For the love of toddlers
Reflecting on 2023

39 favorites


It’s my 40th birthday today!! What a privilege to celebrate another trip around the sun and to have experienced 40 of them. 

Like I usually do on my birthday, I have a leisurely day planned full of my favorite things including an early morning Orange Theory class followed by reading over my favorite breakfast at The Coffee Shop (a cafe au lait, a scone, and the San Diegan). For dinner I always request homemade pizza and Chris is going to make my favorite sweet potato brownies (always with ice cream). Later I’m hoping to watch a fun family movie with my favorite people to end the day. Enjoying my favorite routines, my amazing little family, and spending the day doing exactly what I want is such a treat. You really do appreciate the everyday things more and more as you get older (and wiser). 

Leading up to my birthday, I love taking time to reflect on the past ye ar by making a list of favorites. I love the time capsules I’ve created by keeping up this practice for so many years. And look! I got this one out on my actual birthday this year. Good things happening at 40 already. 

Here are 39 favorites from my year of being 39:


1. The snack of cottage cheese, chopped fruit, and chopped toasted pecans. Lately I'm loving it with pears.

2. Linen sheets from Quince which are soft and cozy but light all at the same time.

3. Watching my vision for our front room come together with several new additions this year including a floating shelf and gorgeous bench, both built by Chris.

4. Seeing snow with our whole family for the first time throughout our spring break trip to Utah.

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5. Library story time with Maeve during the days she was home with me, and the wonderful librarians who put it on. We especially love the Zoom, Zoom, Zoom I’m Going to the Moon song which was new to me.

6. Podcasts that kept me company, broadened my perspective, and/or helped me process world events this year. The stars in my feed this year were Wiser Than Me with Julia Louis-Dreyfus (LOVED this and can’t wait for season 2), The Ezra Klein Show, and Pantsuit Politics.

7. Books and reading, every year. This year I’m on track to read about 100 books. A few particular favorites that stand out include: Untangled, The Anthropocene Reviewed, The Silent Patient, I Must Betray You, Lilith, and discovering the Cork O’Connor detective series. One of my favorite reading experiences of the year was listening to my childhood favorite of mine, The Castle in the Attic, with the boys on our drive to and from the camping trip I took them on. We were all captivated and I loved experiencing a favorite book with nostalgia and in a new way with my boys.

8. Being on the other side of potty training with Maeve! Wow it’s almost hard to believe we started the year with her in diapers.

9. Chris’s Halloween enthusiasm. Every year he takes the outdoor decor to a new level and I love how much he loves it.

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10. Dash’s fantastic first sleep-away summer camp experience. When I picked him up and asked how it was he answered, “Awesome. Pure awesome.” The experience included the hilarious detour of first taking him to the WRONG camp (it all turned out fine), and the happy reunion of bringing him home to “welcome home!” signs and chocolate pie.

11. Two “first” camping trips this year: the first time taking the boys camping on my own during a very fun summer kick off moms and kids campout and then in the fall our first family camping trip with Maeve.

12. Writing in my journal more consistently over the past year. I find the practice to be so helpful to process emotions and gain clarity. I've found time for journaling as part of my Monday morning ritual when I wake up extra early to have time to myself. 

13. A cord minder to keep my long computer cord tidy.


14. Two wonderful trips to Portland, Oregon where our dear friends live. One was with Chris in the spring and the other by myself in August (the perfect time to escape the Arizona heat). 

15. An Apple watch, gifted to me for Mother’s Day. I had really missed tracking my steps and sleep (after my third FitBit died on me and I refused to buy another) and am happy to have that data back in my life. I also love the silent alarm feature for early wake ups and not having to check my phone for the time. 

16. Portrait mode on my phone, which I finally started using this year and love.

17. The boys taking their first ever flight by themselves to visit my parents in Austin for a week this past summer. 


18. Launching my very first workshop, Your Year to Shine, which I’ve wanted to do for a few years. Doing something new, and the timeline I gave myself, has pushed me out of my comfort zone but in the best way. I love the content of the workshop and the whole process, including working with a designer, has been fun work.


19. Having the best workout year of my adult life: I’m on track to complete 200 workouts. Plus tracking every workout with tiny dot stickers that fit perfectly on my tracker

20. Related to the above: so many things Orange Theory. This year I celebrated my 8 year anniversary, got to know my coaches and fellow classmates better, upgraded my membership to unlimited, and attended more classes than I ever have. I’m lifting heavier, running faster, and feeling the fittest I ever have. Being able to say that at 40 is something I do not take for granted. I’m both grateful and really proud of myself.

