Thank you Stagelights!

Canton took his final bow as part of Stagelights Act 3. He capped off his run, which included the Dwarf in Sherek, Iago in Aladdin, King Julien in Madagascar, Crush in Nemo, and finally Buddy in Elf.

This week has been haaaaaaarrrrrrdddd. Any show week is crazy, but we never thought we would have to deal with the star having pneumonia. Canton pours his heart into everything he does. He does not know how to do anything he loves halfway. I did not want him to do the show, but I knew I couldn’t take it away from him. It had to be his decision, and he decided he had to go. The gallons of sweat that have poured out of this kid, he gave everything he had to this production. And they have given him so much in return.

We are so thankful for all he has learned and the friendships he has made along the way! The stage is his happy place, and he is nothing less than magical.

To Liberty As you Turn 11

Dear Liberty,

Happy 11th Birthday!

My sweet hibou, how are you 11? As someone who used to hang out with eleven-year-olds on a daily basis I have to say, I am so amazed by you! I have taught hundreds of kids, but none as kind and tender hearted as you. 

This year has been filled with awards that shine as evidence of your brains, persistence, and determination. You got all As again, Student of the Month, and PERFECT scores of your end of year tests! You also completed all your level 2 harp songs and will be moving to the Harp Ensemble in the fall.  You have been working diligently in speech and have shown much improvement. I still remember the little girl that was determined to ride a bike, and you did! You did it all by yourself! When I thought you needed a break or to regroup you just kept on, you knew you could do it! I see that same determination in you today. Whether it is working through a math problem, dancing your fingers across the harp, doing your speech exercises, or even just this week trying to improve your freestyle swim stroke, you are full of persistence and determination.  Those traits will take you so far in life. 

May you always “Just Keep Swimming”.

Owls are still a big part of your personality. But, you have added squirrels to the mix. We have a scurry of squirrels to observe in our backyard each day. You and Adleigh have given them names like Bushy, Bushward, Cinnamon, and of course dad’s favorite, Carl.  I love how you notice the little things that others may miss. You see the beauty in the simple, everyday miracles of life. Your office is filled with beautiful and detailed creations, and of course many, many Owen drawings. Your room, decorated with all those lovely owls, is a reflection of your unique personality and interests.

May you always “see living as its own reward” and find beauty in everything around you.

When I was little I always imagined my own family, but I cannot believe how lucky we are! I also wondered what my kids would be like. All three of you are beyond any expectation. You, my first girl, I worried if you would struggle with the same insecurities and lack of confidence I had. Not you, you know exactly who you are. You are the girl that has strong opinions about her clothes, her likes and dislikes, and you know your boundaries. You are the girl who would yell “Je suis forte!” as you worked to perfect your cartwheel. You are the girl that does her speech exercises without being reminded. You are the girl that knows how she best learns. You know musical theater is not your thing as much as it is for Canton, but you still committed to Stagelights and, in usual Liberty fashion, put so much work into your lines and blocking and produced a wonderful show! You also found that you love learning how things work backstage, the props, the lights and sounds, and you have all the makings of a fabulous crew member, you are a girl who knows how to get stuff done! 

May you always know who you are, and know you will always be enough.

You are heading to middle school this year, but still within the comforts of the home that means so much to your success. If I’ve learned anything from years in the trenches as a middle grade teacher, it is that you need role models and love more now than ever. You are still the little girl that nuzzles into me for hugs and gives the tightest hugs ever to dad, it is hard to imagine those days may be waning. As you step into this new year of your life, always remember how truly extraordinary you are. Keep being determined, keep finding joy in the things that captivate your heart, and keep being just who you are. You are a remarkable young human, and I am so lucky to be part of your journey. I promise I am always on your side. I will love you with all that I have each day, and that love is unconditional. 

“And when push comes to shove, I will send a fully armed battalion to remind you of my love…”

Happy Birthday, my sweet, owl-loving, harp-playing, determined daughter. I love you more than words can express! Je t’aime hibou!!!

