To Me, At Thirty-Nine

Dear You,

Here you are again, at the end of decade. Your fourth decade. If you squint and lean in, you can maybe see a glimpse of the fifth decade looming. See it, over there on the horizon? It’s that tiny dot of light.

Yes, I said light.

From here, Forty appears to be full of light.

But for now you are Thirty-Nine.

Three hundred and sixty-five days of Thirty-Nine.

(Less now because it takes you so long to publish a post.)

What are we going to do with this last year as a thirty-something? We are all done with the pregnancy years. It’s been nine years since that first miscarriage, which means all “deliveries” were in your thirties. This year you will be the mom of a 2nd turned 3rd grader, a preschool turned kindergartener, and a two-turned-three year old. By the time you hit forty, there will not only be no more babies for you, but no more toddlers either.  You won’t be a mom of “Littles” anymore, but a mom of “young children”.

Over the past week, you’ve written and looked at and thought about the number 39 often.

Sometimes that number seems so big. Remember when your mom was this age? She was such a…mom.  You were fourteen. Thirty-nine is almost 40, after all. It’s so…adult. So grown-up. So…parental. I mean, can you believe you’ve been around for 39 years when college–heck high school–seems like it was ten minutes ago?

Sometimes that number seems small. Ok, maybe not small, but not so terribly big. Many of your friends are already in their forties and you don’t think of them as old or middle-age or anything weird. In fact, you strive to be like them: confident, happy, healthy.

You are not much of a bucket list person, so you don’t have a 40 before 40 or anything like that. You’re also not one for sitting around wishing you had done something differently. You can’t change the past, so it doesn’t do any good to over-analyze how you could have done things another way. Before you turn forty next year, though, there are a few things you will do.

You’re going to help your family be healthier. Cortney has family history of heart disease and cancer. You have cancer in your history too. It’s time to get serious about the fact that you are not young and invincible.

You’re going to take more photos with your Big Camera. You got that thing after Eddie was born and somehow decided it was too unwieldy to tote around with a baby. Well, there are no more babies in your family. Get it out. Get practicing.

You’re going to apply for a PhD program. This weekend you take the first of two GRE tests for that. You keep worrying that this will cause (more) financial strain on the family and that you will fail and that it’s a bad idea. Do it anyway. Cortney has repeatedly told you that he supports you and thinks this is the time to do it. Listen to him. He loves you and believes in you.

You’re going to incorporate more of your family’s faith into your every day lives. You just read a great book about this. Make a note to write a post about that book.

You’re going to get another tattoo  (sorry mom. sort of.)  Cortney gifted you half the cost for your birthday and you made the appointment and paid the 20% deposit. This will bring you such joy.

You’re going to spend quality one-on-one time with each kid. They tell other people how much they love it, so do it more. It’s important.

I know you worry a lot about time going to fast: it takes your babies and makes them toddlers; it takes your toddlers and makes them kids; it takes your own youth. You worry about not having enough time.

The truth is that you will never have enough time. It’s just not possible.

So you have to take what you’re given and do what you can with it.

It’s gonna be great. And a little terrible because that’s life. But mostly great.



38 before 38

In thirty-nine days I will be turning 38.

Over the weekend, I mentioned how fun it would be to receive 38 books for my classroom library in honor of turning 38. I shared my Amazon Wishlist and yesterday, two books showed up.

38 before 38

You guys know just how to make me smile.

So why not go for it, right? Let’s add 38 books to my classroom library!

All you have to do is go to my Wish List on Amazon. Many, many books my students put on there are less than $10 each. (Did you know most of the books are requests directly from my students? They are! Some are also added by me because I know my students will love them). It’s a LONG list.

If you purchase one off the list, it will get sent directly to me! You may choose to donate anonymously, or you can leave us a message to tell us where it came from. I will be posting pictures here on my 38th birthday on March 27.

I just realized that this kind of party–a book party–has GOT to be the best birthday party EVER. Plus it’s the kind I can share with my students!

Speaking of my students, did you know I post over at The Educator’s Room regularly? Check out my posts about why Reading Logs have to go and how I use Reader’s Notebooks with my middle school students. I also have a post on Writers Who Care about my writing process and how procrastination is a very large, important part of it.

