Tag Archives: birthday interview

A belated birthday interview for my 14 & 1/3 child

If there’s one thing that illustrates the hectic, crazy fast pace that my life has held over the past few months it’s this: I didn’t post a birthday interview for my daughter when she turned 14. (Cue up future therapist bill and add this to the list of injuries done to the middle child.) Oh I’ve thought about it from time to time but I never had the time to sit down with her and start writing. So as we approach her first day of high school, I decided this could not go on any longer.

Way back in May, I took my newly 14yo someplace that was new to both of us: a tattoo parlor for her biggest birthday gift – a cartilage piercing in her upper ear. We kept the birthday fun going with a fun dinner and painting class night. As is now tradition, she got to celebrate her birthday for a second time later in the month with her grandpa and uncle who share the same birthday month. Her other gifts reflected her sense of style and personality – everything from knit beanies to converse high tops to funky jewelry.



She is still the most stubborn child in the house but she’s opening herself up to some new experiences. The year she was 13 she ran the Sunburst 5K, went canoeing, walked Mackinac Bridge (with FAR LESS complaining than her first time) and hiked in the Great Smoky Mountains. She challenged her clarinet abilities with an advanced selection for the state music competition. She took on a huge task of patience when she made her mother’s birthday dinner: homemade ravioli soup. And she voluntarily and cheerfully woke up early on a weekend morning to cheer for a friend of our family who was running her first marathon.


People at our church know Miss E quite well. She is still an altar server and also plays her clarinet during some Masses – even when it means going to Mass twice the same weekend. She made her confirmation this year as well and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a face glow so much with the Holy Spirit. Before we left the cathedral, she even managed to snag a selfie with our new Bishop. She was a music leader for Vacation Bible School. She was active in the church youth group. And she was the narrator for our church’s Passion play.


She hung out in Chicago multiple times, took her first cab ride, and got to see Blue Man Group. She joined the high school marching band and has already marched in not one but two parades. She competed in both the Spell Bowl and Academic Super Bowl teams at school. And for the first time in a long time, she did not forget her lunch on the first day of school.



She’s the one child that I know always has a lot going on in her mind. She fills notebooks with poems and stories and thoughts. She reads so fast I wonder if it’s by osmosis. She is caring and kind. She is a champion for those who are the slightest bit different. Best of all, she is true to herself. I love listening to her – even if it is a challenge on those days where she has so much to say and speaks so fast it’s like she’s afraid she’s going to run out of time to say it all.

These are a few of her favorite things from the past year:

color: periwinkle blue (In fact, she would like to dye her hair this color.)
food: lobster ravioli from the fancy Italian restaurant we went to in Chicago on the night we saw Blue Man Group
dessert: homemade red velvet cake with homemade cream cheese frosting
part of school: Sigh… Social Studies class. Because I like to learn about that kind of stuff.
sport: tennis – to play but I really like watching hockey
thing to do: Oh this makes me sound really lazy: watch Netflix or YouTube
game: Ticket to Ride
tv show: How I Met Your Mother on TV. My current favorite YouTuber is Tyler Oakely… or John Green… or both!
movie: Annie
song: Fly Away by Five Seconds of Summer
book: Harry Potter – still… “always” for those Snape fans out there
restaurant: Station 21 – I like to order their mac & cheese
time of year: Fall because I like to wear big sweaters and the leaves are so pretty.
animal: An owl.

What did you request for your birthday dinner?
Homemade mac and cheese. And then homemade red velvet cake with homemade cream cheese frosting. (editor’s note: her mom was busy that day!)

What is something that can always make you smile?
My friends

What do you want to be when you grow up?
A writer Can I add princess too? The coolest princess who writes the best books.

If you could go anywhere on vacation, where would you go?
Rome because of the mythology and history and food… I’m ready to go!

What do you love about your family?
Let’s start with J… I like him because he always finds the positives in things which helps me see the positives. I like hanging out with K and talking about random things. It’s fun to talk with her. I like to listen to music with Dad. And I like to talk about books with mom.

What were some of your best memories from this past year?
Oh Smoky Mountains were awesome! I loved getting to spend the night and see a show in Chicago – that was a lot of fun. I really liked finishing middle school. Being done with middle school is very nice. I loved the school band trip to Great America.

