30 is the same 30

I am currently rolling down the backside of 29 and despite any efforts to hit the brakes, I will propel through the last six months of my twenties and crash into my third decade here on earth at full speed.  They say thirty is the new twenty, but it’s not.  No colloquial phrase (or Jay Z lyric) will ease the notion of turning 30 or the effects of aging.  It’s just a statement intended to help those nearing the milestone feel better about the transition.  Here’s how I know:

While once viewed as somewhat acceptable, it’s now selfish to be selfish.

Okay, so maybe selfishness was never encouraged, but there was a little more leeway back in the day.  Throughout our teens and early twenties, it was expected that we’d do or try things that required putting ourselves first.  These were the formative years; times when we needed to follow our own instincts and explore opportunities that would lead us to discover who we really were.  Things like spending all our money on trips with friends or taking a few years off of school to get down to the bottom of what we really wanted to do with our lives. scared timon

While we must never lose sight of doing what is best for ourselves, these days, many of us have others to look out for – whether that be children, significant others, friends or society.  We’re no longer at the age where living solely with a “me mentality” is acceptable nor excusable.

With all the miles packed on over the years, your body now requires a little more TLC to keep moving forward.

Contrary to what our bodies had us believing back in college, living off a liquid + Ramen diet is a not sustainable approach to survival.  If we’re not careful, age will offer an assist in turning us into lightweights at dinner and heavyweights on the scale.  Time will never slow down, but our metabolism will, so we must take it upon ourselves to learn about our bodies’ needs and meet its demands.  Educate yourself on the necessary nutrients and vitamins to maintain a balanced lifestyle.

The second part of the equation is exercise.  You can eat all the natural, organic, Whole Foods items you want, but without keeping your body calibrated, you’ll end up in the shop much like the way your first car from high school always was.  If you work a desk job like me and sit for 8-10 hours a day, even exercise won’t be enough.  You’ve got to get up and move, every hour on the hour, so your body doesn’t get tricked into thinking it’s destined to stay put.

Life past 11 p.m. is nearly non-existent.

Back in college, I’d be getting ready to go out at 9, pre-gaming by 10 and rolling deep with my girls downtown by 11.  These days, I’m getting ready for bed at 9, PJ’ing by 10, and rolling the in Zzz’s by 11.  When I do somehow muster up the energy to make it out to a bar, I’m quickly left wondering what’s driving me to leave faster, the obnoxious, boisterous crowd or the warmth of my covers back home.  The past few years have taught me that fun is found in many forms and doesn’t always require an elaborate plan or celebration.  These days, the best nights are the ones followed by a manageable early morning.

You’re already halfway to retirement.

Split your age in half, and you’re back in the halls of high school without a worry in the world.  Although those days seem long ago, chances are many memories are still so fresh and emotions still so vivid.  Now, double your age, and you’re almost 60.  Will you be able to look back on your 30’s with memories still so clear?

You’re one day closer today to retirement than you were yesterday, and while the picture of freedom may seem enticing, it won’t be so pleasant if you don’t have the money to fulfill your post-career aspirations.  Start saving now, don’t wait until your next big birthday milestone!

Despite the early emergence of wrinkles and the occasional white hair, loss of eyesight, rough mornings and seemingly endless responsibilities associated with thirty, turns out, the transition may not be that bad after all.  You’ve finally reached a point where all your hard work has paid off and you’ve set the foundation for yourself, your family, or your future family.  You have a deeper understanding of and appreciation for the people that helped you to where you are today.  You have the ability to make your own choices and create your own destiny.  Sure, there are a lot of tough changes that go along with aging, but each birthday we celebrate is another opportunity to change the world, or at least our own.  Bring it on, thirty.

My Best Friend’s Bachelorette Bash

As I prepare for my best friend’s bridal shower I realized that I still haven’t posted the rest of the deets from her amazing bachelorette party in Asheville, NC.

After arriving at the cabin in the woods, Catherine, the bride’s little sis and co-MOH, made a delicious steak and pirogi dinner – Diana’s favorite!  We quickly scarfed it down and headed to the first surprise adventure of the weekend.

DSCN1129cheersA childhood friend who now resides in Asheville recommended the LaZoom Comedy Bus Tour.  The regular tours run throughout the day and at night, it switches over to haunted comedy ride.  Sounds a little abstract, I know, but this was the funnniest thing I have experienced in ages.  We could not stop laughing the entire time.  You can bring wine and beer on the bus and while that sounds like an awesome idea, it turns into a terrible one after all the laughing you’ll do!

