Dear Lila: You’re Seven Years Old!

Dear Lila,

A few days ago you turned the big SEVEN! I keep telling you that you’re not allowed to get any older, but for some reason you’re not listening. ;)

This year you’ve been more excited about your birthday than any other year. We’ve been planning your party for months now and you woke up beyond excited. Daddy and I set up donuts with candles, balloons, rainbow flowers and presents for you in the kitchen.

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You got dressed up in your “alternate dress” for school, took your class treat (frosted brownies) and kissed me goodbye.

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For your special birthday lunch, you requested Lunchables pizza with a cookie treat. I tried to tell you that Lunchables are actually pretty gross, but you insisted! Sure enough when your brothers and I met you at school for lunch, you quickly decided that “Lunchables are yucky!!” Good thing I brought you a milkshake and salad from Zingos too. :)

This weekend you’re having 25 kids to the local gymnastics place for your birthday party. This is your first “big” party and you cannot wait to have fun with all your friends, and mostly to open all your presents. I’m going to be almost 38 weeks pregnant with your brother, so I called in all four of your grandparents to come as reinforcements.

What can I say about you at this age other than you are an absolute delight. You make daddy and I so proud with how sweet, considerate, smart and talented you are. You melt my heart daily with your little notes, drawings and “I love yous.”

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You are doing so well in first grade, where you’re learning to read like a pro. You recently asked us to get you a light for your bed so you can stay up reading at night. You also love making up your own stories, illustrating them and then reading them to your brothers in bed. They LOVE when you read to them!

You are also completely obsessed with art. Every morning you wake up, turn on your favorite show “Beastmasters” and get out your art supplies. By the time it’s time to go to school you’ve usually created 3-5 pieces of art already. You are also taking a drawing class at our local art studio, which you love.

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In addition to being creative, you also are quite physical. This fall you ran cross country again and placed your highest at 8th place out of 150 kids! You also are constantly on your climbing wall or pushing yourself to do new tricks on the playground.

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Beyond all your talents and accomplishments, I think what I love about you the most is how kind and loving you are. While your brothers may annoy you, you still are gentle and patient with them. You are a loyal and supportive friend to your classmates, and respectful to those around you.

Daddy and I love spending time with you because you’re so enjoyable to be around. On days where I feel like I’m failing as a mother, you always find a way to pick me up with a hug or by telling me “you’re the best mom ever.”

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Honestly on those days when I feel like I’ve not lived up to my best as a parent, I think “well I must be doing something right, because Lila is such a great kid.” And you ARE! Thank you for paving the path as the oldest in our family.

I can’t wait to see what new things you discover in your seventh year. I love living life alongside you and watching you grow up into a spectacular little girl.

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Love you always,



Turning 30

This weekend I am off to Austin, TX for a bachelorette party for one of my closest lifelong friends, Becky. I also happen to be turning 30 on Saturday. Spending my 30th having a blast with some of my closest friends … I couldn’t have scripted the overlap in fun any better myself. (Becky is the fun girl in my first few photos below)

With all the craziness of the past month, I haven’t really had a chance to sit back and reflect on this birthday milestone. I know 30 is supposed to be a big one that can conjure up a lot of feelings good and bad. So far, I’ve been feeling pretty good about seeing my 20’s come to a close. Probably because I don’t have many regrets from the past 10 years.

I lived the fun, single life with my girlfriends in Chicago. I started a career that ultimately led to my main goal – being able to work and raise a family in harmony. I met and married a truly wonderful man. We lived a life of adventure in Lake Tahoe for several years. And finally, what I’m most proud of, I had my little Lila. All in all, I’d say my 20’s rocked!

When I dreamed about what my life would look like at 30, it thankfully looked very similar to what my reality is. I think maybe that’s why I don’t feel much anxiety around hitting 30. But the interesting thing, is I never really thought beyond 30, so right now I really have no clue what my new life goals are.

