Thirty-three

I had a photo shoot last night for some family friends. I haven’t done a shoot in a while, and last night’s called for a little drive–a quiet, hour-long straight shot down 951 to a serene beach on the southern end of Marco Island.

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I realized ten minutes into the trip–once the traffic lights grew sparse and the feeling of being “out there”, away from the hubbub of familiar surroundings, settled in–I needed this drive, appropriately timed right when my year is coming to such a definitive close. I also realized just how much I love having my birthday at the very end of the year. For all the eye rolls and sympathetic “God, that must have sucked,” I’ve received upon telling my birth date, I can tell you, an end-of-the-year birthday ain’t that bad. In fact, I smiled when I woke up early this morning to find a text from my friend in the hospital: “Our little angel was born at 3:21 a.m. 7 lb 5 oz. Perfect and bald!” it said. This sweet little sister shares my birthday, and I can’t wait to tell her all about December 29th, the end of a year in more ways than one. That’s like two conclusions in one book. Reflection squared.

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Now that Christmas music has been properly disposed of (R.I.P., dear Bing–we’ll reunite next year), my drive last night consisted of different tunes. Loud ones. Motivating ones. Anthems that had me slapping the steering wheel and twisting the rear view mirror just long enough so I could face Thirty-two at the end of its glory and bid it goodbye with a ceremonious application of red lipstick–Toast of New York, to be precise.

I’ve been reading old posts the last couple weeks–my way of rolling up everything I’ve learned this last year and storing it properly before the new “furniture” arrives. I read through everything I wrote the weeks after Nella was born, and I cried, humbled by my vulnerability then. As much as the time that’s followed has been such an exponential slope of growth, I miss some of the brokenness that existed in such a raw emotional state. Don’t get me wrong, I’m perfectly content not having some life-changing obstacle to face, thank you very much. But there is a part of me that recognizes the importance of being broken, of never knowing too much, of being so vulnerable that the possibility for transformation is breathtakingly real. I don’t ever want to lose that–not at thirty-three, not at forty-three, not at eighty-three.

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From all of that–not just the last two years, but the important thirty before them as well–I’ve learned that every year brings more experiences, more layers, more character chiseling–a gradual metamorphosis into a better, brighter, wiser, more compassionate being. And that fact alone makes birthdays and new years thrilling. I whole-heartedly embrace Thirty-three today.

And, as traditional ceremonies go, I write a little ditty on my birthday of what I’ve learned this year.

With no further ado…

1. I learned I love In ‘N Out burgers.

2. I finally learned, after years of messing with my hair and attempting blonde that turned into gold/orange/butt-ugly-bronze, my mom was right. Pick a color and stay. It’s been three years now, and I can say with certainty…Hi, I’m a brunette. For good.

3. I’m learning to stop apologizing and disclaiming things I say. It only weakens a statement.

4. There is nothing so time critical that you can’t stop for ten minutes and play with your kids.

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5. You can never ever say “I love you” too much.

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6. I’ve learned not to push away uncomfortable feelings. Embrace them. Learn from them.

7. I like dressing up. It makes me happy. Skirts, cute heels, red lipstick, hats. It’s art to me, and I do it because I like it. I used to make crap up like “I had an appointment” as if I had to have a reason to wear a cute blouse. You know what? Sometimes I wear them in my house. On Saturdays. When I have no place to go. Because it makes me happy.

8. Find things that make you happy. Do them.

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9. I like to travel. But I like coming home just as much.

10. I’ve learned a “spiritual guru” is a treasure. I have a few wise souls I run to when I need wisdom. They don’t always tell me what I want to hear. And I love that.

11. It’s okay to define the kind of mom you are as you go along. And it might look different than everyone else’s definition.

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12. Keep learning. Push yourself. Ask questions. Read books. Google topics. Try something new. But not skateboarding because you’ll fall and nearly break your neck.

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13. Family is everything. Family is everything. Family is everything.

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14. Friendships get better with age. Every year, I sink into friendships a little more comfortably. I love my friends. I need them.

15. Admit your faults and embrace them. Never give up on changing, and be patient with the time it takes.

16. I’ve learned there are so many ways to be grateful and to express it.

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17. I’ve learned to get Thai take-out as spicy as you want, you have to say “Thai hot hot hot hot hot.” Five hots.

18. Music is a part of me. I breathe in quarter notes. Music changes my moods, inspires me, motivates me, speaks to me.

19. Cheap toys break. Quality toys are worth the splurge…you’ll pass them on to grandkids someday.

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20. Birthdays are special. Celebrate them.

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I’d keep this list going, but I have a plane to catch. My in-laws surprised me for my birthday. I’m taking the girls to Michigan, and this weekend my family will be huddled up in a cottage in Northern Michigan, clinking glasses and catching up.

Be still my thirty-three year old heart.

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I’ll pop in Friday for a happy new year.

Until then…

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Comments

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  1. happy birthday! thank you for another year of inspiration :)

  2. Happy Birthday and Have a wonderful trip. You’ve learned so much in your 33 years. I love that you see dressing as an art. And, I love your hair. :)

  3. Happy birthday! And Michigan?! Nothing is better than going home.

  4. Happy Birthday! It’s my oldest miracle’s birthday today too and I realize I’ve spoken far too much about what an awful time it is for the “poor girl” to have her day. No more! Thank you, and I hope she’ll learn to embrace it like you do. You’ve also inspired me to splurge a bit more on toys. I try to save $ often times but then we’re quick to toss the “junk”.

    Have a wonderful time cozying up with your family!

  5. Happy, happy birthday, Kelle! Have fun catching up with family.

  6. Happy Birthday Kelle! Enjoy Michigan we were just there for Christmas…not much snow on the ground so hopefully you have some when your there.

  7. Happy Birthday Kelle :)

    Loved everything about your list.. I feel like reading along has made me truly appreciate some of these things..

    Laughing at the Thai hot hot hot

  8. Happy Birthday, Kelle!! I love that you get to go to Michigan to be with your family. I can’t wait to read all about the adventures that find you. Can’t. Wait.

    XOXO,
    Angie from Ohio

  9. Happy birthday! And enjoy your trip home!

  10. Such a great post! Getting over never sounded so wonderful–or eloquent. Enjoy your trip, and Happy Birthday to you!

  11. Happy Birthday!

    Your blog inspires me and makes me so excited to have a family. This February my husband and I are expecting our first baby and for Christmas I got a Pentax DSLR. I tell you this because I am excited to take a million pictures of this baby and all that she will offer and hope to start a blog of my own.

    Thank you for being so honest and letting all of your readers in on your wonderful life.

  12. Happy Birthday to you, and along with it wishes for a great new year. Have a safe birthday trip and enjoy the time with your family.

  13. Ack. That should say “older.” Still haven’t finished my AM coffee. :)

  14. You are fabulous. And keep getting better with age!
    Happy New Year! Have fun in Michigan, I hope you land some snow up there, we had a green Christmas in Minnesota, but still very cold… you will DEFINATELY need sweaters and hats!

  15. Speaking of higher quality toys, I’d love it if you’d share where you find some of the toys your girls have. Especially that amazing stroller Nella got for Christmas!

  16. Happy birthday; enjoy your trip. Each of the things on your list is meaningful and thought-worthy.

    And I’m in love w/Nella’s colorful crocheted scarf!

  17. Happy Birthday Kelle! And have a fantastic time in Michigan!!!
    xo
    Kris

  18. Happy Birthday! Hope you have a great day and an amazing weekend with your family!!
    ~Beth

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  20. happy birthday! you and your family are so adorable! happy new year!

  21. Happy Birthday and welcome home to Michigan! How ’bout if I take your place in Florida while you are here?! :)

  22. Happy Birthday!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Have the best trip ever!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. happy happy day, sweet kelle! love your list of great things :) have a great trip!!