By the way, thanks for being awesome.

Now…let’s read!

Go Shawty…

It’s your birf-day…

Katie - First Photo

Katie - 6 months

Katie - Bibs & Boots

Katie - Bunny

Katie - 2 years

Katie - ANTM

fourth grade

middle school


Century Club Member


Kates BW






IMG_4008- - Copy

Gonna party like it’s your birf-day.

the birthday blahs

On Wednesday it’s my birthday.  I’ll be 35.

As someone who is in love with attention (come on, this is not news), my birthday has been one of my most favorite days of the entire year for pretty much my entire life.

In college, I would skip class (sorry, mom) and use the excuse “it’s my birthday!” to do whatever I wanted.

Even in my 20’s, my birthday was a fun day.  Maybe I didn’t get to skip responsibilities and just hang out or sleep or do whatever, but it was always my goal for the day to be awesome.

This year is different.

I’m not looking forward to it all.  It’s not that it’s because I’ll be 35.  Age quit mattering to me once I hit 21 and there was nothing to look forward to that was connected with that number. I don’t feel old and I don’t feel young.  I feel in the middle, which is what 35 is.

This is a tricky thing to write about because by admitting what I’m going to admit, it sounds like I am A) whining for more attention and B) giving Cort a passive-aggressive hint. Neither of which I am trying to do.

But if I continue to say, “oh, it doesn’t matter,” I am lying.  It does matter. At least to me.

So here it goes, and I guess take it for what it is, but my birthday is already disappointing me.


{see, I even put that in all caps so you can get my jazz hands that I am doing with that}

On my 32nd birthday, Cort and my BFF who lives in Chicago organized a birthday weekend.  We spent the weekend having birthday extravaganza.  Saturday included mani/pedis with my best friends, lunch, starbucks, and then getting cute to go out for dinner at the most awesomely COLORFUL restaurant (Carnival) ever.  The entire weekend = jazz hands.

My bestie decided that since I was pregnant on my 29th bday (ending in miscarriage) and my 30th (ending in miscarriage) and 31st (Eddie!) that I was due for BIG FUN.  Cort wholeheartedly agreed.

I don’t expect that every year.  I really don’t. We don’t have that kind of money or resources for that.

But it seems like since becoming a “real” adult, birthdays just aren’t as magical anymore unless you put lots of planning and money toward them…which we don’t have.  And I just don’t want to plan my own birthday anymore.  That was fine when I was single…or even before we had kids and a million obligations and were living on a food/sleep schedule set by small people.

I mean, my birthday is on a Wednesday.

I have to work.  The boys need to be picked up from daycare. Dinner needs to be had. Bedtime will have to be done.  And then our bedtime so I can get up and go to work again the next day.

Cort asked me if I wanted to go out for dinner as a family that night.  Not really.  That is a huge pain in the butt with two little kids, and not relaxing in the least. We did that for Charlie’s birthday and it was really all I could handle for a while.

So he asked me what I wanted him to make for dinner.  I don’t know. I sort of don’t care.  It won’t make the day special for me to have anything in particular.

It’s just going to be Wednesday.

I guess what I wish is that it wasn’t going to be “just Wednesday”.

That somehow it was going to be extraordinary. Magical.

That magically my entire house would be clean and fresh.

That I would get to be pampered.

That I could rest.

But I know that is not feasible.  That is not going to happen.

I know, this is horribly depressing and sounds incredibly ungrateful.  I know.

But I started dodging questions about my birthday a month ago and now that it’s just days away, I am getting sad.

I cried at Charlie’s birthday for one because my baby is One, but also because I was mourning the magic of birthdays for myself.  March was always my month.  Now it’s his month.

I am good with this.  I know it doesn’t sound like it, but I am.  I was planning on sharing, but it just isn’t about me anymore.

And I wouldn’t want to change that.

Except I am grieving it a bit.

Maybe part of being an adult means giving up part of your childhood so you can give your kids an awesome childhood.

Or maybe not.  Maybe I am just being stupid and emotional and a brat.

Maybe it’s just the time of year and the weather this year; winter showed up late and is hanging on with all its gloomy, depressing might.

I really don’t know.

What I do know is that I am grumpy about my birthday for the first time in a decade and I wish I wasn’t.