What are some of your wishes for this year?
I would like to survive high school. I would like to not completely ruin my GPA. I want to make new friends. I want to read lots of books and watch lots of movies.

Each year I interview my children on their birthdays and write a post about their year. My hope is that someday these musings will spark special memories. Search for ‘birthday interview’ over there on the right to read previous posts.


sweet sixteen

Do you remember when you turned sixteen? It was like a rite of passage – one that you hoped ended with your parents handing you the keys to a car. I didn’t get a car for my 16th birthday and (spoiler alert) neither did my eldest. Now that you have to wait until you’re at least 16 1/2 to get your license, it makes that gift of a car just a quaint notion.

What did she get for her birthday? A number of things that reflect how she likes to spend her time: a gift card to the local coffee shop where she likes to hang out with her friends; a large stuffed animal to hug when she finds time to nap on the weekends; money to replenish her diminished bank account. We helped her check something off her bucket list by taking her to the city and going to the 94th floor of the Hancock Tower to tilt over Chicago in a large glass box:


She’s a little more daring than she used to be. Though I still see glimpses of her younger self in her need to know as much as possible about a situation before leaping in. The past year she has crossed another one of those invisible lines of childhood. I wasn’t expecting it to happen this year but she’s definitely more mature, more aware, more of a young adult than a child. Of course, as with most teens, she still bounces back & forth as can be evidenced by looking at her messy room and affinity for pretending rules don’t apply to her. (At least I hope those are things she grows out of.)

This year she survived her first high school swim season; earning her first varsity letter as a scholar athlete (which means she got good grades while doing it). She hopped in the car with me on a whirlwind, one-day, 8 hour road trip to meet her new cousin. She listened to live music and explored Nashville on spring break:


She spent a lot of time with friends (as much as possible). And while with those friends she watched the sun rise over Lake Michigan, went bowling, bruised her big toe so badly we thought it might be broken, went on bike rides, and met her new boyfriend Peter Pan:



She held down her first job this year but still found some time to go on a few summer adventures with her mom. We toured the campus of IU Bloomington. We went canoeing. We went blueberry picking. We visited Chicago and wandered around in search of a larger than life macaroni noodle for my macaroni & cheese lover:


We took another trip to Mackinac Island (one of her favorite places). She went to her first homecoming dance. She was an all-star cheerleader on a very cold day as her mother conquered another marathon. She spent Thanksgiving on top of a mountain in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. And I think she’s ready to go back to the Smoky Mountains for more hiking any day.





She’s fun to talk to. She has a sarcastic sense of humor that amuses me greatly. She has so much opportunity in front of her. It’s exciting to watch her start to forge her own path (and slightly terrifying too if I’m being honest). She’s my first-born and, while I’ll always cherish my tucked-away newborn memories of curling up around her to take a nap as the winter sun streamed in the window over us, I adore watching her become the person she’s meant to be.

These are a few of her favorite things from the past year:

color: grey or blue or maroon… I like them all
food: mac and cheese
dessert: banana cream pie
part of school: I’ll say tech drawing to switch it up this year and answer with a class. I’m also a fan of English.
sport: hockey
thing to do: hang out with my friends
game: fooseball (a repeat answer from last year)
tv show: I need more than one: Friends; How I Met Your Mother; and That 70s Show – those are my top three (thank you Netflix)
movie: I watched Dirty Dancing for the first time this year and I really liked it.
song: ONE?!?! Oh my goodness… My jam lately has been “Shut Up & Dance” by Walk the Moon
book: Eleanor & Park
restaurant: Panera (hello, mac & cheese!)
time of year: I’ll say spring because that’s when it starts to get warm again.
animal: Bear… I liked seeing one in the Smoky Mountains.

What did you request for your birthday dinner?
Well that’s obvious: macaroni and cheese. And I surprised everyone with my pick of banana cream pie. (which was a delicious made-from-scratch creation if I do say so myself)

What is something that can always make you smile?
A good knock-knock joke

What do you want to be when you grow up?

If you could go anywhere on vacation, where would you go?
Rome because I’ve learned about it this year and it seems really interesting.

What do you love about your family?
They are a little goofy and can often make me laugh. That’s cheesy but I’m saying it anyway.

What were some of your best memories from this past year?
Disney World! The whole year was good really. Time with my friends. Bowling. I did a lot of swimming and that’s really all I can remember.