  24. Be still my 37 year old heart!! those pics of Nella in the green hat, I swooned.

    Most of your “I’ve learned”s are right on for me. Especially 3 thru 5.

    Love them.
    Have a wonderful trip and ENJOY!!

  25. Happy Birthday! Thank you for sharing your life with us!

  26. Happy Birthday Kelly! May your blessings continue to grow…

  27. Happy Birthday Kelle!!

    Enjoy an extra special New Years back home in Michigan. We will be welcoming in our little guys’s first New Year at our family’s getaway in Northern Michigan as well. Here’s hoping for some fresh snow and a 2012 that brings another year full of laughs, loves, and memories for a lifetime!

    XO – Melissa

  28. I thought Bella was Lainey in one of your pics! Happy birthday!

  29. Happy birthday. What an amazing gift from your in-laws. PERFECT!!
    Have a wonderful time up North. My 3 year old (almost 4!) just came running into the living room saying “it’s snowing!” so here’s hoping you have the same experience.

  30. Happy Birthday! Enjoy Michigan!!

  31. Happy Birthday Kelle! And happy new year! Thanks for the beautiful read. x

  32. It sounds like you have the perfect weekend ahead…I’ll be doing the same, in Northern Wisconsin. Nothing better…!

  33. Happy Birthday Kelle and thank you for everything you have given us in the past year. You are a positive impact on many lives and have made us all better people.

  34. Happy Birthday Kelle! And happy new year! Thanks for the beautiful read. x

  35. Happy Birthday Kelle! I can’t tell you how much I enjoy reading your blog and how much I love your taste for life. So inspiring!! I hope you have a fabulous birthday trip with your family!

  36. Happy Birthday, Kelle! I hope you have an extra special day & a wonderful weekend with your family!

  37. Happy Birthday Kelle, I know it’ll be filled with loads of love & laughter! We got snow today in lower MI, so I know there’s going to be some waiting for you when you get home!

  38. Thank you for this great post! 3, 5, and 11….I so need to stop apologizing.
    I love reading your blog, and I love your insights on being a mom–so very real, I appreciate that.
    Enjoy your day and new year of life!

  39. Happy Birthday! What an amazing gift from your inlaws. I can tell from your posts that you were really missing your family! I love #13. It’s what I tell myself everyday. In the end, it’s all there is. Enjoy your trip!

  40. Singing you my little diddly:
    They say it’s your Birthday! I wish it was my Birthday too! But it’s ALL about YOU!!
    Happy Happy Birthday Kelle! May all your birthday wishes come true. Spankin’ & Hugs :)

  41. A surprise trip to a Northern Michigan cabin for you birthday with family? Heaven! Just think of all those people who love you conspiring to get the trip together, slapping shut the laptop with the flight info when you walk into the room, all the phone calls, getting so excited- how cool is that?

    Happy birthday my friend! You are so very important.

    Much love,
    Melina

  42. Happy Happy Birthday, Kelle! I turned 33 this December too!

    And I love being a December baby. Double the presents in one month :)

    Happy New Year to your sweet family.

  43. Happy Birthday! My baby girls turned one yesterday!!

    http://cherrypietwins.blogspot.com/2011/12/one.html

  44. Happy, Happy Birthday!

  45. Happy Birthday!! Have a great time catching up in Michigan (and Happy New Year a little early)!

  46. Happy Birthday Kelle! Thanks for putting yourself out there with this blog. I feel like I’ve been growing right along with you while following your blog. I started reading it right after I found out I was pregnant with my first sweet girl and you’ve definitely inspired me in my motherhood. Thank you and best wishes for another beautiful year!

  47. happy 33rd!! as someone who is closing out her 30s, i can say that this decade has been by far the best. also, my Lovie, 2 today, shares a bday with you and reading that you really love having this birth date, made me smile big time. :)

  48. Happy Birthday Kelle! It’s snowing in mid- Michigan right now :) I hope it’s snow covered and gorgeous where ever in this great state you spend your Holiday!

  49. Happy birthday! I like your wisdom, especially the wisdom of not-knowing. Blessings on your travel North.

  50. Happy Birthday!! 33 is awesome! Enjoy the time with your family

  51. Happy birthday Kelle! Have a great time with your family. What a wonderful surprise!

  52. Happy Birthday! I am so happy I stumbled upon your blog almost 2 years ago, you have been such an inpiration to me!

  53. Happy Birthday to the prettiest red lipstick wearing girl I {sort of} know.

  54. Happy Birthday Kelle!!! I hope you have a wonderful and memorable day. Thank you so much for this post! I have been having a rough week and needed a little perspective. “Family is EVERYTHING!”

    – jen

  55. My husband (aptly named Nickolas, in honor of Santa Claus….seriously, I’m not lying!) was born on December 26, and everyone always pities him and his birthdate. “Why?” he always says. “Just when your party is ending on Christmas night, mine is just getting started!” Then he smiles and my heart melts for the 17,587th time. :-) So happy birthday to both of you wonderful end-of-the-year gems!

  56. Happy Birthday and Happy New Year! I want to write out your words of wisdom. So good!!

  57. Happy Birthday Kelle. May 2012 be everything your heart desires!

  58. What a great post to start off the morning. Have a happy birthday!

    Thanks for the Thai hot hot hot hot tip. I always ask for Thai spicy and they look at me like I’m a crazy white girl and only listen if my brown husband says, “no really, she likes it!” I’ll try your method next time. :o)

  59. Happy Birthday and safe trip!

  60. Happy Birthday!! #15 and 18 are my favourite!! Have a fantastic time in Michigan.

  61. happy birthday Kelle :o)

  62. happy, happy birthday!! hope you have an awesome flight & enjoy all the family togetherness. love all the pics. your girls have the cuties & most funny expressions at times. to cute!! i have to agree with you … i love your hair color … it’s perfect for you. thanks, for sharing your thoughts here. i could not agree more. (:

  63. Happy birthday Kelle! A cabin in Nothern Michigan ??? I am jealous beyond words. Enjoy!

  64. Beautiful post, beautiful pictures. Happy Birthday! Enjoy your time with your family in Michigan. :)

  65. What a perfect post!!! Happy Birthday Kelle, may this year be filled with more wonder then you could hope for.

  66. Happy Birthday!!!!! Have fun back home, enjoy every moment! Wishing you the bestest birthday ever!!!!

  67. And I have learned, you do you best to carry your children from birth to the edge of all you are. You teach them through your trials and your triumphs. They learn from your masterful moments as well as your miserable mistakes. And finally, you let go. When you do, hold on to something because the thrust is strong and you will be in awe of all they do, and hope a tiny part of their doing great things was born in your love for them. Happy thirty third birthday, dear daughter mine. You continue to amaze me and I can’t wait for a lazy, snowy weekend up north to ring in the new year. Thank you, Brian and Donna, for this gift to our family…and thank you Brett and the boys, for holding down the fort. Love you all!
    –Poppa

  68. Whoohoo! A surprise visit to your family’s house! Sound’s like Brett’s parents are amazing. Have fun playing in the snow, there isn’t any here in Boise. :(

  69. Happy Birthday, dear Kelle. I’m thrilled that you get to visit your sacred Michigan & family!

    xoxo, Bree

  70. Happy, happy birthday! Thank you for sharing your beautiful family. You are wise beyond your (young) years. So glad that you will be spending the New Year with your Michigan family.

    p.s. how awesome is it that Austyn wanted that unicycle?

  71. Happy Birthday, Kelle! Thanks for letting us come along on your ride. I’ll be 35 in 11 days, and I share your reflection of the past and the future.

    I love your blog and your outlook on life. It has truly inspired me to embrace more things in my life and to seize the moment more often.

    May you have an amazing 33rd year, tons of snow in Michigan and many more adventures with those adorable girls.

    (And the brunette look rocks.)

  72. Happy Birthday Kellie! Thanks for your words o wisdom as you cross into 33. And thanks for your inspiration throughout the year!

