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32 Ways My Toddler Is Helping Me Rock My 32nd Year

Looking at that sweet smile helps keep me young.

Looking at that sweet smile helps keep me young.

This past Sunday, I turned 32. A lot of people fear getting older, particularly in this stage of life, but I’m embracing it. My 20s taught me to enjoy each age and stage as it comes, and to accept the differences that lie ahead as things change with the passage of time.

On paper, 32 sounds kind of old, but in spirit I still feel really young. I think that I have a toddler boy to thank for that. I spend my days at the zoo, on playgrounds, having tickle fights, and building pillow forts.

There is so much to look forward to, from the perspective of both and individual and as a mother. And while I still hold tight to my sense of self (that I have worked so hard to regain this year!), there is no denying that the little people in our worlds just simply make life better.

Here are 32 ways my toddler is helping me rock out my 32nd year.


  • Funny facial expressions 1 of 32
    Funny facial expressions
    Cullen is the king of goofy faces. People comment on it all the time! Even on the tough days, his wild expressions make me smile.
  • Playing hide and seek 2 of 32
    Playing hide and seek
    This is one of Cullen's favorite games, and it never gets old. I love his big belly laugh when I finally "find" him!
  • His adorable diaper butt 3 of 32
    His adorable diaper butt
    I mean, does it get any cuter? I'm so happy we've used cloth diapers, and we'll continue to use them until we are diaper free (gulp!).
  • That boyish charm 4 of 32
    That boyish charm
    Cullen sure knows how to turn on the puppy eyes, I tell ya. He can melt me with one look.
  • His flair for the drama 5 of 32
    His flair for the drama
    I thought little girls would be all about the drama, but it turns out little boys have a dramatic side all of their own. Cullen loves to fling his body on the ground or couch and swing his arms wildly when he goesn't get his way!
  • His growing vocabulary 6 of 32
    His growing vocabulary
    My little babbler is starting to say more and more, and I can't wait until it feels like real two-way communication most of the time.
  • That amazing innocence 7 of 32
    That amazing innocence
    Is there anything more pure than the innocence of a child? I watch him discover new things and try new skills with such wonder and joy in his eyes. It's contagious.
  • His relationship with his dad 8 of 32
    His relationship with his dad
    Watching Cullen and Casey together is so special to me, and I look forward to watching their relationship continue to grow as he gets older and they can do more father/son stuff.
  • Playing with the pups 9 of 32
    Playing with the pups
    It's been a long road these last sixteen months, but Cullen and the dogs have finally found their stride. They recognize him as a little person now, and he's working on learning to pet and be gentle. It's so sweet!
  • His developing love of the outdoors 10 of 32
    His developing love of the outdoors
    I am so into being outside that it's annoying, and I'm so excited to watch Cullen's love for nature and fresh air continue to grow. His eyes light up when I ask if he wants to go outside, and he can hang in the hiking backpack for hours!
  • Continuing to learn to make toddler-approved recipes and meals 11 of 32
    Continuing to learn to make toddler-approved recipes and meals
    I've been cooking for years now, but cooking for a baby (now toddler) is really making me look at food and meals differently. I'm much more aware of nutrients and daily balance, and I'm trying to find fun ways to eat healthy things!
  • More milestones and memories 12 of 32
    More milestones and memories
    The first year was so filled with baby milestones, but I'm finding the toddler moments to be just as fun. Watching Cullen do a shape sorter on his own, or pull a balloon down from the ceiling using the string - it's amazing to watch his cognitive skills develop so quickly.
  • Chasing after Mr. Mischief 13 of 32
    Chasing after Mr. Mischief
    This kid knows how to get into trouble already. I can only imagine how that will continue this year!
  • Watching his natural curiosity 14 of 32
    Watching his natural curiosity
    Cullen is at such an amazing age, and I love watching his curiosity for life continue to grow and develop. It is so fun to take him new places and watch him learn and explore!
  • Tiny overalls 15 of 32
    Tiny overalls
    Really - do I need to say more?
