Showing posts with label Birthday Celebrations. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Birthday Celebrations. Show all posts

Things I Regret (And Don't) From My First 30 Years



It's here! This week the third decade of my life is coming to a close.  There is something more significant about those decade increments, and I wanted to mark it here on the blog in some way.

I've been toying with different blog post ideas.  I've seen some people doing "30 Things I Learned Before 30", but I couldn't bring myself to write a post like that.  Most 30 year olds are still in the I think-I-know-so-much-but-I-don't-realize-I-really-don't stage, and that includes me.  When I reflect back over the last 30 years, I don't think I'm qualified to offer anyone advice.  I know less now than I thought I knew at 20 years old!  I've spent too much time with people further down the road and much wiser than myself to offer anyone life lessons from a still relatively shallow well of experience.

What I can do though, is look back over these first decades of my life and say what I've regretted, and what I never will, so here we go.

What I Regret From My First 30 Years

Caring Too Much About What People Thought In My Teens

Doesn't every teen care too much about what their peer group thinks?  Yes.  Does every adult wish they had cared a little less about what their teenage peer group thought?  Probably also a yes.  I was so insecure as a teenager, and I can't say that I could have really done anything differently to change that - confidence must be earned in some way, must be grown into.  But I still wish teenage Callie could have had a little more spunk and individuality.

Going On The Birth Control Pill

This one is a bit of a mixed bag, because I am obviously so thankful to have the children I have, and our rather frustrating journey to parenthood brought them to me.  God is sovereign and always had a plan.  But I went on the pill unquestioningly right before I got married, and I didn't know about it's potential abortifacient effect, which conflicts with my pro-life beliefs.  I didn't know it would seriously mess up my hormones so that when we were ready to start trying for a baby, things wouldn't work right.  I'll always wonder if there could have been another child, I'll always wish I did a little more research about birth control before succumbing to that cultural norm.  I just didn't know.

Not Getting Serious About Budgeting Sooner

This year I finally realized that grown-ups should have budgets.  I feel stupid even typing that.  It's not that I had no budget at all through my 20's, I knew what I had to spend each month and I had varying success at staying within that limit.  I didn't really overspend (except for one dark period between 2014-2015), but I didn't think enough about future goals and plans.  I didn't "give every dollar a job".  When I think of all the dollars I have wasted by allowing them to slip away without a plan every month, it makes me kind of sick.  I wish I had taken one of those financial peace classes or read more about making and managing a budget before I got my first grown-up paycheck.

Not Witnessing To My Coworkers

I got a job at a great dental office the year after we got married, and I worked there until I got pregnant with Clarice.  My sister even worked there for a while, which was so fun.  That office saw me through the birth of three of my babies, and I so appreciated the people there.  I worked there for almost 7 years.  And in all that time, I was too chicken to witness to my coworkers.  I was a good employee, and I know some will say that you should "preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words", but let's be honest, that's a cop-out.  No one ever got saved without the use of words.  I should have loved them enough to be vocal.  I kind of wonder if the Lord took me out of that job because I was blowing my chances to tell them about Jesus.  To me, this will always be one of my biggest failures.  From an eternal perspective, it feels like a waste.

Not Filming My Kids More

Not to toot my own horn, but I have kind of knocked it out of the park when it comes to taking pictures of my kids and documenting their babyhood.  But I've also had a video camera in my back pocket for years now, and I'm such a slacker on filming them!  In "my next 30 years" (you know I couldn't resist that country song reference!), I want to get better at filming their childhoods, before they slip away.



What I'll Never Regret

Putting My Trust In Jesus For My Salvation

Let's start with the most obvious one!  When I was four years old I asked Jesus "into my heart", and over the next years I learned and grew into my faith, made it my own.  I will never, ever regret asking Jesus to save me from my sin, turning to Him alone to save my soul.  It was the best decision I ever made, no matter how long I live.  I am so thankful for my Savior.