21. Loop Quiet earplugs which I wear during every workout now, and have on hand for concerts or other loud situations (have you parented a toddler lately?). They're comfortable and very low profile, and I'm so glad to be protecting my hearing.


22. A 40th birthday trip to Santa Fe with Chris which was fun, relaxing, and inspiring. In particular I loved the two nights where we got take out pizza, lit a fire, and watched Only Murders in the Building. So relaxing and so unlike our evenings at home. 

23. Being creatively inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe. I’m still making my way through her biography, and loved visiting her home outside of Santa Fe and the Georgia O’Keeffe museum.


24. Animal spirit cards which Chris and I discovered on our Santa Fe trip. These are fun and sometimes uncannily accurate. I’ve had fun doing readings with Chris and recently with my book club.

25. Hiking the West Fork Trail in Sedona this fall with my dad. I’d love to do this trail again although I will definitely dress warmer – I was freezing the whole time!

26. My book club, another recurring annual favorite. This year we started meeting at our founder’s new beautiful home after not having a go-to meeting spot since COVID, we had a particularly fun and bonding summer retreat in Sedona, and our friendships deepened this fall.

27. Reaching out to local Cup of Jo readers and finding so many lovely women to talk and laugh with. So far we’ve been to brunch, thrown pottery together (which is harder than it looks!), and took an intro embroidery class. I’m looking forward to more get-togethers in the new year. 


28. Park playdates with neighbor friends where our kids are starting to play more independently while we chat. Although there always seems to be arguing over the swings (and my kid gets a lot of the credit for that).

29. Seeing CloZee with Chris. We danced, stayed up until 2 a.m. (!!!), and were happily sober and wearing our earplugs. It was such an out-of-the-norm experience for us and so fun. Thanks to our friend Rachel for being the inspiration, and to our family who generously kept all the kids overnight so we could sleep in. 

30. Acure brightening facial scrub. Gifted to me at a favorite things party last Christmas, I’ve enjoyed using this scrub a couple times a week all year. I mix a small dollop with my face wash, wash my face, and follow with moisturizer. The next morning my skin always seems to look particularly smooth and healthy.

31. Head to Toe Balm from Trader Joe's which I discovered last holiday season and is the best thing to keep my cuticles moisturized. But! I also discovered too late that it’s a seasonal product. So this year I’m stocking up to last me all year. I have a daily habit of rubbing the balm into each of my fingertips while I read in bed at night.


32. Doing the work of a great marriage with Chris and finding that a decade plus marriage can truly keep getting better. A particular date we had stands out as my favorite for the year. It happened at the end of the kids’ fall break when it felt like we hadn’t had a chance to talk for two weeks. We sat at Mythical Coffee and had a wonderfully long and uninterrupted conversation. Then we got takeout Indian food and sat outside, and later saw a really interesting modern dance performance at ASU. It was an everyday date but one that seemed to really deepen our marriage.

33. Seeing the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park with my family. The Grand Canyon was especially memorable because it was dusted with snow and because I always feel such a reverence for its scale and beauty.

34. Two weeks of afternoon swim lessons for Maeve and dive lessons for the boys to close out summer.

35. Treating myself to two pairs of running shoes in wild colors and wearing one of each to my workouts. (They are the exact same shoe, just different colors!) I love wearing wild colored running shoes and have always wanted to do this. I get a lot of comments and compliments.

36. Watching Dash grow into an even more thoughtful, understanding, and confident tween. I’ve been especially impressed by the depth of conversations Chris and I have had with him this year. Which is not to say that tween parenting feels “easy” necessarily but just that I’m appreciating the many great aspects of it.


37. Feeling very much on the same team with Chris as we’ve navigated some really big parenting challenges this year. At times we’ve felt really defeated and lost but what I’m appreciating is how we’ve supported each other, have worked to find the best, most loving responses, and that we found some helpful outside support when we needed it.

38. Using the Focus settings on my phone to quiet my impulse to reach for it. For example, I can turn on a custom setting so that I only see texts from certain people and don’t see any badge notifications. This really helps me to not get pulled into my phone during work days and when I want to be present with my family.


39. Greeting 40 (!) feeling deeply grateful, content, healthy, and hopeful for what the next year + decade brings. 


Thank you for reading along for another year, for your thoughtful comments and emails, and for all of your encouragement here.


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