  • Playing peekaboo 16 of 32
    Playing peekaboo
    Peekaboo is one of Cullen's favorite games, and I love watching him fall into fits of giggles after he pops out of his tent. I love being able to interact so much with him now!
  • His growing sense of adventure 17 of 32
    His growing sense of adventure
    More and more, especially recently, I'm watching him before more confident and daring. He's stepping off ledges, climbing through tunnels, and doing things that scared him just a few months ago. It's fascinating to watch his confidence soar!
  • Sharing mutual interests 18 of 32
    Sharing mutual interests
    Of course I expect Cullen to develop interests all of his own, but it's also really fun to watch him get excited about things that Casey and I love. Our main common interest right now? FOOD! We are total foodies, and Cullen loves to mooch off our plates and try a bite of whatever we are having.
  • Stroller walks and runs 19 of 32
    Stroller walks and runs
    Wishful thinking that this will go better in the coming year. It is currently his least favorite activity!
  • Summer evenings at the playground 20 of 32
    Summer evenings at the playground
    This was one of my favorite memories from last year, and that was back when he could only do the swings. Now that he's sliding and running everywhere, the playgrounds have gotten a lot more fun for everyone
  • Arts and crafts 21 of 32
    Arts and crafts
    I'm hoping Cullen really dives into arts and crafts this year. So far he's mostly into eating finger paint and stickers.
  • Growing sense of independence 22 of 32
    Growing sense of independence
    Even though it's hard to admit he doesn't need me as much anymore, I love seeing Cullen's sense of independence grow and develop. He goes to babysitters easily, does well at gym childcare, and runs into play areas without looking back.
  • His compassion and generosity 23 of 32
    His compassion and generosity
    Even though Cullen can act like Mr. Tough Guy, he's also very sweet and caring. He constantly tries to share things with the dogs, and he gets really upset when other kids cry. I love seeing his sensitive side!
  • Summers at the beach 24 of 32
    Summers at the beach
    Many people don't realize it, but Seattle has some amazing beaches! True, it is not bathing suit season for very long, but Seattleites make it work. We live just a few minutes away from a gorgeous beach on the lake, and I can't wait to play there all summer long!
  • Family outings to farmers’ markets 25 of 32
    Family outings to farmers' markets
    Casey and I love our weekly farmers' market trips, especially in the summer. It is fun to include Cullen in these, and I'm looking forward to teaching him about food and conservation.
  • Seeing his love for our city grow 26 of 32
    Seeing his love for our city grow
    Despite my occasional gripes about our weather, I really truly love Seattle. It is fun to see Cullen exploring all the wonderful parks and things Seattle has to offer. I often think what a neat thing it will be for him to grow up here!
  • Watching him grow from baby to toddler 27 of 32
    Watching him grow from baby to toddler
    There is no denying it, and it continues each month. This boy is a full blown toddler, and I look forward to seeing him continue to grow and change with each month.
  • His sweet sloppy kisses 28 of 32
    His sweet sloppy kisses
    He doesn't give them out quite as liberally as he used to, but I still get one big wet one before bedtime. It is my favorite part of the day!
  • He still comes running for mama 29 of 32
    He still comes running for mama
    I know eventually boys outgrow their mama-love stage, but I'm clinging into it for as long as he'll let me. My heart explodes every time he runs toward me with a big grin.
  • That killer smile 30 of 32
    That killer smile
    Speaking of that grin, it pretty much melts my heart all day long. He's been so smiley since he was just a few weeks old, and I hope he never loses that spark.
  • That ridiculous belly 31 of 32
    That ridiculous belly
    Cullen's belly is the topic of many jokes and comments. It is huge and hilarious, and while I hope for his sake it shrinks down eventually, for now it's one of his lat remaining reminders of baby-hood.
  • Our tickle fights 32 of 32
    Our tickle fights
    Even on the hardest days, hearing that laugh and shriek as I tickle his neck makes me take a deep breath and remember that I am doing exactly what I should be doing.

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