  73. Happy Birthday! :) I hope it was incredible. I love that you love to celebrate each and every birthday, no matter the age or the day that is falls on. Birthdays are a big deal to me to.

    Cheers! http://missbmrsm.blogspot.com/

  74. Happy Birthday! Three words are really all i can say: You inspire me. Thank you.
    Have a safe trip, enjoy every single second!

  75. happy birthday! What a great gift, all of your readers know you have missed your family and Michigan this Christmas, so happy for you

  76. Happy birthday, and well said. :) I especially like the one about not apologizing for or disclaiming so much of what you say…I’m working on that one as well, and am getting better at finding a balance. Also, about just doing what makes you happy, and not feeling like you have to defend it. In the past couple of years, I have worked hard to let go of my own judgement of others, and it’s been SO freeing and has made me a happier person. It has also surprisingly helped me to not care so much about what others think. Wear those blouses proudly! 😉

  77. Happy Birthday Kelle!! Thanks for being YOU!

  78. Happy birthday Kelle!!! Have fun in MI (my neck of the woods). How awesome of your inlaws!!! They must love ya lots! :)

  79. happy birthday!!!

    have a fantastic time in MI this weekend celebrating your birthday and the new year :) how awesome!!!

  80. Happy Birthday Kelle!

    Thank you for sharing your amazing life with all of us. Wishing you all the BEST in 2012! :)

  81. Happy Birthday! Hope you have fun in Michigan with your family!

  82. enjoy bringing in your 33rd year. May it be your best yet!

  83. Beautiful… all of it! Happy 33…

  84. Happy 33rd Birthday! Wishing you love & joy~

  85. Kelle,

    I am so excited you get to go home! Happy birthday! You totally rock! Have a 3 exclamation point weekend!!!

  86. Happy Happy Birthday! You are the wisest 33 year old I know!

  87. Happy Birthday Kelle!! Enjoy your day. X

  88. Happy Happy Happy Birthday Dear!!!! Have fun on your trip!!! I like your hair. But blond looks good on you too!!!:):):):):):)

  89. Happy birthday, Kelle! I’m always so inspired by your writing, and this post is no different. Thank you. Be blessed this coming year!

  90. I’m proud to share my birthday with you! Wow, this is a great in-the-middle-of-the-celebration for me :-)

    My parents were jut here, we had cake, we talked, we laughed. They’ll be back in an hour and then we’ll have dinner and talk more, laugh more. And hug more.

    I agree with your points: I feel tears burning, reading them: there certainly are new layers each year. There are new realizations and more thankfulness and gratitude for each passing year.
    Friends are so important.
    Family is so everything!

    Have a fab trip!
    I’ll now continue with my 41:st birthday. It is GOOD!

  91. … and oh…. HAPPY B-DAY, dearest sweetest Kelle!
    I kinda forgot to say it <3

  92. Happy Birthday Kelle! Thank you for your beautiful words and inspiring blog!

  93. Happy Birthday! Love the embrace you give to birthdays.
    Favorite pics from this post: Nella’s eyes closed tight, Lainey’s Wide open one right before the spicy thai comment.
    Super fun birthday present – have a blast lovin’ up Michigan with your girls!

  94. Happy Birthday to you!!! My sister shares your day. And we have family in northern Michigan as well. Have a great time.

  95. Oh, this made me cry…especially when the post was followed by a comment from your dad. Have a fabulous birthday and a wonderful trip up north. Cheers to many more inspirational years!

  96. Love this! Happy Birthday, I hope it is amazing!

  97. Have a wonderful time up North with your family – enjoy every minute! Happy Birthday1 Happy New Year ahead – thanks for sharing it all with us.

  98. I hope you have a beautiful, wonderful, and amazingly happy birthday! Your list was so inspirational to me. Safe travels, enjoy your time in Michigan!

  99. HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! Mine was the 23rd. :) Hope you have a wonderful Michigan trip. your “what you’ve learned’s” are awesome! Except for the hot hot hot hot hot thai food. lol yep I prefer mine with no hots. hehe Have a great trip!

  100. Happy Birthday- have fun on vacation (what fabulous inlaws :)

  101. Happy 33rd birthday Kelle!!! Cheers to a Great New Year!, to brunettes! to family! and to keep learning and challenging ourselves!!!
    Enjoy your trip :)

  102. Happy birthday! I hope you have a great time in Michagan.

  103. My goodness – in the photo just after #13 Lainey looks exactly like your brother. Which is funny because I’ve never met your brother, have only seen a picture of him here and there and I NEVER see family resemblance. Children usually just look like themselves to me. But there you go.

    Hope your birthday is happy and renewing and spent with everyone you love best.

  104. Happy Birthday, Kelle! Your blog inspires me and makes me so appreciate every moment I have with my 6 month old treasure, Connor (coco we so endearingly call him these days). You may have packed up the Christmas tunes, but I’m still hanging on! Not til January 1 will I stop humming silent night! I’m anxiously awaiting the birth of my friends baby girl or boy. At this point she’s 13 days late, so it will be anytime now. Hoping she will have an end of the year baby instead of a New Year’s Birthday. How correct you are an end of year birthday is like 2 endings to 1 book. Cheers to you and yours! I’m looking out my beautiful Michigan window loving the soft snow falling.

    Happy Happy Happy Happy Happy Birthday (5 happies)

    Kate from Michigan

  105. I haven’t posted a comment in some time but I read your blog daily. This one made me smile and warmed my heart..well, they all do but as a mom and at the end of her 30’s this one…got me. Happy Birthday!! I love your choice in lipstick color too…btw!!

  106. you are such an inspiration for me. you made it more easy to be 31 … more easy to take my live like it it! thank you :o) happy birthday darling.

  107. Happy Birthday! Thank you for your words. They are so inspiring! Hope you have a wonderful day :)

  108. Happy birthday, Kelle! As the mom of a 12/27 baby (and sister of a 12/24 baby) we agree with you about the end of the year birthday. My brother never felt “ripped off” because my mom always made it extra special. I guess I learned from her because my son actually likes his birthday – there is never school or sports or any place he has to be that day.

    I love your inspiration and your attitude. Thanks for giving me a place to go when I’m grouchy/whiny/pitiful. You always help turn it around.

    And thanks for your haircut! After 20 years I went back to bangs because I love yours, and the compliments have been overwhelming. I’m kind of shocked at the difference it makes. I would never have been brave enough to try it without you.

    I hope the next 33…and the next after that…are as beautiful and inspiring, and jam packed with joy as these 33 have been.

  109. Just called and left you a birthday message…had a feeling you were on a plane! Yay for that awesome surprise. Fun to imagine you so close to me for a couple of days….wish there was a few more days and a way to see your sweet 33 year-old self.

    Love these photos a whole lot. They really capture your peace and your family’s personality.

    Love you so much! Happy happy birthday, friend.

  110. Happy Birthday, Kelle. Thank you so much for sharing yourself and your family with us. You are very inspiring! I hope you have a great birthday, and a wonderful trip! Blessings in 2012!

  111. Happy Birthday Kelle!! Have a beautiful trip with your family!

  112. You write just what I need to read every time. Every time. Thank you for that. Happiest of birthdays today!

  113. Happy birthday! Have a fantastic trip!

  114. Happy Birthday Kelle! I look up to you so much, thank you for sharing your words!

  115. Happy birthday, Kelle! I hope you have a wonderful trip, you deserve it! (and thanks for helping me embrace my 30s, because if you can do it with such style and spunk, surely this mama can too!)

  116. One of the best things i did this year is become a follower of your blog! I love yout stories and photography. This journal (and others that I follow) give me hope on my IF journey. I wish you the happiest of birthdays! and a Happy New year celebration.

