Reflecting On 30 and 40 Before 40

I turned thirty in April.  Since my birthday, I have been reflecting on this whole aging thing quite a bit. I don’t really have a problem with getting older and I certainly  do not feel different than I did at 29. However, as I reflect on the first 30 years of my life, particularly my twenties, I do wish I had done some things differently. Don’t get me wrong. There are a lot of things about my twenties that I wouldn’t change.  That decade gave me ten beautiful years of marriage to my best friend, five amazing children, two college degrees, and a lifetime of memories. However, if I could change anything in my twenties, I would have traveled more. I would have spent more quality time with my husband pouring into our relationship. I would have held my children a bit closer and a bit longer. I would have saved more money and spent less.

Turning thirty makes me feel as if I have a brand new start ahead of me.  I have a new clean and fresh decade to devote more time to the things that I neglected during my twenties.  That feels both exhilarating and daunting to me.

During this fourth decade of my life I want to travel more alone, with my kids, and with my husband.  Fun fact, Daniel and I have never stayed more than three hours away from our home together without kids and that has only happened once in the almost fifteen years we have been together.  We spent a weekend away at a spa in  2014 after Daniel graduated with his master’s degree. We didn’t even go on a honeymoon when we were married. I hope to change that soon. I want to see the world with Daniel and I also want to show the world to my children so I hope to spend more time traveling with them. So far, we haven’t taken them very far from home but now that most of them are getting older, Daniel and I have been talking a lot about the places where we would like to take them.

In addition to traveling, there are so many other things I hope to accomplish over the next ten years. I have goals concerning everything thing from paying off debt to participating in a triathlon. I’ve always been a goal-setter and a fan of lists so I have created a list of things I plan to accomplish before I turn forty. I had a lot of fun creating this list and I am seriously considering creating a lifetime bucket list.  I hope to document it here on the blog every time I cross one item off my lists! So, without further ado, here are the forty things I want to do before I turn forty!

40 Before 40

  1. Pay off our debt. I’m looking at you student loans!
  2. Become my own boss.
  3. Buy myself a “fun” car that all my kids won’t fit in. (Camaro, please!)
  4. Start swimming again. Maybe competitively.
  5. Participate in a triathlon at least once.
  6. Visit all 50 states. I’ve been to 25. 25 more to go!
  7. Save a substantial amount of money.
  8. Visit London and Paris with Daniel.
  9. Go to Disney World.
  10. Take my kids to the beach for the first time.
  11. Visit Las Vegas with Daniel.
  12. Go on an African safari.
  13. See the pyramids in Egypt.
  14. Visit forty countries.
  15. See an active volcano.
  16. See Pompeii.
  17. Spend New Years in Times Square at least once.
  18. Read 750 books.
  19. Write a book.
  20. Host an exchange student.
  21. Go on a cruise.
  22. Ride in a hot air balloon.
  23. Go hiking in a rain forest.
  24. Indoor sky dive.
  25. Face my fear of open water and learn to scuba dive.
  26. Eat at a Michelin 3-star restaurant.
  27. Visit Moulin Rouge.
  28. See the northern lights.
  29. Go zip lining.
  30. Go kayaking.
  31. Diversify my income.
  32. Get my nose pierced again.
  33. Get a tattoo for each of my children.
  34. Hike the Grand Canyon.
  35. See a musical on Broadway and in West End.
  36. Hold a sloth.
  37. Bathe an elephant.
  38. Learn to meditate and practice yoga effectively.
  39. Learn a second language.
  40. Say only yes to my kids for a whole day.  Keep ‘no’ out of my vocabulary.

What else should I aim to accomplish over the next decade? I’m open to suggestions! Shoot me a comment below!

Best Baby Products for the First Six Months

Our youngest set of twins (babies number 4 and 5!)  turned six months old this past Saturday!  The past six months have flown by.  They are growing so quickly and it breaks my momma heart a little bit.  I am just not ready for these babies to grow up so fast!

I have reached the point in my motherhood journey that I have become the one giving advice instead of asking for it.  It feels weird to be giving the young women who are becoming moms for the first time advice.  I’m happy to share my experiences with them though.  One of the things I am often asked about is which baby products have I used the most.  So, in honor of my babies’ half birthday I am going to share the list of must-have baby products that I have compiled after having five children.

Best Baby Products for the First Six Months According to a Mom of 5

  1. Fisher-Price Rock ‘N Play Sleeper

    Seriously guys, this thing is a lifesaver!!  Unfortunately, these didn’t exist when my oldest three kids were infants.  Our oldest three hated their bassinets so I knew I didn’t want to spend more money on a bassinet with these newest babies.  So many people recommended that we try a Fisher-Price Rock ‘N Play.  I’m so glad that we decided to get two of them!  Both of the babies love them and sleep in them every night.  They are slightly elevated which seems to help our little guys sleep and the seat cradles them perfectly in a way that mimics being held. I really recommend getting the more expensive version that has the automatic rock feature.  Just plug it in and let the soothing, rocking motion work its magic.  Several people told me that their babies only fit in a Rock ‘N Play until about four months old but our babies are still sleeping in them every night at six months old.  This has also replaced a swing for us.  We really don’t need  a swing or something similar because this does a wonderful job soothing our babies.

