LJ’s Second Birthday

Well, it’s official: I have a two-year-old!

LJ’s actual birthday was Friday so we had a little mini celebration as a family. After Justin got off work, we went to Culver’s for a little family date.ย LJ received a few birthday cards in the mail from family so we let him open those one at a time throughout the dinner. (Sorry for the terrible photo quality! I was actually videoing him opening everything so these are just screen grabs from the videos).

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My grandparents always send some dimes for his piggy bank – so sweet!

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We also got a book for him so that he would have a little present to open during the birthday meal. He loves trains and lift-the-flap books so when I saw this during a friend’s recent book party, I knew it was the perfect choice.

After finishing our meals we each got an ice cream for dessert. LJ usually just shares his dessert with one of us so the fact that he got his own cup of ice cream with sprinkles was a big deal for him. He was so excited and definitely enjoyed it!

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Instead of a bunch of gifts, Justin and I decided to get one big gift that he would really love: a train table! We received a hand-me-down table from a friend and saved it until Saturday morning. Justin woke up early and got it all set up so it was ready to go when LJ woke up. He was SO excited to see it in his playroom and played with it all day!

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On Saturday after LJ’s nap, some of our family came over for his little party.ย  I stuck with the train theme and just grabbed a bunch of things around the house to decorate. I bought a “happy birthday” sign from the dollar spot at Target back when I was teaching and it gets brought out for every party. I re-used the train and conductor’s hat from LJ’s Halloween costume, grabbed some books and trains we already had, pulled out my white serving dishes and letterboard and voila!

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My friend Amber made some amazingย train cookies and I bought a little 4 inch cake from a local grocery store to put candles in. We served super fancy cuisine – Papa John’s pizza, chips, and a veggie tray. LJ loved it! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Now unfortunately, once the party actually started, I was so absorbed in it that I lost track of my phone and didn’t take pictures! Justin snapped a few, but overall, we were all just enjoying ourselves without phones.

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I did manage to get this one of my sister and Vi – how sweet!

Justin and I made the decision a few months ago to have a “no gifts” party for LJ. We did this last yearย and wanted to do it again this year. We agreed that not only is LJ still too little to really understand gifts are typically given on birthdays, but his birthday is super close to the holidays and he will be receiving a lot of things then. Also, we are minimal-ish people: we’re not trying to live with 5 things or be super controlling and never accept more items, but our home is a more pleasant place and our lives are more enjoyable when we’re not overrun with stuff so we’re intentional about what comes into our house.ย  Because we still wanted family to be involved and participate in his gift, I bought unpainted trains and asked our family members to decorate a car instead of giving a gift. Some did their own, some couples shared one. We painted trains during the party and those that couldn’t make the party had theirs made and sent to us ahead of time.

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This idea worked SO well and it was so fun to see the creativity (check out my brother-in-law’s “hippopotamoose-caboose” ha)! They were all so unique and reflected everyone’s personality. LJ loves them and it’s sweet to see him play with all of them.

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Happy birthday, my sweet LJ! It was such a joy to celebrate your life (and bribe you with one more cookie before bedtime when I realized I hadn’t gotten a picture with you – haha!)

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30

Yesterday, I turned 30 years old.

Years ago, 30 seemed like a number to dread. I thought it would feel like the end of my ‘youth’ and the beginning of ‘middle age’ instead of a number to celebrate, yet when it actually came, what I felt was excitement. Excitement for what the next decade will hold: watching my son grow up, hopefully expanding our family, finding our dream home. I am excited for the parts of the world we’ll explore and the everyday adventures we’ll have as a family. I’m excited to continue to walk hand-in-hand with my husband as our relationship continues to strengthen each year. I’m excited to see where life takes us.

One of my close friends asked me yesterday what my “pow” and my “wow” were from this past year of my life. I hadn’t heard of this question before, but she said a “pow” is something that was difficult or sad (a lowlight) and a “wow” is something you’re really happy about or proud of (a highlight). At first my obvious “wow” was giving birth to LJ. Motherhood has changed my life in innumerable ways and I can’t imagine life without my son. After that though, I spent some time thinking about what else I was proud of over the past year and what kept coming back to me was how much I’ve grown to just accept myself. A huge part of my 20’s were spent worrying about what others think of me. I was so driven by my perfectionist tendencies, I wanted to be well liked by everyone and I clung to regrets and past mistakes to the point where it would suck so much joy out of my present days. I was self-conscious, insecure, and I spent so. much. energy. just trying trying trying to be everything to everyone.

I noticed a shift in this thinking after LJ was born. I started listening to the Happier podcast during his nap time and slowly I started implementing small things in my life to decrease my stress and increase my happiness. Through the podcast, I learned about The Four Tendencies and this opened a window into my understanding of myself and how I respond to expectations. This led to me actually taking The Four Tendencies online course when it was offered in the spring and I gained even further insight into myself and my relationships. I started following a few Instagram accounts that preach self-love and the importance of self-care, and I stopped following accounts that made me feel bad about myself. I began listening to other podcasts that inspire me in various aspects of my life: my belongings, my time, my relationships, etc.

All of these things took place little by little over the course of a year and I didn’t think much of them individually at the time, but as 30 approached and I realized I wasn’t dreading this birthday but was actually excited about it, I discovered that all of these little things added up to one big thing: self-acceptance. I’m excited about 30 becauseย I like who I am at 30.ย I like thinking of what this decade will hold because I like who I am in this decade. This past year, I have learned a lot about myself, I have challenged myself, and I have grown in ways I wouldn’ t have predicted. I have come to accept that there is no shame in my wife/mom game – I do what I believe is best for my son and my family and that isn’t going to look the same for anyone else. I am happy with my body – it carried a human for nine months and won’t ever look like it did at 24 but gosh dang I am so thankful for it. I am happy with myself – I have flaws but I also have strengths and I am learning to let go of the little things that don’t matter so I can focus on what does.

So bring it on, 30. I am so ready for you!