  117. Happy, Happy, Happy Birthday!!! You must be over the moon to be spending the New Year in Michigan!!! May your trip be smooth and may there be snow there for you & your family to play in!!!! Thank you for another wonderful year of inspiration!!! God Bless!!!

  118. It has been a long time since I posted (heck, it might have been since my old blog Musings from the P(insert last name) Pen. BUT, I just had to comment…I LOVE this post. All of it. Thanks for sharing.

    PS…my son’s birthday is New Years Eve. He turns 5. So he has one of “those” birthdays too. But I’m hoping he embraces it the way you do (except when he’s 21, then I hope he’s at home playing board games and drinking OJ…I kid…kind of :)).

  119. Happy Birthday! Today is my 34th!

    And I have to ask- where did you find the awesome looking wooden tea set? I have a son, and I would rather get him a nice one (than a cheap plastic PINK one!).

  120. Happy Birthday,

    My beloved has his birthday on the 28th, and it’s become a wonderful tradition of both of us taking the day off work. We disappear to random spots, and just be – it’s the best celebration!

    May your 33rd celebrations be one of joy, laughter and wonderful things. You’ll definitely have snow!!!

    Thanks for all the ways you brighten my days – you are a blessing to me. Happy new year too!!

  121. Happy Birthday Kelle. Enjoy your time in Michigan.

    LOVE all the pics of you and your girls…especially love the one of Lainey after topic #16. Love all their hats too =)

    xo

  122. I just gave up some great “opportunities” for a chance to move to a place that is new to us and is equidistant to our hometowns. Thank you for helping me realize I did the right thing!

  123. Happy Birthday!

  124. I have read your blog for a long time but never comment. But as you say: Birthdays are special.

    Word cannot describe how much I love and adore you and your blog. I am a mother of a 2 year old with so many doubts about everything dealing with parenthood, and your blog is my biggest inspiration. Happy Birthday, you beautiful lady!

  125. Love your thoughts. They bring many thoughts into my head to. I love the end of the year, as things close, and many new things begin, it a great time to get the mind refreshed and ready for the next year. Thanks for helping my little brain with it’s thinking process, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

  126. Happy Birthday, Kelle! Loved this post…and sending it off to my friend to read. And, I LOVE your hair! :) Enjoy your trip to Michigan, I’m sure you are very excited!

  127. Happy Birthday lovely lady. This post was so inspiring as always x

  128. Incredible post. I was in tears reading it! The pictures with your words are so beautiful. Happy Birthday and Happy New Year!

  129. Happy Happy Birthday Kelle! Hope you have a wonderful time in Michigan with your family!

  130. happy birthday! have fun with your family today!

  131. Happy Birthday Kelle!

  132. oooohh! So many of your list of 20 things chimed loud bells with me, I might borrow some of them for my own end-of-year reflecting. Beautifully expressed thoughts. And happy birthday, of course.

  133. Happy Birthday1 It is my 33rd birthday today, too. Birthday twins! ;)Love your words and pictures….Happy New year!

  134. Every word you write brings a tear to my eye…gets me choked up. I want to soak it in like you do. I truly want to enjoy the small things. Not sure I’ve ever commented- for fear my comment will get lost in the other 487 that you get daily…but just want you to know that your blog truly does inspire me. Such a sweet gift you are giving to your children.

    Happy 33 Kelle. You deserve the BEST! Enjoy Michigan!

  135. Happy Birthday! I don’t comment much but I read all of your posts and I loved this one in particular. I turned 30 this year and I have realized that I am loving getting older. I’m excited about the wisdom I gain every year and how I am more confident as the years go by. Bring on the future! Hope your birthday is spectacular!

  136. Happy Birthday! Thanks for sharing your beautiful outlook with all of us.

  137. Wishing you the happiest birthday, ever!

  138. Happy Birthday!! My twin girls just celebrated their 1st birthday yesterday (28th) so I was happy to hear how much you enjoy an end of year birthday. Also I loved #11 about being a mom and that your definition isn’t always the same as everyone elses. Amen to that :)

  139. Happy Birthday my dear internet friend! I look forward to reading you each day you post, it’s part of my morning routine with coffee and scones. We spend a lot of time in Michigan in the summer so I share the love. We have a friend of a friend in common! April Jean is friends with my best friend’s little sister. Small world, no? April and I live in the same small, rural community. Have the happiest of new years!!

  140. Happy Birthday Kelle! Have fun in Michigan! :)

  141. Happy Birthday, Kelle! Have fun back here in Michigan with your family…and it’s snowing…just in time!

  142. I had forgotten how much I love your blog- hadn’t been over in awhile and then on pinterest I saw one of your photos (a chalk drawing of Jack with him inside the J, so cute!) and mentioned to the pinner that I love your blog. Got her hooked on you too.

    Haven’t seen you as anything but a brunette but you rock it!!
    To get Thai hot, you have to say not white people hot, like Kunyai cooked it. (Thai for grandma, and kunyai in the kitchen is a great thing.)
    Happy birthday and keep on writing! Can’t wait to see your book. :)

  143. Happy Birthday Kelle, what a lovely idea for a present- a trip to see family!
    I turn 33 in 3 weeks time. I think I’ll have to write a list of what I’ve learnt/done/achieved this last year. Ditto re Brunette, I was white blonde (or when the toning didn’t work gold/yellow blonde) for 7 years, then flipped back to my natural brunette, and as much as I loved the fun of blonde, the last 2 years are really me. Although the number of “sparkles” appearing does make Rob laugh every time I bemoan them.
    I’m hoping my next year brings us a special gift, one that will change myself, us and our family. It’s still a little surreal, that we are trying for a baby after waiting for so long but I’m sure it will be all ok, whatever/whenever it happens.
    Honestly I look forward to a whole year of enjoying the small things with you Kelle, I know you’ll rock 33, and I can’t wait to see it!

  144. Happy Birthday!
    Beautiful lessons you’ve learned this year that are worth cherishing

  145. Happy Birthday Kelle! Have a brilliant time in Michigan!

  146. nella is looking more & more like her mama… a woman’s 30’s are kind of awesome eh?

  147. happy birthday, Kelle! you make 33 look pretty darn good. and i love love love love love (5 loves) your blog. :)

  148. Happy Birthday! Love your pics, as always! Lainey’s eyes look so awesome. I hope you have a wonderful time on your trip 😀

    http://busyboldblessed.blogspot.com/

  149. Okay – first, your girls are so, so lovely and the way you capture them . . . wow, such talent.

    And also – yes, where did that GORGEOUS tea set come from? Must. Have. Now.

  150. happy birthday! i discovered your blog in around april and never miss a post. You are such an inspiration to ppl like me- i have a brother with ds and i love photography

  151. Happy Birthday Kelle and thank you for another year of inspiring so many of us around the world. Feliz cumpleaños to you from us in sunny Mexico.

  152. Happy, Happy Birthday!!! And enjoy your family, what a great suprise and gift…

  153. Happy Birthday darling Kelle! I am glad you love your birthday! I have a Christmas Eve birthday girl who just turned 12 this year and we always try to make the day all ABOUT her! in fact the whole MONTH leading up to her birthday it’s all we talk about with Christmas thrown in there too!
    it’s fun but exhausting!

    have fun in Michigan!
    I am from upper MI, gorgeous state all around!
    tara

  154. Happy Birthday!!! I’m a new reader & I love your blog! Sometimes all you need is a quiet drive out of the big hubbub of things to get your head right!

  155. Happy birthday! And YAY for getting to bundle up in Michigan :) What a great gift to wrap up the year with.

    I also want to say I LOVE Nella’s tea set. I just stumbled upon that set the other day and was so excited. My husband’s British (read: REALLY likes his tea) and we’ve been looking forever for a tea set that isn’t pink/purple for our boys.

  156. Happy Birthday Pretty Lady! Today is also my dad’s birthday so December 29th is a great day :)

  157. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! Travel safe and play hard! :)xoxo

  158. Happy birthday, Kelle! May this year be as much of a blessing to you as you are to so many. xoxoxoxo

  159. happy birthday!

