For the past six months, Harlan has had a little bit of an obsession with the Broadway show, Hamilton. MacKay and I were lucky enough to see it in April. Much like MacKay, Harlan has always has an interest in people, especially historical figures. Many of the books in her collection are biographies. If you ask her about a historical figure, chances are she’s read something about them and can tell you a fun fact about that person. Her desire to learn more about Alexander Hamilton came after asking us about the show. We began playing the soundtrack in the house and she went to the library to get a biography on Alexander Hamilton. Not only did she read up on him, but she read hours of information about the process of the Broadway show and the people it took to make it happen.

When it came to choosing a theme for her birthday party, it didn’t take long for her to decide what she wanted. Although none of her friends were well versed in Hamilton, that didn’t bother Harlan. She was going to take this party as a chance to introduce them to Alexander Hamilton and his life story.

Harlan did most of the party preparation. She gave me details on what she wanted and I had to make it happen.

The very first idea she had was to have a sign hanging so that when her guests walked in, they were walking into the room where it happened. That was her special way of welcoming her friends into the party. I downloaded these letters and was able to make the banner just the way she wanted.

Her second request was $10 bills that she could pass out to her friends. I found these realistic bills on Amazon and ordered them. Her friends had a lot of fun playing with the money.

Her next request was the food. She’s learned over the years that she’s not a fan of cake, so she asked for a cookie cake. Thankfully, those are super easy to make and was done in about an hour the morning of the party.

To make, I simply rolled cookie dough on a round baking pan and baked until done. Once cooled, I put white icing on the cake and then sprayed with edible gold mist. The Hamilton logo on top was done with sugar paper and cut out after I printed out the logo on a regular piece of paper. I was really pleased with the outcome and how simple it was to make.


For the rest of the food, I went with a simple star and red, white, and blue theme. I ordered the cookies from a local nut-free bakery (so that Macks could enjoy) and the rest was done the morning of the party.

I lucked out with the decor for the party because most of it I had leftover from Harlan’s Star Wars party last year. I bought the piñata and gold backdrop from the local party store and I hand-drew the Hamilton logo on a piece of black poster. I also used these glass bottles that I made years ago for the straws and forks. I think I’ve used them for nearly every party we’ve had. (Here’s the super easy DIY)

To keep the kids entertained, Harlan and I came up with a few ideas. We had a piñata last year and the kids loved it, so we decided to do it again this year. We also had the kids decorate cupcakes and cut out paper dolls. And of course no birthday party with a broadway show as the theme is not complete without some karaoke. Har, Avery, and Macks had the best time showing off their singing skills to the Hamilton soundtrack.

It couldn’t have been a better day for our little girl. Happy Birthday Har!

I went to eat lunch with Harlan this afternoon. Her school allows parents to come and visit during lunch time when it’s your child’s birthday. She’s been asking for a month to make sure that I was going to come and eat with her during her lunch for her birthday. I look forward to it as much as she does. Her lunchroom has a special birthday table and it’s reserved just for parents and the birthday kids. Every year it’s just been me and Har that sit at the table together and talk. Most of the time it’s about her new class (her birthday almost always falls on the first or second day of school.)

Today she asked a lot of questions about the future. She’s been asking more and more about things that will happen when she gets older. Many of her questions aren’t too in depth, but just some of the responsibilities that she could have as she gets older. Most of my answers to these questions is “I don’t know.” And I’ve noticed lately as she keeps asking more and more questions, my answer is always “I don’t know.” It’s not because I want to dodge the question, it’s genuinely because I don’t know the answer.

As my oldest, Harlan gets a lot of “I don’t knows.” Eight years ago, as I held her in my arms for the very first time, we started this path of the unknown. I walked blindly with her as we navigated the waters of our journey together. Motherhood was completely new to me. I knew nothing of what the future held for us. She’s the one that was there when I gained the confidence to breastfeed in public, the one held my hand as we navigated the streets of New York City together. It was Harlan that taught be to hold back my tears and put on a brave face when I had to let her off for that first day of school. And she’s always the one that lets me know that it’s okay to let go a little bit and give her the freedom that she needs. When I don’t know, it’s Harlan who leads me to the answer.

She’s my guinea pig. The one that let’s me test the waters. And the one that doesn’t miss a beat when I happen to miss one for both of us. It’s not easy being the oldest, but Harlan takes it with so much pride and confidence.

Tomorrow morning at 12:11pm marks eight years that our dear Harlan. Eight years of learning, laughing, experiencing, and growing. For all of us. And while I know she’ll say that these past eight years have been the best for her, what I don’t think she realizes is that she’s the one that’s made these past eight years the best for me.

