{RECIPE} Mouth-Watering Chicken Marbella

I first tried this delicious dish at a dinner party a few years ago, and it was absolutely mouth-watering (hence the name of this recipe). I had asked for the recipe, eager to duplicate it, but ended up tucking it away in a kitchen cupboard – out of sight, and out of mind.

The other day I came across the recipe card, and while the memory of the dish had my taste buds screaming for an encore, I was intimidated by the long list of ingredients. I assumed it would be tricky to make, and didn’t feel up to dragging my feet down the aisles at the grocery store to pick up the ingredients that I didn’t have at home.

Thanks to Save-on-Foods Online, I was able to order the exact items I needed (including the correct quantities of each specialty item thanks to bulk food options). The food was delivered right to my door. Easy peasy.

chicken-marbella-2

Mouth-Watering Chicken Marbella

*Note: for best results, marinate the chicken in the fridge overnight.

Ingredients:

  • 5 lbs chicken thighs (boneless, skinless)
  • 1 head garlic
  • 2 tbsp dried oregano
  • coarse salt
  • freshly-ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup dried, pitted prunes
  • 1/2 cup pitted Spanish green olives
  • 1/4 cup capers (1 tbsp juice)
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

chicken-marbella-4

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, combine chicken, garlic, oregano, salt, pepper, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers, juice, bay leaves. Cover & marinate, and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F.
  3. Arrange chicken in casserole dish. Spoon marinade over top evenly. Sprinkle chicken with brown sugar and pour white wine around it.
  4. Bake for 50-60 minutes. basting frequently with pan juices.
  5. Chicken is done when thigh pieces, pricked with fork at thickest, yields yellow (not pink) juice.
  6. With a slotted spoon, transfer chicken and mixture to serving platter. Moisten with a few spoonfuls of pan juices, and sprinkle generously with cilantro.
  7. Serve with rice or pasta.

chicken-marbella-3

Bee’s Take:

  • This was a great mid-week meal. I prepped the marinade and had it all ready in the fridge, so on the day the meal was served, all I had to do was make the rice (set rice cooker and wait), and cook the dish. My kids loved it (minus the olives, which I was more than happy to eat on my own).
  • It keeps well in the fridge, so make a little extra and serve it again for leftovers night, or pack it up for a delicious lunch on the go!

Pay it forward and add this meal to your regular recipe rotation. Your family will love it.

Don’t forget to make your life a little easier by ordering online – the perfect solution for school nights, last-minute dinner parties, or just those nights when you don’t feel like going out but have empty cupboards. I use Save-On-Foods online ordering to simplify my life during overwhelming school weeks, and you should too.

chicken marbella recipe

Disclaimer: I’ve partnered with Save-On-Foods to help spread the word about their fantastic online ordering options. While this is a sponsored post, the thoughts and ideas are honest and completely my own.

{FAMILY} Why I’ve Decided To Stop Making My Son Wear Pants

In the middle of my son’s Kindergarten year, he decided that he didn’t like pants. He didn’t just dislike them as an item of clothing – he refused to wear them.

For months I fought the daily battle, trying my best to wrangle him into pants. Some days, physically forcing him into the ankle-length garb.

And then one day, I gave up.

I waved my white flag and walked away unscathed (except for maybe a slightly-bruised ego).

I soon realized that my desire for him to wear pants wasn’t just about “dressing for the weather”, it came from my fear of being judged by other parents. I worried that they would look at his bare shins as he strolled through the rain in shorts, and determine that I was an unfit mother.

How could I let my son walk out of the house improperly dressed? 

shorts-2

But I was fighting a battle that didn’t need to be fought. Sure, his legs would get cold during the cooler months, but he would learn his lesson through natural consequences, not through my incessant nagging. And why did I care so much about the opinions of others? Isn’t our goal as parents to teach our children to think for themselves and not follow the pack when it comes to the opinions of peers?

He’s an active kid – always moving, and always hot. If he feels comfortable wearing shorts all year round – so be it.

Thankfully, Peekaboo Beans offers a great variety of just-below-the-knee thick cotton bottoms, so stubborn shorts lovers can sport their favourite half-pant all year round – without freezing their buns off.

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Parenting experts say to “pick your battles” when it comes to confrontations with kids, and this one just isn’t worth the fight.

