Ten years. At the end of the last decade I was 30, a couple of years out of grad school, working as an elementary librarian. I hadn’t published a thing. I wasn’t a mom yet. I still lived in NJ, in a house we’d bought 2 years before. This blog was a year old, and I was posting every single day. I spent that NYE in Paris and had the worst stomach flu of my life there on New Year’s Day, but still…Paris. I had absolutely no idea what would be ahead.

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This blog turned 11 back on April 16th! I somehow always miss my blogiversary (does anyone still use that word?), and it’s also been a couple of months since I last posted. The week before this blog’s anniversary, we went back east to NJ to visit my mom for H’s spring break, and I got to spend a couple of nights on my own in NYC. The trip was fantastic for so many reasons. Adam gave me a ticket to finally see Hamilton for Christmas, and I just had the most amazing time. And it was great for H to revisit her hometown. She’d been missing NJ a lot, and lately starting to compare what she missed about NJ to what she had in WA. But she came back home to WA with a new appreciation for this new home we’re making in a way I don’t think she would have without a visit back to NJ. After 10 months away, she has changed so much, and I think she was able to enjoy the place where she was born but then get back to her new life out here.

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Our girl is 7! Her birthday was last Friday the 15th, and we had two full days of celebrating. Everyone here is still recovering, and I’m getting over a bug that left me with a fever upwards of 103 last night. Friday morning we were at school for her class’s birthday circle, then we left school for a day at Ikea (she asked for a new desk for her birthday) and Emerald City ComicCon. Saturday morning was her Wild Kratts-themed birthday party, and Saturday night we went to Monster Jam.

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A mudroom! This space is one of my favorite places in our farmhouse. I’ve always wanted a mudroom. I grew up in a small apartment and never lived in a house until we bought the one in NJ that we left last year. Years of looking at design magazines, and my year as an interior design student in college, just left me with this picture in my head of what domestic living should look like. And one of those pictures is having a happy, functional space for the mess of everyday life. Not to hide it away, but to give it its own room to kind of revel in the mess of family life, without destroying the rest of the house. This is also the height of privilege, having an entire room in a home that’s basically for dirty shoes, but as a kid with limited privacy and space it’s just something I dreamed of. And here’s the before and after for ours.

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Here’s a simple, quick, cute project to make with your kids. We made these googly-eyed love bugs for H’s class Valentines this year, but we’ve made them in the past just for fun. H’s party was postponed a week because of a giant snowstorm the night of my birthday that, combined with midwinter break, meant school was closed all of last week. It was the fourth snowstorm we’d had in just over a week, February has been wild around here.  So one day while H was home and I was working, I set her up to work on these for school.

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It’s here, the milestone is here. I’m 40! I don’t remember the specifics of when I turned 30, but apparently I was in a cruddy mood all day (thank you, 11 years of blogging). I wasn’t taking photos of myself regularly then, and I thought I should start. When I’m 50, I want to know what I looked like today.

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We’ve been bombarded with snow this week. Today’s Saturday, and the first storm was last Sunday night. School was closed for two days, and then another (smaller) storm came in Friday at lunchtime, so all the local schools closed early. My birthday is just a few minutes away now, and yet another snowstorm is set to head our way either tomorrow night or Monday, I think. And here’s the thing we’re learning about Washington–they don’t have a lot of snow plows.

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I went to ALA Midwinter while it was happening in Seattle last weekend, and it was amazing to walk the exhibits space and just see so many great books. I’m not as current with what’s happening in children’s lit since I left teaching, and I really miss it. I love being a full time, working writer, but…I love children’s books, and I love sharing them with kids. I was at ALA on Sunday, and then Monday morning they held the ALA Youth Media Awards, where they announce all the big winners in kidlit. This is what I watch every year for the announcement of the Newbery and Caldecott books, and then I immediately buy all of the Caldecotts for H’s collection–we have them all for every year of her life, plus the year I was pregnant (and lots of other years because I just love Caldecott books). I also picked up a lot of the other award winners announced on Monday, and by Tuesday they’d all arrived.

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I know I’m not a working librarian anymore, but the American Library Association had its annual midwinter conference here in Seattle over the weekend. Which was really exciting since this is where the announce the Newbery and Caldecott books every year! I didn’t go to the awards ceremony, but I did spend Sunday afternoon walking around the exhibit floor.

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Whoopie pies are just the best, and they’re easy to make at home with kids. Whoopie pies, we’ve learned, just aren’t really a thing in Washington. And they’re H’s favorite treat, and something she’s been missing from NJ (Whole Foods made really good ones back east, but all the baked goods at Whole Foods here in WA are too…healthy). So, I’ve started making them. The Christmas batch was such a hit that she wanted to help me make some more this past weekend. Sunday night while my beef roast cooked we made them for dessert.

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