What are some of your wishes for this year?
I want to get my driver’s license. I’d like to get good grades. I’d like to learn how to juggle. Oh! And I want to learn how to knit something besides a washcloth.

Each year I interview my children on their birthdays and write a post about their year. My hope is that someday these musings will spark special memories. Search for ‘birthday interview’ over there on the right to read previous posts.

Joining the double digits club: a birthday interview

Oh the anticipation leading up to this birthday has been great. If I had a dollar for every time he’s made some comment about becoming “one decade” in the past month, I’d be a rich woman. Last night he surprised me by saying “You know mom, birthdays are both happy and sad because you’ll never get to be this age again but the new age is so exciting.”


skiIn his tenth year he mastered the rainbow loom craze, put together countless puzzles and played lots of new card games. (The polar vortex will do that to you.) He is still the one most likely to join his mother on an adventure big or small. We went cross country skiing, sledding, canoeing, farmer’s marketing, biking and hiking together.


On our spring break trip to Nashville he wandered the town with me and his oldest sister – an adventure that included sneaking into the art museum. He took a trip down the Tippecanoe River with his family. He went to Chicago multiple times for all sorts of adventures. And in the month before his birthday he walked the Mighty Mackinac Bridge for the second time. (And this time a barge went right below our feet when we were in the middle of the bridge!)




He became a baseball field rat hanging out for countless games with his dad’s team. He made the spell bowl team and honors classes at school. He spent a summer teaching himself French, testing out science experiments, and trying out a new sport (soccer). He played baseball and wrestled again this past year and volunteered to keep me company on a few summer runs. He became a fan of Cake Boss and decorated his sister’s birthday cake as a surprise to her.



He still likes (or at least tolerates) reading with me each night. We call it our reading party and some nights those 15-20 minutes are full of more talking than reading, but that’s some of the best downtime of my day.

He reads the sports section some mornings but at least a few mornings each week he lets me read to him. (We’re currently working our way through the Lord of the Rings trilogy.) He is happiest when surrounded by a group of boys running and climbing and doing all things physical. These are a few of his favorite things:

color: neon anything and red
food: pumpkin pancakes
vegetable: carrot sticks
dessert: pumpkin pie
part of school: gym class
sport: to watch? football And to play? baseball
thing to do: play with friends
tv show: sports basically
song: Lose Yourself by Eminem
game: Monopoly Millionaire
book: Treasure Hunters by James Patterson
restaurant: BWs and I like to order boneless wings with Asian Zing sauce
holiday: Christmas because the presents are fun and it’s Jesus’ birthday.
animal: Great Dane, I want to have one when I grow up and I will name him Ezekiel.

What did you request for your birthday dinner?
I got two birthday dinners this year. For the first one I picked bacon-wrapped meatloaf, mashed potatoes and lemon blueberry cake. For the dinner on my birthday I picked sloppy joes and pumpkin pie.

What is something that can always make you smile?
Playing with my cousin W. (Editor’s note: That cousin is visiting right now and his adorable two year old self influenced this answer.)

What do you want to be when you grow up?
A professional athlete preferably in football. If that doesn’t work out my back up plan is to be a photographer who travels the world and takes pictures of stuff.

If you could go anywhere on vacation, where would you go?
This is difficult… Either to visit the Oregon Ducks campus because they are my favorite college football team. I also want to visit a tropical island because I like swimming in the ocean and seeing palm trees and stuff.

What do you love about each person in our family?
Mom: How you take me so many fun places.
Dad: When he plays catch with me.
E: She will still play with me.
K: Her taste in music.

What were some of your best memories from this past year?
I liked our Spring Break trip to Nashville, especially when we got to go to the hockey game. I loved our Mackinac Island trip – I wish we could do that every year. (editor’s note: your mom wishes we could too.) Oh! Kayaking this summer was fun – I liked that better than the canoe. Getting to hang out at the baseball fields and watch the 12yo regional tournament games. And I liked all the snow we got last winter.

What are some of your wishes for this year?
I would love to go on another big road trip to National Parks. To play football in the fall (he says looking at his mom hopefully). To go to an NFL game. To get all the way across the monkey bars.

Each year I interview my children on their birthdays and write a post about their year. My hope is that someday these musings will spark special memories. Search for ‘birthday interview’ over there on the right to read previous posts.