  160. Happy birthday! I don’t think I’ve commented before, but I love your blog. Found it through my friend Esther at http://bluethistleblog.blogspot.com/

    I have a son with Down syndrome and am in the process of adopting a little girl with Down syndrome. I love your writing and your photos, but what really got me to comment is the fact that you are going to northern Michigan. I grew up in northern Michigan (Bellaire). It is beautiful there, but I sure don’t miss the winters. It would be lovely to go for a week or so, though! Enjoy and have a wonderful birthday!

  161. I’ll start with another birthday wish to you! I read Marco Island, and jumped a little, that was the last place I stayed when I went to FL. Not really sure why we picked Marco Island, as it’s kind of an older community (from what I could tell), but hey it’s Florida, I’m not going to complain.

    Also, #2, #7, and #18 ring true to me. Although, I’m still in the midst of trying out new colors, it made me think which one is my truest… blonde. Clothes, are warn to make me happy as well! And as for the music, it’s the perfect addition to any mood, time, place, or feeling.

    Happy New Year!

  162. How did I forget to say Happy Birthday in my other comment! From a Dec 23er to a 29er – happy birthday. I’m 33 now too. So, welcome!

    And I think I found that tea set – google is amazingly knowing, in a kind of creepy way – when I googled I found this at the top of the heap:

    http://www.amazon.com/Plan-Toys-0343300-Toy-Tea/dp/B001D1IXR2

  163. Happy Birthday! Have a wonderful time in Michigan!

  164. I think the 29th of December is a great birthday too. It is also my birthday & I also just turned 33! Happy Birthday, I love you’re blog. I’m a midwife in Australia and started reading when a link was sent to me of Nella’s birth story, I’ve been reading ever since.

  165. I thoroughly love pouring over your insightful, encouraging words and taking them as a lesson on how I am living my life. Like myself, you are so incredibly positive…not something that comes naturally. I wish you the happiest of birthdays and my hope to you is that you start your 33rd year and 2012 with a full and happy heart.

    I have a relatively small immediate family of 16 and of those 16 – 3 people share December 29th as their birthday. I am happy that you are apart of their magical birthday club!

    Much love from Huntington Beach, California…

  166. Happy birthday!!!!

  167. Wonderful inspirations!

    Brooke
    http://www.TheAnnessaFamily.com

  168. Happy birthday Kelle! I share your day and always felt like I got cheated. I’m going to look at things differently!

    Enjoy the time with your family.

  169. So, so, so, sweet – and happy birthday. :) I will be 31 in 6 weeks, and I could reiterate every single think on your list. I loved it. Enjoy Michigan. It snowed here today – and is really just right!

  170. Happy Birthday! I live in Suttons Bay, Michigan (just north of Traverse City) and it is snowing like crazy right now. I hope the snow stays for your visit :o)

  171. Happy new years to you and your family, and the best of health for the new year. Richard

  172. Happy Birthday!
    Three days ago was my birthday, today is my Mother’s birthday, and my precious baby boy will be one year old tomorrow. We have had a wonderful time this year, and I hope your birthday fun will last you through the new year! :)

  173. That’s so funny, I’ve also just turned 33, and wrote a very similar post! http://bitsofbee.blogspot.com/2011/11/thirty-three.html Beautiful photos as always, and Happy Birthday!

  174. I’ve been reading and loving your blog for a year now regularly, but never commented. I feel compelled to comment today because we share a birthday and just like you, I have two sweet baby girls that I love more than anything. Happy Birthday to you and thanks for continuously motivating and pushing me to be a better mother, wife, friend, sister, daughter, and person. You are beautiful inside and out.

  175. Your learned-list motivated me… so, thank you. I needed it. GREATLY. And a very happy birthday, Kelle. All the best to you and your family in the New Year.

  176. Awwww…I’m seriously tearing up…you get to go to Michigan, and the fact that Brett’s parents gave you this as a birthday gift just tugs at my heart. HAVE FUN,
    CANNOT wait to see pics, and HAPPY, HAPPY Birthday!
    Two by the ways, super post and Dec 29 is special over here too…it’s our son’s 4th birthday!

  177. Happy birthday, Kelle! You also share your day with my son Charlie who turns 2 today. What a special day, indeed!

  178. Happy Birthday! and Happy New Year! Enjoy your trip and family. See you in 2012.

  179. Sounds like a great birthday!

  180. Happy Birthday! This was a great post and some of the best pics of your girls! Thanks for sharing

  181. Happy birthday Kelle. I shared the same day as you, the 29th of December, however as Im in New Zealand my birthday was yesterday. And it was very quiet, with all my family away, as has been the usual pattern over the last 4 or so years. But thats ok, next week my partner is taking me away for the night, to sight – see, eat okonomiyaki and go to the zoo, it shall be amazing.
    Enjoy your weekend away!

  182. Happy happy birthday Kelle! It’s my birthday too!

  183. Happy Birthday Kelle! You share the day with my dad, a good day indeed! Have a wonderful and magical trip home, I know you will make every second of it count! Hugs to you and 33!

  184. Happy Birthday Kelle! I love that you love to dress up. I am rediscovering just how great it makes me feel. I wore a fancy necklace to clean the house and walk the dog yesterday just because it made me feel put together and happy.

    My red lipstick of choice: Maybelline Royal Red It’s fierce!

  185. Happy Birthday Kelle! I hope that this year is full of wonderful things–and I have a feeling it will be! Have a good one

    http://auntiec93-tothineownselfbetrue.blogspot.com/

  186. Happy Birthday, Kelle! i adore the list of things that you learned this year…as I share many of those items in this, my 33rd year of life as well.
    Can’t wait to see and read about your birthday trip to Michigan! Cheers!

  187. What a wonderful post, what an inspirational list! Happy Birthday and have a wonderful stay in Michigan :)

  188. Happy Birthday! I relate to your,”I had an appointment” excuse for dressing up. As if I have to justify to anyone. It makes it feel ‘less-than’ to come up with an explanation. My lil’ girl begs me to wear dresses,fancy stuff, etc. I do it for the eye popping look she gets when I walk into her classroom for a party, and I’m NOT in the sweats and baseball hat she left me in earlier in the day! I do it so she knows to celebrate herself and even the littlest of moments as magnificently as possible. I totally was/am/soon-to-be-no-more excuse giver for why I chose to dress up. NO MORE EXCUSES for the New Year :)

  189. Happy Birthday! Love your list – so many ring true for me as well.

    Celebrate BIG and enjoy/savor every second.

  190. Happy Birthday Kelle! Your blog is an inspiration!

  191. KNOWING that your 33rd year will be even MORE fabulous (if that’s even possible!) than your 32nd………..well, I can hardly wait! Wishing you all the love & happiness you truly deserve, for giving of yourself and your thoughts and feelings so freely to all of us in blogland. You are loved more than you can ever imagine………and the impact you are making on the world, on the mommies out there, on each and every one of us – – – needless to say your own family…….well, there’s not a word to even tell you how HUGE that is! Safe & happy travels back to your family in MI – know that your blog family will be anxious awaiting to hear and see all about it!! XO

  192. Happy birthday!!!

    I cannot tell you how much your blog means to me. It has changed my perspective and life one post at a time. Thank you for helping me bring perspective back into my life!

    Love Meli <3

  193. Happy 33rd Birthday Kelle! Wow, what an amazing year of spiritual growth you’ve had! I love your list…and I know you inspire a lot of people with your writing & life experiences. Cheers to a Happy Birthday & a gorgeous weekend in Michigan.
    xx

  194. Happy Birthday!!!

    One thing I learned this year : I LOVE your blog :)

    And, great decision on sticking with brunette. You look FABULOUS! I love your hair :)

  195. Ever since I clicked on your blog for the first time (my sis sent me) I have been hooked. Although your list was filled with many wonderful things the one that stood out…Family is Everything!!! In the last year I have truly embraced that. Once I did, everything else just seemed to fall into place!