I love you, Liberty!!! Me and Lou and Lou and me, so happy together!!!



To Canton As You Turn 15

Dear Canton,

Happy 15th birthday! 

What a marvel! I wish I could write a letter without gushing over just how fast you are growing up and just how soon you will be off to college. I can’t. I can’t help but reflect on the incredible journey you’ve had so far and the astonishing man you are becoming. When I look at you I see all the versions of Canton, the colicky baby to the teenager taller than me. It was just yesterday you were the toddler that would crawl into my lap with a book in one hand and a Thomas train in the other, full of curiosity and wonder. Now here you are, stepping out of your freshman year with kindness, wit, grace, and charm.

“Practically perfect, in every way…”

They say you are only as happy as your unhappiest child. Last year, that was you. You were miserable in middle school, surrounded by people, kids and adults, who did not appreciate your gifts. You missed 30+ days of school and still managed to have perfect grades. You can’t choose when people acknowledge you, lesson learned, you chose to fight forward, onward to better things.

This year, you have only missed one day, have a 4.0, and as Mr. Loy says “No moss grows under his feet!” I should know, we have added miles and miles on the van taking you all over and eat in shifts because you are rarely home. You have brilliantly juggled Marching Band, Donut Dollies, Trip to the Moon, Choir, Latin, Scholastic Bowl, Forensics, Peter and the Starcatcher, and Mary Poppins. You received national recognition on the National Latin Exam, became the first freshman ever at Jamestown to be awarded State Choir delegation, and won third place in VHSL State Forensics! The difference this past year to the one prior is nothing short of magic.

“Oh, it’s a jolly holiday…”

When I think of magic, I think of Mary Poppins. Just like Mary, you bring magic into our lives. These words transport us to a world where every moment is infused with magic and wonder, where the impossible becomes possible. I truly never know what you are going to do next. Will you entertain your sisters with trivia about different cultures and ages past? Will you compose a masterpiece? Will you captivate audiences with your performances? Will you simply share in laughter at Curb and flawlessly predict upcoming twists?

You have this remarkable ability to brighten up even the gloomiest of days with your infectious laughter and boundless curiosity. Your teachers adore you, really, I’ve gotten that email several times this year! Like Mary, you have a way of turning the ordinary into the extraordinary, and I can’t help but marvel at the joy you bring to everyone around you.

“Up through the atmosphere, up where the air is clear, oh, let’s go fly a kite!”

Mr. Stone said this song would make all the older people cry, and you did not get that, or more precisely, you do not find the same value in simple joys, you were too busy worrying about perfecting the blocking and vocals. These words remind us to cherish the moments of pure delight, to revel in the beauty of the world around us, and to find solace in the company of loved ones. I loved watching you splash and play in the pool the night before the state finals of forensics, soaking up the fun with you sisters and enjoying a hotel experience before such a big day. May you never be too old or too serious to just go fly a kite! 

“Childhood’s a step in time, parenthood’s the same…”

You have transitioned from childhood to a teenager and soon you will be an adult. Each of these steps bring lessons for life.  Embrace the journey, cherish the memories, and learn from every experience. Don’t always feel you have to have one eye on the future, the good old days are happening right now, and they will dance on by before you know it. May you not always be longing for the next step, never miss a chance to relish in each one. 

“Winds in the east, there’s a mist coming in, like something is brewing, about to begin…”

Just like Mary Poppins taught Jane and Michael, you’re growing up to be kind, brilliant, responsible, and full of potential. Your sense of wonder knows no bounds, and I admire your courage to keep learning and growing. Whether you’re soaring high on the wings of imagination or facing the challenges of growing up, or even general teenage angst, always remember that you carry magic within you.

As you embark on this new chapter in your life, I want you to know that I believe in you with my whole being. You have already accomplished so much, and the world is truly your oyster. Keep embracing life with your same sense of wonder and curiosity, you will say it is cliche or too sentimental, but there really is no limit to what you can achieve.