Do your kids insist on wearing shorts year-round? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

{FAMILY} (Barely) Surviving Summer As A Work-At-Home Mom

21 days until school’s back in session. Yes, I’m counting.

Don’t get me wrong, we’ve definitely had some fun this Summer. We’ve enjoyed a week at a beautiful lake, we’ve had some fun get-togethers with friends, and we’ve taken advantage of every sun-drenched day that our city has had to offer. But while I’ve done my best to fill our days with active, kid-friendly activities, the work-life balance pendulum has definitely been swinging too far in the opposite direction over these past few months.

Soaring down the watersides of Splashdown Park

Soaring down the watersides of Splashdown Park

When your work and your family are housed in the same spot, obvious challenges present themselves.

I write for a living – for my column, for the tourism site, for my handful of clients, and for a few other sites and publications – and writing requires at least a certain level of cognitive focus. Having 3 little birds circling my head and chirping in my ear while I try to compose content – it’s enough to make my head spin!

And it does. On the regular.

Parents who work from home are no stranger to the “I don’t know how you do it!” comments. And the truth is, I don’t. At least not as successfully as I’d like.

I’d love to schedule full-time Summer programs for my kids, but they’re expensive. A cost I can’t justify with my part-time, self-employed status. And I’d love to take the Summer off from work and pack each day with swimming, laughing and playing with my kids, but that doesn’t pay the bills.

So here I am. Laptop in one hand, toddler in the other. Breaking up sibling squabbles and calming my restless dog, while trying to come up with 450 words to fill the page of my weekly column, or trying to have a professional business call with one of my clients, or trying to edit photos for my next piece.

Coffee spills. Tears shed. Accidents happen. Calls are rescheduled. Time outs are doled out. Showers are skipped. Take out is ordered. Tempers are lost.

I’m getting it all done – I mean, I haven’t missed a deadline, my house is still standing, and my kids are still alive. So am  I doing it all? Yes, but barely.

21 days…21 days…

work mom

I know a lot of you are in the same boat right now – how do you do it? Tips please!

Bits of Bee Turns 5

I can’t believe how quickly time has flown by. My little blog has been buzzing along for 5 years now, and boy what a ride it has been.

This past week, my family and I enjoyed a peaceful, fun-filled, (mostly) unplugged week by our favourite lake, and on my official blogiversary (July 30), I took a few moments for myself, to reflect on the past 5 years.

blogiversary

Each year, on the anniversary of the day that I started this blog, I’ve reflected on my favourite moments and posts of the past year. What I’ve realized this year, is that many of those highlights have been about accomplishments, partnerships, and career changes – all such wonderful (and unexpected perks) that have come from this space. But what I’d like to remind myself with this post, is why I started this blog in the first place. My number one reason for blogging: my love for writing.

First and foremost, this blog came to be because I wanted a creative outlet – a place where I could revisit my love for writing. And it has done that for me, a million times over.

But with my passion for the written word, comes pools of self-doubt. I am often my own worst critic. I struggle with submitting my weekly stories and hitting publish on posts because I’m never fully confident in my final piece. Coming up with story ideas and blog post topics is also an ongoing challenge. And sometimes, thoughts of abandoning my blog cross my mind. I wonder to myself: Why am I still blogging? Is anyone even reading this? 

I know I’m not alone in these thoughts, and thought I’d use this post to share 5 tips that help me to push through these moments of uncertainty.

5 tips to keep you blogging during moments of self-doubt:

1) Don’t sell yourself short. You are always your own worst critic. Someone is reading, and someone is loving the words that you’re sharing.

2) If you’re not feeling it, put your computer/pen away and try again later. If you skip a day, it won’t be the end of the world. And really, quality is so much better than quantity.

3) Be authentic. Don’t try to mimic someone else’s writing style or write something only because you think it’s what others want to read, just be yourself.

4) Take a time out to remember why you’re blogging in the first place. If you’re doing it to write, clear your mind and stop thinking about who’s reading, and just write for you. If you’re blogging for business, get out of your head and keep a professional mindset.

5) Someone once said to me in a heated moment in my career: “Remember: you’re not saving lives”  – and it stuck. Don’t take yourself so seriously. You’re not saving lives. It’s not life or death.