  196. This comment has been removed by the author.

  197. Hello- I am a new reader, new as in only about 2 months but I am already pre-ordering your book for my new Kindle! I cannot wait to read more. My husband and I are trying to start our family and your posts give me much inspiration. Happy Birthday, and Happy New Year!

  198. What a fabulous cheerful post. Have a magnificent birthday and enjoy Michigan xx

  199. Happy Birthday!!

  200. Happy Birthday! This is my 1st time commenting but I love your blog, I love how positive you are and that you love being you. Hope you have a great trip away. :o)

  201. Happy Birthday!! My moms bd is on Christmas Day – she has always loved it as much as people say, that much stink! You must get jipped!! Shenever has and we celebrate both occasions!

  202. Wow what an amazing gift and what a great way to end a great year! You are truly blessed! Enjoy your time in Michigan and Happy 2012!

  203. My faves:

    4. There is nothing so time critical that you can’t stop for ten minutes and play with your kids.

    and

    7. I like dressing up. It makes me happy. Skirts, cute heels, red lipstick, hats. It’s art to me, and I do it because I like it. I used to make crap up like “I had an appointment” as if I had to have a reason to wear a cute blouse. You know what? Sometimes I wear them in my house. On Saturdays. When I have no place to go. Because it makes me happy.

    I’m 44. And I say, yes ma’am! Happy Birthday girl. :)

  204. Happy Birthday and what a great gift.. your inlaws gave you.. Loved what you learned this year.

  205. Happy birthday! They sound like all wonderful things to have learned in a lifetime. Have a FABULOUS time in Michigan. How exciting! Can’t wait to hear all about it x

  206. Happy birthday! They sound like all wonderful things to have learned in a lifetime. Have a FABULOUS time in Michigan. How exciting! Can’t wait to hear all about it x

  207. Happy birthday! I hope it is fabulous and everything you want/deserve this year.

  208. Happy birthday, Kelle! I know it’ll be a good one because you’ll make it so. Thanks for the gift of joy you give all your readers with your wonderful posts.

  209. Happy, Happy birthday. I loved reading about all that you’ve learned..

  210. Happy birthday Kelle! Hope you have an absolutely wonderful day – can’t to read about what 33 brings you :)

  211. Most importantly, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! And bless your in-laws for such a thoughtful gift!

    *Gorgeous 1st photo of you with the candle-lit cupcakes….and Lainey looks so grown up!

    *Good grief–Nella in that green hat!!!

    *Love all you’ve learned, especially #7 and #11.

    *I’m a “zero stars” when it comes to Thai hotness (I’m a wimp)….but love, love, love Thai food. And NO JOKE, but I’m sitting here eating leftover Thai chicken pizza as I read!!!

    *And good God (sorry, sometimes it slips and is more impactful than saying, “oh my gosh”), did I mention Nella in the green hat????

    *Favorite quote: “But there is a part of me that recognizes the importance of being broken, of never knowing too much, of being so vulnerable that the possibility for transformation is breathtakingly real. I don’t ever want to lose that–not at thirty-three, not at forty-three, not at eighty-three.”

    Woo-wee! Do I ever know what you’re talking about! And from experience, I’m pretty sure you won’t lose it at 43….and hoping to say the same next month at 44! Holy Cow! How the heck did I get here? I’m in my forties…..Aaaack!

    Much love to you, beautiful friend :)

  212. Happy birthday Kelle! It’s an honour to share my birthday with you. Today I am 21. Tomorrow I get to go in to work and see how many new little lives also get to share that special day (I work in maternity – rotating between labour ward / ante & post natal). I will also get to see a beautiful new life who may have that magic extra chromosome – who knows I may even be blessed with a cuddle.

  213. I cried when I read you are getting to go with your girls to Michigan! How exciting. HAPPY BIRTHDAY AND THANK YOU FOR SHARING YOUR FANTASTIC LIFE WITH US!

  214. Happy Birthday. I live in Northern Mich and it’s been snowing all day!

  215. I’ve been under the weather for a week or so, so have discovered some new blogs. LOVE yours. I read what you wrote after Nella was born last nite…it has stuck in the back of my head ever since. Absolutely heart wrenching and heart warming at the same time. How do you do that? I love your little family, I love that you’ve decided to keep your hair dark, and I love reading about it all. Happy Birthday!

  216. Happy, Happy Birthday dear Kelle!
    Sending you very best wishes and lots of love from across the ocean for the bestest birthday ever and the bestest year to follow!
    Have a wonderful time in Michigan.
    xxxooo

  217. Happy birthday, Kelle! So pleased you get to go home. How wonderful. Thank you for sharing your life with us all x x x

  218. Happy birthday, Kelle! So pleased you get to go home. How wonderful. Thank you for sharing your life with us all x x x

  219. Happy Birthday! Thanks for sharing what you’ve learned!! My favorite is to dress up. I need to do more of that.

  220. Kelly, I love your writing and your inspiration. You are beautiful. Pip from NZ

  221. My first comment too….love this post! So inspiring, thanks!

  222. Happy Birthday Kelle! Thank you for helping us all enjoy the small things!

    http://www.imwashington.com

  223. happy birthday kelle! hope it has been a lovely birthday for you :) and…enjoy michigan & being home! what a wonderful gift!

  224. My husband’s grandpa’s birthday is today too. He passed away in September, but would have been 93 today.

    I hope you have a magical birthday.

    And, it was snowing here in Michigan today, get ready. :)

  225. Happy Birthday, Kelle! My best friend Nicole is 24 today… what a great birthday to have! Have a great time in Michigan… and have a wonderful 2012! May we all grow, learn, love, and enjoy the simple things as much as possible. :)

  226. Happy Birthday to you and Happy Birth Day to your Mama! (got that one from you) :) Yahoo you’re going to Michigan! What grand in-laws you have!! I seriously got goose bumps when I read that bec I know a big piece of your heart nestles safely there amongst loved ones. Have a wonderful time. Looking forward to seeing your beautiful photos.
    Thank you for another year of inspiring words- you are so full of wisdom and truth and goodness! For laughter -you would be so fun to hang with. For the tears because they stretch us to places we might not have gone. I have grown in my own being as a mother and a woman by just simply reading your amazing blog!! Thank you!
    Happy Happy Day to you!
    Monique

  227. Happy birthday! :)

  228. Happy birthday, Kelle! Happy New Year! Happy Michigan! I didn’t know I could love someone I don’t know so much! Love you and your darling family!

  229. Happy Birthday Kelle, you are beautiful! Enjoy your trip!!!

  230. Happy Birthday! Your way with words moves me, and make me want to be a better person, and make the most of everything I have in life, everyday!

  231. I’ve been reading your blog for several months now and I have to say, you inspire me beyond belief: to become a better momma, woman, and overall a better person! And who would have guessed it…we share a birthday!! Happy Birthday! I hope you have had a wonderful day! I know I have (I spent all day snuggling my baby girl…and didn’t feel guilty about it for one second)!!

  232. Happy 33rd Birthday, Kelle, and enjoy your visit with your family in the great state of MI!!

  233. Love this, one of your best posts yet! Happy Birthday!

  234. I’m hoping by the time I get to 33, I’ll be a little less peaved about the whole (after) Christmas baby thing. But to you and your positive spin on it, I say Happy Birthday! Hope yours is as great as mine was yesterday!

  235. Happy day of birth beautiful Kelle! What a wonderful way of celebrating your day! what a great year it’s been.
    Can’t wait to read/see pictures!
    Xoxo

  236. Happy birthday!

    Yours is the only blog I avidly follow.

    Did you notice in the photo of Lainey after your #17, she for once actually looks like daddy’s side and not like you? She looks bit like your you youngest stepson!