Being Homeschooled

When I was 8 years old, my mom made the decision to pull me out of public school.  She did this at a time when homeschooling was not common, and looking back at it now, I so admire her bravery.  I am thankful every day for her decision. Being homeschooled allowed me space to stop thinking so much about what other kids thought, and start caring a little more about what God thought.  That first regret in the list above could have been so much bigger.  That decision by my mom to homeschool me became a major part of my testimony - without it, I don't know if I would have grown in my faith or walked with the Lord through high school at all.  It's a big reason why I always knew I'd homeschool my kids.  I wouldn't be who I was today without it, and I never look back at homeschooling and feel that I missed out on anything.  Instead, I gained something precious from it.

Getting Married Young

When I was still in hygiene school, I remember walking into the office one day with a sparkly ring on my finger.  I was so happy and excited.  I remember one of the front office ladies looking at me with concern.  "Are you sure?  You are so young.  What is the rush?"  She didn't get it, and a lot of people didn't get it.  They didn't understand that I was committed to not sleeping with anyone before marriage, so living together was not an option.  They didn't get why I didn't care to "have some fun" first (marriage is fun, people!).  They didn't recognize that when you already know you're going to marry this person, there is really no point in waiting just for the sake of waiting.  They didn't think a 20 year old was mature enough to make that kind of decision.  But we were absolutely committed to each other, and we got over every rough spot together.  I love him more now than I did then.  Did I have growing up to do?  Yes, but I got to grow up with my husband next to me, my best friend.  I'll never regret marrying him young.

Not Drinking

That whole "drink a little more lemonade, and not so many beers" (you know, from the song?) does not apply to me!  There are a multitude of reasons why I don't drink, and I won't get into it here.  That could be a whole other post, and it is a post I've attempted to tackle several times but was never satisfied enough with the result to share.  I think there is liberty here for Christians, so I'm not going to judge you if you do have a drink (without getting drunk, of course, see Ephesians 5:18).  But I absolutely think it was a great decision for me to never open that door.  I don't want it or need it to relax (a bubble bath and chocolate does the trick), I don't need it to have fun (I honestly feel sorry for people that do), and let's just think for a minute about the money I've saved over the years by not creating that (potentially addictive and risky) habit.  I don't imagine I'll regret not having a drink in my next 30 years either.

Having Children In My 20's

I started having babies in my early 20's, and had my last baby in my late 20's.  People are always surprised at how young I am, considering I have five kiddos, and sometimes they're even a little judgey about it.  But I'm quite happy with how it turned out.  I'll graduate my first child at 40, and probably my last before I hit 50.  When you are young you have more energy, and I'll hopefully be a younger grandma, which will be fun.  I might even get to see my great grandchildren, like my grandparents have.  Having babies young isn't always possible, and I want you all to know that my heart aches for every woman who wants to be a mama, and for whatever reason she can't.  I know young motherhood isn't possible for everyone.  But I don't regret it a bit.  I personally don't see anything but positives attached to becoming a mom when I was young. I'm glad we didn't wait too long.

Having A Big Family

I've written about this at length, so I'll keep it short here, but goodness, I'm so thankful for my five kids.  Our house is loud and chaotic and full to the brim with joy, and I wouldn't change a single thing.  I'm so proud of my big family.

Quitting My Job To Stay Home Full-Time

There was a crossroads in my life a few years ago.  When my first three kids were little, I was able to work just one day a week.  I didn't have to be away from them very much, and was still able to supplement our income.  It was a blessing.  Then things started shifting, becoming a little more stressful at work, and they told me they needed me to work more days per week.  I hated the thought of giving up that job at the time.  But I didn't want to spend more time away from my kids, especially with another baby on the way and kindergarten looming (I wanted to homeschool).  After I quit, I felt so free (and also a little guilty and insecure about no longer contributing my "extra" to our income, but that was silly and I got over it).  I don't think I ever realized how much even just one day a week was taking from my energy, and now I have it back to give at home.  If you are a working mom, I'm not trying to send you a message, so don't read this section that way, please.  But for me, I'm so glad I let that job go and came home full-time.