I’ve kept it going for 5 years, and I hope to keep writing in this little space for 5 years more. Diving in with a fresh start and an open mind.

blogiversary

For more of my writing, you can find me here:

24 Hours Vancouver

BC Living

Tourism Vancouver

Huffington Post Canada

 

{RECIPE} Roasted Garden Vegetable Pasta Salad

While I cook all the meals in my home, I’ve become a lackadaisical chef.

There was a time when I enjoyed cooking. When my relationship was new and I cooked to impress. When I didn’t have fussy little mouths to feed. When new meals weren’t met with dry heaves and gasps of disgust.

Now, I cook to survive. To keep my family alive. My enthusiasm has dwindled, replaced with disdain. If I could hire a full-time chef – someone to nourish my family for me, I’d be in heaven. But at this time, I just can’t afford to make that dream come true. So I I cook away at my monotonous menu – 5, maybe 10 meals that I make in rotation. Meat. Veggies. Starch. Repeat.

The other day I was surprised with a package in the mail. A wooden box emblazoned with #CatelliFamilies. I knew the Catelli name well (homemade macaroni and cheese using Smart Catelli pasta is one of my trusty standbys), and couldn’t wait to see what was inside.

When I opened the box, I found 2 boxes of Ancient Grains pasta, a bottle of white wine vinegar, 2 yellow zucchinis, and a lemon.

Pasta Salad Recipe

What am I supposed to do with this? I thought to myself.

The note attached challenged me to come up with a recipe, create and share it, using the provided ingredients and anything else I’d like to add to make it my own. My initial instinct was to make my usual mac n’ cheese, and toss the rest of the stuff into the cupboard (aka let it expire and toss it out), but then I thought to myself: here’s my chance to make cooking fun again.

Challenge accepted.

With a little help from Chef Google, I came across a do-able recipe and went straight to work. Here’s what I came up with:

Roasted Garden Vegetable Pasta Salad

Pasta Salad Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 340g box of Catelli Ancient Grains Fusilli pasta
  • 2 medium eggplants
  • 2 medium yellow zucchinis
  • 1 large red onion, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 2 medium sweet red peppers, cut in half and seeds removed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 can sliced ripe black olives, drained
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

PARMESAN VINAIGRETTE:

  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

 

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and rinse in cold water. Place in a large bowl and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, cut the eggplant, zucchini, red pepper and onion lengthwise into 3/4-in.-thick slices. Brush with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill vegetables, covered, over medium heat for 4-6 minutes on each side or until crisp-tender. When cool enough to handle, cut into cubes.
  3. Add the tomatoes, feta cheese, olives, parsley and grilled vegetables to the pasta. In a small bowl, whisk the vinaigrette ingredients. Pour over salad; toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

Pasta Salad Recipe

Bee’s Take:

  • I thought it was so delicious, perfect as a light, vegetarian meal on its own, or as a great compliment to a BBQ’d meat (I served it with ribs and crusty french bread)
  • My kids didn’t like the roasted vegetables or feta (because THEY DON’T LIKE ANYTHING), but they loved the noodles! (thankfully they were healthy)

I’m looking forward to eating the leftovers for lunch. Healthy, filling and totally delicious. Adding this to my Summer list for sure.

Pasta Salad Recipe

{FAMILY} This Is My Success Story

Some may think that leaving a “dream job” with the Vancouver Canucks to pursue a part-time writing career is more of a cautionary tale that a true success story, but I’m proud of the path that I’ve chosen.

Yes, the money pales in comparison to that of a full-time corporate job. And yes, freelance work can be fleeting, but I love what I do.

For many, the recipe for success includes a showy salary, a nimble nine-to-five, and a sumptuous collection of stylish suits, but thats’ just not me – that’s not my definition of success.  At least not anymore.

I’ve walked in those shoes, and I envy the women who continue to walk down the path towards career success. For many years I was driven by an impalpable desire to advance my career – to move up, earn more, lead more and thrive more in the workplace.

I can’t put my finger on exactly what changed – what shifted my drive. Was it the kids? Was it my rediscovered love for writing? All I know is that I woke up one day, and suddenly, I didn’t want that kind of success anymore. I just wanted to write. To mom. To help small businesses to succeed, and to take life day to day.

It sounds simple. And to some – it sounds totally lame. But that’s me – at least for right now.

This is my success story.