  237. Happy Birthday, Kelle…Enjoy your trip and time with your family.

  238. Happy Birthday Miss Kelle! Enjoy your time w/ family :o)

  239. Happy Birthday! Your blog is a daily read for me, and although we have never met, I find you to be the wise one who dispenses words that I need to hear, right when I need to hear them. Thank you and enjoy all the festivities!

  240. I got the full body chills when you said your in-laws surprised you with a trip home to the Midwest. How thoughtful of them. Have fun!!

  241. Happy Birthday, Kelle! What a wonderful surprise. Have a great trip!

  242. Wishing you a very happy birthday sweet Kelle!!!! Thirty-three was one of my very favorites… it was the start of an amazing chapter in my book… can’t wait to see what adventures it brings for you. Thank you for sharing your words, pictures & gorgeous self with all of us. You continue to be such an inspiration to me… to stretch, to pay attention, to enjoy! All such important things. :-)
    Safe travels & love up some Michigan winter!!!
    xo
    Kate
    p.s. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog… your comments always mean so much to me!

  243. Nice blog, hi friend, i found that there is one website offering free puzzle games. Its URL is http://www.684899.com/en/CosmicCreature/project_1.htm I’ve done it and now i am enjoying it. Would you like one? Just take one minute to sign up.

  244. Happy Birthday, Kelle!! A whole bloggy world is so happy that you were born today!! Such a life to celebrate. My daughter Maddie’s birthday is today too!!! She turns 11 today. Have a great trip to Michigan.

  245. Happy Happy birthday Kelle. I’m the 23…turned the big 30…and was surprised with a new york trip. Have fun in the snow. You are so right about the toys…that explains my dislike for toys in general. They are plastic, don’t last, and need batteries. I went to a training recently, and she said. Don’t buy toys with batteries…it kills creativity. So true!

  246. happy birthday.. my sister also shares a end of the year bday.. but hers is the 31st…

  247. Happy Birthday Kelle! I’m biased but I think December 29th is a great birthday. My newly turned 5 year old twins share your birthday. Cheers!

  248. Happy Birthday to you and “Welcome Home!” :) Just talked about heading “up north” ourselves today to welcome in the new year ~ Cheers!

  249. Yeah!!! You are going home! Happy Birthday:)

  250. Wonderful thoughts and pictures from wonderful you! Hope your Birthday has been full of blessings! :)

  251. Happy Birthday Kelle! I turn 34 on December 31st, feeling a bit old but loving every minute of it!

  252. happy birthday to you! can’t wait to hear how much fun you had visiting family :)

    p.s. i love nella’s wooden tea set…where is it from?

  253. We share the same birthday 😉 Happy birthday to Dec 29 babies xoxo

  254. Nella looks adorable in that green hat. Happy Birthday! Enjoy the time with your family :)

  255. Happy New Year! I hope your next year is full of new life to be lived, and cups full of marrow. :)
    Thank you for a year of great reading, beautiful pictures, and web friendship!
    Oh, and Happy 2012 a little early, too!

  256. Happy birthday!
    Wonderful pics, they are great!!

    xoxo Mone

  257. Happy birthday, sweet girl!

  258. Happy birthday! I love what you have learned over the year. You have been a source of inspiration for me this year as well. Thank you so much for your blog.

  259. Happy Birthday to an amazing mama!

  260. Happy Birthday, Kelle! I turned 33 on the 22nd, and I have learned to love my birthday too. Sure, I share the season with Christmas, and it used to suck having it all in one shot, but I’ve learned that it’s actually special. And, us December babies are special…we’re full of magic.
    Thanks for sharing your list with us…it made me think. Families are the most important thing!!

  261. Happy Birthday – Kelle! Sorry I missed wishing you a great day!!!!!!!! Hope you have the best year ever in 2012! xoxo

  262. Have a wonderful time up North! It couldn’t be more relaxing and enjoyable to new years up here!! We’re doing the same! Happy new year :)

  263. I love your positive outlook on things! You have summed up your year nicely… I need to find a way to track my year and reflect as you’ve done! It’s beautiful. :)

    You share a birthday with my mom! :)

  264. Happy Birthday!!! Enjoy your trip. What a great surprise for an awesome person. What a great way to end the year, spending some much needed time w/your family in Michigan.

  265. Happy birthday Kelle!!!

    This song has always been one of my favorites!

    Thirty-three :)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUbQBVbXNsU

  266. Happy Birthday! I’ve finally learned that I am a brunette for good too, ha! I look a my “blonde” self and think what was I thinking?!?! Enjoy your time in Michigan :-)

  267. Your reflections sound like my own at this year’s end.

    Happy birthday- and thanks for using your life in part to connect to and inspire others.

    2012 is going to be mind-blowing: ENJOY!

  268. Happy Birthday! I love reading your blog. I found it through a friend a week ago and I haven’t been able to stop reading since! Your little ones are so sweet!
    I pray blessings upon you and your family this coming year. May it be better than the last.

  269. I’ve been a lurker for a while…but I just wanted to say I LOVE your posts. Your photography is what drew me in, but your heart warming stories keep me coming back. Your children are so very blessed to have such a wonderful mother…and they will cherish all of these beautiful memories you are creating for them.
    P.S. As a former blonde, BRUNETTES ROCK!

  270. Happy sweet 33rd birthday to you!! I will be the big 30 in February and i’m feeling a wave of change coming…not sure about it but I’m glad I have your perspective. :) Hope you have a wonderful time in Michigan!

  271. Happy Birthday, Kelle!!! My soul sister. I love that we share a birthday, 1 year apart. I turned 32 yesterday and like you, I embraced it whole heartedly. We are not getting old, we are getting wise and blossoming into the beautiful flowers that we were meant to be. I love that our lists of what we’ve learned in life are so similar! Here’s to a new year. May this one be another great one filled with lots and lots of family treasure moments.

    I’m so happy to hear you’re going to Michigan!! I’ve been wanted to ask you if you ever get to go back there this time of year with the kids and now you are. Enjoy every second!!! :)

  272. ~Woo-Hoo~ Welcome to the mitt!

  273. I just wanted to wish you the happiest of birthdays and may your birthday wish come true. Below is a quote my father always says to me and whenever I need it, it is there for me.

    “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” ~ Albert Einstein

  274. Happy, happy birthday!!! Thanks for another year of fabulous blogging, tears and laughter :) My daughter has the exact same Flamenco dress and Lainey and was soooooooooo happy to see someone else wearing one (she got it for Christmas and I hand wash and drip dry it overnight so she can wear it every day :))

    Happy New Year to you and yours.

  275. Happy Birthday, Kelle! I love an end of the year b-day, too. Congratulations on 33 trips around the sun. Don’t forget to make LOTS of wishes :)

  276. I totally connect w #7. I get so much guff from other mom’s giving me a hard time about being “dressed up”. i say kiss my grits! I’m a breast cancer survivor and I’m gonna dress how I wanna because I can & it make me feel alive & confident! xoxoxoxo Happy Birthday!

  277. Love the photos, love your list, LOVE that you get to go home for a birthday-New Year’s combo smack-down….and most of all, I love you. Happy birthday, ‘ya ray of light, you. xo

  278. Happy Birthday, Kelle! These photos are particularly amazingly gorgeous. Wow. I’m thrilled for you that you get to go to Michigan. Enjoy, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

  279. Oh, and comment above from Summit of Glory? You go, girlfriend! I’m totally stealing your “I say kiss my grits” line…I’m still giggling. I’m not even certain I know what grits are but I’m going to say it anyways (and I’ll be ordering some next time I’m down in the States so I’m in the know…) Love it.

  280. Thank you, thank you, thank you so much for this post. I just broke up with my boyfriend of 3 and a half years ago last week, a man I had hoped to marry. I still may someday, but right now I’m in the midst of that raw, vulnerable, life-changing state. Thank you for reminding me of the power and possibility of transformation. Happy birthday!

