26 and still going strong!

Today, I turned 26 years old.  It’s getting to that point where getting older is a little bittersweet.  You’re young enough to not feel “old”, but old enough to look back on many years of fond memories of your life so far.

I am also beginning to get less excited for birthdays the way I used to.  Not because I don’t want to get older, but because I’m not quite so anxious to find out what I got for gifts.  I remember as a kid I used to feel so bad for my parents because they’d get maybe 1 or 2 gifts for their birthday and Christmas.  Thoooooough not bad enough to spend my hard-earned chore money to get them something… *geez how selfish!*

I feel like it’s honestly just another day.  It’s turned into an excuse to finally go out to eat for the first time in months, or to finally go crazy and buy that nice Angus steak to make for dinner.  (I don’t even know if there’s an ‘Angus’ steak.  I just know Angus is the good stuff at McDonald’s… which probably says enough for me right there…  Either way you get my point.)

This morning I woke up tired and had a good amount of housework to get to.  We didn’t have anything exciting planned for the evening.

Five years ago this would have thoroughly depressed me if I knew that I wasn’t doing anything exciting, I didn’t have a party planned and I wasn’t traveling or anything.  Five years ago.. I was turning 21.  I took my birthday and the day after off of work.  I had a party planned, and I had a bar hopping trip planned.  I ripped through my cards and barely read the notes written in them.  *Plus, let’s be honest, you always hope for a check or cash to be inside…*  I rushed through my phone calls from family thanking them for the well wishes.  All I cared about was that I was a ‘big girl’ now and I could go drink that night with people I barely knew.

This year turned out so completely different from that though.. and I am so incredibly happy for that.

I woke up and started the morning routine.  I got the kids up, changed diapers, made bottles for the girls and breakfast for Buddy.  Today I even went as far as to make Buddy fried eggs and toast.  I fed the girls then got myself some coffee and breakfast and went over my ‘to do’ list for the day.

Throughout the day, while I was going about my usual business, I got calls from family and friends to congratulate me on my birthday and we all ended up staying on the phone longer than anticipated catching up on life.  If I didn’t get calls I got genuinely nice texts.  If not that, I got tons of Happy Birthday comments on Facebook from close friends and family and old high school acquaintances.  If not THAT I have been getting a number of happy birthday cards in the mail over the last week with the nicest comments inside.

My husband called me from work on his lunch to wish me a happy birthday and asked me about my day so far and we chatted a bit.  He normally doesn’t do that so I was really happy!

After that I decided to dig out our tent from the basement and set it up next to our fire-pit in the backyard.  I brought all the kids outside and opened up all the windows and doors in the tent and we played in there almost all afternoon.  We goofed around and laughed and had a little picnic lunch and played on the swing and even took a wagon ride around the yard.  It was so sweet to just play with my kids outside like that.  It was so carefree and fun!

Mid-afternoon my mother-in-law called me to wish me a happy birthday and offered to come over with ‘grandpa’ and watch the kids for us so we could go out to eat or something.  I was so touched that they’d offer to do that for us without us asking for it.  (Not to mention the absolutely awesome ‘relaxation set’ they gave me including big fluffy socks, a hot/cold shoulder wrap, a hot/cold face mask and so many other comfort based products. *SAHM goldmine!!*)

I called husband and asked him if he wanted to go out and he said sure, so after work his parents came over.  (Another plus.. we usually take the kids to them.  This time they came here!  If you have kids, you know how absolutely awful it is packing for a kid, much less multiple kids.)  We headed out to a local brewery restaurant and grabbed a bite to eat.  We hung out a little bit and chatted and laughed and had a good time just the two of us.  It really is so easy to be with him.

Afterwards we headed to Starbucks for a couple of drinks.  This was an amazing feat for two reasons.  We never go because it’s so crazy expensive to buy coffee and I can never convince husband to get anything with caffeine after noon.  Seriously… he doesn’t even hardly drink soda.  My MIL got us a couple of gift cards though and there was one nearby so we got crazy and hit it up on the way home.  Our favorite flavor of anything is “fall”.  Yes… “fall”.  For us fall is the best season, flavor, look and anything else you could possibly apply to the word.  His latte and my mocha were crammed full of ‘pumpkin’, ‘nutmeg’, ‘ginger’ and anything you could possibly imagine associated with fall flavors.  Not to mention the mocha itself.  Trust me, if we had money to kill I’d be at a coffee shop every day, twice a day.  I love it.  I honestly almost died of happiness on the first sip of that heavenly sea-salt spiced-pumpkin something-or-another mocha.  YUM.

We got home to find out all three kids went to bed early and husband’s parents left to go home soon after.  We popped in a movie and settled in to watch it together… on the same couch!  We always end up on opposite couches so we can sprawl out.  For some reason husband joined me on my couch tonight though.  It was awesome.

Now here I am.  10:50 PM on my birthday.  Tonight I’m not dressing to the nines and going out dancing and partying with good friends, friends I hardly know and acquaintances I don’t care to know.  I’m at home blogging excitedly about my little-more-than-average day.  I’m sitting here happily reminiscing about the genuinely nice things people have said to me all day long.  I’m reading through Facebook comments, messages, letters and cards from people I’ve hardly taken the time to get to know until recently.  So many of them telling me they’re glad they got to know me or they’re looking forward to seeing me again soon…

It just floors me that my life has changed so much.  What floors me even more is that I never took the time to get to know people better like I do now.  I can’t believe how often I didn’t take the time to catch up with friends and family.  I can’t believe I didn’t value their phone calls and cards more.  I can’t believe how immature and arrogant I was!

Now I’m looking at my day and I’m so happy with how it turned out.  I got to have a great picnic lunch with my three beautiful kids.  I got to talk to my husband during the work day.  I got to catch up with so many people who I wish I had more time for.  I’m realizing how many people are taking time out of their day, even if it’s only a few minutes, to recognize me and congratulate me.  It’s so amazing the things you overlook as a kid.

I think now that I have a family to look after, I’ve finally opened my heart to the aspect of giving for the sake of giving.  I’ve learned to take a step back and look at the big picture and how my actions affect everyone and everything around me.  I’ve learned that my life isn’t just about ME all the time.  It’s about doing what you can to give back.  I’ve learned to take the time to really build relationships to last.  I’m finally beginning to realize my full potential as a friend, family, wife and mother.  I’m realizing the impact I can have in other people’s lives, and I’m truly happy to do it.

I only wish I realized this sooner.  I can’t believe how good it feels.

I feel like this year, my birthday was more of a transition into truly ‘growing up’.  I feel like my birthday is still a special day, but it’s a time to step back and look at my progress.  It’s a time to look at how far I’ve come in building relationship and giving back.

This year, my gift was the overwhelming pride I felt when I stepped back and looked at my life.  I have an absolutely beautiful family, a wonderful husband, a huge group of kind and thoughtful extended family and an ever-growing group of true friends that I would do almost anything for.  I love every single one of you, and I want to thank you all for making my birthday so special to me this year.  Thank you all for helping me to grow into the person that I am today.

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