Starting This Blog

If I'm totally honest, I struggle with this little online space sometimes.  Blogging has changed so much, and I've changed so much too.  There are times I still love having a place to share my thoughts, and times when I am afraid the whole thing is pointless.  But as I write this today, I'm glad I've documented the last decade here.  Would I remember so much of my 20's if I hadn't taken time to write about it?  Without this space, would I have slowed down, formed my thoughts enough to be able to look back now and see God's hand in the journey from 20 to 30?  I don't really think so.  I don't know what the future holds for this blog.  My children are growing, and life keeps speeding up.  I imagine it will look different in another 10 years than it does today.  But I'm so glad I take some time to write about my life here, and God's hand in it all, if for no one else than for me, to stand as my "ebenezer".  It's a reminder of God's goodness to me.  I don't regret writing here.  And thanks to all of you who have read my posts and stuck with me through the years.  Without you, I don't know if I'd have this record at all.

And just for fun, remember that unofficial 30-year-old beach shoot from my vacation?  Here are the outtakes.  The tide was coming in, and the waves just kept coming in higher, and that water was cold!













Here's to the next 30 years!



My Darling Gwen, You Are Five.



Dear Gwen,

I'm sitting here on the evening of your fifth birthday to write this letter.  I can't believe you are five years old!  You have grown before my eyes in so many ways this year, and I see your unique personality coming out more day by day.

My favorite thing about you right now is how much you love to laugh.  

You are constantly making jokes or coming up with funny games to play with your brothers and sisters, and I often hear your laugh ringing through the house (or the car).  You are such a little extrovert, but at the same time, when you are in a new environment you can be pretty shy, with just a quiet smile on your face. 

Something you seem to be especially good at is any gymnastic-type activities.  You'll come running into the kitchen and ask me to come watch you, and then you'll flip upside down and backwards off the bed, or do an almost-cartwheel, or prop yourself up against something into a "head stand".  You love to dance, especially if it's like a ballerina.  I bought you a book this year with ballet positions in it, and you ask me to put on music so you can practice your "skeels".

I would be remiss if I didn't take a chance here to mention your memory.  You remember the words to an impressive amount of songs for a five year old.  You even know the words to songs I don't know (thanks to Dad listening to old '80's songs in the car with you!).  Lately I've been able to watch you apply your memory skills to Bible verses and catechism questions, and it gives me so much joy to hear you hiding God's word and truth in your heart.

Almost every morning I come upstairs to find you drawing something, or creating something out of paper.  It's like you just have all this creativity bundled up inside you, waiting for a quiet minute when it can bubble over.  I can't wait to see everything you make and do with that creativity, Sweetheart.

Whenever I ask someone to grab us a book to read, you are the first to jump up and pick one out.  It is fun to see what kinds of books you gravitate toward, because I realize that they are the same types of books I loved when I was a girl.  You've been asking to learn to read, and I am so excited to share all my favorite books with you as you grow!  We are going to have so much fun with kindergarten this year.

One of the sweetest character traits I see you developing is your eagerness to help.  I can't even remember a time when I asked for your help and you weren't completely happy to do the task.  I especially love to see the way you have jumped into helping your little siblings with both feet.  You love being a big sister, and you've been such a help and joy to me since we added the baby this year.  You have such a giving heart, and you do every task with a cheerfulness that amazes me. I could learn a lot from you, my sweet darling.  God truly gave me a wonderful gift when He gave me you, and I am so blessed to have the privilege of being your mom.  

I love you always,  

Mama


Gwen Girl At Four


Every year I try to write a birthday letter to each of the kids, with some special characteristics or memory of them at that moment in time.  However, somehow last year Gwen's birthday letter never got posted, and since I'm focusing on memory-keeping this month, I thought this was a good opportunity to catch up.  This is what I wrote for my sweet Gwen's 4th birthday, which is in December!  It's probably good that I'm sharing this since her 5th birthday letter will be due in a couple months!

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My Sweet Gwen Ruby,

I can't believe I'm typing your 4th birthday letter.  Even as I was thinking about what I wanted to say, I kept thinking you were three years old.  I lost a year somewhere.

Your request this year was for a Minnie Mouse birthday party, and your favorite gift was your Minnie Mouse dress-up dress.  You look absolutely adorable in it, your brown eyes shining.

I think one of my favorite things about 4-year-old you is how creative you are.  Almost every morning I'll hear your little feet tripping across the floor upstairs, the drawer opening, and skipping steps back to your room.  You sneak paper and crayons and scissors into your room, and I am trying to look past the mess because it's amazing all the creations you come up with.  You're my little budding artist (and dancer), and I love that about you.

