7 years + claire bear estelle



Seven years ago today you were born. Early, early, early. Unexpected. In a rush. Easy.

So much I want to tell you, but this little picture is for you.

For someday when you ask what seven was like.

Because  you won’t remember the details … and I don’t want to ever forget.

I love you. You make me proud every single day.



Claire Estelle Koop



You had your 7th birthday party today at the swimming pool.

You love all things mermaid (not Disney’s Ariel but rather the “real” mermaids).

So the room was filled with aqua and purple balloons, the table set with “pearls,”  & a swimming party it was…!

You don’t love cake, so you opted for a make-it-yourself-sundae bar.

Ice cream flavors of mermaid blue (cotton candy) & beachy vanilla.

Every topping you wanted was there … and yet you didn’t take a single one except for a cherry to put on top of your ice cream … which you didn’t touch.

You have very sweet friends – Riley & Rylan & Tia & Morgan & Corbin & Tayven & Grace & Caeden were all there to celebrate you, as were Grandpa and Grandma, Uncle Harlan & Aunt Bev, Nana and Papa, and of course your Mom and Dad.

Aunt Nikki & Uncle John/Aunt Lindsay & Uncle Jordan/Mimi & Papa couldn’t be with you, but all sent sweet gifts to spoil you and let you know you’re loved and thought of.

You are such a lucky girl, Claire. You have so many people who love you so much.

You’d been wanting a real mermaid tail forever … and so that was your big gift from me. Dad won, though, and had ordered the dragon you begged for while we were at the Renaissance Festival in Arizona earlier this year.

You literally squealed when you opened it and it’s what you’re sleeping with tonight.

There were such sweet cards to read and re-read. My favorite (and yours, too) was from Riley.

Handwritten, he wished you happy birthday, and then signed it “I love you.”

You hugged him so hard that he fell backwards. I think the feeling is mutual.

You are lucky to find a friend this early on that you connect with like you do him.

Good friends are hard to find and should be protected and cherished and cared for as much as you can. Friendships are just starting for you, but the earlier you learn this, the richer your life will be.

There was pizza & swimming & lots of playing.

There was, however, not a single picture taken … which means we’ve got to do a birthday picture soon.

Maybe Wednesday, May 27th – the day you were born.

Claire … I’m so proud of the girl you are. Kind, thoughtful, generous, silly, smart, beautiful.

I love you so much.

Happy *early* birthday.

It seems like just yesterday you were 2 with your piggies and cupcakes … that you were 3 with that pink dollhouse … that you were 4 with your princess and the pea dolly.

Seven. Driving the golf cart alone, reading fluently, asking me if Mermaids could really be real. Is it possible? Just maybe?

I never want you to lose your innocence. It’s who you are.

And I’m so, so, so glad you are mine.

I love you sweet girl.


size matters



She’s watching the mosquitoes circle, and looking at them through my lens, I ask, “Are those humming birds?!”

We made a run for it.







(template found here)





let them be little