“Anything can happen if you let it, life out there is waiting, so go and get it…”

Life is full of possibilities. As you step into your 16th year, remember that anything can happen if you allow yourself to dream, to believe, and to act. There will be challenges along the way, but with determination and perseverance, you can overcome them all. You possess a unique blend of magic and resilience. I have watched you bang on the piano for hours to perfect your craft. You practice dance moves in tiny moments when you think no one is watching. You have a dedication of which many can only dream.  You have the power to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary, to find joy in the smallest moments, and to spread kindness wherever you go.

Huzzah, my dear Canton, on your fifteenth birthday! May your day be filled with laughter, love, and all the magic that you bring into our lives. Always remember, no matter where life takes you, you’ll always be magic to us.

I love you sunshine!



To Liberty as You Turn 10

Dear Liberty,

Lou, you are 10!!! How is it that the girl that waited so long to be born is already a decade old?

Ten years ago you were a tiny owlet nestled in my arms and now you are 10, spreading your wings and soaring to new heights. Happy 10th birthday, my wise and beautiful girl!

What a year you had in school! In the FLEX program you excelled and were so happy! No more fighting over your socks or trying to put your screaming body into the car, you are so content. You got straight A’s again, a perfect score on your Virginia Studies SoL test, and were a leader to your classmates. You were kind, organized, and determined. You woke up each morning ready to go and start your day of learning. You kept up with your activity log and spent so much of the day reading, you love Diary of a Wimpy Kid and the Babysitter’s Club, and even worked in harp practice each day. You made powerpoints, created beautiful art, researched Google Maps, excelled in fractions and decimals, and transported all over Virginia in your immersive adventures. You even wrote a story about Owen that was read all the way in the United Kingdom! Not too shabby for a girl that used to hate to write. The school year ended with you being awarded the Presidential Education Award for your grades and leadership.

Like an owl perched upon a branch, you are observing the world with wide-eyed wonder and wisdom. The owl, with its keen vision and acute perception, symbolizes your ability to see beyond the surface and understand the deeper meanings of life. You have a natural curiosity that compels you to seek knowledge. May you always be curious as you search for the best life has to offer.

Just like the owl, you possess remarkable intelligence and intuition. Your keen mind absorbs information and your curiosity continues to grow. Embrace this wisdom, symbolized by the owl, and let it guide you on your journey through life.

But the owl is not only wise; it is also graceful. Your gentle nature and kind heart radiate a warmth that touches everyone around you. You have an innate wisdom that helps you understand people and emotions. You remind me so much of Mal when someone swallows wrong, you rush to their side and make sure they have water or whatever they need. You always know when someone is having a bad day and I just love how you and Adleigh stick up for each other against Canton or Dad. May you always view your empathy as a strength. Knowing yourself helps you know the world. True strength is not diminishing someone else’s light, it’s letting everyone shine.

The next ten years will change a lot. You will be out in the world, finding your place in it. As you embark on this next decade of your life remember to trust your instincts and embrace your unique voice. Just as the owl hoots its distinct call, be confident in expressing your thoughts, ideas, and dreams. Don’t let anyone silence your voice. Your voice has the power to inspire others and make a positive impact in the world.

In the years ahead, there may be times when life seems challenging or uncertain. It will be full of twists and turns, triumphs and challenges. During those moments, remember the resilience of the owl. It is a creature of the night, soaring through darkness with unwavering determination. I don’t know anyone more determined than you. The girl who taught herself to ride a bike, swim, and cartwheel. And even though your asthma can slow you down, you never let it stop you. Trust in your inner strength and know that you have the ability to overcome any obstacle that comes your way, and I will always be here to lift you higher.

I am immensely proud of the person you are becoming. You are my wise little owl, spreading your wings and preparing to take flight into a future filled with endless possibilities. Embrace your uniqueness, use your wisdom, follow your passions, and always stay true to yourself.

