Happy November 28, 2018...aka my 30th birthday!

It's crazy to think when I started this blog in 2011, I was just 22, still in college, and a few months shy of meeting Bryce. It's been with me for most of my 20s and huge milestones like graduation, teaching, leaving teaching, a new career, Millie, an engagement and wedding (Sheesh! I'm so behind on getting y'all these posts!), and more; so it only feels fitting to document this milestone. I'll start this post recapping my 30th birthday cocktail party that was a couple weekends ago on the 17th and then end with 30 thoughts. Thoughts on turning 30, life lessons, random tidbits, and more.

Now buckle your seatbelts, you're in for a long ride with this post!

Before jumping into the cocktail party, I have to recap you on the night before. Bryce's hunt club is not far from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, and from the dock in their marsh there is a clear view of the rocket launch pad. Bryce has always dreamed of seeing a rocket launch, but they are often in the  middle of the night during the week, and also frequently get cancelled due to weather. The morning of the 16th, the day before my party, Bryce told me a rocket was being launched that night/morning at 4:01 am- weather forecasts were clear and there was a 95% chance of launch. He asked if I'd be game to go. I think he was shocked when I said yes! I told him I had plans to get a mani pedi after work, so if he would get Millie packed and loaded, we could head out as soon as I got home and had a few minutes to throw some yoga pants in a bag. I also requested that we stop and get brunch at my favorite Virginia Beach brunch spot Leaping Lizard Cafe on the way home, and that we get back with enough time for me to run before my blow out at 4:30. (Spoiler Alert: I skipped the run, but ran 8 miles the next day!) Y'all, what an experience it was! How amazing to see the sky light up and a rocket launch all the way up into space. Not to mention the rush we got from the spontaneity of it all. We've talked about embracing this time pre-kids to be spontaneous and it really inspired me to be more adventurous day to day! Here are a few photos recapping, and you can see more from the adventure on my Insta highlight reel here.

We arrived at about 9:30, popped a bottle of Moet, and then headed to bed at 11:00.

The alarm was set for 3:30 am, we got up, bundled up, and headed down to the marsh!

We followed along on Facebook Live in advance of the launch hearing cool tidbits (like the fact that the rocket had materials to study crystals that could teach us more about Parkinson's) and the final countdown.  

We went back to sleep from about 4:30 to 8:00 am, and then took in some final marsh air before heading home with a pitstop for brunch along the way. I really truly don't think there's any place more beautiful than Virginia.

So now onto the partay! My mother-in-law, RoseMarie, was so sweet to host a cocktail party. While I didn't get as many detail photos as I would have liked, I did get some great photos throughout the night!

RoseMarie believes homemade birthday cakes are the most special
and made each one of these cakes herself: the top with hot pink candles is a lemon cake, 
middle with yellow candles is key lime pound, and bottom with light pink candles is chocolate.
Yes, I did have a piece of each. The chocolate (recipe here) was my favorite!

Heavy hors d'oeuvres (also all homemade by RoseMarie) were served buffet style and passed. On the buffet, guests enjoyed beef tenderloin with grainy mustard, horse radish, and rolls; ham salad biscuits; artichoke dip, and chicken salad tarts. Mini crabcakes, ramekin-sized pastas in the pinks, and cranberry brie bites were passed. Cheese straws were also available at the bar for munching.

How gorgeous are these peach roses?

Personal-sized pastas in the pink!

I always enjoy the opportunity to bring separate groups of friends together, and the party included childhood friends, work friends, college friends, and more. Here are some snapshots with some of my guests.
With my mama!

Look at that stud in the background...
hope our kids are as cute as B was!

Blowout Buddy...
I met this lady a decade ago when we were 20!

Hostess with the Mostest! I certainly hit the jackpot 
when it comes to mother-in-laws.

Gal Pals

This guy knows how to make a birthday girl
feel like a million bucks!

Finally, you can't have a birthday post without some pictures recapping the birthday song and blowing out the candles!

 And now, if you've made it this far, let's jump into 30 thoughts and tidbits as I embark on 30. I'll try to mix up serious, random, and fun so it doesn't get too heavy along the way.

1. I recently had a phone conversation with a donor who turns 70 today. I commented that we both had milestone birthdays coming up on the 28th. He chuckled and when I told him I'd be 30, he told me to watch out. Turning 70 seemed like a big one, but the only other milestone birthday that had hit him hard was 30. Today, luckily, doesn't feel hard at all. I have a feeling this next decade might be my best and I'm excited to feel more like an "official" adult. Though, I do think 31 is going to hit me hard.

2. While I don't feel like 30 is old at all, I have cracked myself up a little bit on the vanity side of things. I've thought "I'm nearly 30, I can't wear this" a few times trying on clothes; took my hair back to a blonder shade from my youth during my last appointment; recently gasped upon discovering and then plucked a gray eyebrow hair; and told Bryce I wanted Botox to tackle forehead wrinkles (started using this peel about a month ago instead).