I suppose on my list of things I want in my life at 40, would be creating a warm, inviting home. Growing our family with more children. Improving my golf game. Having a happy, loving marriage. Reclaiming some of my old passions like acting or volleyball. Building a solid group of friends in Toledo. Finding ways to give back through service. Elevating my relationships with family. Being a supportive, kind and patient mama. Accepting wrinkles with grace. And having a lot of fun along the way.

For now though, I’m going to put my mom-self and wife-self aside and celebrate the 20-something in me with my friends in Austin. That 20-something girl sure does know how to have fun! She also knew more about how to build a happy life than I originally gave her credit for.

A walk through my 20’s in pictures. :)

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Morgan and Stefan’s Dude Ranch Wedding

While in Colorado recently, I connected with a colleague – Morgan – over our love of weddings, blogging (she’s at and pretty pictures. She showed me shots of her  wedding and I fell in love. You guys- she got married at a dude ranch!

Morgan and her husband Stefan met and fell in love at a real life dude ranch called FH Bar Ranch in Wyoming where they both worked one summer. When it came time to choose their wedding venue, they decided to bring their friends and family back to where it all started and the result is one of the most unique, charming, rustic and memorable weddings I’ve ever seen!

I love her yellow and green bouquet (those were the same colors I chose!).

Eyelet wedding dress and cowboy boots? It doesn’t get more adorable than that.

After they said “I Do” horses were set to run free behind the ceremony site. What a special moment!

This next shot is my favorite. It seriously belongs in a museum.

The lovely couple.

Again, I adore the green and yellow touches. Lemons were such a great decor idea Morgan!

Morgan told me her husband hand painted the cake toppers to look like them. What a sweet guy!


I also heard this bouquet toss got a little out of control. I won’t go into details, but let’s just say dresses were torn. :)

Little did the girls know, but she threw a “decoy” bouquet that actually split into six bouquets so more of her friends could “catch” it. I bet many boyfriends were sweating that night!


Morgan, you guys did such an amazing job planning a truly memorable wedding. I’m positive seeing these pictures that all your guest fell in love with the ranch the way you two did that summer.

Click the following links to find out more about the FH Bar Ranch, Morgan’s photographer Cheryl Ungar (based out of Denver) and Morgan and Stefan’s wedding on The Knot.

My 5th Grade Dreams Realized

When I was younger, I used to dream that one day I could put my tallness to use as a model. Poor 11 year old me was so tall and awkwardly skinny (5’9 and 105 lbs  in 5th grade!) and the only hope I thought I had at feeling pretty one day came when nice adults would say “you should be a model, you’re so tall!”

Eventually I grew into my height (thank goodness!) and started to love the view I got from above.

Well, last week I got a chance to live my 5th grade fantasy when Luke and I acted as “models” for a photo shoot to promote weddings at Heavenly (where I work).

While getting his photo taken is right up there with getting a tooth yanked, Luke indulged my excitement about getting some new photos of us in our wedding attire and agreed to be the handsome groom. What a guy. :)

Our foray into modeling wasn’t quite as glamorous as what you see on America’s Next Top Model (I did my hair and makeup with a work friend in the bathroom of a Seattle’s Best Coffee at 7:00 am), but I have to admit it was fun to have another day where I felt beautiful in my wedding dress with my guy by my side.

Here are some of my favorite shots taken by the incredibly talented Kurt Larsen Photography and his skilled assistant, Britta, who I work with at Heavenly.

Heavenly is a truly amazing place to hold a fake wedding, so I can’t even imagine how wonderful it would be on your real wedding day! Riding the Gondola, taking photos 10,000 ft high overlooking Lake Tahoe and then having a reception in a building as rustic and gorgeous as Tamarack Lodge would make for a seriously memorable wedding.

To learn more about booking a wedding at Heavenly, click here. And to book Kurt for your wedding, engagement or any other photo opportunity, click here.

Disclosure: I work at Heavenly and was compensated for my time during the photo shoot.