This first decade with you was a dream. Some relatives bet that I would not have another baby after Canton, that I couldn’t love another child like I loved him. But, that’s the thing about love, it makes your heart grow, not shrink. The bond between us will stretch over this next decade, but it will never ever break. I am here for you aujourd’hui, demain, “tomorrow tomorrow”, forever.

Happy 10th birthday, my precious owl. May your future be filled with joy, love, wisdom, and magic.

Je t’aime hibou!!!

I love you, Liberty!!! Me and Lou and Lou and me, so happy together!!!


To Canton as you Turn 14

Dear Canton,


Into the Woods of High School!

Oh time, it’ a funny thing. I so vividly remember pacing the floors with you at all hours of the night. As I cradled your tiny body in mine I would dream of your future, all along you had your own plans and were forging your own pathway.

As I write this, you are in your fourth day of COVID isolation and perhaps I am getting a glimpse of what life will look like over the next four years. I am missing you terribly while you are locked in your room texting me for grilled cheese and smoothies. But, the time is coming where you won’t need me as much. Then, there will be times when I won’t see you each day. Which makes me feel like I cannot even breathe, but such is life. It is such a blessing to watch you grow each day. It is no wonder I cry at the line “Children can only grow from something you love to something you lose.” You’ll never lose me though, I will always be here, happily supporting you from backstage now.

You should be so incredibly proud of the man you are becoming. You have a kind heart, a quick wit, and a contagious passion for the arts. When I look at you I see all the stages of you, the colicky baby, the curious toddler, the kind and brilliant tween, the creative and angst filled teen, I feel lucky to be your parent. Even when you ask me endless country trivia or relentlessly beat everyone at chess.

As you embark on this new chapter in your life, I want to remind you to always be true to yourself. Never compromise your values or beliefs for anyone else. You are so remarkably YOU! Don’t change yourself for anyone and always be proud of your true self. “Nice is different than good.” Outward appearance and politeness is different than inner character, you can be nice, always be good.

High school is a tough place to navigate. There will be bombed tests, broken friendships, heartbreak, competition, temptation, but it is also full of excitement and opportunity where you will become the person you are going to be. As you face these trials and tribulations remember that your successes give you confidence and your setbacks will build your character. Failure is part of living a full life. It is a shame we can’t forget our troubles like we forget our blessings. And you have many, ‘a brain in your head and shoes on your feet’, the ability to charm any person you meet. But most importantly, a family that loves you and will always be on your side. “No one is alone, truly. No one is alone.”

You were miserable with “Raise Your Voice” this year. Even though you wowed the audience and commanded the stage with “Agony”, “Sit Down You’re Rockin the Boat”, and “Beautiful City” you were so unhappy. A lesson you have learned on stage and will continue to learn throughout life is the power of teamwork and leadership. The characters of your life all come from different backgrounds and have different goals, but when they work together, they are able to accomplish things that none of them could have done alone, just think more Madagascar than JBMS. Remember to value your relationships with others and to always be willing to lend a helping hand. I saw you do it with your cast mates, running lines and coaching them, there is so much leadership in you. Just like a show, high school teaches us that life is full of challenges and setbacks. The characters of your story will face many obstacles on their journey through life, but never give up. Keep pushing forward, learn from your mistakes, every obstacle is an opportunity to learn and grow. Always remember that no matter what life throws your way, you have the strength and determination to overcome any obstacle. “Opportunity is not a lengthy visitor.”

I want time to slow down and you just want it to speed up. I know middle school has been so frustrating. “I’m in the wrong story!” Please try to be present in your own life. Life is full of frustration and desperation, it often can accompany longing for something that seems unattainable, a true love, an award, or even to change time. It reminds us of the importance of resilience and persistence in the face of adversity. “Agony! Beyond power of speech, when the one thing you want is the only thing out of your reach.”

