Thank you to my family and friends who made this 32nd birthday of mine so wonderful and memorable. There were so many unexpected delights today—from seeing a former student who has just graduated from college and is now working at my bank, to a nice chat with a complete stranger, to Katie making scores of drawings and cards for my birthday and decorating my cake (made by my mom) with her princesses, to birthday wishes from friends, and to very sentimental gifts.

The day started quietly at home, and I treated myself to real whipping cream in my coffee. Heavenly. We ate blueberries and raspberries and yogurt for breakfast. After dressing I went to the bank to take care of some business I have needed to do for a little while. One item of business was to open Eric his first savings account and to deposit further money into Katie’s savings account. It is never too early to start saving for their college tuition, and it is symbolic of the fact that we expect them to attend and are planning for it. I meant to start Eric’s account closer to his first birthday, so it felt good to get it done finally.

After the bank and a quick trip to the drug store for a couple of items, by the time I returned home (Bill had been watching the kiddos) it was time for lunch and Eric’s nap. While Eric rested, Katie and I read further in The Clue of the Velvet Mask, our third Nancy Drew book. We then tidied up, talked with Nana, and played.

In the afternoon my parents came over, and my mom cooked one of my favorite meals: spaghetti carbonara, bread, and Caesar salad with a chocolate cake and seven-minute frosting my Nana used to make. YUM! It is so special to me that my mom still makes all of my birthday meals.

I am so thankful for my presents—my mom has great taste in clothing and my husband has great taste in technology—but there were two gifts that really were symbolic and especially meaningful to me:

Nana gave me one of her mother’s plates. Ina Berve was my great-grandmother, and thus the kiddos’ great-great grandmother. Family heirlooms are my favorite gifts.

A better picture of the plate. I think about her holding and using it…

My mom gave me a bell pull that she made herself, with wool yarn that she drove an hour to La Jolla to procure, a backing that she ordered online, hours of needlepoint, and metal hardware that was originally from Grandma and Grandpa Yoder’s bell pull at their Newport Beach house. How thoughtful and awesome is this gift? I absolutely LOVE it, and I have already put it up. I grew up with a bell pull at my parents’ house, and it is one of those childhood talismans for me I suppose. Her stitches are gorgeous, and one day, Katie or Eric will have it. Gifts that become part of the family narrative are the most significant to me.

Bill gave me a military grade iPad case, which will come in handy with the kiddos. (Sorry, Jony Ive—I promise only to use this bulky thing when I intend to travel with it or let the kiddos use it for awhile). I am excited to have it. He also gave me, among other things, a beautiful peridot necklace in honor of our son: peridot is the August birthstone. This, too, will be something to give to Eric one day, just as Katie will have my opal ring that her dad gave me to honor her October birth.

I am so thankful for gifts that celebrated my connection to my family members, past and present. I am thankful, also, for parents and a grandmother and a husband who realize how much those kinds of gifts really mean to me, how they speak to my essence and make me glow.

Tonight I plan to curl up with some herbal tea and my Joan Didion book. She is one of my favorite authors, her nonfiction in particular.