Checking In: 30 Before 30

I turned 27 this month. This provoked a mild existential crisis (in which the voices in my head kept whispering, “Almost thirty… Almoooost thiiiiirty… Are those crooooow’s feeeeet by your eyyyyyes?“) that was only offset by the realization that Dairy Man would turn 28 in two weeks. If nothing else, I still have my older man. DM tests out every age for me before I arrive. Isn’t that nice of him?

27 seems like a good time to break the blog’s summer hiatus and check in on my “30 Things to Do Before I’m 30” list. I’ve made process in some areas, refused to skydive in others. There are things in life that terrify me (#12) that DON’T come with a chance of this:

Drunk plane

Go home, plane, you’re drunk.

So, I haven’t skydived…dove. But I am ready to detail the remaining 15 items on the list (check out the first 15 here), and give you a sense of how the 30 are going. It’s all about accountability.

16. Say “I’m sorry” more than 50 percent of the time
I am stubborn, opinionated, and bask in being right. But as my parents taught me, marriage (and life) is not about being right. It’s about compromise, humility, and grace. I want the words “I’m sorry” to become less of a poisonous extraction and more of a gracious offering.

17. Talk to my grandparents each week via phone or email
I think I’ve gotten a little lazy on this one since both of my grandmothers hopped on Facebook. That’s almost human interaction, right? But seriously. Over the course of my life, I’ve been lucky enough to know all four of my grandparents. They were at every play, choir concert, and birthday throughout my childhood. I want to make it a priority to stay in touch with my three remaining g-rents. It’s good for the soul. Plus, there’s usually some delicious lasagna or homemade frosting involved.

18. Drink a $50-100 bottle of wine (and see if I can tell the difference)
DM and I love a good glass of dry, oaky red wine. But our definition of “good” wine is typically around $15. We’re not the Rockafellers, people. I’ve always wanted to try an expensive bottle of wine to see if my tastes are as refined as I think they are.

19. Complete family photo yearbooks for 2010, 2011, and 2012
I’m already 2/3 of the way through with this one. Like many people, I have approximately a bazillion photos just sitting on my computer. So I decided to create annual family photo yearbooks on Shutterfly to preserve the memories. Plus, it’s nice to have something on the coffee table besides dairy magazines.

20. Purchase coffee for a stranger behind me in the Starbucks drive-thru
Once I was driving through Starbucks in need of a grande dirty chai. When I got up to the window, the girl wearing the headset said, “You don’t owe anything. The lady before you took care of it.” I was flabbergasted. I’ve always wanted to pay forward the kindness. Because, really, the best way to show your humanity is through caffeinated beverages.

21. Create something with my Instagram photos
Since getting my iPhone in the summer of 2012, I have documented our life on the farm with hundreds of Instagram photos. It’s well and good to have these photos living on my phone, but I want to do something with them. I’m thinking a poster for the basement.

22. Upgrade to a DSLR camera
I barely even know what this means, but I do know that iPhone photos just don’t cut it in the blogging world. I want to learn how to use a fancy camera and take photos of our dairy and Jersey the dog to the next level.

23. Teach Jersey a new trick
I might be biased, but, um, my dog is the smartest dog in the world. Now that he’s two years old, he has increased capacity to do awesome things. I recently taught him how to high-five, but I think “stick ’em up” might be next.

24. Spend an entire weekend unplugged
Dairy Man and I got into a scuffle over this one. While I think the idea of a of weekend free of laptops, iPads, and cell phones sounds relaxing and cleansing, all he could say is “No way! What if my employees need me!?” The man can’t fathom ever being away from his phone. So my plan is to combine this one with #10 and actually force him to leave the U.S. sometime in the next three years. Because not even a dairy man wants to pay $20 a minute to chat with his employees from a Caribbean beach.

25. Refurbish an old piece of furniture
I bought an old mid-century dresser for $60 from a thrift store in 2011. It has great bones but needs a lot of love. This is the year that I’m finally going to USE one of those 43,563 furniture painting tutorials on Pinterest and stop telling people who enter my dining room, “Don’t mind that ugly credenza; I need to refinish it.”

26. Make a list of birthdays and addresses and send cards
My friends can count on fun-filled birthday texts or FB messages, but there’s nothing like snail mail. I want to start sending physical cards. With handwritten notes. Maybe this will help me check off #1.

