This is a season filled with tissue paper and birthday candles and sprinkled frosting. It is the season of my baby’s birthday, though she isn’t a baby anymore. Such a gift: her sparkly, float-into-the-room-in-tulle, glitter-tattoo-of-a-butterfly approach to life. She is a dessert-first, you-can-never-wear-too-many-beads sort of kid.

I learn so much from my kids, and this season I am thinking about what I am learning from her being this little one’s mom. The full list would be too long for any blog post, but a few things absolutely stand out.

First, she shows me how to love what you love. She knows what she adores, knows what she wants, knows what she loves and isn’t afraid to show it. She wears the clothes that make her happy and accessorizes — yes, she accessorizes — based on what brings her joy. What often brings her joy are things that sparkle and shine and sometimes things that jingle, as with a particular bracelet. She doesn’t care what anyone else thinks, or about practicality. We may just be walking up to the grocery store to get flour, but if she feels like wearing last year’s red holiday dress with her light-up sneakers, the pink tights with puppy dogs on them and the jingly bracelet, it’s going to happen.

She reminds me to live more artfully. Not only with her expressive dress, but also with her prolific creation of crafts. My house is filled with her work — collages, homemade gift bags, love notes, a Stride Rite box decorated in washy tape and filled with tissue paper and granola bars. While not all of her work hangs around for long (I keep special pieces), it’s not about collecting the art. It’s about making it. Crayons are permanently parked on the table (and often on the floor below it), always within reach. When she’s bored, or waiting for dinner, or transitioning between one event to another, she grabs paper and makes something, and my fridge and my life are lovelier for it.

And she continues to remind me that it is never really about stuff — not even sparkly stuff. Crayons and ribbons are often much more fun when shared; she loves nothing more than to play dress up or to sit and color — with me, or with her dad or brother or a friend.

This year, while she unwrapped her birthday present early in the morning, I watched in awe, remembering her entrance to the world, her tiny fingers and first cry, her sweet little self in my arms, a gift from the very beginning. She delighted in her present and the bow it was wrapped in — loving what she loves! — and I can tell you I’ll never get enough of her smile.