This year you asked Jesus to come into your heart and forgive your sins, and it was the sweetest little moment, Darling.  You carried your new Bible so proudly to church the next day.  You'll understand more and more about our Savior and His sacrifice for us through reading His Word in the coming years, but what a sweet little foundation you have to build on now.

My darling, you are such an important part of this family.  For lack of a better word, you sparkle.  I'll just look at you sometimes, and you'll stare back at me with those big brown eyes, and I can see your happy spirit sparkling behind them.  You cheer up my days Sweetie, and I love you more than I can say.  I don't deserve such a sweet, beautiful girl as you.


Happy Birthday, Baby Girl!

-Mama



A Birthday Letter To My Three Year Old


Dear Clyde,

Last week you turned three years old.  It's the right of every mother on her child's birthday to say, "I can't believe you're that old already!", so I'm saying it again - how have three years passed since you were born?  I still remember screaming and pushing and opening my eyes to see you held up in front of me, your little red face scrunched up in a cry.  They gave you to me and you snuggled into my chest and stopped crying.  You've been my sweet snuggler ever since.

Sometimes you'll crawl on the couch with me now.  And sometimes I might be frustrated with you because you've been crying over something, and I don't know why - but you look at me and say "Mama, I want a hug."  And in those little moments you make me slow down, and cuddle you, and treasure your sweet smallness. These days when just a hug will solve all your woes.



You are my little conversationalist, with a million questions, and a million ideas of how things work.  You are a shockingly good communicator for just turning three.  We moved you up to the middle seat in the van this year, and the moment we did, you started talking my ear off.  Now you had my attention; now I was close enough in the van to hear everything you said.  And I love it, I love having you close and hearing all your thoughts.  Your sister is asking to move up, and you are asking to move back with your brother...and though I know it will be just as much a joy to hear all of her thoughts, I'm going to miss you too, way back there in the van.



Everyday you seem to find a way to make me stop and appreciate your stage, our stage.  I can be having the worst day ever, and you'll pipe up and say "You're the best mama ever!"  "You look pretty, Mama." or "I love you so much!"  And suddenly it's impossible not to see what a precious time this is, and to be grateful for every second.  You help these years to not just pass in a blur, my sweet boy.  And I will be forever grateful to God for making you mine.

Happy Birthday, Sweet Clyde!

Love,

Mama


A "PJ Masks" Birthday



I was not aware until recently that PJ Masks is a new show, but in our house, we are all in.  My kids know the theme song.  They come up with PJ Masks stories to play out.  Even Derek will sit down and watch an episode with them in the evenings and chuckle at it!

Last week was Wyatt's 6th birthday.  I cannot believe that my baby is six years old!  I still remember that surreal moment when he was born, with his tiny little cry, and the tears that were streaming down my face.  This kiddo is something special, and I love him so much.

It's The Day After The Day After Christmas




Which also means that it's my sweet girl's and husband's birthday!  If you are new around here, you might not have read Gwen's birth story, but trust me, go read it.  It's a good one.  

I am having a hard time believing that she is four years old, and I'm not sure why.  It just struck me this morning that she is four years old.  At age three it seems like there is still a bit of baby left in them, but she is solidly in the "big" little girl stage now, and I'm rather sad.  Of course, my sadness may also have something to do with the fact that a recent crop of pregnancy announcements are making me sentimental since I'll probably never have another pregnancy announcement, and I get nostalgic around the New Year, and I am on a sugar low from all those Christmas cookies.

Let's Talk About Christmas

That's a nice segue, so let's talk about Christmas!  Last week I spent three solid days baking.  In years past, Derek and I used to throw away so many Christmas goodies that had gone stale, so for a while I was limiting our Christmas treats.  But this year I went a little crazy again because I have four kids who are able to eat the extra cookies now!  We are still living off cookies and cheeseballs, and probably will be all week.  I may just eat a ginger cookie (my favorite) for breakfast.

We had a lovely three-day Christmas - my side of the family on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day we officially stayed home and had our own family Christmas, and then the day after (yesterday) we saw Derek's side of the family.  It was a beautiful celebration, and I have a bunch of cute pictures, but unfortunately you won't get to see them today because it'll probably take me all afternoon to sort and edit them, and I don't want to get out of my Tuesday old-fashioned blogging habit.  For now, here's a picture of me from baking last week that I shot by propping my camera up on a bunch of books.



