It’s my birthday and I’ve been thinking about what I want to do to prepare for my 36th birthday next year. Last year, I had my list of 35 things to do. I liked that, but I’m ready for something different.
This year, I’m going to give away 36 of my favorite things. This could be something I already own and want to pass on. This could be something I make. This could be something I buy. This could be something I find on my walks.
The plan is to give three things away each month. Sometimes I will tell you what I’m giving away… sometimes it will be a surprise for the winner.
I will be using my Instagram account to post all the giveaways. I will explain the details more fully on each post, so be sure to follow along.
Last year, on my birthday, I made a list of 35 things that I wanted to do before I turned 35. Tomorrow I turn 35, and I wanted to look back at my 35th year and the things I accomplished.
Read a book a month. I didn’t really keep track, but I’m sure I read more than twelve books.
Sign up for life insurance. Didn’t do this, but we do get life insurance through Jesse’s job. I’m not sure if we should pay for supplemental insurance.
Try a Barre3 class. I didn’t do this, but I took some yoga classes, and started going to the Rec Center on campus.
Get a monthly massage. Sadly, I didn’t even get one massage.
Try acupuncture. I still want to try this.
Get a haircut. I’ve gotten a couple, and even cut my own bangs recently. Now I’m wanting a long, choppy bob to go with the new bangs.
Try 5 recipes from my new cookbook! I’ve made lots of things from this book.
Spend a weekend at the beach. I just missed this one – I’m going to the beach for the weekend next month.
Spend a weekend in the mountains. I did this a few times – camping and in Sunriver and Bend.
Can something. Peaces, barbeque sauce, sweet and sour sauce, spettighetti sauce, Uncle Chet’s dill pickles.
Get our garden going again. Still getting there…
Focus on getting my Etsy shop going. Note: It has a new name and address – CaroMade! Still getting there…
Post one new listing on CaroMade every month. Not quite…
Do a creative retreat – either an organized one, or organize my own! We almost have this scheduled. It will probably have to wait until late spring or summer since we’re planning it in the mountains and none of the people going like to drive in the snow.
Get more chickens. We now have 9, and some are even laying again!
Yesterday was your birthday and I’ve been wanting to tell you something. I write to the girls on their birthdays, but I think it’s important to write to you, too.
I have always admired you, daddy. You always worked hard to give all of us a wonderful life. You worked hard, but you were always home for dinner and present in our lives. On Sunday mornings, I would wait to see you get up, then I’d follow you to the living room so you could read the comics to me. You were always up to play in the backyard, or play a game of Pente. You came to my recitals even when it meant missing a track meet. You taught me how to ride my bike on two wheels.
One of my favorite memories of us is from a bike ride. I can remember exactly where this conversation took place, right around the corner from where I live today. We were riding ‘around the block’ and you told me that you hope I will always call you Daddy. I remember thinking that was absurd that you would even ask. Of course you’ll always be my daddy.
You have another name now. You are also Papa, and I am so glad that my girls get to have a Papa like you. They light up when they see you, and honestly, you light up, too. You are such a great grandfather. You get down to their level to play with them. You spoil them just the right amount. I know that I can count on you to take wonderful care of them.
Happy birthday, Daddy. I hope you know how important you are to me, and how much I love you as my Daddy, and as Alma and Harriet’s Papa.
January 3rd is a very special day to me. Not only is it the day you were born, but it is the day that I became a mother. I don’t know why, but this past year, I’ve been thinking about that a lot.
Yesterday, I asked you if you knew that I wasn’t a mommy before I had you. You looked surprised and asked me, “What were you?” I told you I was just Carolyn and that seemed to make sense.
Whenever I talk about things I did before you were born, you always say, “And I was in your tummy.” I used to explain that no, not yet. Now I don’t correct you. Maybe it’s because you’ve been here so long that it’s almost hard to image who Carolyn was before you made me into Mommy. Maybe it’s because I’ve realized that in some way, you have always been with me.