27. Pay off our student loans
Dairy Man and I finished college almost five years ago and are so close to paying off our loans that I can taste it. Between now and 30, we will pay off every last cent and say “sayonara!” to loan payments. Dave Ramsey would be so proud.

28. Find an active outdoor activity DM and I can do together
Two things that Dairy Man and I need more of (in my opinion) is quality time and exercise. I want to kill two birds with one stone and find an outdoor activity we both love. Are we hikers? Bikers? Runners? Vine swingers? Tennis players? Parkour-ers? Only time will tell.

29. Have a baby
DM and I have always known that we want a family. By the time I’m 30, I want to have at least one heir to the dairy throne around the house. If nothing else, we could use some more farmhands.

30. Write a letter to myself to be opened on my 30th birthday
I’d better get cracking on this one. If the past 27 years are any indication, a LOT can happen in three years. I want to make sure I don’t forget where I’ve been.

So, how’s the whole list going? Let’s check in.

  1. Send 25 handwritten notes
  2. Drink a large glass of water before every meal We do this faithfully
  3. Read at least one book every two months
  4. Visit our friends in Salt Lake City This hasn’t actually happened yet, but DM and I purchased plane tickets and will be jetting out to SLC in August!
  5. Milk a cow
  6. Take a girls trip to Vegas
  7. Try ten new restaurants in West Michigan
  8. Have at least one official date night a month
  9. Host a dinner party After reading this book, I really had no choice. My dining room table hosted an excellent dinner party for 10 of my girlfriends
  10. Go on an actual vacation with DM Will be accomplished the same time as #4
  11. See a show at Second City in Chicago
  12. Do something that absolutely terrifies me
  13. Go to five plays or musicals
  14. Run the Fifth Third Riverbank 5K  I donned stylish running tights and blazed through this race on May 11, 2013. 29:30 wasn’t a bad time for someone who didn’t train one iota! 
  15. Spend a day with each sibling doing something they choose, paid for by me
  16. Say “I’m sorry” more than 50 percent of the time
  17. Talk to my grandparents each week via phone or email
  18. Drink a $50-100 bottle of wine (and see if I can tell the difference)
  19. Complete family photo yearbooks for 2010, 2011, and 2012  Two books down, one to go
  20. Purchase coffee for a stranger behind me in the Starbucks drive-thru
  21. Create something with my Instagram photos
  22. Upgrade to a DSLR camera
  23. Teach Jersey a new trick I taught him how to high-five, but as mentioned, I have plans for other tricks
  24. Spend an entire weekend unplugged
  25. Refurbish an old piece of furniture
  26. Make a list of birthdays and addresses and send cards
  27. Pay off our student loans
  28. Find an active outdoor activity DM and I can do together
  29. Have a baby
  30. Write a letter to myself to be opened on my 30th birthday

Yikes. There’s a lot to do between 27 and 30! Some will be easy (buying coffee for a stranger) and others will be challenging (like trying to find time for date nights during corn harvest), but I’m looking forward to checking things off the list.

With a handsome fella like this at my side, how could I fail?

DM stache

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The First 15 + Paul Harvey

The grayness of February can almost quash the hope and enthusiasm of a new year, but I’m staying motivated. Proof? Dairy Man and I have been eating a lot of quinoa and Greek yogurt, I’ve been making the bed almost every day, and I am making plans to check things off my 30 Things To Do Before I’m 30 list.

Today I’d like to explain how some of these 30 items found their way onto my not-a-bucket list. Let’s start with the first 15.

1. Send 25 handwritten notes
I might be an odd duck …well, let me rephrase… I know I’m an odd duck, but I am one of those nostalgic wallowers who fondly remembers the days of snail mail and pen pals. There is just something about receiving a handwritten note. It feels more special somehow. Unless you have handwriting like my doctor. Then stick to the computer, caveman.

2. Drink a large glass of water before every meal
This one comes straight out of The Skinny Rules by Bob Harper. You might know Bobbo from a little (or is it large?) TV show called The Biggest Loser. DM and I have embarked on a healthy eating regime in 2013 and one of our rules comes from Bob: always drink a large glass of water before a meal. It keeps you hydrated and keeps you from feeling hungrier than you are. Win/win.