LazoomBusAfter the LaZoom tour, we hit the down.  One of Asheville’s most notable attractions is the Friday night drum circle.  Upon arrival, we couldn’t tell if we were witnessing a scene from True Blood or one of the coolest things ever.  We jumped right in.  When in Rome, right?

drum2drumThe best word I can use to describe the city of Asheville is eclectic.  It was a mix of everything artsy, natural, hipster and southern.

The next morning started off with brunch at Posana; the place was on-point.  There was a whole lot of food envy going on at the table because each meal looked better than the next.

Lo and Di

brunchBrunchIt was time to burn off the calories after brunch, so we headed over to Di’s next surprise: Asheville’s Amazing Pub Cycle. And amazing is the best way to describe it.  We followed that up with a PYT serenade by street performers and more day drinking at Wicked Weed Brewing.

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brew2To keep pace (and survive), we headed back to the cabin to relax for a bit before venturing back down town that night.  At the recommendation of our local friend, we ordered in via Gourmet Valet; you can choose between more than 60 restaurant options and they deliver it right to you.  We did a quick online search for a coupon and got 20% off.  After we were ready, the first stop was the Piano Bar where Diana got another serenade on stage.

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DSCN1078I made last fling ring/checklist for Di out of a wreath Styrofoam, spray paint, paper and glitter.  The front said “List of last acts before you become Matt’s” and with a little participation from the groom, the back said “Do these things one more time before you become mine.”  She had to carry it around all night and check off the actions like take a picture w/a stranger using the selfie stick, take a pic w/another bride and hand a guy a note that says, “Call me, maybe?”

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Dare

A night like Saturday called for a homemade brunch at the cabin.  Since most of the trip was a surprise, we wanted to give Diana a say in the festivities for Sunday so we gave her a few options in the form of an infographic (yes, I take planning too far).

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She selected a lazy cruise down the river via Zen Tubing.  It was such a relaxing experience…until the thunderstorm came.

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For our last dinner, we ate at Corner Kitchen.  It’s where President Obama ate on his trip to the city!

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di an iThe weekend wound down with an evening of games and wine.  We played one game where Di had to guess which sexy item came from whom, and I’m now questioning her friendship because she didn’t know the Jessica Simpson PJs came from me!  We also played a really fun ladies night card game where someone reads the descriptor (something like who would be most likely to survive in the wilderness) and then all the girls name the bridesmaid that fits best.  I’m also questioning my friendships after the cards I got! 😉

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DSCN1125Just two more months to go until the big day!

They’re officially ours, and he’s officially old – celebrating a birthday & adoption

Yesterday was a very special day for our family – we got to celebrate the adoption finalization of my brother’s two children and my dad’s 75th birthday (still convinced I was a mistake).

Though he’s got a knack for being the center of attention, my dad absolutely hates surprises.  But for a birthday as big as three quarters, we had to celebrate in style! My mom and I have been planning a surprise for months – one where we gather just immediate family and the closest of family friends – to celebrate the milestone occasion.  The secret was kept until I accidentally blurted it out over the Fourth of July holiday in front of him, quickly covering my tracks when I saw my mom jumping up and down, whaling her arms to get me to stop talking.  I recovered from “…dad’s party…” to “…”you know, the one he is throwing for the kids’ adoption!”

To give you some background here, my brother and sister-in-law, after trying for several years to have children of their own, recognized their calling to become foster parents with the goal of eventually adopting.  Early last year, they received word that their family would soon grow and in the summer, we welcomed two beautiful children into our family.  While a joyous year, the months have been filled with ups and downs for the new parents. But, the moment we have been waiting for for what seems like an eternity, finally came and now the kiddos officially share our name and have to put up with us for good!

So back to yesterday.  We were doing great – were able to keep my dad occupied outside while decorations chronologizing his life were set up.  The guy had no idea; or so we thought.  We get inside, tell him “You think everyone is here today to celebrate the children but actually, we’re here to celebrate YOU! Surprise!”  Just then, he hands my mom a folded up piece of paper: “Hey Carol, thanks for the surprise party” (only he types in ALL CAPS, ALWAYS).  He had known for the ENTIRE week!  When asked how, he quietly points to me.  Before my mom could say anything to me, he jumped in with “she could have played it off if I didn’t feel the wind of you jumping around and waving your arms behind me to get her to stop talking!” Team effort, momma!

