Category Archives: Raising a Daughter

Shooting and Swinging at Sunset

She turned ten in August.

I still find it hard to believe that my last baby is ten years old.

Time is a jerk, for reals.

Yesterday I asked her if she would go to the park with me so that I could take a few photos of her. I told her that by allowing me to photograph her, she’s helping me to learn how my new camera works and to become a better photographer. She’s not a big fan of having me take her photos because “I’ve been taking her pictures her WHOLE LIFE!” But she was so kind and said she would help me. But only if I let her play at the park after I was finished.

Always negotiating, that one.

Of course I agreed. Anything for my girl. (And anything to get to practice with my camera!)

Fall Photos

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The Time I Inspired My Daughter.

On Friday morning I walked into my daughter’s room to say good morning to her, just like I do every morning.  She was already wide awake, reading a book on her Kindle. I sat down on the edge of her bed, kissed her good morning.

“Mommy, yesterday we ran practice laps for our jog-a-thon today. I ran around the entire field without stopping.” She said.

“That’s great, Gabby! I’m so proud of you!”

“I wanted to stop because it was hard, but I thought about you. I thought about how you run in boot camp and I told myself I’m my mommy’s girl and if SHE can do it, then I can do it!”

I didn’t expect to hear her say that, but boy, did it feel good to hear.

It was a reminder that my daughter is watching me, she’s learning from me.

I’m still far from being “thin.” But that doesn’t matter. It’s not about my weight or size. IT’s about the example that I’m setting for my daughter. She sees me grab my backpack and workout mat every day and go to boot camp. She sees the photos of me doing handstands and running and she’s taking it all in.  She knows that I take time every day to do something for myself that is keeping me healthy and making me strong. I’m happy to be setting a good example to my girl.

Later that morning, I surprised her at school to cheer her on at the jog-a-thon.  I watched her run her little heart out, in the heat. I encouraged her from the sidelines when she got tired.


She ran her little heart on (in her Vans, because she haaaaaaaaaates running shoes. They are like, OMG, so ugly, MOM!)  When it was all said and done, she completed a total of 14 laps. I couldn’t be prouder of that girl.


The Wedding Ring: An Awesome Update.

When my husband came home from work, I told him what had happened. After dinner, he took apart the plumbing under the sink and to see if maybe, just maybe the ring had been caught in the p-trap. I was in the other room doing laundry.

Gabriella came running into the room.

“Daddy found it, Mommy! HE FOUND YOUR RING!”

I ran into the bathroom and there he was, holding my (filthy, dirty ring.) We all laughed and celebrated. I asked G to come close so I could tell her something. “I want you to remember this moment.” She listened carefully. “When I asked you if you knew what happened to my ring today, you could have told me a lie. Even though you were scared, you told me the truth. And because you told me the truth, we were able to find my ring. If you had chose to tell me a lie, we never would have known and when we move, we would have left that ring and it would have been lost forever. You can ALWAYS tell Mommy and Daddy the truth. Even when you’re scared to.”

While we were talking, Tony walked into the room with my now clean and sparkly ring. He got on one knee while Gabriella giggled. “Are you going to ask her to marry you again?”

He did. And while he began to put the ring on my finger, I held my breath, unsure if it would fit.

It did.

Best night ever.

She’s Practically a Tweenager.

It was pouring rain at school pick up time this afternoon, so I walked to the classroom to meet my daughter with an umbrella in hand. She ran over to me with her much too full backpack and big, puffy jacket zipped up to her chin.

She handed me her backpack and I said “Give mama a kiss. I’ve missed you all day!”

I bent down a bit and kissed her little chapped lips.

She put her head down quickly and then asked me to come closer to her. The rain fell down around us as she begin to whisper.

“Mom. Next time you kiss me at school, it’s important that you kiss me on the cheek, NOT on the lips.”

She may as well have kicked me in the chin, super hard because ouch.

“Why?” I asked. “Why can’t I kiss you on the lips when we’re at school?”

“Because, it’s super embarrassing. It’s okay at home, just not at school.”

It was just a few weeks ago that she informed me that she no longer wanted to be called Gabby because Gabby is for babies. Oh, and also? Could she please start calling me mom instead of Mommy? Because she’s not a baby anymore! Oh and could I please stop calling her princess because, again, for babies.