For more on how blogging was the first step towards my redefined success story, listen to my interview with Martin Strong on Roundhouse Radio: LISTEN NOW (Note: I start at the 14:25 mark)

Blogger

Interview on Roundhouse Radio at the 2016 Vancouver Mom Top 30 Blogger event

{FOOD} The Art House Supper Club

I don’t think I’m the only one who wishes I could host intimate dinner parties with friends in my home, but the daunting task of creating a mouthwatering menu and a complimentary chic-yet-laid-back ambiance, keeps me from sending out the invites.

I had heard about underground supper clubs, and had been intrigued by the idea of dining in a secret location with unfamiliar faces and undiscovered dinner dishes, but I didn’t know that I had access to this unique dining experience in my own city.

When I received an invite to try out the new Art House Supper Club, I was excited. The idea of attending an intimate dinner party without the prep or cleanup sounded like the perfect way to spend an evening catching up with friends (and connecting with new ones).

The secret dinner location is set in a serene multi-level backyard garden, tucked under a canopy of lush trees and filled with flowers. The house itself is cozy and quaint, its walls filled with colourful paintings by the talented owner/artist. The hosts, a lovely family with a shared passion for food and the arts, are warm, welcoming, and attentive.

Yard

Art House Supper Club Gardens

Dining Room

Art House Supper Club Indoor Dining Room

The unique dining experience is a perfect fit for social foodies. As you mingle and sip, the lovely Chef Rose cooks up a decadent 4-course menu filled with dishes that perfectly balance sophistication, skill and culinary passion. Each menu has a different theme – ours was French cuisine, which I was excited to try.

1st Course: French Onion Soup

Our meal began with a healthy serving of French Onion soup – steaming hot, cheesy, and perfectly baked. It was the best I had tried and I couldn’t wait to see what else was in store for us.

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup

2nd Course: Galette de Pomme de Terre with Smoked Salmon

The 2nd course and main entree was the most delicious French dish – a surprise to the palate. I hadn’t heard of this dish before, and was pleasantly surprised as I bit into the cool, light, flavourful dish. I could taste the capers which perfectly complemented the freshly smoked salmon and fluffy pomme de terre base. Magnifique!

Galette de Pomme de Terre with Smoked Salmon

Galette de Pomme de Terre with Smoked Salmon

3rd Course: Floating Islands

The 3rd course was the most delicious sweet treat – Floating Islands. Fluffy clouds of meringue propped on top of a rich and creamy pool of caramel, and sprinkled with finely diced almonds. I moaned with delight as I savoured every bite.

Floating Islands

Floating Islands

4th Course: Cheese Board

The 4th and final course was a carefully-curated cheese board. The hearty selection of cheeses perfectly complemented the French menu, including 3 cheese options of various textures and tastes. I couldn’t stop sampling each variety and continued to nibble until the plate was empty!

Cheese plate

Cheese Board

Each dinner includes sparkling water, coffee & tea, but due to licensing restrictions, guests are invited to bring their own alcoholic beverages. Not sure which wine to pair with the menu? Their sommelier includes a list of suggested pairings with each menu. Each seating includes 10 spots. Bring a friend, book a group, or go solo and meet some new friends with a shared love for fine dining.

For around only $50 per person, this 4-course dining experience is a steal. Interested in trying out this unique “underground” dining experience? Book your spot here.

{FAMILY} When It Comes To Active Play, Technology Isn’t The Bad Guy

When I first heard about the launch of Tgoma – an integrated, interactive, digital gaming system for trampolines, I confess, I was skeptical. I thought: Why would I want to add technology to an outdoor activity that my kids already enjoy?

My kids and I were invited to try out the new Tgoma for Springfree gaming system in person, and after trying it out and talking to the Springfree team about their new partnership with Tgoma, my skepticism was replaced by support.

I quickly realized the motive behind the development of Tgoma – that it wasn’t designed to replace active play time with screen time. Instead of fighting technology, Tgoma was about leveraging technology to transform “screen time” from an isolating, sedentary activity, to a healthy, engaging experience.

Essentially, they were adding the trampoline to the technology, not the other way around. 

 

Tgoma 2

My family is generally an active family. We enjoy spending time outside, and are fortunate to have nature’s playground steps from our door. We can play by the river, hike beautiful trails, and visit local parks and beaches – all only minutes from our house.

