Rocco Royal, Age 6


A birthday tribute to my youngest and on what he is teaching me.


I think about that May day you were born. I went to a reflexology appointment and within hours had to head to the hospital. You came quick, but what you’ve taught me is to slow down. With each year, as you grow in height and smarts, I grow a little less accustomed to moving fast and obsessing over getting everything right. I wish I would have had this down the day you were born. The day, fourteen years ago, when your sister was born. But it wasn’t so. What is so is that as you grow each day, so do I. I grow to love you more. I care less about getting it right and more about loving you and our family right. You’ve taught me so much about love. About stopping to hug. About stopping to kiss. About stopping to say “I’m sorry,” and quickly forgetting all about it. I’ve tried to teach, these past two years, you about being the Beloved and it is you who have taught me. When I ask you each night, “Who are you?” and you say back, “Beloved!” Your eyes so blue and full of unconditional love locked on my heavy browns are like a little reflective pool of the unconditional love of the Father who each day, calls me Beloved, too.


You are sunshine. You are laughter. You are cool. Like, one cool kid for real. You are extremely expressive and your face always tells a story that I want to read and capture and keep in my heart for always. You are kind and friendly and funny. You are so funny, Rocco.


I’m sure each year your birthday post may sound somewhat redundant: “How is that you are six?” “Can you please stay five?” These questions will follow around the youngest and the oldest forever and always, I’m sure. I still get that even as a grown girl–a grown girl who is the oldest. I don’t like to think of you as “no longer being five” or as “the last six-year-old” I will have. Rather, I like to think of it as a year to experience “six” with eyes wide open, fully aware of the magic and the possibility that I sometimes skipped past, just juggled, or barrelled through with your brothers and sister. I won’t be perfect. I won’t notice everything. But I will do my darndest to be present. To look into your bright blue eyes, the right one that squints ever so slightly more than the left when you smile with your entire perfect little mouth.

Six is going to be a great year. I feel it. We are going to make lots of memories and laugh more than we ever have, dear boy.

+You still, every so often, mix up your pronouns and I’m still very ok with that. “No my don’t!”
+For breakfast you like to mix two kinds of cereal. Say, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Frosted Mini Wheats. Whatever suits your fancy.
+You still are very decisive about fashion. No fat jeans (meaning you will not wear any jeans unless they are skinny jeans). You also only ever want to wear jeans–even to the trampoline park or when it’s 90 degrees out.
+Your favorite food is pizza.
+You have are enthusiastic about collecting Pokémon cards.
+At dinner you have changed up “Best Part, Worst Part” for let’s go around and say something nice about each other.
+You like the cat better than the dog. You ask me almost every day if I like the cat or the dog better. And then say, “I love Theo the most because he is so soft.”
+When you eat dinner, you sit halfway off your chair–one leg standing on the ground.
+You are still a little artist who loves to color. Each week after church you make us pick Liam up from his class first so you can get a coloring sheet from his class to take home.
+”Do not be misled…Boom Boom Boom. Do not be misled. Bad company corrupts good character.” You love memorizing scripture.
+You loved swimming in the ocean for the first time, this year. I can’t wait to see you swim in the sea again.
+You love the minions and they kind of remind me of you.
+You have learned to read without a hitch.

Every morning when I  drop you off at school, you say, “One more kiss mom. One more kiss.”  Always, Rocco. Always.


Rocco Royal, Age 5


Five. Five always feels official. Four felt like I could cheat and call you a toddler still. But five doesn’t work that way. Five means Kindergarten and all kinds of bigger kidness calling.

I finally understand why moms baby their babies. It’s hard to see them grow. You don’t look at milestones as firsts. You look at them as lasts.


Five. Five always feels official. Four felt like I could cheat and call you a toddler still. But five doesn’t work that way. Five means Kindergarten and all kinds of bigger kidness calling.

I finally understand why moms baby their babies. It’s hard to see them grow. You don’t look at milestones as firsts. You look at them as lasts.

Go ahead and call me like every other mom then, because I’ll keep calling you my baby.

Thankfully for me, you still have a munchkin voice and say things like, “Her not my girlfriend anymore.” And, “Can we stay for a couple whiles?”