3. Your twenties are such a decade of growth, learning, and change. I started my twenties single and in school and am ending it married with a dog seven years into the workforce. What's funny, is while my early twenties may have been a time of less responsibility, I'm actually ending my twenties with  more of a carefree spirit. I'm still Type A, but I think a lot of my growth this last decade has been in learning to let go, and to choose where to focus my Type A energies.

4. I was born the Monday after Thanksgiving, two weeks early, and my dad, godfather, and other family friends worked tirelessly to finish an addition which included my nursery while my mom was in the hospital with me. Talk about nesting!

5. What I'm looking forward to most in this new decade is starting a family. I'm actually tearing up writing this, because being a mom has been my greatest dream all along. In fact, so much of my life's path up to this point has been chosen with a focus of that in mind. For example, when I started college, I had a serious interest in International Relations and working for the UN (I had traveled to the Hague my senior year of high school for the International Model UN), but realized I didn't want to live or raise a family in a big city like DC, New York, or abroad. While I don't regret a thing about my path, and think I've landed in literally the perfect career and spot, I'm glad to be ending my twenties with more a view of having both a career and motherhood.

6. On the flip side, if you had asked me in my early twenties my life goals, I would have told you I wanted to 3 kids, two boys and a baby girl, and have them all between the ages of 28 and 32. The closer I've gotten to 30, the more I've realized babies can wait a little longer.

7. I've always been bubbly, but the older I get, the more I realize just how important and powerful positivity is. I do my very best to always find the silver lining and also have learned it's okay to unapologetically let go of commitments, relationships, and things that bring you down.

8. Growing up my grandma always got my birthday cake from Westhampton Pastry Shop, a Richmond classic that is right down the street from our home now. Around the time that I was 8 or 9, I opted for ice cream cake instead which she would get from Baskin Robbins. In high school, I made the switch to Dairy Queen cakes (yummmm...cookie dough blizzard cake), and now I usually just get a special birthday dessert wherever I choose to go for my birthday dinner.

9. In addition to personal growth and development in my twenties, my palate also grew. At 20, barely any vegetables crossed my lips and now as I write this post I'm eating broccoli and am not picky at all! I still am not the biggest fan of fruits, though.

10. Bryce's favorite thing about me is that I'm "fiery" and I love that he loves that in me. I can't to be more fiery 30 years from now at 60 and even more fiery another 30 years after that as an old lady when I (hopefully) reach 90.

11. My favorite childhood birthday parties were my 9th, which was a carnival theme with games, face paint and my favorite dinner of chicken fingers, Velveeta mac & cheese, and Coca Cola in glass bottles; and my 12th which was a sleepover and we all went to Fuddurcker's for dinner with milkshakes.

12. I feel most at peace when I'm on the water and have always joked to Bryce that if I ever wrote a novel (ha!) a theme would be the restorative power of water - think about it, a hot shower, a good cry, a dive into the pool, the sound of waves crashing against the shore. They all have restorative power.

13. It's funny how over time our preferences change, but some things always stay the same. Point in case, favorite colors. A change: As a child green was my least favorite color, now it's one of my very favorite. An always stays the same: Pink has and always will be a favorite ("Pink is my signature color." Name that quote, from one of my all time favorite movies, Steel Magnolias - I have the fondest memories of watching that movie again and again curled up in bed with my mom.)

14. Tonight we are headed to Heritage for my birthday dinner. It is one of my favorite Richmond restaurants, and I've celebrated 3 or 4 other birthdays there. If you go, you must order the pimiento cheese croquettes as an app! Also hoping they have the egg nog special I enjoyed on my birthday there last year.

15. Random thought--this is getting hard, and I'm only halfway done!

16. If I could change one thing in my life's path to this point, it would be my choice to go to UVA. Don't get me wrong- I received an amazing education, made some lifelong friends, and have a huge amount of school pride as well as love for Charlottesville. That said, I think I would have thrived more and been happier at a smaller school, though my 18 year old self didn't realize that.

17. Speaking of UVA, I'm most grateful to their Women's Center which offers free, unlimited counseling to students. My second year was a tough one. My grandpa whom I adored died and I broke up with an abusive boyfriend all in the same month. That year I was a mess (though I excelled in school and fitness - the Type A in me tends to go crazy over the things I can control when life seems to be in disarray); and the Women's Center was a refuge. After that year, I continued to go back occasionally whenever I needed a "tune up" and am so glad it exists for students. Whenever I make donations to UVA, I always make them to the Women's Center in honor of Margaret, my counselor.