There’s a song that I’m listening to on repeat right now. It’s from a new musical by Sara Bareilles about a woman, who, in the end has a baby. She looks into her baby’s eyes and instantly becomes a mother.
I know that everything changed when I had you, Alma. Everything.
I used to be able to read books about children without crying. Now, I’m a mess reading to you. I can’t read Rosie Revere without thinking about how you need to know how capable you are. I can’t read On the Night You Were Born without thinking about how important you are. Even books I used to love have changed. When I read From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, I see the story from the parents’ perspective, and it makes the book much less enjoyable.
Anyway, Alma, this is all to say that 4 year ago everything changed. I changed. The whole world changed. This world used to be full of possibilities for my life, now it’s full of so much more. It’s full of a whole lifetime of possibilities for you.
This past year you have really become a person to me. You have grown up so much. You can express yourself perfectly. You have such a funny sense of humor. You are confident and strong. [Today you went up in front of our whole church, by yourself, and said “I’m Alma. Today’s my birthday. I’m four. I got a lot of presents.”]
I know that this letter is a little bit jumbled, but I have so much I want to say to you today, on your 4th birthday. I love you. I’m proud of you. I thank God for you. I am happy to guide you. I am sorry for when I’m not the best mother I can be. I need your help to get it all right. I appreciate your spirit. You are my girl. You are special. You are strong. You are brave. You are beautiful.
I couldn’t love you any more than I do, and I couldn’t be more proud,
Today’s a day like any other But I am changed I am a mother
Oh in an instant
And who I was has disappeared
It doesn’t matter, now you’re here
So innocent I was lost for you to find And now I’m yours and you are mine
Two tiny hands, a pair of eyes An unsung melody is mine for safekeeping And I will guard it with my life
I’d hang the moon for it to shine on her sleeping
Starting here and starting now
I can feel the heart of how
My heart’s at the wheel now
And all my mistakes
They make sense when I turn them around
What I thought was so permanent fades And I swear I’ll remember to say we were both born today
Oh, and it’s true
What did I do to deserve you
I didn’t know, but now I see
Sometimes what is, is meant to be
You saved me
My blurry lines, my messy life
Come into focus in a tied, maybe
I can heal and I can breathe
‘Cause I can feel myself believe
That everything changes
My heart’s at the wheel now
And all my mistakes
They make sense when I turn them around
What I thought was so permanent fades And I swear I’ll remember to say we were both born today Oh, and it’s true What did I do to deserve you Thank God for you
Yesterday was my birthday! I am now proud to say that I have made 34 trips around the sun. Pretty cool journey we get to take each year, flying around in outer space. For my 35th years, I decided to make a list of 35 things to do before I turn 35. Here’s my list:
Read a book a month. This should be easy since I have book club every month. If I keep up with the club, this will be complete! Note to self: must get this month’s book!
Sign up for life insurance. Not to be morbid, or anything. But, yeah.
Try a Barre3 class.
Get a monthly massage. I would love to complete this goal, but I think it might be one of the less likely.
Get a haircut. I’m pretty much on a once yearly schedule, and my last haircut was last March. I did this right before my trip to California! I love it how the stylist thins out my hair. Feels so much lighter!
This year, we decided to have a joint birthday party for Alma and three of her friends. This was an amazing idea because, not only did it cut down on all we had to do, but I also got to have some fun planning sessions over drinks with some of my favorite ladies.
We decided to have a simple play-date type party with a loose ballet theme. So, last weekend we had a big ballet birthday bash with Alma and all her friends from our playgroup.
We had eight 3-year-olds, but a smattering of little siblings. We made 11 tutus for the walking-aged kids. That 325 yards of tulle. More than three football fields. No joke.
