just for fun

Birthday Bucket List (30 Things to Do before I’m 30!)

yeah-pexels-1200It’s the last year of my 20s. One year from today, I will be the big 3-0. And while I have no concern about this upcoming milestone, now is the perfect time to write a one-year bucket list. I might as well be intentional about how I spend my time in my last year of this decade. So here we go.

Here are 30 things to do before I’m 30:

  1. Blog more. A lot more. 30 new posts (after this one!) seems like a good goal. So I’m shooting for it! I’m putting more emphasis on my blog as I’m leaving my work in the Christian media space. I want to make sure that I am sharing my faith through my writing here since I will no longer be working in an extension of ministry daily. God placed a desire on my heart to encourage other parents and families through the chaos and that’s what I plan to do here.
  2. Try a live video. I’ve said for years that I’m a writer not a speaker, but it’s time to get over this fear.
  3. Try 5 new restaurants. 
  4. See 1 new movie in theaters (Frozen 2, anyone?!)
  5. Take a friend out to dinner.  
  6. Have friends over for dinner.
  7. Speaking of dinner, actually, really cook. And learn to like it. Jen Hatmaker talks about doing this in Of Mess and Moxie so I’m pretty sure I can do this too (or maybe it was in For the Love, but whatever – read them both!).
  8. Run. 100 miles seems reasonable. Considering I have 3 half marathons on the books in the next year, I should really run MORE than that. But I know myself well enough to know that I love racing, not training.
  9. Prove myself in my NEW JOB! A good measure of this would be to learn a ton and earn a bonus.
  10. Read (or let’s be honest, listen to on Audible) a Dave Ramsey book.
  11. Finish reading Gone with the Wind. I read this once in middle school and loved it, but it’s time to get through this beautiful 1,000 page mammoth once again (and understand it this time).
  12. Finishing listening to the Harry Potter series with Dustin. We stopped in the middle of The Prisoner of Azkaban when our library rental ran out. It’s a bummer you can’t renew audiobooks.
  13. Finish my baby shower thank you notes. That’s right guys. They still aren’t done. I’m so, so sorry. But I am still so grateful for the thoughtful people who showered us with love and gifts before Emmanuella was born. I hope they know that without notes.
  14. Write our Compassion kids four times. 
  15. Teach Emmanuella to pray before meals.
  16. Visit the National Zoo. 
  17. Have a family picnic at the park.
  18. Bike on the Capital Trail.
  19. Travel to a new city. This is kind of cheating because we already have a trip to Charleston planned, but yay! I can’t wait!
  20. Go to a new winery.
  21. Go apple picking. Carter Mountain is so close. Why have we never done this?
  22. Turn the junk room into a game room. Make it a space that the whole family can enjoy.
  23. Lead a small group. Cheating again because this is already planned for spring, but it’s exciting. While Dustin and I have hosted small groups and facilitated discussions, we’ve never chosen our own curriculum, written discussion questions, and made it happen. We’re excited to see how the Lord moves within our small group community this year!
  24. Read a devotional with Dustin. We pray together nightly (and what a difference this makes in our relationship!) but what if we read a devotional as well? I hope God moves us forward in our marriage with this additional practice.
  25. Make a craft. Preferably more than just one!
  26. Paint our front door. BC Crimson is the color!
  27. Host another BC summer reunion.
  28. Visit the beach. I’m not sure if we’ll make it to the Outer Banks (my favorite place in the world) again in the next 12 months but we can at least go to the beach in Charleston!
  29. Take Emmanuella to three new places.
  30. Throw a party!

I expect that 29 will be an exciting year full of new challenges and fun family experiences. I’ll check in next year to tell you how I did on this list!

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family, motherhood

48 People Came to My Daughter’s 1st Birthday Party. Here is What I Learned.

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The week leading up to my daughter’s 1st birthday party was like preparing to go to battle. I had planned something party-related to do every single evening.

  1. Order balloons? Check.
  2. Order Chick-fil-A catering? Check.
  3. Order cake from Costco? Check.
  4. Go to the grocery store and buy pumpkins? Check. (Bonus check for spending an hour sorting through moldy pumpkins to find 25 that were mold-free.)
  5. Draw and paint poster boards of a cow and pig for a “feed the cow” and “feed the pig” cornhole game? Check.
  6. Draw and paint a John Deere tractor on a poster for Pin the Wheel on the Tractor (that wouldn’t even be played). Check.

And on and on it went.

During this process, I knew that I was going too far. But I had a picture in my mind of what I wanted my daughter’s birthday party to look like and would stop at nothing to make that picture a reality.

Bless my own heart.

Why did I work so hard and stay up late night after night to throw the perfect 1st birthday party? After all, my kid is one year old. She won’t remember it. Other kids at the party won’t remember it.

I’ll be honest. I wanted the pictures.

Pictures like this:

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And this:

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Oh, and this:

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I worked myself until the party almost wasn’t fun anymore to make these picture-perfect moments happen.

By the time our 48 guests arrived, I had a killer headache that almost ruined the party for me. Thank goodness my wonderful mother practically carries a CVS pharmacy in her purse. She was able to supply me with medicine, but the first hour of the party was tainted by nearly dizzying stress-induced pain in my temple.

Mamas. There has to be a better way. 

We’re doing too much. I didn’t have to invite our whole church to the party. I didn’t have to label each item of food with witty farm-themed names. I didn’t have to spend a lot of money (don’t ask me to add it all up) on pumpkin patch decorations. I didn’t have to do any of it, really.

But I felt like I did. 

For months leading up to my daughter’s birthday, friends and family members said that they couldn’t wait to see what I would come up with for her 1st birthday party. They knew my tendency to go all out and had high expectations.

Based on past experiences, I understand why they would think that. I truly do. But maybe we should all lower our expectations a little. After all, I have a child now. She requires a lot of time and energy, and there is only so much left for extras like party prep.

It comes down to this: there is too much pressure on moms today to be perfect. Pinterest perfect. We need to tone it down. Otherwise, we get tired, stressed, anxious, and generally become worse versions of ourselves.

That is not what our children or spouses deserve. After all, they probably didn’t ask us to do any of it in the first place.

My daughter’s birthday party ended up being a blast. She loved being in the spotlight and I don’t regret gifting her the experience.

But maybe, just maybe, it should have been pared down to the essentials. No guest would have missed the cute food labels because they wouldn’t have known about them at all. 

Stop worrying about doing less than what others expect of you. Start focusing on what your sweet babies need from you. I suspect that your littles would rather have your undivided attention than a Pinterest perfect birthday party anyway.