Life is a story we tell ourselves, make sure you like the main character, and at least some of the supporting cast. Make friends. Take risks. Be kind to yourself. I hope you love yourself more and are kinder to yourself more than I was in high school. It was such a hard time, losing relationships, gaining new ones, it is just so hard. People will come in and out of your life in the coming years, but their impact will never be gone. “Sometimes people leave you halfway through the woods. Do not let it grieve you, no one leaves for good.”

Take ownership of your beliefs and your values and your power to make your future. Things aren’t always what they seem and leave room and grace for people to change. I’m always on your side. “Witches can be right, Giants can be good. You decide what’s right, you decide what’s good…”

“Wishes may bring problems, such that you regret them. Better that though than to never get them.” May you feel comfortable in taking risks and pursuing your dreams, even if they come with challenges, it is better than living a life of regret.

I hope that this birthday marks the beginning of a new, exciting, and fulfilling year for you. I can’t wait to see all of the incredible things you will accomplish and the person you will become.

I love you more than words can express, and I am so thankful for you. Happy 14th birthday, my dear boy. I’m always on your side and will be here to catch you when you fall. You will never ever disappoint me more than how much I will love you. Always. We are so proud of you! I’ll love you forever!!!!!!

Love you sunshine!


To Adleigh as You Turn 7

Dear Adleigh,

Happy Birthday lovey! You are SEVEN! It is hard to reconcile that my baby is beginning her journey to a big kid, teenager, and then womanhood.

You have already left part of your baby self–you lost your first tooth! It was on my birthday. You asked and asked for months when you would lose your first tooth and we all assumed it would not be before you turned seven. That night you strolled in holding your tooth in your hand, it wasn’t even loose the day before, I checked!! You still have your squeaky voice and still say “uppie uppie” for which I am so thankful. I will carry you whenever you need me.

You are a great sister! Each night as we read books and sing songs you give Liberty once of your great big Adleigh hugs and say “Night sister and best friend!” You two are great friends and play together so well. You have helped Liberty with gymnastics and she is teaching you some harp. You are a great support system for each other, I don’t know where you would be without each other. It is sometimes hard for you when Lou is play independently to decide what to do without her, you will say “I don’t like being alone” and you definitely do not. You are the most extroverted of all of us I think, a long way from the baby who glared at Krista at the bus stop and wailed for me at the bottom of the stairs when you had to stay with Rhonda or Dad for ten minutes. You and Liberty may follow different social paths as you get older but you have created a beautiful bond. May you always be sisters and best friends.

You love to learn! You work on your gymnastics, perfecting your body positions as you move through each skill. You were certainly interested in learning about the state of PA as we took our trip to Canada, I’ll never forget hearing “How big is Pennsylvania?” a million times! After blowing through your math assignments in the first couple weeks of flex they moved you to grade 3 math, it was supposed to be a challenge for your but you are a leader in that class as well. I love finding you in various reading forts you have created around the house and see you twisted up with the latest Bird and Squirrel or Diary of a Wimpy Kid. I hear you share your love of flamingos with your classmates or offer interesting facts about whatever subject you are doing that time, much in the mold of your “twin-y” big brother. I wish you a lifetime love of learning.

While Canton may have a love of the stage you are blossoming into quite the impressionist. You have us roaring with laughter with your dad impression, your Canton impression, and the rolling eyes impression you have of me. You love sharing jokes and funny stories. It doesn’t hurt that you have the more adorable belly laugh around. May you always find reasons to laugh and share your stories with others.

You won the “contagious smiler” award in your first grade class. Your sweet spirit was so welcoming to everyone and you got so many other kids excited to learn. Just now, as I am writing this, you welcomed Tallon into your morning section and Ms Gaydos gushed over you. As you get older I hope you keep that contagious and welcoming spirit. Be a light for others. But, you will meet people who are not worthy of your time and kindness. If your heart tells you something isn’t right, listen to it. You are a bright shining light, do not let anyone dim it. Your smile and infectious belly laugh has helped us all be a little more present in the moment, you are a true gift. You may have helped us slow down at a hectic time but time keeps moving, so incredibly fast. I can hardly believe you are older now than Canton was when we moved here. May you continue to live in each moment and spread your smile.