What Did We Get?

I'm glad you asked!  I record this here for posterity's sake, and so I don't buy the same things two years down the road because I forgot what I already got the kids.  Feel free to comment and tell me what you got for Christmas too!

This was a fun year to shop for the kids because they actually had opinions about what they wanted, and I was confident they would like their presents.  We gave them three presents each, and then a couple family gifts of games and books.  

Wyatt is five years old, and he got a talking Percy (from Thomas The Train), a Paw Patrol scooter (it was just plain black, but I put Paw Patrol stickers on it - it was a big hit), and a remote control truck.  He wanted the huge (expensive) one, but I just got him the largest remote control vehicle I could without breaking the budget!

Gwen is (now) four years old, and she got a Melissa And Doug magnetic doll set, a Disney princess mini guitar, and a new baby doll with a doll cradle.  Gwen proceeded to tuck her new baby doll in the cradle with a bottle, and rock the doll while serenading her with "Jingle Bells" on her guitar.

Clyde is two years old, and he got a talking Percy (same as Wyatt - they both love trains), a wooden train track set (Percy will go on it), and a large remote control Thomas.  Do you notice a theme here? When I asked Clyde what he wanted all he said was "trains!".

Clarice is one year old, and she got wooden magnetic blocks, a wooden Melissa And Doug key/lock house with wooden doll figures, and a Baby Stella.  Apparently Baby Stella is a big thing right now?  All I know is that I had to get a Baby Stella for her because she saw it in the store and grinned at it from the cart, and when I handed it to her she kissed it's face.  Her reaction on Christmas morning was the same!  



Me - Derek got me a bunch of good stuff!  I got four Yankee candles!  I'm a little picky about my candles, and I like Yankee because they really fill up the room with scent.  I got "Sparkling Snow" "Crackling Winter", "Happy Tonight", and "Beach Walk", and they should last me the rest of the winter into spring. I also got a hand-lettering book, an artist pen and brush pen with India ink (to practice lettering), and a book of Emily Dickinson poems, because I told Derek I wanted to read more poetry.  Watch out now, I'll soon be firing lines of poetry at you all I'm sure!

I got Derek Starbucks white chocolate syrup so he can make his own white mochas at work, a Technic race cart lego set (those things are complicated!), gel boxing gloves for when he works out, and the game of Risk.  We ended up playing Risk the rest of Christmas Day, and I have yet to win a game when we are playing for world domination.  Give me some time though.  I've decided I should stop focusing on conquering Asia because it's a lost cause, and I'm feeling really good about the next round hopefully tonight (though I should probably let him win on his birthday, huh?).

Back To The Birthdays

Last night we got home late and I dug into the birthday decorations.  Gwen wanted a Minnie Mouse birthday party, and it's really important to me to make sure to individually recognize Gwen and Derek's birthday since it's so close to Christmas.  Christmas-time birthdays are easy to forget, and I made a vow never to wrap birthday presents in Christmas paper (we got Gwen dress-up clothes in a lovely shoe-and-purse birthday paper), and to always decorate and have a cake. 

Derek and I stayed up late decorating for Gwen, but he was a bit bummed that everything was pink and purple, so I snuck downstairs and decorated the bathroom door with streamers and balloons and birthday notes so he would see them before he went off to work.  Perhaps an odd place to decorate, but I was going for the surprise factor.

So if you need me today, I'll be sorting toys and putting away Christmas presents, baking a cake, and trying to lug Derek's ginormous present out of the shed by myself.  I don't think he's reading this today, so I'll tell you what it is.  DEREK, STOP READING NOW!
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I got him a basketball hoop!  It is massive and heavy, and we probably won't be able to set it up until spring, but I am confident he will be fully surprised!

Old-School Blogger Shout-Out

If you don't know what I mean by "old school bloggers", check out my posts from the last couple weeks (here and here), in which I bemoan the loss of old-fashioned blogging and resolve to get back to it, and attempt to encourage others who are doing the same.