Here’s a peek into the elements that made this celebration one to remember (unless you’re 75, then you have an excuse not to remember.mom
There he is, with proof that nothing slips by this old guy!

dad2My dad grew up in Minnesota, lived in California (among other places), settled down in New York, retired in Virginia and sends his heart to Columbia, SC each Saturday during football season.  That being said, he’s got friends in low, and high, and medium places.  My brother and I reached out to friends and family across the country – those he knows now and those that he hasn’t seen in years – and asked them to send in a happy birthday video message for the special day.  The end result? An amazing video compilation of so many that were a part of his life on this 75-year journey.

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We adorned the windows and fireplace with pictures of his past and even put together a video montage to capture his first year as “Grandpy.” Note: The video pic is intentionally cut off; we don’t share pictures of the kids for their safety.

dad5We lined the table with newspaper clippings touting some of my dad’s lifetime accomplishments.

75 signInspired by Pinterest, I created this chalkboard to highlight the differences between today and the day he was born, 75 years ago.  A lot has happened during the 27,375 days he’s been around but what will never change is how much we love that man.

dadkidI’m sure one of things that makes him more proud than anything is the ability to pass his family name down to these two amazing kids.

dad and iI cannot even begin to express how thankful I am to have this man in my life.  I thank my lucky stars every night that I have had him by my side during my 29 years on this earth and recognize how fortunate I am that I can say that.  I’ll never stop learning and laughing around him, and being the best woman I can be because of him.  I love you, Keithypoo!  Happy 75th!

P.S. because fashion is one of the primary purposes of this blog: I have been dying to wear this Taylor dress for weeks.  Retailing at $158, I picked up this gem at Ross for just $29.99!  Clearly, I did not get my fashion sense from my father;)

Like I said, we are like twins: reflection of a lifelong friendship from a 9-year-old’s perspective

Nearly 20 years ago I wrote a diary entry about how my best friend and I were “…like twins ‘seperated’ at birth.”  As we grew older, the differences between us became more evident (like the fact that she’s half a foot taller than me L), but the one thing that has never changed is the unbreakable bond we share.  Reflecting on the validations I put forth back on March 2, 1996, I realize how much is different but more importantly, how the underlying intention still remains the same.

We both have the same toothbrush.LO

While this one probably held a lot of clout back in the day, I can’t really relate to it today.  At all.  And I REALLY hope she’s still not using that same toothbrush 😉

We like the same exact same food.

This statement could not be further from the truth.  Lauren lives an extremely healthy lifestyle and that’s reflective in her diet.  Where she opts for protein and veggies, I opt for ice cream and Mac & Cheese.  But the one thing we do have in common is that we be both detest cooking, so, that counts for something!

We both like playing store we both like playing “detictive.”

Playing store turned into both becoming shopaholics (a reason I’m sure her husband does not want me to live in the same cityJ) and playing detective became figuring things out together.  Throughout our 20+ years of friendship, Lauren has been and will always be one of the first people I turn to when I’m struggling or in need of sound advice.  She’s always there to listen and to talk through the hurdles that arise in life.  She helps me analyze the situation and find the best solution, even if it’s not what I want to hear.  While her brutal honesty can be painful, it’s often what I need to know.

We both hate Michael O’Dell (a lot).

I feel bad for this one; I really do.  Mike O’Dell, wherever you are in this world, I apologize for making you the subject of my 9-year-old self’s diary entry!  Now that maturity has set in, this statement obviously no longer holds any truth, but the deeper meaning does.  Part of what has held our friendship together for so long is the fact that we share the same values.

We both like dogs (Cody).

This will never change.  Though Cody has long since left us, our hearts have been filled with dogs of our own and one day, the space will widen to make room for the children we plan raise together.  I’m confident that my future children will adore their Auntie Lo the way that I do and that she will be a person they can always turn to in life, just as I always have.  Unless they want to eat, then they’re out of luck.

Like I said we are like twins.

The twin part may have been a stretch, but the sister part?  That is a fact.  I will be forever grateful for the loyal, genuine, hilarious, brutally honest, forever friend I have in you, Lo.  Let’s enjoy our last year of our twenties, my friend, and get ready for a lifetime more of memories.  Love you!

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