Wednesday, September 3, 2014

My 30 Before 30!

It was New Year's Eve 2013. Heading into 2014... I was surrounded by friends who were married or engaged, pregnant (some almost pregnant) or had kids. I was with my wonderful, loving and amazing boyfriend, BUT....I was not married or engaged. I was not pregnant (or even almost pregnant ;) ).

I am the oldest of my group of friends (to the right!). I was first to get my car and driver's license. Sweet, yes! First to turn 21 and legally drink. Awesome, yes! First to turn 30 and officially reach old lady status. Um, no????

**Back to New Year's Eve the clock ticked toward 2014, (in my usual sarcastic tone), I complained about what was in store for me in 2014...the dreaded thirtyyyy. I can't remember the exact phrase, but when my friend Charly responded along the lines with, "Really we're going to have to hear you complain about this for the next 9 months," she got me instantly thinking.

First I thought, "No, you won't hear me complaining because I live 2,009 miles away from you!" But then I thought, "Will thirty be THAT bad??? 

As 2014 arrived, I vowed to myself that I would make turning 30 (gasp!) a GOOD thing! How could my thirties NOT be good. I still had so.many.things to look forward to!

I have kept this vow to myself. 2014 has been PRETTY darn awesome and now, here I am, a DAY away from the DREADED 30, and I am actually EXCITED about it??? What???

First to turn 30, ok, yes!

Thus, comes the long winded explanation for the title of this post. My 30 Before 30!
Here are thirty things that made my twenties an excellent decade to be alive... :) 

My 30 Before 30!!!
1. When my nephew Jaybird was born:
Having two older sisters (14 and 8 years older than me) I became an aunt at the ripe old age of 13! Jaybird was the first boy I ever loved. At the time, I had no idea what a huge impact he would make in my life (and continues to make) and just how lucky I was to have him for a nephew. As time passed, I have realized that since God only gave me sisters, Jay was more like getting a little brother. He's handsome, he says "please" and "thank you," and he holds the door for strangers. He is an all-star in the classroom and baseball field. Above all, he's a fab son and brother. I adore him!

2. When my nephew Jackson was born:
God broke the mold when he made Jackson. He's just as stubborn today as he was the day Amy had him. He took foreverrrrrrr to join us. And it takes Jackson foreverrrrrrrr to do things we ask him to do. Whereas Jay is more like my brother, Jackson is definitely more like my nephew. He may or may not say please and thank you. He will let the door hit you before he'd hold it for you. He will not talk on the phone to you when you want to say hello. Luckily, he has the cutest grin to remind you that he cares. And there's a lover behind that grin. He comes to the airport to pick me up and he is constantly on my hip while I'm in Indiana. Our slumber parties are my favorite! Jackson loves baseball and fishing. His posts on Instagram always make me laugh. He is the sweetest thing if you really know him!

3. When my niece Thea was born:

Princess Thea is Darcy's only child. She is the only girl grandchild in our family. Never have I met a more determined and independent 3 year old (and she was the same way as a 1 & 2 year old). She knows what she wants (like her mama) and she's not afraid to let you know it. She has the BIGGEST blue eyes and chubby cheeks. Thea has already taken on the family trait of picking on me! One of the things I love the most about her is how she loves to get dressed up like a princess!!!

I don't know how I could love my own children any more than I love these three children! 

4. Going to Disney World:
Don't get me wrong, all theme parks are a good time, but there is something truly magical about Disney World. The first time I went, I was 18 and I acted like a five year old with my autograph book. We stayed from sun up to sun down (we were the LAST car in the parking lot). I wouldn't have had it any other way! Disneyland is a close runner up, and I have had made many amazing memories there as well, but there is just nothing in the world like Disney World. 

5. Flying Private:
Until I worked for my nanny fam, I never even knew the true meaning of flying private. The absolute convenience that comes with flying private is unreal. It's so nice to pull up 5 minutes before your flight leaves to a private area of the airport, where someone loads your luggage on the plane, looks at your id, and lets you walk right onto your flight. If only I could fly this way all the time. Maybe in my dreams. 

6. Getting my Bachelor's Degree from Brescia:
Let me tell you, it was difficult to stick out my 4 years of college. However, my parents instilled a commitment in me that helped me to persevere through rough patches. I learned a great deal about education, made awesome friends (one that married my cousin), and have so many drunken memories from the Boro :). I wouldn't have changed a thing if I could go back and do it again!  