She’s growing. She’s changing. She’s maturing. She’s blossoming. She’s becoming a little lady.

And I love it because it’s wonderful.

And I hate it because it’s heart crushing.

I Love You All The Most

My Gabriella can be a stinker. Her attitude needs adjusting many times each day. But at her core, she is kind girl with a heart as big as her personality.

There’s one thing she makes very clear on a daily basis.

She loves her family with her entire being. Her family is everything to her.

While her brother was away at boot camp, she struggled with his absence. Each and every day, she’d talk about him, or cry about missing him. It was the sweetest, most heartbreaking thing to watch.

Yesterday, I saw a pink piece of paper with a note sitting on top of the next near the kitchen. I hadn’t seen the note before, so I asked Gabby about it. She said she wrote it a while ago, but forgot to give it to us.

“You can have it now. I’m sorry I forgot to give it to you when I wrote it.”

I couldn’t help but cry just a little bit.

She loves us all the most. How lucky are we?

Gabby and the Pink Princess Glasses.

At the beginning of this school year, Gabby’s teacher mentioned to us that she had to move Gabby to the front of the classroom because she was having trouble seeing the board. This was news to me as my daughter had never complained about having trouble seeing things. I asked Gabby about it and she told me that yes, she wasn’t able to see the board if she was sitting in the back of the classroom. We immediately made her an appointment to have her eyes examined.

Her appointment was on the day before Halloween. When she sat down in the chair, the doctor asked her to read the chart. The letters were large to start and she was able to correctly identify each one. But as the letter got smaller, it became painfully obvious that my daughter was kind of blind.

The letters on the chart:

x p l t z o

What my daughter would say:

k h t n p

I had no idea her eyesight was that bad! How did I miss that? What kind of a mother am I?

I leaned over to my husband and said “I think I’m going to cry. How did we not know she couldn’t see properly?”

She was diagnosed as near sighted, with 20/100 vision in both eyes. I have never felt like a bigger jerk of a parent in my entire life.

The idea of having to wear glasses during class to see the board was not something Gabby was happy about. “Glasses are ugly and they will make me look weird!” But once she saw that there were such things as pink princess glasses, she warmed up to the idea of having to wear them. “Fine. I’ll get these.” She said as she looked at herself in the mirror with the pink princess glasses.

We picked the glasses up last Friday and you guys? Seeing my daughter sitting on the sofa wearing her pink glasses is THE CUTEST, MOST PRECIOUS THING IN MY LIFE RIGHT NOW. I still feel like a jerk for not realizing my daughter couldn’t see correctly, but I feel somewhat better knowing we finally were able to help correct the problem.

This was her reaction when she watched TV with her glasses for the first time. “Everything looks so clear!” She said in amazement. Yes, I cried.

The! Cutest! Thing! In! My! Life!

That’s What Makes You Beautiful.

Today I was having a discussion with my daughter about people who say hurtful things. We discussed how to handle situations in which people say things that aren’t so kind.

I was amazed by my daughter’s ability to understand that people who say unkind and hurtful things usually do so because they are not happy with themselves.

After a long conversation, she came to the following conclusion.

“Sometimes people say mean things to other people so that they can feel better inside. I should’t get sad or mad if someone calls me ugly because I know it’s not true. If someone calls me ugly at school, I’m just going to tell them that I know I’m not ugly and that they aren’t ugly either and they should be proud of who they are.”

We talked a bit more. At the end of our conversation, I told her that it makes me happy to know that she thinks she’s beautiful and that she wouldn’t believe someone who told her she was ugly. And then, I asked her the following question.

“What makes a person beautiful, Gabriella?”

Without hesitation, she said “Passion. Passion and love and kindness.”

I smiled. My daughter is only eight years old and she gets it. I hope that she carries that belief with her always.

These Are The Games We Play.

This morning I was sitting on the couch flipping through an old magazine. My daughter was playing a game just a few feet away. I asked her to come join me on the sofa.

She hopped up on the sofa next to me, then plopped her body onto my lap. I held onto her hands while she bent her body back. Her shirt slipped a bit, exposing the bottom part of her belly. I let go of her hands and started to tap my hands gently against her belly as if it were a bongo drum. I started to play the beat of her favorite song with my hands on her little tummy.