  281. Happy Birthday..illl have to remember that to tell my twins when they get older..there 2nd birthday is today..ps. i hope u get to see some snow.i just recently made a trip back to my home town of SD from SC in hopes of seeing some snow and there was nothing..Couldnt belive my eyes!!!

  282. Happy, happy to you.

  283. Happy 33, Kelle! I celebrated the magic 33 yesterday as well with our first family trip down hill skiing…certainly a birthday never to be forgotten. Enjoy your trip to ‘north’.

  284. Couldn’t agree with number 4 more :) Happy belated birthday!

  285. I needed to hear so many of these. Thank you!

  286. Happy late birthday! We share our anniversary with you! Oh my goodness, the pics of Nella in the hat makes her look so old and grown up!

    Enjoy your trip to Michigan!

  287. The picture after #16 is a look my 4 y/o son, Owen makes all the time. I smiled to see it on another preschooler and ran upstairs to kiss him as he sleeps. Happy birthday and thank you for sharing your moments that remind me of old memories and have me concentrating on memorizing new ones with my three (Owen, 4; Caleb, 2; and Eliza 5 months).

  288. Happy birthday (a day late) and thank you for all you give in your blog posts! I completely resonate with your comments about being broken, even missing it — or at least missing the gifts that come with being in such a raw, vulnerable place. Not that we want to stay in those places forever, but there is something very blessed and sacred about those times.

    I went through a very deep depression during college, when I was losing my faith that had been the center of my upbringing (well, losing it as I had known it) and I was terrified and overwhelmed and had no idea who in the world I was. It was a devastating and humiliating and horribly confusing time. But that suffering grew me up, taught me, and transformed me into a strong and beautiful creature that I never could have otherwise even dreamed I could be. And just like you said…sometimes I do miss that wide open, brutally honest brokenness, as strange as that sounds. I guess I just pray with everything in me that I don’t ever lose the lessons of it.

  289. Happy Birthday!!

  290. “But there is a part of me that recognizes the importance of being broken, of never knowing too much, of being so vulnerable that the possibility for transformation is breathtakingly real.” – Brilliant, beautiful, thanks for your inspiration, and happy birthday!!

  291. Hmmm… I will try not to make this a long comment, but wanted to say “yes, and amen” to this:
    “I miss some of the brokenness that existed in such a raw emotional state. Don’t get me wrong, I’m perfectly content not having some life-changing obstacle to face, thank you very much. But there is a part of me that recognizes the importance of being broken, of never knowing too much, of being so vulnerable that the possibility for transformation is breathtakingly real.”

    And I wanted to share a little too.

    When I was 20 weeks pregnant this year I was told that it was likely our baby had DS. It was an incredible time for me as a mother, for my husband, and for so many others as we processed the possibilities. I had already been following your blog for over a year before that (my oldest son is Nella’s age) and, thanks to you, had earnestly thought and prayed and considered the possibility of having a child with special needs. But then of course when you’re faced with that reality you’ve got to process on a whole new level! Wow, it was intense. But it was also beautiful.

    In that time I learned what I was made of – that my faith was more tangible than I thought, that I was braver, that I was stronger… but also more fragile. It was hard but good. So good.

    We had our son three months ago and he was born perfectly “normal”. I was relieved and glad and confused and a thousand other things all at once. (Mostly just thankful.) And although it was the outcome we had hoped and prayed for, there was a small part of me that mourned the loss of what might have been. The loss of a life that I had begun to picture in my mind. (Sounds crazy, I know.)

    I’m still processing it all, but I think a big part of that was realizing that life as “normal” can be void of that urgent sense of vulnerability and preciousness and dang-we’d-better-live-this-life-well attitude that comes with being dished out potentially life-altering news. And I don’t want to lose that. I don’t want to forget. I’m not typically a fearful person, but the possibility of losing that makes me afraid. Every day it feels easier to forget.

    Like you, I’m glad for life as it is now. I’m glad to feel less broken. But I would never trade that period for anything, and I just don’t want to forget. I want to stay perched on the edge of “the possibility of transformation.”

    Anyway Kelle, this has turned into a novel (I should have just found your email address!), but I just wanted to say thanks for writing. I’m always grateful and always learning from you, as–no doubt–are many others.

    You’re a gift.

    love Adriel

  292. Happy Birthday:) Your blog is so inspirational and this specific post inspired me to write a few reflections of my own.

    http://patrickandsarahhancock.blogspot.com/2011/12/twenty-nine-reflections.html

    Thank you.

  293. Love Lainey’s Tom’s!!!!!!!!!! Hope You have a great birthday!!!!!!!!!!!
    <3 your blog!
    Victoria 😀

  294. I love your year of truths. They’re lovely and funny all wrapped into one! It’s so exciting that you’re in Michigan! I’m just a reader and I know how freakin’ awesome that is for you!

  295. Happy Birthday, Kelle! I turned 31 on the 30th, and my boys turned 4 and 2 today (New Years Day), so I can also appreciate the awesomeness of the end of year/beginning of year birthdays. I hope 2012 brings great things for your beautiful family. I know it will!

  296. I hope you had a wonderful birthday Kelle! Enjoy Michigan and the snow :)
    ps. your brunette hair is to die for!

  297. A belated Happy Birthday to you, Kelle. Thirty three was one of my favourite years.

  298. I just remembered we have the same birthday! And our second children are girls and they have Down Syndrome. Wow! I hope you had a wonderful birthday. I am so thankful for you and your inspiring photograpy and words.

  299. Kelle,
    I have spent the last few days scolling through your incredible testament to the small things. I keep coming back after pottering around the kitchen & the garden to view just a little bit more of you, your family and your passions. Thank you for inspiring me from afar.
    Lisa x

  300. When I first started reading your blog, I’m pretty sure Lainey was wearing that green hat!
    Happy Birthday Kelle!

  301. i thoroughly enjoy reading every bit of your blog. you are very good at what you do and it is the reason i started up my own! my sister-in-law just got her 1st dslr camera and i got her the scott kelby books you recommended in your fyi section. when i get out of nursing school, i’m going to get one too, but until then, i’ll keep up with all of your beautiful pictures of your precious family :) happy 2012, hope yall are having fun in the snow – enjoy it while you can!

  302. Give me a big, standing up, hands-waiving in the air AMEN to:

    -You can never say “I love you” enough.
    -Family is everything.
    -Find things that make you happy. Do them.
    -Keep learning. Push yourself. Ask questions. Read books. Google topics. Try something new.

    Happy 33 Kelle. Here’s wishing you a wonderful adventure in Michigan. What a spectacular gift of reflection. Thank you dear.

    -Jennifer

  303. Happy Birthday Kelle!
    May the Lord bless your 2012 as the happiest year yet!

  304. So, so excited for you that you got to take your girls to MI. What a gift!

  305. Happy Belated Birthday!!

  306. Happy Bday Kelle!!! I’m on the 28th and I couldn’t agree more. So here’s to US! ha. One year and one day off. Cheers and many blessings….

  307. Love this post! Just got a chance to read it – a busy New Year around here. I’m in a similar place, as far as what you’ve learned this year. And guess what! I’m 33, too! It’s gonna be a great year.

  308. “I finally learned, after years of messing with my hair and attempting blonde that turned into gold/orange/butt-ugly-bronze, my mom was right. Pick a color and stay. It’s been three years now, and I can say with certainty…Hi, I’m a brunette. For good.”

    — Hi, I am a brunette as well! LOL! I love this because I definitely had that time period. And its, unfortunately for me, evidenced on my badge at work. One guy asked me once, are you sure thats you? I learned the hard way too and now I am embracing my dark brown hair and have also vowed not to change it again. (i hope not anyway! hehe) I know you are having a great time in Michigan with family. It is definitely the most important!

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