Seven years ago you completed our family. It was such a stressful time with Dad starting a new job, selling our house, and trying to find a new home. I have hardly any pregnant photos of me with you because we were so busy. Luckily you burst onto the scene and forced us all to slow down a bit. I vividly remember those first few weeks with you. Often the newborn stage is such a blur of hormones and sleeplessness but you were the easiest baby by far, the baby we needed, and I have cherished every moment with you. So often we spend life wanting to move forward but end up spending the rest of it looking back. Thank you for slowing things down, I wish they would more. But I am so thankful for every moment and grateful I am lucky enough to be your mom. Each night you still tell me “you’re my favorite person in the entire world and universe!” and “stay with me forever”. I may not always be your favorite person but I will always be here to cheer your on, guide your path, and catch you when you fall. Love is giving your whole heart without expectation, and my sweet girl, oh how I love you so. I wish you a lifetime of the same wholehearted love you give so freely to others!

Happy Birthday Peanut! I’ll love your forever!



To Liberty as You Turn 9

Dear Liberty,

Yesterday morning you told me “368 days until I’m double digits!” My heart sank, just a bit, as I thought of you reaching that milestone. Excitement and pride for the woman you will become of those next ten years and grief for missing the tiny girl that snuggles pink owls and spent all day in an Elsa dress. But, mostly, I don’t want you to wish your life away. It is human nature, but we spend much of life wanting to move forward but often spend the rest of it looking back. May you live in each moment, breathe it, savor it, it is the real gift. 

Selfishly, I have felt quite blessed during Covid, I have gotten to be with you every moment. I have watched you create powerpoints, build structures, master facts, and I got to have lunch with you every day as I watched you grow more independent. You really took charge of your own learning! You got your computer set up each morning and sometimes even Adleigh’s if I was running behind with her. I loved cutting your apple snack at 9:30 each morning and bringing it to you to hear what you had learned already that day. I loved watching you pick up a book without prompting and snuggle into a cozy spot to escape into the corners of the written world. I will always cherish our extra time together.

You are tiptoeing on that line between kid and tween. This past year has brought challenges. Still facing a lot of anxiety over COVID you stayed home and thrived in Mrs. Dye’s virtual third grade. You visited (virtually) Mali, learning cursive, multiplied, and were entertained with her many science experiments. You got straight As all year and took the SoL tests for the first time. You also were the only kid in your class to send her anything when her mother died. You wrote her a letter and painted her a picture that she kept on her wall, and probably still does. She wrote to me how much your kindness meant to her during a very difficult time in her life. You saw someone was hurting and you wanted to make it better. 

You are the girl that made dad a paper model of Roxy after she died, you understood how much he was hurting and expressed your special love for him to ease his pain. Others may see your sensitivity as a weakness, hear this girl, it is not. Showing your heart is STRONG. Identifying your emotions is STRONG. Lifting up others is STRONG. Knowing how you feel and what you want is STRONG.

It is easy to ignore problems or find other things to do or places to go. Your determination and kindness will set you apart. You were the girl who got up in the middle of the night to put your shoes on. You are the girl who would not give up and basically taught herself how to ride a bike. You are the little girl who kept running, even while tripping and banging into the side of dad’s car, because you wanted to be able to jump up on the hood. You are the girl that will cry when you don’t understand something, but you keep working at it until it is perfect, and it is ok to experience tears and frustration because frustration is where we build character, and you have it in spades, my love. You are the girl that has practiced perfecting recipes and now you make yourself French toast every Saturday. You are the girl that practices cartwheels and pancake stretches each day because you want to get them perfect. You are the girl that cries at almost every gymnastics class but at the end can’t wait to go back because you know how much you have improved. I love hearing the floor rumble as you practice your cartwheel and yell “Je suis fort!” Yes girl, you are STRONG!