“Why are you hitting my belly, Mommy?” She asked.

“I’m not hitting it, I’m playing a song on it. Can you guess which song I’m playing?”

“Oh! A Game! Okay, let me guess!”

She smiled and closed her eyes. I could tell by the look on her face that she was trying so hard to figure out the beat.

“I give up! Just tell me!”

“Silly girl, I was playing Call Me Maybe! That’s your favorite song, you should have known that!”

“Oh, MAN!” She said, as she smacked her forehead.

Then, in an unexpected move, she lifted up my shirt and shouted excitedly “MY TURN!”

“No, no…” I replied and I quickly pulled my shirt back down. “Why don’t you just do it on your own tummy?”

“Why not on YOUR tummy?” She asked.

And then, before I could respond, she answered her own question.

“Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh. I know why.” She said, very matter-of-factly. “Because your belly is way too jiggly and it would sound kind of weird.”


That was the first and the last time we will ever play THAT game in this house.

When Big Brothers Leave, Little Sisters Cry.

One of the biggest concerns I had when I found out Andrew would be leaving for boot camp was how it would affect his brother and sister. I talked to both of them before they left. Ethan said he would miss him and that it would feel “weird” not having him around, Gabby said it was going to be sad.

When we said our goodbyes last Tuesday (can’t believe it’s already been a week!) I wasn’t sure how Ethan and Gabby would react. Would they cry? Would they be upset? I was prepared to soothe a couple of broken hearts. However, neither one of them cried. They both hugged their brother tightly, told them they would miss him and then smiled and joked around like they always do.

It will hit them later, I thought to myself.

On Thursday, I traveled to Miami for a work trip. Ethan stayed with a friend and Gabby stayed with my mom. I thought the time away from home would be good for her, since she’d be having too much fun at Grandma’s house to miss her brother. I was right. She had a blast at Grandma’s house, playing with her cousin, shopping and eating too much of Grandma’s delicious food.

But things changed once we were home and it was time for bed.

“I miss Andrew.” Gabby said as I tucked her into her bed.

“I miss him too.” I responded, while placing her favorite blanket on top of her chest.

We prayed for Andrew, I kissed her goodnight and walked out of her room. A few minutes later, I could hear her crying. I walked into her room. Her face was down, pressed against her pillow. She was trying to mute the sound of her cry. I walked over to her bed and asked her to scoot over so I could lay down next to her. I wrapped my arms tightly around her.

“I miss Andrew, Mommy.”

“I know, sweetie. I miss him too.”

“Mommy, I miss him so much it hurts my heart.”

I told her it was okay to cry, I told her not to hold back, to cry as much and as hard and as loud as she needed to cry. And she did.

I just held her close and cried along with her because what else could I do? From the moment this girl was born, her brother has loved, adored and cared for her. He is patient with her, even when she’s being bratty. He’s never been too busy to spend time with her, whether it be playing games or playing the guitar for her so she can sing her favorite Adele songs. They are as close as a brother and sister with such a huge age gap (11 years) could possibly be. Their relationship has always warmed my heart.

We stayed there in her bed with her until the crying stopped. After she had calmed down a bit, we had a long conversation. I told her that her brother is strong and brave and that he is doing something amazing with his life. I explained that, while it’s okay to be sad and to miss him, she should also be proud and excited for him. Together, we came up with an idea. We’re going to buy a jar and put little strips of paper next to the jar. Anytime we miss him or feel sad, we’ll write a message of love and support for him and put it in the jar. When he returns home, she will present the jar to him so he can read all of our messages. He will know how dearly he is loved and how proud we are of him. I also told her that I would take her to buy paper, envelopes and new pens so that she could write him a notes whenever she wants to. I told her the minute we get that postcard with his address, we’ll start sending the letters. By the time our conversation was over, she was peaceful and excited to start writing messages to her brother.

The next day, we went to Target to get her the things I promised. As soon as we got home, she wrote her first letter.

Amazing, that girl.

We still have not received the postcard containing his mailing address. The first thing that Gabby does every day when she gets home from school is run to the mailbox to check for it.

I hope today is the day she finds his letter there inside that mailbox.


It arrived. She couldn’t be happier.