Today I turned 35 years old. I ate cake three times and got stuck in traffic and felt little heart hugs as I heard from friends all over the world and got bogged down by my work inbox and cuddled my babies as they sang me Happy Birthday and blindly reached into a plastic bag in Poppy's backpack and pulled out poop-stained pants. It was the perfect representation of the utter joy and teeth-gritting frustration that I feel lately. My life is beautiful and messy and noisy and chaotic and the best damn thing I could hope for. 

Today someone asked how old I turned and when I replied, they remarked the reason I'm so gleeful about birthdays is because I'm "on the right side of forty." And maybe that's true. Maybe 39-year-old Hillary will look back at 35-year-old Hillary and roll her eyes (I mean, it's inevitable). But I also feel like being diagnosed with cancer at 30 gave me perspective. Today I turned 35 years old. Not too shabby, if you ask me. 


Meal Plan 10/09/2017 - 10/13/2017

It's officially the week of Festival of Hillary. I love birthdays. I don't care if that makes me seem juvenile. I just love birthdays. I love celebrating birthdays. I love birthday cake. I love making people feel especially important. Growing up, my mom did an amazing job of making us feel special on our birthdays. She let us choose whatever birthday cake we wanted, and would construct Pinterest-worthy creations before Pinterest existed. Before the internet even existed. And now I'm a grown ass lady who enjoys the heck out of birthdays. It's not my fault. I was raised this way.


Monday: Autumn Bacon Salad from HelloFresh served with Fresh Pea Soup

Tuesday: Pineapple Chicken Afritada served with rice

Wednesday: Smitten Kitchen's Chicken and Dumplings 

Thursday: Birthday Spaghetti Carbonara! Garlic Bread! Cake

Friday: Leftovers or Charcuteri Friday 

What's on your menu this week?


Dear Grady,

Today you turned six. 

The last year has wiped out any remaining traces of your babyhood. Your chubby cheeks and sweet baby smell have been replaced by gangly limbs and a lisp-inducing gap where your front teeth used to be. Your wrist and thigh rolls have been replaced by eye rolls. You are a kid, not my baby. 

You are the coolest kid I know. You are creative and imaginative and I love seeing how your brain works. You want to be a musician (like daddy, or the Foo Fighters, but better than the Foo Fighters, in fact, last week you told us when you grow up your band will be called the Foo Fighters Red Dragon). You want to be a history teacher so you can talk about knights all day and help kids. You are happiest when you're sitting in front of your sketchbook, filling page after page with Ninja Turtles and knights in castles. 

You talk all the time. Like, all the time. You ask questions and you try to figure stuff out and you don't let me get away with explaining things away with "that's just the way it is!" ("But there has to be a reason," you insist.) You are consumed with fairness and I'm doing my best to protect your sweet conviction (while not beating my head against the wall when you ask for the fiftieth time why you have to go to bed hours before me).

You are the best big brother to Poppy. You are loving and kind, and the best part of my day is when she sees you after waking up. She goes from grumbly-half-asleep to pure sunshine when she sees her Guh-guh. You're the only one who can calm her down when she's feeling squirrelly. You sing "Poppy Doodle" and she goes from unmanageable honey badger to a slightly more manageable honey badger. You've taught her to laugh at burps and farts. You share your toys and your food and your Mama and Daddy. Witnessing the ferocity and depth with which you love your little sister is my greatest joy. 

Grady, life is not always shiny and bright. As you grow into your own person, we've had challenges. We are both stubborn and sassy and sometimes it feels like we are going in circles. I'm doing my best to stay patient and embrace the person you're becoming. Some days this is easier than others. 

Six years ago you were born and made me a mama. Every day since, I have felt like the luckiest person alive. Thank you. I love you. Happy sixth birthday, Grady Bug.  



Birthday Cake Smash without the Cake

Penelope's first birthday is next week (I know).

When Grady turned one, we did a DIY cake smash photo shoot with him. He hated it. The photos are priceless and I want the same for Pops.

Penelope cannot eat cake. She can't eat much of anything right now. The foods she's been introduced to that she doesn't react to, and that she'll actually eat, include: raw cucumber, cooked apple, blueberries, pureed spinach. We can't have a cucumber smash photo shoot. 

I realize in the grand scheme of things, this is not a tragedy. Penelope can't have a birthday cake smash photo shoot for her first birthday. It's not the end of the world. But I feel sad for her (mainly because of her food restrictions, not because she won't have adorable first birthday cake smash photos like her brother). 

So! Did you do a first birthday photo shoot that featured something other than food? The only thing I can think of is a bunch of balloons but I'd love to consider other ideas.