs extra attention. You love your brother and you love being a big sister. When Henry was born, you received a big sibling book, and in it was a question about how you felt when you found out you were going to be a big sister. Your response? I always wanted a baby.

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This year, we did lots of cooking and baking together. You are always excited to help in the kitchen and lately I’ve started to let you use small knives to chop vegetables and you do such a great job. So meticulous and precise. From vegan cookies to dad’s sandwiches, you’ve made a ton of goodies over the last year.

You still manage to challenge us on the daily. You fight with us about wearing pants, shorts, tights and shoes. Fight is an understatement. In these really tough moments, I pray for strength and pray that you also continue to have courage in your convictions. Because while it’s painful to get us all out of the house in the morning, there’s a small part of me that remembers I still hope that you never stop fighting for what you want.

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You are so close to reading. You can sound out letters and love writing. Will you be a writer someday like me? I would love that so much. You love your baby dolls, and have more than you can keep up with naming at this point. You love school and your friends. I wish I could be a butterfly on the wall of your classroom so I could listen in on what you all talk about (we recently found out that you discuss music and who got to see despacito performed on tv (at the Grammys)).

We just took a big, big trip to Disney World over your birthday. Daddy and I had been planning it for months and I’m so happy to say that it was truly one of the best weeks and trips I’ve ever taken. I had the best time experiencing the magic of Disney with you and I will cherish those memories forever.

Happy birthday, my sweet baby girl. Thank you for being you.

Birthday Dinner + Hotel Debates

Hi there!


Last night we celebrated Shaun's birthday. Now that we have a little nugget, Shaun decided that he wanted to just have a nice dinner at home with his ladies. Worked for me!


When Shaun mentioned that he wanted seafood for his birthday dinner, I was on board since it's simple and quick yet feels so special. Since Penelope's bedtime isn't until 8 or so, I put together a little pre-dinner appetizer platter for us to snack on until Pen hit the hay.



I picked up some hard salami, stuffed olives, and shrimp cocktail. To round things out, I added some sharp cheddar and our favorite Dubliner cheese.


After opening gifts and sending Penelope off to dreamland, I got to work on dinner. I don't often cook fish (I'm actually not a huge seafood eater), but when we came across Ina Garten's mustard roasted fish recipe, I knew it would be perfect.



And it was. The whole dish came together in less than 30 minutes and was so flavorful! I used cod fillets and the mustard/creme fraiche/capers combo was fantastic. On the side, I served skillet roasted potato wedges. Delish!


For dessert (my favorite part...Shaun could take it or leave it!), we snacked on Baked by Melissa mini cupcakes (note: their flavor of the month is berry silly tastes like Trix in a cupcake!) and compost cookies from Momofuku Milk Bar.



Not too shabby for a birthday dinner at home at 9:30PM! As part of his birthday gift, I'm taking Shaun back to Atlantic City in a few weeks (sans Penelope!) so we can head out for a fancy schmancy dinner then!


Meanwhile, tonight we are heading out to Penn State for my sister Christine's graduation! I'm so excited for our family to be altogether for the weekend and to celebrate Christine and all of her hard work over the last 4 years. It's also Penelope's first road trip! When Shaun and I were talking about the weekend, he mentioned that he couldn't wait to stay over in a hotel because it's so relaxing and fun. I had to's nice to not have any beds to make or dishes to wash for a couple of nights! I do hate packing and unpacking to go places, but I would take a hotel weekend anytime!


What do you think? Do you like staying in hotels? Do you like packing or hate it?