+ Your pronouns are still all mixed up in the cutest way. I told your teacher that I couldn’t bring myself to correct you, but that I understood if she must do as as she must.
+ I asked what your full name is, a few months ago, and you replied, “Rocco Royal Beloved.” And when I asked what your last name was you said, “hmmmm, McBear?” Rocco Royal Beloved McBear.
+ You love to color. All the time you want color. And you stay in the lines, although I’d tell you you never have to stay in the lines. You are meticulous with your coloring.
+ With that said others are saying you might be an artist and you think you might too.
+ You still give the best hugs.
+ Stars Wars is you’re favorite. Dark Vader and Obi Nobi Tatobi.
+ You call St. Patrick’s Day, Leprechaun Day.
+ On the first day of school you came home and said you asked Scarlett to marry you. When I asked what she said, you replied, “Her said yes.”
+ You call me your sweet honey.
+ Your favorite song is, “No,” by Megan Trainer (thank you Gommy -ha).
+ You are learning to ride without training wheels
+ You always ask me, “Can you look up…What color is all the superheros?” You want me to google colors so you can get them just right. You even asked me to look up what color David and Goliath were and then told me that “Everybody where God lives….them have sandals on.”
+ You are obsessed with wearing your blue Zara skinny pants to school everyday.
+ Lately you like me to come into your class and start your morning work with you.
+ Every time I turn around you’ve put something interesting on. Your pirate necklace. Three bracelets. Four sweatbands. A beanie hat.





The faces you make and the constant expression on your face makes my day.

Your name means Rest of Heaven and that is exactly who you are. Your sweet and silly spirit has brought rest and laughter into our home and lives at just the right time.

Every night I ask you who you are and you say, “Beloved.” That is my greatest prayer for you…that more than anything you will ever know or come to learn is that you are God’s beloved…..and mine too.

Happy Birthday Sweet Rocco Royal Beloved McBear!


Rocco Royal, Age 4


You are four.  I don’t have any pretty words or ways to say this except that I’m not OK with this.  I like that you can use the potty and climb in the car, but if those chubby cheeks of yours start thinning out, then I might have meltdown right along with you.     Your button nose sits just so between your two cloud like cheeks.  At this moment in time, you are my last little squidgy and I’m not sure what to make of that.

I’m praying your expressiveness never goes away.  That way you turn both eyes up to one side and raise those eyebrows of yours, with eyes closed, as you are trying to make a point.  Your face so expressive.  Don’t loose that as you leap from 4 to 5 and 5 to 6 and 6 to 20.

+ Your pronouns are still perfectly placed as far as I’m concerned.  “No my don’t!”  Yes, my are!”  “Her like that.  Him really do.”
+David Donavyn
+ Your favorite bedtime song is the animal song.  Which is made up and goes like this…”On the first day the Lord made the ______. ”  We choose the animal and you make the noise.  For some reason we go to 10 days.  You say we can only do animals that live in the rainforest.  Best of all, there is an animal, according to you, called a “college.”
+ Only cereal for breakfast or a frozen (literally) waffle you can walk around with
+ Netflix on the iPad is your favorite or Peppa Pig on the computer
+ “What is your middle name?” “Rocco Taco McMeemy”
+ Miam is your best friend
+ You love to dress up in costumes and Dark Vader is your favorite.
+ “Tonight we have squash?”  You ask every night.  “No.”  “Yay!”
+ You always want “zert” after dinner
+ You love to eat at Chick-a-Lay
+ Cars are a favorite toy
+ You have lots of friends
+ Every night at dinner you like to start, “best part, worst”
+ You still stick your tongue out like a puppy dog when you are shy, embarrassed or happy
+ You are just so silly

Most days I can’t take my eyes off you.  Yes, because you might run into the street.  Also, because you say the funniest things that catch my attention, even from the other side of the house.  Because you squeeze me tighter than anyone ever has.  But, also because when I look at you, I see someone I used to know.  A younger, care free, open hearted me.  Sparkle in the eyes and a gallop in the step.  I see you close those eyes and raise those eyebrows and I know, without needing photos to prove it, just how I used to look.  I see you scrunch that button nose and those chubby cheeks puffing up and I can feel my cheeks being pinched, again.  When I look at you each day I remember to be me.  It’s your birthday and I get the gift.  Everyday I get the gift of you.  I love you, puppy.


rocco’s room with valspar (after)


i’m so excited to share rocco’s new room with you.  this is the one room in my house that i was always shutting the door to and trying to hide and ignore.   the color was a worn dark beige sprinkled with a good dose of dirt (see what i mean in the before pics).  i was itching to brighten this room up and transition it from the nursery that it has been, for my 3 boys over the last 9 years, into a big boy room for my youngest.

it just so happened that Valspar Paint reached out recently to see if i wanted to try their Valspar Reserve paint for a project in my home.  my answer was, yes!  yes!  and, yes!