3. Read at least one book every two months.
I wanted to say “read a book every week,” but let’s be real here, people. I don’t want to set myself up for failure. I love to read, but something about my old pre-30 age causes me to fall asleep every time I pick up a book at night. One every two months seems realistic. I’m starting with an interesting look at French parenting.

4. Visit our friends in Salt Lake City
DM’s childhood best friend is a lovable long-haired hippie named Mark. Mark was the best man in our wedding and now lives in Salt Lake City. We don’t get to see him very often, so we want to journey west to soak up some Mark-time, snowboard/ski, and ogle the Mormons.

5. Milk a cow
Oh, the controversy. I still vividly remember the piece of advice from a farm wife at my wedding: “Whatever you do, don’t learn how to milk. Because if you know how, you might have to!” While I don’t want to find myself on the shift list, I do think it’s about time for me to try sticking one of those sucker-thingies on a cow’s udder. But I promise you, I won’t “learn” a thing.

6. Take a girls trip to Vegas
I don’t gamble, but I hear it’s warm there. Even my grandpa said it’s worth going once. And everyone loves a girls trip. Plus, I think I’ll have a much easier time getting the ladies into a Celion Dion show than my dear Dairy Man.

7. Try ten new restaurants in West Michigan
West MI, particularly the Grand Rapids area, is bursting with new restaurants and microbreweries. It is my mission to stray from our usual haunts and try something new! It’s much easier to do in a big city like Chicago, but I’ve got three years.

8. Have at least one official date night a month
DM and I have a terrible time making date nights a priority. The hardest part is that we live at least 45 minutes from “anything to do.” Date nights typically have to be intentional and will almost always involve driving. It’s my goal to have one of these bad boys every month – no sweatpants allowed.

9. Host a dinner party
After over two years of marriage and an empty dining room, we finally bought a large table last fall. This baby can seat eight and gives the dinner-goer a great view of cows frolicking in the pasture. Now that we have a table, it’s time to use it! Who wants to come to my house for sweet potato and black bean burritos?

10. Go on an actual vacation with Dairy Man
As you might recall, my dear husband does not vacation well. It’s almost impossible for a farmer to tear himself away from the dairy for a weekend, much less an entire week. But my psyche needs a break. A break that lasts longer than two days and doesn’t involve 3 a.m. phone calls from the dairy. I want to explore a new place and make some new memories with DM.

11. See a show at Second City in Chicago
When I lived in beautiful Chitown I never made it to Second City. Any place that spawned Tina Fey and Will Ferrel has to be awesome. And I want to go to there.

12. Do something that absolutely terrifies me
I’m not a risk taker, just ask the Dairy Man. Sure, I’ll dance like a fool in the rain and boldly try weird-looking vegetables, but I steer away from anything that truly makes my knees knock. But I’m young, and this is the time of life to take some risks. Some might argue that I take a risk simply by living on a dairy farm (I mean, what if the cows get out and I’m trampled in a stampede!?), but I need to stretch myself before the big 3-0. I’ll almost certainly be better for it.

13. Go to five plays or musicals
As a former thespian, I love going to the theater. In the next three years, I want to see at least five new shows. We have a few local theaters with tempting offerings and I am dying to see The Book of Mormon in Chicago.

14. Run the Fifth Third Riverbank 5K
Already half done with this one: I officially signed up last week! Now I just need to get my butt into gear and actually start, oh, I don’t know … exercising. I ran the Color Run last summer with absolutely zero training or preparation, but my shins would prefer I work up to this 5K a little more gradually this year. Wish me luck on May 11.

15. Spend a day with each sibling doing something they choose, paid for by me
Though my little sister and brother only live 60 minutes from my hamlet in Smalltown, I don’t see them very often. It’s really a shame. Thus, I want to take a day to smother each one of them in embarrassing sister love.

Phew. I’m exhausted already. But there’s something very motivating about setting goals and sharing them with my five friends out here in cyberland.