7. Being a Kindergarten Teacher:
My whole life, I have dreamed of being a mom and a teacher. I knew from early on, I didn't want to teach big kids, I wanted to teach kindergartners.  I was beyond ecstatic when the opportunity to teach kindergarten fell into place. They were my happiest years of teaching! I miss it like crazy and know one day, I will get back in the classroom. 

8. Running a Marathon && Running 3 Mini (Half)-Marathons:

Yes, yes, I am so proud of this that my car wears a 26.1 magnet on its trunk. Was it a walk in the park? Absolutely not! Am I so thankful for awesome friends that helped me through the last miles until I crossed the finish line? Absolutely!

13.1 miles is no easy feat, but it is so much more fun than running marathons. The training is less intense and the pain after is much less! My favorite half marathon was the Disney Princesses run! My sister Darcy wore tutus and dressed up like Snow White and Cinderella. Running through Disney World was a memory I will always cherish (reference #4)!

9. Buying my own home:
It felt like such an accomplishment to purchase my own home. It was a little scary signing a 30 year mortgage on my 25th birthday, but it was worth it! Everything happens for a reason and me owning a home helped many things fall into place. I had a fun party or two here! (Like my 11.11.11 Party!)

10. Driving across the country:
The 2,009 miles Keevi and I drove to California were quite the adventure. I got to travel through states I had never been before and see some of the most beautiful sights in America. The Grand Canyon took my breath away (literally, it took my breath away when we did the 3 mile hike down and up). The New Mexico blue sky, full of puffy white clouds was pure beauty.

11. Eat/Sleep/Breathing Volleyball/Going to the State Finals:
Not all people find a sport that they are passionate about and pretty good at playing. This for me has always been volleyball. I have had other posts about the value of volleyball in my life. Until the last year, I have played non-stop!

One of my greatest accomplishments was playing in the 2002 State Finals. Though we did not win, I learned early on that goals can become reality with hard work, persistence, and dedication. I will never forget my teammates, the conversations, the sweat, the weightlifting, the activities, and the work that was a part of our high school years. Volleyball paid my way through college and helped pay a few bills with my job as assistant coach . :)  
In addition, I felt so much pride FINALLY watching Providence Volleyball WIN the State Finals on 11.9.2013. It was hard to say goodbye to coaching when I moved to California. It felt surreal to hang out in the bleachers, enjoying the view from the sidelines. It was exciting to be on that side of things, seeing my coaching friends' hard work pay off and being surrounded by other PHS volleyball players who were just shy of the hardware like me. So proud to see the program I watched as child, played for as a teenager, and coached as an adult finally earn the success it deserved.

12. Moving to California:

For one whole year of my life, I stewed and prayed about moving to California to be with the one that I love! There were skeptics and so many questions I had to answer from so many people. I was worried about following my heart, but EVERYTHING was pulling my heart there.

Choosing to move to California meant giving up everything I ever knew, giving up my dream job and saying goodbye to family and friends. This turned out to be the best decision I ever made. Keev and I have never been better and I have learned more about life than I ever thought was possible.

13. Lucky #13...Wearing 13 Bridesmaid Dresses:
I have never felt more honored than when my friends asked me to stand by their side on their big days! I am so thankful for my wonderful friends and have made lasting memories during all of their bridal shenanigans! (Keep your eyes peeled for a special blog about this!)

14. Getting my Master's Degree in Reading and Literacy:
When I moved to Cali and became a weekend nanny, I figured I should spend my weeks doing something to better myself. That is when I decided to get my master's degree! Few things are more phenomenal than seeing and hearing students learn to read. I am better than ever equipped to help kiddos reach this monumental moment!

15. Enjoying childhood summers at Rough River Lake: 
Growing up, my parents loved the outdoors. We were always boating, camping, tubing, skiing, eating and drinking. As I got older, I wanted to do other things and stay away from the lake. Now, it is one of the things I look back on and love and miss. I have stories of catching fish and cliff jumping with my friends that will always be happy memories. 