Har, there’s going to be a lot more “I don’t knows” in our future. But thank you for being the one that takes that and shows me just how incredible the answers to your questions can be. Happy Birthday, sweet one. I love you.


A few weeks ago, while picking up the kids from swim camp, Avery mentioned to me that she noticed a large bump on the side of Macks’ head. I’d been gone most of that day and MacKay had taken the kids to swim, so I figured something must have happened while I was out for him to get the bump. I didn’t think much of it until I came home to ask MacKay and he said that nothing happened while I was away.

Trying to get to the bottom of everything, I asked Macks if anything had happened. He told me he hit his head on the couch the day prior, but when I pressed further, he pointed to the softest part of the couch for the point to which his head hit. I tried to dig deeper and asked the girls if they’d noticed him hit his head while I was gone and they didn’t seem to recall any incident. The bump didn’t seem to bother him, but it just kept getting bigger and bigger. It looked to be the size of an egg on the side of his head. I gave him some meds for the swelling and put him to bed that night. Naturally, I panicked after putting him to bed. And I let Dr. Google get the best of me. Rather than thinking logically, my mind wandered. And it got the best of me. My anxiety was the worst that it had been in a while and turned into a full on panic attack at 2am. As much as I tried to sleep it off, I’d wake up with my heart racing and my mind wouldn’t get off of the bump on his head. I went in his room several times during the night to make sure he was okay, to check the bump to see if it was getting any bigger, and to try to ease some of my stress. It wasn’t working. I’d become my own worst enemy.

I’ve always been one to struggle with anxiety. It’s been something I’ve been fighting my entire life and it only escalated when I had the kids. I try to hide it as much as I can from the kids because I don’t want them to see my stress or anxiousness and have them learn these same habits. I’ve spoken with many people about it who have taught me ways to naturally deal with these triggers, but every once in a while, my mind escapes me and goes into a place that is hard for me to bear.

I woke up the next morning after only a few hours of sleep only to find that the bump on Macks’ head had gone down significantly during the night. While I examined it closer, it looked like he’d gotten a mosquito bite that had swelled. Panic and anxiousness subsided and I could finally breathe again.

The following week, after returning home from our vacation in Kennebunkport, I woke up in a complete panic. MacKay was still out of town for work and Macks had come into my room at some point the night before. He woke up shortly before I did and started to cry. He complained of his eye hurting. Before getting a chance to look at it, I figured he might have gotten pink eye and that we’d have to get him a round of antibiotics. Instead I looked over to find his entire eye the size of a golf ball and completely swollen shut. And that’s when it happened again. Rather than thinking logically, my mind went to the worst possible place. Because Macks suffers from many food allergies, my first thought was to figure out what he’d eaten the day before. We had nothing at all that was new and there was nothing that he could have possibly eaten that could have triggered this.

I immediately called a friend in a panic to have her come and watch the girls while I rushed Macks to see a doctor. While Macks was freaking out at first for not being able to see, he’d gotten used to it and was acting like himself, which was a little bit of a sigh of relief. We waited what seemed like forever for the doctor to seem him. He evaluated his eye and said, yet again, Macks had gotten bit by some sort of insect. We needed to switch between allergy meds for that day and it should be back to normal in the morning. But that I needed to watch for a few things that might be a sign of an infection.

That night, I noticed that his eye wasn’t getting much better and was turning more of a purple color. I rang his doctor who told me that everything was fine and that it should look better in the morning. I made Macks sleep next to me that night, so that I could keep a close eye on him. I didn’t sleep a wink.

The next morning he woke up and his eye had gotten worse.

Despite how bad it looked, it was in completely great spirits and didn’t mind a swollen eye. But back to the doctor we went for another exam. We saw a new doctor who was rather thorough and confirmed that it was an insect bite (what kind, we weren’t sure) but that it would probably get worse before it got better (how much worse could it get?!) We got some medicine and went back home to let Macks rest.

While my anxiety was on a roller coaster ride, I was proud of myself for handling it all on my own and showing the kids that I was capable of doing this without losing focus and letting the anxiety take over.

It took a few days, before Macks’ eye was completely healed and he did amazing throughout. Myself, on the other hand, learned that I have more to work on. My anxiety got the best of me in both situations and I let it take over. Rather than using the methods that I’d been taught, I threw them out the window and got immersed in the stress. This journey for me has been a long one, and I continue to have a long road ahead of me. But it’s wanting to continue to tackle this and conquer it head on that shows me the I am on the right path. And one day I’ll get there.