Strength is taking on a new instrument as your first activity leaving the house in two years. You took harp this year, mastered 10 songs, and performed beautifully at your concert. You learned to fix leaky toilets and install a ceiling fan this year with dad. When your siblings scoffed at the idea of getting up close and personal with a toilet you jumped at the idea of learning something new, something someone else won’t have to do for you because YOU can do it. Keep trying new things, it will help you as you try to navigate this life with all its twists and turns. You are STRONG!

You are the girl that takes the cheese off her pizza even when most people question you or mock you for it, you aren’t afraid to tell anyone what you like or what you want. May you always share your feelings and passions, no matter what others may think. You are STRONG!

As you enter this last year of the “first half” of your childhood and transition to adulthood things are bound to change. I already have a teenager. I know having two and then three will bring challenges that will make the sleepless nights, diapers, and mastitis seem like a walk in the park. But know this, I will always be here for you. You are my heart outside my body. I will always be here for you to light your path as you begin to walk a few steps ahead of me. As the center of your universe begins to shift, you will always be the center of mine.

Keep saying it! “Je suis fort!” 

Tu es fort!

Je t’aime hibou!!!

I love you, Lou!!!



To Canton As You Turn 13

Dear Canton,

Look out for the “terrible twos” and the “teenage years”! When veteran parents so lovingly impart wisdom on new parents this was what I most frequently heard. Imagine, passing a mom and her cuddly baby in Target or the grocery story and telling them how terrible it is going to be. 

Oh how wrong they were about the twos! You were curious, funny, reading, counting, and still crawling up into my lap. You are still so curious, still learning, and I am blessed I still get a hug and a song each night. You definitely sleep longer now than at two!

I do imagine the teenage years might present different challenges. I think that society does kids your age a great disservice by expecting the worst. I do expect more eye rolls, more sleeping, but I certainly do not expect you will be anything less than what you have always been: kind, brilliant, empathetic, curious, heart on your sleeve, loving, genuine human. 

Still, the road of the teenage years is not easy. It is filled with twists, turns, and heartbreak. I rest easy believing in your character and knowing that you will make good choices. Even if you don’t, because sometimes you won’t, I will always be here. My love for you is a love without conditions. 

We are living and learning in unprecedented times. I’m sorry the world is so crazy right now. You are coming of age when the world feels so unstable. Your empathy is your superpower, use it. It seems cruelty and apathy are the air society breathes nowadays, but you cut through all of that. Continue to live your truth and live in that empathy, it’s a rare gift, it is a true strength. 

You entered middle school for the first time, as sixth grade was virtual. It’s scary, it’s a big deal, it’s a big change. You have managed your anxiety, advocated for yourself, and are beginning to learn more about who you are and the friends you want to have. You are more confident in your own skin, in your true self, than I was at 13, even 23! You are brilliant, funny, interesting, you are magic. Who else is going to teach everyone the flags of literally every country in the world?

You continue to excel academically. I honestly didn’t know 100% in every class as a seventh grader was possible. Even though your report cards are a thing of dreams, there is nothing like watching you on the stage. You had three huge performances while you were 12: Schulie in School House Rock, Iago in Aladdin, and starring as Tiny Tim in the Christmas Carol. The stage is exactly where you are supposed to be, you are home. It is one of my greatest joys to see you morph into these other characters, to bring yourself into these different personalities, to see the light in your soul. You blow us all away.

Things are changing, just as they are supposed to, it is hard, but it is a blessing to watch you grow. I catch sight of your continuously growing feet, bigger than my own, and wonder, where are those tiny baby toes? I swallow the lump in my throat as I meet your eye line as you continue to catch my height, knowing the little head I rested on my shoulder as I paced the floor with your colickly body, will soon be over mine.

A few weeks ago you asked me what the big deal was about birthdays. What’s the big deal? It all started with you. The world changed when you came into it. You made us parents, no one else in the whole world did that, you did. It was you who changed nights into weeks and years into days.