16. Spending a summer in Malibu:
The beach used to be just a vacation spot. Then, when I started my nanny job, that meant spending the SUMMER on the beach. What better way to enjoy SUMMER? Living in California, I also learned the Pacific Ocean is COLD and the beaches are rocky!!!!! It is crazy sometimes when I am driving along the Pacific Coast Highway, looking at the ocean to my side. I always think, "Wow, I live here!" Dinner at Nobu every now and then isn't too shabby either ;). 

17. Being in San Francisco:
Even before my best friend Abbey moved to San Francisco, it had become of my favorite places. Keev took me there for the first time on a trip in October of 2011. We spent one day in the city and one day in the forest. The ambiance was perfect with the fog, wind, and just the right chill in the air. I leave a little bit of my heart in San Fran every time I go there!

18. Going to Seal Beach in La Jolla (Children's Cove):

I will never forget seeing the seals in their natural habitat. It was one of the first raw experiences with nature that I ever had. I literally got a little teary eyed looking at those seals laying on their rocks and on the beach. It was real and beautiful! The strip of coast behind their living quarters is mountainous with gorgeous homes that look almost like Venice. Maybe one day, we will retire there (if Keev's lucky)!

19. Celebrity Sightings:
When I lived in Indiana, I loved reading People magazine. Now it's funny that I live in the same city where many of these celebrities live their every day lives. I have really enjoyed my celebrity sightings! 

20. Drinking wine at Santa Barbara AND Napa Valley Wineries:
Let's be honest. Who doesn't like wine? But seriously, there is something so beautiful about passing vineyard after vineyard on the California terrain. And come on, everyone who goes there enjoys the delicious wines. It is a heavenly place to be, especially when you have a designated driver!

21. Seeing the Sistine Chapel in Rome, Italy:
I swore a painting couldn't make me cry, but of course, there I stood, teary eyed in the Sistine Chapel. Something felt so special about standing in the same space where decisions are made for who becomes the next pope! This room is a small testimony of the faith I stand for and believe!

22. Hawaiian Sunset:
It is stunning to watch the sunset in Hawaii. Hawaiian men blow into conch shells, with the sound, symbolizing the setting of the sun. It is a sight (and sound) for sore eyes!

23. The view of LA from Griffith Observatory:
The Griffith Observatory is my happy place in Los Angeles. Looking out on the right days, you can see all across the cities, to the ocean. This view is my reminder that human beings are quite small in this big world!

24. Giving my hair to Locks of Love:
After I saw the positive effect that wigs had on my friend with alopecia, I knew I wanted to be able to help people who wanted/needed wigs like her. Giving my hair to Locks of Love was super fun and I hope to do it again one day in the nearish future!

25. Touring New York City:
Everyone should go to NYC at least once. I went in the summer both of the times that I visited. One day I want to go at Christmas time and enjoy the Christmas season in the city.

26: Seeing the Eiffel tower:
How men made such a monument so many years ago will always be hard to fathom. It is proof that humans are intelligent and capable of so much with their brains and just a (few) tools.

27. Putting a heart on the Lock Bridge in Paris, France (Pont de L'Archeveche):
Please take me back! My love of love needs no explanation here!

28. Riding a helicopter to beautiful Capri:

29. Riding in a Gondola in Venice, Italy after touring St. Mark's Basilica:
I will never understand how such a city was built on water. It is a creation unlike any other and somewhere I think everyone should attempt to go one day! Walking into the Basilica was fabulous because I got to be a part of a private tour and learned little fun facts I'd never known! Jumping into a gondola after the tour was so much fun! The city is beyond romantic, with so many nooks and crannies. I loved it!

30. Getting Engaged:
I imagined getting engaged my whole life. I am so thankful that it was nothing that I ever imagined, because it was so much better than I could have imagined. I have found the best man to annoy for the rest of my life!

Those who have paved the way to 30 before me have expressed that their thirties are the best years yet. If I stop to think about it, I have had a stellar run for my 20s! How could a decade be any better?

Above all these thirty things, are the friends and family that make "things" so wonderful! I feel so blessed to have fabulous people to share my life with! 

If I would have had a crystal ball, I never would have predicted the twists and turns that have been my FIRST thirty years....

In my next 30 years, there will be marriage, babies, and so much I can't plan for!

BRING it 30s...because ya know...
30 is totally the new 20!

Sooooo Happy 30th Birthday to ME!

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