  2. NoseFrida

    I know, I know.  This is kind of gross…or at least my husband, Daniel, thinks so.  He is convinced that this is the most disgusting thing on the face of this planet and absolutely refuses to use it.  I, however, LOVE it. I have given birth to babies in August, September, and October which means I have suffered with tiny babies during cold and flu seasons a few times.  When babies are small, there isn’t much you can do to help them when they have a cold except run a humidifier, use saline nose drops, and suction as much snot out as you can.  With our three oldest, we used the suction bulb the hospital gives you but I never felt satisfied with it.  I always felt like there was still so much snot left in their little noses and it wasn’t helping at all.  Then, I discovered the NoseFrida.  This thing is AMAZING.  You essentially put the tip of the tube on their nose and use the red mouth piece to suction the snot out.  It is so much gentler on their noses and it gets so much more snot out!  Like I said, Daniel thinks it is nasty but it saved us this past winter.  It was a huge help in January when both babies had RSV.

  3. Fisher-Price Sit-Me-Up Floor Seat

    We were given two of these last summer before the babies were born.  I love them so much!  When the older kids were babies, we used Bumbo seats but I think these are so much better.  They are more secure than a Bumbo and provide more support since the back of the seat is higher.  We still have Bumbo seats with these new babies but rarely use them.  We prefer these Fisher-Price Sit-Me-Up Floor Seats and I think the babies prefer them as well.  Because of the added support, we were able to use these at an earlier age compared to the Bumbo seats.  You do really need to wait until your baby can support his or her own head to use these but they are wonderful.  I often put the babies in their floor seats and bring them with me in the kitchen when I’m cooking or cleaning.  I also use them when I’m doing laundry. These make getting household tasks while taking care of babies so much easier!

  4. Boppy Pillow

    A Boppy Pillow is one of those items that I have used with all five kids and still love it!  If you are planning to breastfeed, it is a must have!  This pillow has saved my back during my breastfeeding days. It allows you to support baby and bring him or her closer to the breast without bending down and straining your back.  My husband also uses the Boppy when he gives the babies a bottle.  It is just a great way to get some support and help holding baby during those feeding sessions.

  5. Munchkin Dishwasher Basket

    We have four Munchkin Dishwasher Baskets and with twins at least one of them has become a permanent addition to our dishwasher.  These are the perfect little contraptions to wash all those babies things.  It has two compartments.  The top compartment is perfect for bottle nipples and pacifiers. I use to bottom bigger compartment for lids and nipple rings from baby bottles.  When the babies get older and begin using sippy cups, these baskets are great for washing the stoppers that prevent leaks from from sippies.  These are also really great to throw small kitchen gadgets, plastic straws, breast pump parts, and medicine dosing cups in as well.  We’ve been using these since our oldest, Emily, was a baby (almost ten years ago!).

  6. Moby Wrap

    The Moby Wrap is another one of those products I have been using for the past ten years.  I have bought a new one with every pregnancy.  Babywearing with the Moby Wrap gives me a chance to get some stuff done around the house while still keeping my babies happy.  I like the Moby Wrap because it is so versatile.  Since it is a long piece of fabric there are numerous ways to tie it and to hold baby.  It grows with baby and you can use it from the newborn stage well into the toddler years. I absolutely love that it lasts so long.  It does have a learning curve and I highly suggest watching several YouTube videos to learn all the different holds and ways to tie it. Once you get the hang of it, it is super easy.

 

This is certainly not a comprehensive list.  There are definitely other products you will need the first six months of your baby’s life. These are certainly ones that have made our lives so much easier.  There are a number of other products that I have found particularly useful in the second half of our children’s first year and I hope to compile that list and share it with you this summer as we approach the twins’ first birthday!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you).

2017 Reading List

Making Plans and Setting Goals

I am obsessed with setting goals.  Always have been.  So every year I make a New Year’s resolution to read a certain number of books.  I set my yearly reading goal in January and track it throughout the year.  I typically aim to read a book a week so I usually set my goal around fifty books per year.  My reading goal has been much lower the last couple of years thanks to grad school.  My graduate studies require me to read a great deal but I usually don’t count those books towards my yearly reading goal since I almost always don’t finish the required books or I skim a large portion of the book.

I graduate in May and I am so excited to be finished with required reading for college.  I am looking forward to being able to read the books that I want to read instead of what needs to be read for class.  As I do every year, I have set a yearly reading goal.  My goal for 2017 is to read fifty books.  That is roughly a book a week and I am already behind.  I have faith that I will easily catch up once I graduate in May.