Hey, hey we have a May birthday!

Just like that we officially have two teenage girls in the house (very funny, God – VERY funny). In my head, this second child of mine is my happy-go-lucky, not a care in the world, little girl. In reality, she is not so little nor so easy-going these days. That’s not a bad thing, mind you. Sometimes she seems to have weighty questions on her mind. Other times she surprises me with her willingness to be brave and try something new. She’s always up for an adventure and is my most regular library companion.


She entered her 13th year with an honest-to-goodness growth spurt – perhaps her first one ever. She cheered aloud when the doctor told her she’d finally topped 5 feet. She finished her 13th year by getting braces on just two days ago.


Some things, however, certainly remain the same. The house is littered with her books (right now there is one on the couch, two on the kitchen table, two by her bed and a stack in her library basket). She still loves music and is the one most likely to sing along in the car. When we took a family trip to Nashville this spring, she was the one who stayed with her dad to listen to more live music while the other two went exploring with me. She is still playing the clarinet in band (and has spent at least half the year as first chair) (Oh and won another gold medal at the regional solo music competition). She doesn’t take piano lessons any more but still sits down to dabble and has even tried her hand at writing a song or two.

In a dressing room at the Grand Ol' Opry - maybe she'll be back some day as a performer?!
In a dressing room at the Grand Ol’ Opry – maybe she’ll be back some day as a performer?!

This past year she played in the Dells and joined me on beach adventures. She learned to ride her bike. She took her first airplane ride with her aunt & uncle on the 12th birthday gift of a lifetime: a trip to Disney World! In a true sign of her personality, one of the very first things she requested to do on that trip was have dinner with the Princesses.



She went to a jazz festival and was enthralled with new things from the clarinet she’d never considered before. My notoriously picky eater was adventurous at our dim sum lunch in Chinatown. She stepped in last minute on the interdisciplinary team for Academic Super Bowl and answered all of her questions correctly to help the team finish third overall. She’s playing tennis again this spring. She’s become very active in our church youth group and I’m excited for her as she enters her final year of Confirmation preparation.

Before I dive into her current favorites (some of which are very similar to previous years), let me tell you my favorite thing about her. Her imagination. She uses it when she notices that someone is sad and she says or does a little something to show she cares. She uses it when she’s writing in her many half-used notebooks. Her imagination shines when she’s happy and carries her when she’s sad. Her imagination is delightful and observant and creative.

Here are a few of her favorite things:

color: yellow
food: chocolate
vegetable: Ummmm… are potatoes vegetables? {yes} then potatoes!
dessert: fudge brownie sundaes with vanilla caramel ice cream
part of school: language arts
sport: tennis!
thing to do: read
tv show: The Voice – because it’s fun to see amateur artists be so amazing. The competition is exciting!
song: Soldier by Gavin DeGraw
game: Ticket to Ride
book: {when told she could have more than one, she signed with relief} Harry Potter series and Percy Jackson series will always be on my favorites list. This year I really enjoyed reading The Selection series.
restaurant: Claim Jumper – the potato cheese soup in a bread bowl is delicious!
holiday: Easter because Jesus Christ rose for us and… well, because I like the Easter candy!
animal: ladybug

What did you request for your birthday dinner?
Chicken alfredo bake and red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting.

What is something that can always make you smile?
My friends and books.

What do you want to be when you grow up?
Either a language arts teacher or a lawyer. A lawyer because I like debating. And a language arts teacher because I love reading and writing!

If you could go anywhere on vacation, where would you go?
Rome. {answered before I even finished asking the question.} The history, the mythology, the Vatican, St. Peter’s…. it would be awesome!

What do you love about each person in our family?

Dad: I like that Dad takes the time to go hit tennis balls with me.
Mom: We can talk about books together.
K: Sisterly advice – when she comes out of her room to talk to me that is. {cue eyeroll}
J: I can be a little kid with him. I can play sword fighting with him and not feel silly.

What were some of your best memories from this past year?
Nashville was fun! Latin camp is always one of my favorite things to do. Beach week with the family. The Dells were fun because I got to make a new friend. Academic Super Bowl was a lot more fun than I expected and I’m looking forward to doing it again next year.