i was super excited to tackle this project but, if i’m honest, also a little nervous.  i’m not the greatest painter and picking color always stresses me out.  but, because Valspar has their Love Your Color Guarantee i decided there was no reason to stress, if i didn’t like my color i could get another one on them.

my two design goals for the room where simply to brighten up the room and to make it imaginative and playful.

i loved the idea of a mountain incline on the wall.  i wanted the mountain wall to be colorful but to still be calming and for the colors to compliment each other.  for the top part of the wall i chose ‘Valspar Seashell Gray,’ and for the bottom, ‘Valspar Crushed Cumin.’  for the rest of the room i went with ‘Valspar Ivory Dust,’ to really brighten and lighten up the room on a whole.




as you can see, the room has wood paneling, which has been painted many times over the years, so i thought it might be a little tricky for this novice painter, but Valspar Reserve was great to work and had really good coverage.  not only does it have great coverage, but Valspar Reserve is also super durable (offering superior stain resistance and scrubbability) which made it the perfect choice for a child’s room.

what i was most nervous about was taping and painting a design because i’ve never done anything like that before.  i’ve always hired a professional.  i gave it my best and learned quickly that with good paint and the right kind of tape all things are possible. (just be sure to let the paint completely dry before removing the paint).  and now, i’m no longer a novice!








and, there you have it!  as you can see, rocco is pretty excited about his big boy room and, well . . . dinosaurs.

speaking of dinosaurs, the little guys climbing the mountain and flying about are my fave.  they are magnets, designed by sian zeng.  her work is amazing!  the larger dinosaur print (inspired by yellow brick road) is just image, from on old book, that i found online and had printed on the architect printer at kinko’s.

sources: tarva bed: ikea  dinosaur magnets: sian zeng | laguna duvet: the land of nod | raindrop sheets: the land of nod  | bear pillow: the land of nod | throw pillows: target | stockholm rug: ikea | overcast cloud wall shelf: the land of nod | hektar wall light : ikea | dresser: pottery barn kids | streamline knob : anthropologie | lamp: west elm |  knit storage bin: the land of nod | bookshelf: thrifted | car love art: the land of nod  | turkey feathers : found on our walks

video + photography by Frank & Harvey 

this post is in collaboration with Valspar.  Valspar Reserve is available at Lowe’s nationwide.  find your nearest retailer here.  find more color inspiration from Valspar on : Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.


rocco’s room with valspar (before)


there is one room in my house that i’ve been hiding for quite awhile.  it’s the room on the other side of the mouse hole; rocco’s room.  originally it was my brother’s room.  then half of my sister’s room (my parents let her tear down a wall to make her room bigger) and then, when we moved in it became the nursery.  3 boy have graced this beige baby room.  oh, how i’ve been wanting to update this room, but just kept closing the door (literally) on it.

recently, Valspar Paint asked me to try their new Valspar Reserve paint on a project in my home.  i knew right away that it was time to turn the nursery into a big boy room for rocco.  and, after i learned about the durability, washability and unsurpassed stain + scrub resistance of Valspar Reserve i was convinced it would be the perfect paint for a toddler’s room.



now, it’s no secret that when it comes to paint, white tends to be my favorite.  it’s cohesive and dependable.  i’m great at picking colors on pinterest, but when i do an actual project in my house i get a little nervous.  i clam up when it comes to commitment and decisions. so, i decided to start how i start with any design related project, which is to gather inspiration.  i found concepts online and color shades that i loved in a worn old old storybook.



while inspiration was high, and i had a direction, i started thumbing through the gorgeous Valspar fan deck (their full library boasts over 3,000 colors) to get my mind creating in color and to try to match up colors i found in my old fairy tale book.


for the first time in my decorating life i didn’t stress over making a color choice because of the Valspar Love Your Color Guarentee.  if you don’t love the color you picked, you can choose another color on them.  bye bye pressure!  i usually deliberate for days and involve about 10 friends.  this time i literally went with my gut and got going.  want to see the colors i chose?



i’m loving the colors and can’t wait to show you how the room turned out!  stay tuned!

this post is in collaboration with Valspar.  Valspar Reserve is available at Lowe’s nationwide.  find your nearest retailer here.

inspiration images via : weekday carnival / aura home / the animal print shop / sian zeng

Trina McNeilly

Trina McNeilly is a writer and founder of La La Lovely, where she has been blogging for nearly a decade. With an eye for beauty, Trina finds inspiration in styled spaces, other times in the broken places and everywhere in between. Through soulful writing in the voice of a trusted friend she shares her finds and all about being found.


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