I had intended to share this list in January but life got in the way. This list is in no way comprehensive.  I will undoubtedly pick up random books at bookstores and grab new releases throughout the year.  Also, many of the books on my list for this year are not recent releases.  While there are some current and new releases that I am looking forward to, grad school has kept me from reading the past two years so I plan to catch up on some older books this summer.

2017 Reading List

So, without further ado, the beginning of my 2017 reading list:

  1. The first book on my list is Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne.  I bought a hard copy of this book when it came out last summer and then the babies arrived.  It sat on my nightstand patiently waiting for me to pay attention to it.  I included it on this list since this is a list of books that I plan to read in 2017 but I actually ended up reading this book in January. (Review coming soon!!)
  2. I have jumped on The Fixer Upper bandwagon.  Chip and Joanna Gaines seem to be so genuine so their book The Magnolia Story is on my list. My husband bought this book for me for Christmas since he knew it was one that I wanted to read this year.  I started it right before my spring graduate classes started but I haven’t had time to finish it.  I’m hoping I will get to finish before the end of February.
  3. Wonder by R. J. Palacio is about a young boy who was born with a facial deformity and how that deformity affects his experience as the new kid at school.  This book is geared towards young readers.  My nine year old daughter recently read this and has been begging me to read it as well.  My daughter is quite a reader and she enjoys it when I read the same books as her.  I think she is starting to appreciate having someone who can discuss books with her.  I think this book may also work for some of my students who have lower reading levels.  I’m sticking it on my list to read this year so I can discuss it with Emily and make genuine recommendations to students who I think it could work for.
  4. The fourth book on my list is one that I’m not sure how I feel about.  A couple of years ago, the school I work for hosted a program for our students called Rachel’s Challenge based on one of the victims of the Columbine shooting.  The program was geared towards encouraging students to be kind to one another and help end bullying.  As I was sitting in this program, I realized that I really don’t know that much about the events that happened at Columbine.  I was only 12 when the shooting occurred and I’m sure the adults in my life sheltered me from that event.  However, now that I am an educator at a high school, I often feel consumed with the possibility of a school shooting.  On a weekly basis, I find myself running through my own personal plan of action and how I would react to help my students if something were to happen.  As a historian, I believe that some of the best preparation is studying what happened in the past.  I bought Columbine by Dave Cullen after that program was held at our high school and it has sat on my bookshelf for two years.  This year I am finally going to read it.  I’m hoping that, while it may be a difficult read, it may make me more aware of my students and my own kids.
  5. The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb is next on my list.  I intend to read this one shortly after I read Columbine.  The subject matters of the two books are related.  While Columbine is nonfiction, The Hour I First Believed is a fictional account of one of the school nurses at Columbine High School that fateful day.  I have heard good things about this book and about Wally Lamb as an author.  I have never read any of Lamb’s work so I am excited to check his writing out.
  6. My mom text me a few days ago and told me that I needed to read The Pecan Man by Cassie Dandridge Selleck.  I had honestly never heard of this book until I received that text but it was published in 2012 and has TONS of positive reviews on both Amazon and Goodreads.  The book summary compares this book to To Kill a Mockingbird and The Help, two books that I love so I’m hoping that I will love this one as well.  Sometimes, you just have to trust your momma!
  7. Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Yance is a memoir of the author’s experience growing up in a middle-class, white, working family that started out poor.  I have heard many people discussing how this book relates to America’s current political climate and provides insight to how the current president won the election.  I’ve heard and read rave reviews on this book so I’m looking forward to digging into this one.
  8.   Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone is about a junior high school suffering from mental disorders that she hides from those around her.  Samantha’s mental struggles are intensified by the social struggles that many high school girls often face until Caroline befriends her and introduces her to a group of misfits that help Sam to begin to feel more “normal.”  I think mental health is such an important topic in our culture right now.  I’m excited to read this book.  I have several students who have read or are reading this book and I think it resonates with so many of them.  I’m hoping that by reading it myself I will better be able to identify students who might need a book like this in their lives.
  9. The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney was published last year and I’ve heard quite a lot of chatter about this one.  This book is about four adult siblings who share an inheritance.  Even though all four are at different places in their lives and have different goals, they must work together to decide what to do with their shared inheritance.  This seems like an interesting story about a dysfunctional family which has been the premise of some of my favorite books.
  10. Veronica Roth, author of the Divergent trilogy, is at it again.  The first book of her newest series, Carve the Mark, was released in January.  I honestly haven’t heard much about this book but I really liked the Divergent series so I’m excited to see what else Veronica Roth has to offer.

 

What are some of the books that you are hoping to get your hands on this year?  What does your 2017 reading list look like?  Drop me a comment and give me some more ideas and suggestions to fill out the other forty books I need to read in order to reach my goal of 50 books in 2017!

Happy reading!