18. In school, I was always a math and English person, not the typical English-history or math-science. When it comes to English, y'all know I love to read and write and a huge part of my career utilizes both my oral and written communication skills. When it comes to math, I always love looking for patterns around me and geek out over data!

19. I was excited to get the chance to take the StrengthsFinder test for work this year. My #1 strength is achiever (read more about it here), and at first I was disappointed feeling like it was callous and all about just going, going, going. Then I read in the takeaway materials that Achievers are driven by a desire to leave the world a better place than they found it and I thought "YESSS!!!" In fact, when we were in premarital counseling and the minister asked what we saw as the purpose of life, that was my exact answer. My #2 was Strategic, #3 was Individualization, #4 was Learner, and #5 was Responsibility.

20. As I've gotten older, I've realized just how much I'd rather buy less and invest or splurge on items I really love. Sure, I still love a deal and finding affordable items, but the things in my closet that have really stood the test of time have been those splurges (albeit many of them I've stalked and waited to purchase on major sale, haha). Those that follow on Instagram know Bryce treated me to a Goyard bag this year for my birthday, and I told him it could count for all my gifts this entire year, and maybe even a few more birthdays if he wanted. I'd rather have one big thing than lots of little. I also decided to splurge and treat myself to these Ferragamos in London for my 30th and have saved them to wear for the first time today!

21. On the flip, frivolous side, I did snag these on sale on a whim Monday to wear for my birthday and through the holidays!

22. We hosted my family for Thanksgiving this year which felt like a very grown up, almost 30, thing to do. All I could think as I prepared was just how thankful I am to have Bryce by my side. He really and truly is a partner, and how many men do you know that can make homemade yeast rolls, garden like nobody's business; and hunt ducks and do manly things?

23. One steadfast supporter and friend throughout my 20s has been my friend Maddie. We actually first "met" through blogging. She and I are the same age (literally...she turned 30 this month, too) and both started blogs right around the same time. Somehow along the way we became email pen pals and every few months would send each other massive emails updating each other on all aspects of our life, as well as sharing lots of deep, philosophical thoughts about the various phases we were in. When one of her emails would hit my inbox, I'd drop everything to read it and then let it all soak in and respond a few months later. She moved to DC about a year ago, and our pen pal days have stopped because we are now real life friends and have visited each other 3 or 4 times in the last year.

24. Speaking of supportive friends, one of the best lessons I've learned in the last decade was from my best friend, Angela. When I was grappling with the decision of whether or not to leave teaching she said to me "You can keep teaching and know you'll be miserable, or you can try something else and take a chance at being happy." I've thought of that advice so many times over the years since she shared it. Don't ever let the fear of the unknown hold you back from trying something that could be great, wonderful, amazing!

25. Millie is the light of my life. I never knew how much I could love a dog, y'all! While I know kids will be an infinitely deeper love, it breaks my heart to think about Millie losing her prime spot in our life once they come along. We regularly call Millie "baby" so much that she looks up when she hears it, so she's going to be so confused when a real human baby comes along. I even recently told Bryce, when we have a baby, we need to make sure to occasionally leave the baby in the crib so Millie can have Saturday morning snuggles in bed.

26. I'm so glad to be entering 30 in the best shape of my life. I've caught the running bug this fall and can't believe I now run around 5 miles on a "typical" run and have done up to 8 miles on a few long runs. What I've loved about running consistently and at longer distances, is that it's allowed me more balance in my diet. I tend to eat pretty healthy, but running has allowed me to indulge my sweet tooth more frequently while continuing to see the number on the scale go down! I also love that with running, you can really track your progress and set goals surrounding speed, distance, etc...must be that "Achiever" in me wanting to check off the next goal.

27. Speaking of fitness, I'm so glad that I'm also entering my 30th year as a barre instructor! I've loved barre since I started taking it in 2014 and have enjoyed getting to know the instructors I've admired for so long more closely. If you're local, come join me bright and early at BarReVA at 6 am on Tuesdays!

28. I hate that our world has become so polarized and hope to see that change over the next decade. When I think back to my education, the most pivotal moments are the ones that challenged me to think differently, see something from another perspective, and even sometimes be persuaded to change my opinion.

29. In terms of the world today, one of my all time favorite quotes is a Dalai Lama one: "My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness." Yes, I realize there are really really big problems in the world (too many of them), but I do strongly believe in the power of people and that a smile and kindness can go a long way toward achieving a better world.

30. This blog means so much to me and I love the community in you. While my posting frequency has waxed and waned throughout the years, and I do admittedly miss the "old" blogging days, I hope that the blog will live on through my 30s and all to come.

Whew! Did any of you make it to the end?

Many of you asked on Instagram for day to day lifestyle posts like these, so I hope this didn't bore or disappoint.

If you did make it here, can you relate to any of my thoughts?

What have been some of your reflections as you've hit milestone birthdays?

Have a great day!