What are some of your wishes for this year?
That I can read a lot more books. I want to make some new friends. I already hit the highest note on the clarinet this year so I suppose just keep playing it and getting better.

Each year I interview my children on their birthdays and write a post about their year. My hope is that someday these musings will spark special memories. Search for ‘birthday interview’ up at the top of the page to read previous posts.

A birthday interview for my Christmas Eve baby

My oldest turned 15 on Christmas Eve. A few days before her birthday she said she didn’t feel old enough to be fifteen, “after all it’s only three years away from eighteen.” (She’s always been good at math.) In some ways, I agree with her – she can’t possibly be fifteen already. In other ways, I think she’s definitely old enough. I look at pictures from her from just two years ago and hardly recognize her. She’s grown so much, and in so many ways, over the past year or two. These days I can see glimpses of her future when she walks in the room. It’s bittersweet but joyful all the same.


Her 15th year was an important one. She was Confirmed this spring and started high school this fall.



She started volunteering at the Y as a first step to getting her first job (that will happen later this year). Her friends took her to three big concerts. She soaked in some big city time in Washington D.C. and I think she’d go back tomorrow if I suggested it. Technically it was her second trip to D.C. but she doesn’t really remember the first:



She even put aside her busy social life from time to time and let me take her to Chicago or out for ice cream or to the State Fair or to the Dells. She ran a 5K with me in the summer and we laughed through every mile. She volunteered at my Olympic Tri even though she had to get up VERY early after a day where she got up early for her own swim meet and I loved having her be a part of that day. She spends a lot of time in her room these days (A LOT) but most days she’ll let me peek in for a word or two without even giving me an eye-roll.



She joined the high school swim team and – allow me to brag for a moment – she is undefeated in individual JV events and has won enough points in varsity events to earn her letter if she makes the sectional roster at the end of the season. Being a student athlete is serious business and I’m honestly impressed with how well she is juggling a very demanding courseload with all her practice and meet obligations. This time of year she doesn’t see the sun most days as I drop her off before 6am for practice and pick her up after evening practice at 5pm.


Every year I ask her to tell me a favorite thing about each member of our family. My favorite thing about her these days? Listening to her talk. Hearing her share her experiences, her observations, her stresses, and even her bad jokes. I love witnessing the adult she is becoming. It’s a privilege being her parent.

Here are a few of her favorite things:

color: grey
food: mac and cheese
vegetable: I don’t like vegetables… I guess carrots
dessert: ice cream
part of school: [[long pause]] before school in the locker bay because I can talk to my friends
sport: to do – swimming, to watch – hockey
thing to do: sleep… no, no watch movies… and sleep.
tv show: Friends
song: I don’t know I like so many. How about favorite groups? I like: The Script, All Time Low, Five Seconds of Summer and that’s good enough.
game: Fooseball! I am the fooseball queen!
book: Fault in Our Stars
restaurant: Panera because I love their mac and cheese
holiday: Christmas because Jesus was born on Christmas. [then her mother asked her to stop being snarky] Because it’s relaxing.
animal: cat

What did you request for your birthday dinner?
Mac and cheese for dinner and chocolate cream pie for dessert.

What is something that can always make you smile?
Friends. Both actual friends and the tv show. And Disney movies. And mac and cheese.

What do you want to be when you grow up?
A Princess!

If you could go anywhere on vacation, where would you go?
Disney World. Hawaii. Paris, France. Australia seems nice. And the Dominican Republic seems very warm, sunshiny and vacationy.

What do you love about each person in our family?
I don’t love my family at all. Why do you think I spend so much time in my room? Okay, that makes me sound horrible…
Dad: I like playing fooseball with him.
Mom: I like that you make me good food.
E: She will watch Disney channel reruns with me. The good ones, not the shows from now.
J: He will always watch Disney movies with me.

What were some of your best memories from this past year?
Concerts this summer – One Direction, Train, and Maroon 5. Going to the beach. Our trip to D.C. was fun. Going to Chicago. Confirmation was a special memory. Really, just the normal everyday stuff.

What are some of your wishes for this year?
Make varsity in swimming. Do well in school. I want to ride every ride I can at Disney World. I want to go to Six Flags and the Indianapolis Zoo.

Each year I interview my children on their birthdays and write a post about their year. My hope is that someday these musings will spark special memories. Search for ‘birthday interview’ over there on the right to read previous posts.