And one more thing before I go. I would be remiss if I left the awesomeness of Ram’s Super Bowl ad pass us by! Dairy Man is still preening today. This is certainly a bit of an outdated folksy look at the world of farming, but it’s not entirely inaccurate. I’ve never seen DM splint the wing of a meadow lark, but I HAVE seen him “finish his forty hour week by Tuesday noon” before. Oof. Remind me to tell you about the time he worked 120 hours in one week. Till then, enjoy Paul Harvey:

30 Things To Do Before I’m 30

Ah, 2013, a squeaky clean new year. A time for renewed hope, motivation, and healthy eating habits. I’d like to think that our bovine ladies get into the spirit too, making resolutions to increase their milk production, gossip less around the water trough, or really commit to getting pregnant.

I don’t write resolutions, but I do like taking a breath each January to think about my dreams and goals.

photo

I was inspired to write this post by Sarah of Project Soiree and Mackenzie of Design Darling. But while these ladies chose to list 101 goals for 1001 days, I decided to take a slightly different approach. My non-mathematical brain couldn’t wrap around the idea of 1001 days (approximately 2.7424657 years), and 101 was too tall an order for a post that Dairy Man claimed “deviated from important things like manure and artificial insemination.”

Thus I landed on: 30 Things to Do Before I’m 30.

What I like is that Mackenzie and Sarah didn’t write “bucket lists.” Bucket lists overwhelm me. Of course I want to wine taste around Italy, trek to Machu Picchu with my sherpa, write a bestselling novel, speak French fluently, and get a jetpack. Who doesn’t? But these high, lofty goals can take a lifetime to accomplish. You’re talking to a girl who writes tasks on her to-do list after they are already completed, just to have the pleasure of checking them off. In red ink. I might even give myself a high five. I need to see forward progress. Otherwise I’m liable to give up on the whole thing and camp out on my couch with a quart of cookies n’ cream ice cream.

So I created a manageable list of 30. I hope to challenge myself, go outside of my comfort zone, and check items off this list over the next three-ish years.

30 Things to Do Before I’m 30
1-15 details
16-30 details

  1. Send 25 hand written notes
  2. Drink a large glass of water before every meal We do this faithfully. Bob would be so proud.
  3. Read at least one book every two months
  4. Visit our friends in Salt Lake City Accomplished in August 2013
  5. Milk a cow
  6. Take a girls trip to Vegas
  7. Try ten new restaurants in West Michigan (Currently: Perrin Brewing, Hoolihan’s, Brick Road Pizza, )
  8. Have at least one official date night a month
  9. Host a dinner party After reading this book, I really had no choice. My dining room table hosted an excellent dinner party for 10 of my girlfriends
  10. Go on an actual vacation with DM We spent a week in Salt Lake City visiting friends in August 2013 (see #4)
  11. See a show at Second City in Chicago
  12. Do something that absolutely terrifies me
  13. Go to five plays or musicals (Currently: Wicked (for the third time), The Sound of Music, The Nutcracker, Phantom of the Opera)
  14. Run the Fifth Third Riverbank 5K I donned stylish running tights and blazed through this race on May 11, 2013. 29:30 wasn’t a bad time for someone who didn’t train one iota!
  15. Spend a day with each sibling doing something they choose, paid for by me
  16. Say “I’m sorry” more than 50 percent of the time
  17. Talk to my grandparents each week via phone or email
  18. Drink a $50-100 bottle of wine (and see if I can tell the difference)
  19. Complete family photo yearbooks for 2010, 2011, and 2012 I’m all caught up and starting on 2013!
  20. Purchase coffee for a stranger behind me in the Starbucks drive-thru
  21. Create something with my Instagram photos
  22. Upgrade to a DSLR camera
  23. Teach Jersey a new trick He can high-five like it’s his job, but we’re adding other awesome things to his repertoire too
  24. Spend an entire weekend unplugged
  25. Refurbish an old piece of furniture
  26. Make a list of birthdays and addresses and send cards
  27. Pay off our student loans
  28. Find an active outdoor activity DM and I can do together
  29. Have a baby We’re expecting a baby boy in April 2014!
  30. Write a letter to myself to be opened on my 30th birthday

I may flesh out a few of these in the future (like the controversial “Milk a cow” – something another farm wife warned me never to learn), but I’ll simply leave you with the list for now.

So how about you, dear readers? No matter which ages you put in the blanks of “___ things to do before I’m ___,” what’s on your list?