But according to the ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Youth and Children, while children aged 5-17 should be engaging in at least 60 minutes a day of outdoor active play, only 9% of the children in Canada within this age range are meeting this target.

This was a shocking discovery for me as a born-and-raised Canadian.

The truth is, screen time has become an ongoing battle for most parents. Many struggle on a daily basis with monitoring screen time, and encouraging outdoor play in the face of tech-addicted children and teens. Instead of turning that love for technology in a negative experience, why not redirect that screen time to an engaging, interactive outdoor activity that can be enjoyed by the whole family?

I don’t see anything wrong with spending the designated allowance of screen time jumping on a trampoline outside instead of slumped solo on the sofa.

Some parents think tech-integrated trampolines are a bad idea. Here are 5 reasons why I beg to differ:

1) It’s optional.

Parents don’t have to purchase the system, and those who do can easily monitor its use.

2) It’s interactive.

The Tgoma system comes with 7 games (including some educational games and games geared towards getting adults active through fitness games – which I love).

3) It provides a new way to play.

How many families do you know who have an unused trampoline in their backyard. The novelty of bouncing can wear off over time, with kids redirecting their time to indoor play. This new system provides something new to get them excited about their trampolines again.

4) It encourages healthy competition.

I’ve recently started wearing a Fitbit, and what drives me to move more is the “challenge” function. Seeing that my friends are clocking more steps than I am fuels my competitive side and encourages me to move more often. Playing an interactive game on the trampoline can provide that same motivation for kids who like to compete. And there’s nothing wrong with a little healthy competition.

5) It gets kids moving – outside.

Kids love trying to stomp out mutant melons, use their imaginations, and even enjoy educational games while bouncing.

Tgoma stands for “Take Gaming Outside And Make it Active.” For many parents, it’s an innovative solution to an unavoidable problem.

I’ll be sharing more thoughts on how to balance play and technology with an expert on educational gaming for kids on Roundhouse Radio tomorrow morning at 10am (PST). Turn your dial to 98.3 FM and follow the conversation.

Related Posts:

Why It Took Me So Long To Get A Trampoline

This Is How We Do Spring In Vancouver

Spring Came Early Thanks To Peekaboo Beans

Tgoma

To learn more about Tgoma, watch this short video:

Disclosure: I was not paid to promote Tgoma, nor do I own the gaming system. I am however an ambassador for Springfree Trampoline and a big supporter of play. The thoughts and ideas in this post are my own.

{TRAVEL} Dashing Off To Disneyland

Our family has just returned from a whirlwind adventure to the world’s most magical destination, and I’m still buzzing with excitement about all that we were able to see and do over the 4 days that we were there.

Paradise Pier

Paradise Pier | California Adventure Park

I’m not going to lie, my expectations were moderately mediocre. It had been 30 years since my last visit to Disneyland, so I only had my faint childhood memories to help gage my level of excitement. I had loved every moment spent in Disneyland during my last visit, but I was only 7 years old at the time, and I knew that the experience would be much different as an adult – and especially as a parent.

The topic of travelling to Disneyland had come up off and on between my husband and I over the years, but we had always settled for “later”, justifying the postponement with the costs, timing, and inconvenience of everyday demands associated with taking time off for a family trip abroad.

This year Disneyland is celebrating its 60th Diamond Anniversary – honouring the year that Walt Disney himself opened the doors to his dreamland in July of 1955. To commemorate this momentous occasion, I was included in a group of media guests invited to experience the celebratory offerings of Disneyland Resort and write about my experiences.

This was the push I had needed to turn my “later” into a “right now”, and our trip was booked.

I wanted to wait until the last minute to tell the kids about our exciting excursion, and the anticipation almost killed me. When departure day finally arrived, we had our kids pack up their backpacks, convinced that we were headed for school as usual. Here’s how they reacted when we revealed our real destination…

(click on the image for the video)

The Reveal

It felt so good to let the secret out, and we couldn’t wait to see what Disneyland had in store for our family. Here’s a little snippet of our travels once the kids knew where we were headed…

(click on the image for the video)

The Journey

When we arrived at Disneyland Hotel, we had the kids wait in the hallway while we dimmed the lights, turned on the headboards (adorned with fireworks), and switched on the music which played “A dream is a wish your heart makes…” – a tip I had been given by our gracious host. It was the perfect way to kick off our magical weekend.

