I'm turning 34 today. And I cannot think of a better place to be in my life. I've been so blessed, not with so much material things (although we have our fair share of "stuff", don't worry) but with things that money cannot buy. For my Five on Friday today (and to make up for being so horribly slack on the past few Fridays where you've literally gotten Zero on Friday, lol) I'd like to submit my 34 Things today. 34 Things That I've Learned in 34 Years on this great green Earth.
So here goes... Bless you if you're patient and read them all. ;) Bonus points if you nod your head in agreement with any of them.
1| I did not need to look for love. It found me. Quite a surprise, actually, but that's how the best things happen, don't you think? When you're not trying too hard?
2| Never regret mistakes you've made. All of the mistakes I've made (especially the embarrassing ones) have taught me a lesson, and my experiences in life have shaped me into the woman I am today. I wouldn't want to be anyone else right now, even if I had the opportunity.
3| Don't wait to tell that person you love them. We are never guaranteed tomorrow. Say it today, even if it takes a lot of effort on your part. Do it anyway.
4| Take pleasure in small things. Really, the very smallest. They can have the biggest impact on your attitude.
5| Don't forget where you came from. See, you can take the girl out of Kentucky. And even if she chooses not to make her life there as an adult, it doesn't mean that she doesn't love the people who raised her from the bottom of her heart, or that she doesn't appreciate the lessons she learned as a girl, the values that were instilled in her, or that she doesn't close her eyes every once in a while and remember the way the cool bluegrass felt under her bare feet. You can never, ever take the Kentucky out of the girl. And really... why would you want to? :)
6| Giving someone something you made with your own hands feels wonderful.
7| Giving someone something you bought with your own hard earned money feels wonderful too.
8| If your children cannot get along with each other, take my mother's example.... make those kids share a room. My two sisters and I can attest (multiple times) that this method works wonders. The two that are arguing most will spend so much darn quality time together that they'll have no choice but to get along. And possibly gang up on the other sister, resulting in then sharing a room with her instead. I slept with a pillow behind my back for months after I moved from my parents' home. That full-sized bed seemed so big after sharing it with a sister for years. :)
9| If you do have siblings, thank God for them every day. (Even when you're sharing a room.) Because one day, when you are pregnant with your first child, one of them will change her airline flight every day for two weeks to make sure she's at your side on the very day you give birth. And on your 34th birthday, the other one will go and do something like this and make you sob like a baby. Truly, I am the luckiest girl in the world for growing up with such sweetness in my life to this day.
10| Enjoy what each season brings. Snow. Crisp leaves. Warm sand. Soft grass. Someday you might move to Florida and beg for soft grass and crisp leaves, instead of crisp grass and soft leaves! (New Florida transplants are raising their hands right about now, cringing at being barefoot on St. Augustine grass.)
11| Be grateful for opportunities that come your way. I believe that everything happens for a reason, and I know that one choice can alter a life completely. So glad for the choices that have altered mine.
12| As far as birthday gifts go, there isn't anything better than a homemade card from your babies, and for your husband to take you out to dinner so that there is no prep or cleanup involved. I need nothing more to be happy than my sweet family. No jewelry can outshine those handmade crafts and some quality time.
13| Songs can bring back wonderful memories. And sad ones. And funny ones. (And for the record, I really miss mixed-tapes.) :)
14| A venti peppermint mocha can brighten the cloudiest of days (y'all knew I'd sneak a Starbucks in there, didn't ya?).
15| Cherish friendships like they are gold. Platinum, even. Nurture them and be thankful for those special people in your life. True friends are rare these days.
16| There is always enough time for one more kiss before bed. Or two more. Or ten more. Be grateful they want that affection from you, and give it freely.
17| Lying in the sun, on a warm beach, and being able to relax so deeply that you fall asleep.... is a glorious thing. Unless you're a mother. If your children are with you on that beach, you know that you can't take your eyes off them for a second. But watching your children laugh when the surf laps their toes, or watching them chase seagulls until everyone on the beach is laughing too, is a glorious thing in and of itself. And so much more amazing than any hour of slumber on the sand.
18| Speaking of slumber, when you bring your baby home from the hospital, heed the advice of those wise mothers who say, "Sleep while the baby sleeps." Seriously. Those dishes can wait.
19| The sound of a newborn baby's first cry is quite possibly the sweetest sound in the world. Fall in love with it. For when they are two years old, they begin to whine on a constant basis and it's not so sweet anymore. (Not that I know anything about that, of course.)
20| Never forget to say, "thank you". And, "please". And most importantly, "I'm sorry". Even when it's not your fault.
21| Have at least one go-to dinner menu with all those ingredients consistently in your pantry. Learn how to bake a homemade birthday cake, from scratch. Find out what his absolute favorite recipes are, and perfect them. Memorize the number for your local pizzeria just in case none of the above turns out well. ;)
22| There is beauty in light, and in shadow. And you cannot have one without the other. Learn to love them both equally.
23| Even when you have no makeup on, your hair is a mess, and you haven't had a shower all day, your children still think you're beautiful and they love you anyway. This isn't a trick. It's a gift that God gives us to make up for #17 above.
24| If someone offers to help you, by all means, let them help.
25| If you see someone who needs your help, and you're able to, then by all means, help them.
26| Most men (ahem, husbands, to be specific) want you to tell them exactly what you want. Subtlety is a complete waste of your time and energy. Be very kind about it, but tell them exactly what you need from them. Write it down if you have to. (Trust me on this one. Otherwise, you'll end up with a Lane Bryant gift card for Christmas when you are a size 2. That was a fun return.)
27| A Daddy will never forget if someone has broken the heart of his daughter. Mamas don't forget either.
28| You can never have too many books. Always too many toys, but never enough books.
29| Chocolate should be eaten often and without apology.
30| The best thing you can spend on your children is TIME.
31| When your kids are sick, just take it for granted that you're going to get sick too. Take an extra dose of vitamins and then curl up with them on the couch. Do not hold back attention and touch from them; snuggles are the best medicine and it will make you both feel better anyhow.
32| God will not give you more than you can bear. Rather, no more than He can help you bear. You're truly not alone.
33| Love what they love. Learn their love language and speak it to them. Spend time doing things that they think are important, not necessarily what you think is. Everything is significant.
34| Try something new. Even if it is five states away and means you'll have to sacrifice something you love. You never know what wonders await when you leap without knowing if the net is there.
Maybe next year I'll have 35 Things to share with you. ;)