So “the teenage years”? I’m not dreading it, I certainly don’t need their sympathy. All the world’s a stage, and you are the shining star, and I get to watch the show from VIP seats. I’m the luckiest mama in the world, because no one else has you. 

Happy 13th Canton!

I’ll love you forever! I love you Sunshine!



To Adleigh as you turn SIX!

Dear Adleigh,

Happy Birthday Peanut! You are SIX my sweet girl! How is it possible? The baby I loved to squeeze has morphed into a strong, beaming, marvelous six year old!

We have seen so many changes in you this last year. Although we have been stuck in lockdown STILL you learned so much in Kindergarten and part of first grade. I am so sorry the world is the way it is. I can only hope the skills you have learned through all of this will help you make the world a better place for your children. You are a math whiz, you love reading, and I think you have the best handwriting in the whole house! 🙂 You loved your year with Mrs. Allen in K and looked forward to her scavenger hunts and teaching the class all about flamingos! In first grade you are whipping through all your assignments and you often say “Does Ms. Barlow even know that I’m in first grade? I can totally do all of this!” You continue to grow in your compassion and empathy and you always want to please others. There are lots of frustrating things about virtual learning but you get a lot of time to follow your own learning and spend time with Liberty, and that as been magical to watch. I love watching you wave to Canton each morning and scream “Au revoir, Je vous aime!” I am grateful that you and Lou can then walk back into the house and have so many magical moments throughout the day to play kangaroos, pilgrims, ponies, whatever comes to life in your imaginations. May you always be “sisters and best friends”.

You learned to ride a bike without training wheels! You always calm and center yourself before you take off a whisper “stay calm and believe in myself” which is not only the most adorable thing ever but a good reminder of how kids often understand the world better than adults. Adults fuss and complain as we do something that is challenging and you just growth mindset your way through it. May you always have that confidence and belief in yourself.

I am in awe of the girl who wouldn’t let go of mommy and pretty much hated everyone, to the girl who calls out to neighbors to complement their dog or their shirt and tell them all about yourself. You always volunteer in class. You try to find way to comfort Liberty if she gets hurt or misplaces something. You are a beautiful soul who has helped all of us be more patient and laugh just a little bit more.

I love to watch as you flail your little body around as we dance at 12:34 to Hey Ya or September or when you “protect mama” when dad joins in, you have always been my superhero! You eyes are full of magic and gratitude for the beauty that is each and every day. Even as we called it all “Blursday” each day with you is a gift. May you always find joy in the little things.

Adleigh you loved watching Simone Biles in the Olympics this summer! You did each routine with her and were devastated when she couldn’t compete. However, it was a wonderful lesson for all of us to learn that not getting a gold medal is not a failure. She took care of herself and she has much to be proud of and she will always be a hero to you. You loved cheering for the other girls and watching Simone be a good teammate. She faced down a lot of haters to do the right thing for herself. May doing your best always be enough for you, because it will always be enough for me.

I have watched you grow from the crawling baby always trying to go up the steps and pull out every spice in the spice cabinet to the toddler that pulled up every floor vent. Now, I hold my breath as you wolf turn on the balance beam and climb the wall like an Avenger character. Stay strong, stay fierce, you will always leave me breathless.

Adleigh, you are the one that completed our family. Where would we be without your grunty belly laughs and tight hugs? I am blessed each night as we read (favorite = Grover and pigeon), sing (Jolly Holiday), and “huddle close at night”. Keep that love of family. Keep the magic in your eyes. Keep asking questions and keep learning. Keep your empathy and confidence. Keep you happy smile and loving heart.

I don’t know what the next year will bring. Maybe you will still be at home with me (and I’m sure Lou) or maybe you will be off at school without us. No matter what, I know you are ready to show the world what a strong, confident, compassionate girl you are! “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”

You are six, you are a miracle, you are a gift.

I am so lucky and grateful to be you mom! I love you peanut!