First, Emily from Live A Charmed Life!  Emily has been so consistent at maintaining the relationship side of blogging by sharing about her sweet family on her blog and also caring about other people's doings as well.  She's a long-time blog friend of mine!

Second, Brittney from With Eager Hands!  Brittney is also a long-time blog friend who is getting back into old-fashioned blogging with me, and you have to read about the stars on her ceiling (it's making me kind of jealous actually)!

Go visit their blogs and say hello!  These girls are getting the shout-out this week because I know they are the kind of bloggers that will comment back, and as I said last week, I think that is a big part of what we are all missing.  

Feliz Navidad (is it too late to say that?) until next week, at which point I will regale you with all my New Year's thoughts and opinions (I am pretty opinionated about the holiday).

(Our Christmas outfit photo from this year. I really actually love snow. People like to complain about it, but how can anyone deny how pretty it is?)


What I'm Drinking: Junior Mint hot chocolate, which my sister got us for Christmas.  Junior Mint hot chocolate!  Is it just me, or does that sound fantastic?


Woodland Tea Party (First Birthday Party!)





At the end of September we had Clarice's first birthday party!  I have probably been planning and mulling over this party more than most of the other ones I've thrown, and I picked my theme months ago when I ordered our gorgeous invitations.  Despite all my mental planning, I didn't actually buy anything else until a week before her party, but I am happy with the way it turned out!































Details

Tissue paper flowers: I made them from a kit that I got on clearance at Joann's - they were so easy!  You could easily make them without a kit, and maybe one of these days I'll do a post (or find one already written) to show you how.

String of balloons: The best idea I ever got from Pinterest.

Lemon drops and tea cups: The tea cups I have had for a while - whenever I find a pretty on in an antique shop I snag it, so they were perfect for my "tea party" vision.

Rose-shaped dessert mints: My mom made these for Clarice's party with an old family recipe!  They fit in perfectly with all the decor.  Thanks, Mom!

Tea pot: I've been wanting one anyway, so when I saw this Pioneer Woman tea pot at Walmart, I figured this was the perfect excuse to buy it!

Milk bottles with chalkboard tags:  I bought some extra milk bottles, because these are my favorite cups for the kids - if they leave them around the house, they kind of look decorative!  I added some chalkboard tags with these little cut-outs that I found at Hobby Lobby for $3.

Chalkboard: My attempt at hand-lettering!  Don't laugh.

Water bottles: I got some scrapbook paper that looked like aspen tree bark to replace the water bottle labels, and I taped them on with pretty washi tape.  The mint-colored tub I already had (Hobby Lobby).

Punch: Cranberry juice and Squirt.  It's simple and very good.

White cabinet: Can you believe I won that in an Instagram giveaway?  It was very exciting.

Small "dot" banner: Minted!

"Happy Birthday Clarice" banner: Minted!

"Sips" and "Treats" table signs: Minted!

Cupcake toppers: You guessed it - also part of the Minted party kit I received earlier this year!

Cupcakes: I made those, strawberry cake mix, store-bought strawberry frosting.  Keeping it simple.

Jello Popcorn: See recipe here, minus the peanuts.

White chocolate leaves: I made those with Almond Bark chocolate and some leaf molds.

Flowers and Aspen tree candle holder: Hobby Lobby.  I just loved the candle holders when I saw them, and it was very convenient since I could use them for Clarice's party too!

THE CAKE:  All caps, because I am so proud of it!  My sister made this cake - isn't she amazing?  All I told her was that I wanted an "aspen tree stump", and the cake turned out better than I even imagined!

Glitter candle: I saw it on another Instagram account, and when I tried to find it again later to look at her DIY, I couldn't find it!  So I just winged it and used Elmer's glue and glitter to cover a "1" candle.  It worked out nicely.

Banner cake topper: I got the little triangle cutouts at Hobby Lobby and strung them between two paper straws that I already had.

Clarice's birthday dress: I found it on Taylor Joelle last year, and it just happened to work perfectly as her party dress!

Headband: I bought it from this shop.

So there you go!  A year's worth of mental planning, and now it's over.  It's a little sad really - where did the last year go?  HOW IS MY BABY ONE?!   It's cliche, but it really does go by too fast.









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