After a quick costume change, we hit the parks! The next four days were jam-packed with awe-inspiring shows, riveting rides, fanciful foods and of course, one very magical mouse. Here’s a snippet of all the fun that was had:

(click on the image for the video)

The Rides

While I had left for our trip thinking that Disneyland would be all about the kids, the experience was just as magical (if not more) for us adults. Yes, the experience was very different from my last visit, but it was perhaps filled with more excitement, emotion, and enchantment than during my childhood days, because as a parent, I was able to appreciate all the details and history behind every ride, show, and character that crossed our path.

I’ll be sharing more details about all there is to see and do in Disneyland surrounding the 60th Diamond Anniversary Celebration on BC Living very soon, but here are some highlights to pique your interest until then…

live-at-the-hyperion-00

Frozen – Live At The Hyperion Theater 

I’ve been to my share of Broadway shows, but this one was on a whole new level. The costumes, set design, talented actors and high-tech tidbits had the crowd laughing, crying, and cheering for more – and I’m not just talking about the kids. This epic production is well worth the wait.

 

world-of-color-diamond

World of Color – Celebrate! The Wonderful World of Walt Disney

I had expected a fabulous fountain show similar to the one at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, but this nighttime spectacular was so much more! Featuring soaring fountains, fire and laser effects, and towering screens  that came to life with Disney imagery and musical performances by the virtual host – Neil Patrick Harris, this amazing experience was a show stopper.

We’ve only been home for 2 days and we’re already dreaming up our next Disney vacation – next time with our youngest who didn’t get to join us this time around. Memories were made as we bonded as a family in the most magical place on Earth, and I can’t wait to go back.

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Have you been to Disneyland yet this year? If so I’d love to hear what you loved most about your visit! Please share your comments below.

 

{FAMILY} 9 Reasons Why 9 Is Going To Be The Best Age

I’m going to preface this by saying that every age seems to be the best age – especially with your first child. Every time my oldest has a birthday, I quietly wish that time would stop. I don’t want her to get any older, this year was the best age ever – I think to myself. And every year, it seems to only get better.

Best Age

Yes, the level of sass seems to grow faster than her feet. But with the added sass comes so many other wonderful qualities in my daughter. Here are 9 reasons why I think this new age – the age of 9 – is going the best age (yet):

1) Goodbye booster seat! One less piece of equipment taking up space in my car. No more worrying about carrying along a booster when taking cabs or planes or riding with friends. One down, two to go!

2) Still mom’s biggest fan. She may be too cool to kiss me goodbye at school, but she still looks up to me and values my opinion. She loves spending mother-daughter time together and openly looks up to me. I’m going to soak it up while I can cause I know this one will fade as she becomes a preteen.

3) She’s developing her own personality. She’s funny, creative and kind. She’s at an age where she does what she wants – and thankfully (so far), she makes the right decisions.

4) We can hang out. Like, for real. We can go out for lunch, go for pedis, or enjoy a day of shopping, and I don’t have to worry about bringing a diaper bag full of tricks, interfering with nap times or competing with friends. She loves hanging out with me, and I cherish every moment we spend together.

5) She listens (well, most of the time). When I give her advice, she listens. She trusts my instincts, opinions and experiences, and values my input.

6) She tells me her secrets. It does take a little prying sometimes, but I’m doing my best to establish a trusting relationship with my daughter. It can sometimes take a lot of work, but I know establishing trust is vital as she approaches her teen years.

7)  She’s becoming her own individual person. When they’re younger we decide how they dress. We often create miniature versions of ourselves, dressing them up in clothes we love. But now that she’s older with her own personality, she’s developing her own style (with my gentle guidance of course).

8) She has her own interests. Until now, I’ve taken the lead on the selection of her extracurricular activities (with her input on new things she’d like to try). This year, I’m shifting gears. I think she’s now tried enough of a variety of activities so I’m letting her take the lead in making the picks for next year.

9) She still believes. While she’s proven to be her own person, she still maintains that childhood innocence – and this may be the last year. She still believes in the tooth fairy and Santa, but she asks a lot of questions. I fear for the moment that she realizes the truth, and savour the moments of magic while they’re still here.