It was a wild, hilarious, fun, lovely party! It’s so fun raising our kids with these other families. This next series of photos really gets me. I knew all three of these moms before we were moms. I met Leia and Natalie in our birth class, and Shannon in our breastfeeding class. I am blown away by the fact that we now have three-year-olds. I feel like it was just yesterday that we were spending out Tuesdays at Baby Clinic, talking about how hard and amazing our tiny newborns were. Seeing these sweet kids, so excited for their cupcakes, knowing that they once were those babies, seems impossible. Beautiful, but impossible. I can’t imagine what they will look like at their joint 18th birthday party…
We are so lucky.
The kids felt pretty lucky to have some amazing cupcakes. These kids (and photos) crack me up.
My birthday is in February. I’m sure you’re thinking it’s usually dreary and sad outside. For some reason, most of my birthdays are sunny and warm! We usually get some really beautiful weather in the end of February, and I’m lucky enough to get to enjoy it on my birthday most years. I think it snowed a couple years ago, which is also fun.
The girls and I took advantage of the beautiful day to play in the backyard. I even got some yard work done. Alma helped, obviously.
One of the things we did for Alma’s second birthday was make her a fun chalkboard table for her cars.
This project actually started last summer and went through a few different changes along the way. It started with this crazy dirt-and-rock-filled-brick-planter in our sunroom:
This planter has been annoying me since we moved in 3 years ago. I’ve never known what to do with it. Since our bunny lives in the sunroom, I couldn’t just plant some plants in it – he would eat them. For a while he liked to dig in the box, but that ended up making a huge mess. The dirt in the planter is a really fine dust that coats the whole room when dug up. Add a curious toddler and the sunroom was never clean.
My mom actually suggested that we do something with the planter. I think I had just given up at this point. Her first idea was to dig out all the dirt and fill it with something more fun (and less dirty) to play with. When she came over and started digging, she realized how horrible the dirt was after inhaling the super-fine dust. We started brainstorming again. The next idea was to cover it with a board and paint a scene on it for Alma’s cars. You know those old carpets that have the town and roads on them? That idea, but in paint. After agreeing that this was the perfect idea, I thought it would be even cooler to just use chalkboard paint. I wanted the girls to be able to create their own towns, or whatever, not just be stuck with the town I painted for them. Imagination and creativity are always encouraged here!
Jesse and my mom went and bought all the supplies, and Jesse quickly built the board using plywood and quarter-round strips. We countersunk the nails, and filled the holes with spackle so everything would be smooth. Then the board sat on the planter for a couple months.
Finally, I decided Alma’s birthday was the perfect reason to finish this project, so I sanded everything down and started priming the board.
I used two coats of primer, then sanded it all down again. I wanted to make sure the wood was really sealed because the chalkboard paint is expensive and I didn’t want to waste it by having it soak into the wood. Also, the directions say to prime and sand bare wood.
Then came 3 or 4 thin coats of the chalkboard paint. I can’t remember, but I’m pretty sure I did 4. I wanted smooth, even coverage, so I did really nice, thin coats. Below you see what it looked like halfway through the second coat.
Then back out to the sunroom to cure for a few days. I already liked how it looked so much! No more dirt!
I followed the directions on the can to prepare the chalkboard by rubbing the side of a piece of chalk all over the whole thing and wiping off with a dry cloth. Our original idea was to attach the whole thing to the wall, but I sort of love how I can tip it up and brush the chalk dust into the dirt. We might need to attach it if Alma or Harriet start lifting it up all the time, but it’s pretty heavy and I don’t think they know it opens.
I’m not sure who will like it more, me, or Alma. I had a lot of fun writing a birthday message, and drawing a little road for her new cars. I’m excited to work on my chalkboard-writing skills.
Alma definitely does love it, though! She seems to like the drawing part more than the car part these days, but I’m sure she’ll appreciate that it is a fun, versatile toy out in the sunroom. I also have a ton of the paint leftover, so I’m already thinking about what else could use some creativity. Chalkboard all the things! Uh oh….