Friday, January 10, 2020

30 in my 30s

Merry Christmas!
Happy New Year!
I'm back!
And back from our 2-week vacation to Utah!
The laundry is basically caught up, the fridge and pantry are restocked, we made it home in spite of arriving back to the airport to a dead car battery, and we settled back into our normal routine just in time for Maxwell to catch a tummy bug.
I love the holidays, but I also really love the steady, predictable normalcy that January brings.

I have over 1,100 pictures waiting for me to sift through--
at some point I'll catch up!
But for today, I'll just share this little post that has been sitting almost complete in my drafts for a while.
PS-My pleated shirt puffed forward in the picture below, but I'm NOT pregnant.
Just to make that clear. ;)

Maybe you've heard about the trend of making a list of 30 things to do by age 30.
I first heard about the idea less than a year before my 30th birthday, I think, and it didn't allow for much time to compile and accomplish a list of my own...
plus, if I were to compile a list in hindsight it would include things like
-have a baby (x5)
-move across the country (x3)
-graduate from college
-support my husband through 3 advanced degrees and a postdoctoral fellowship
-teach piano lessons to about 40 students

Maybe life has been a bit crazy so far for me to have a bucket list of random goals.
BUT, my friend Amberly wrote about a list of 30 things to do IN her 30s,
and I liked her idea!

And when I read the following quote by M. Russell Ballard, I determined that I needed to pursue some more goals in my life.

"I am so thoroughly convinced that if we don't set goals in our life and learn how to master the techniques of living to reach our goals, we can reach a ripe old age and look back on our life only to see that we reached but a small part of our full potential. When one learns to master the principles of setting a goal, he will then be able to make a great different in the results he attains in this life."

So, this past fall I compiled a list of 30 Things to do in my 30s.
Most of them aren't incredibly grand or ambitious goals, and most of them are of little consequence--
they mostly don't reflect the top priorities in my life.
But to me, they seem like attainable things that, without a goal, I may not do on my own.

And I know life's unpredictable nature may result in some changes, but hopefully having some things to work toward will help me be more purposeful in what I do and in my personal progress.
Can you believe that by the time I turn 40, my oldest child will be almost 20?

Because I do best with some accountability when it comes to personal goals,
my plan is to update you all on my progress each year around my birthday. 

-Master Playing the Organ
I have been an organist at Church for many years now, and I am just beginning to get a bit more interesting with my playing--like changing the stops between verses and such. I still have a long way to go before I feel really good about my ability. I think part of this goal may involve an Organ Workshop at BYU.

-Complete a Triathlon
I love biking, I enjoy swimming, and I really don't like running. It all balances out, right? A sprint triathlon would be a good challenge for me.

-Learn the Basics of Chinese
About a year and a half ago I felt a sudden need to learn Chinese. I have dabbled in it with a really good app, and when I work on it for a few minutes consistently every day I actually make pretty good progress. Hopefully, over the course of 10 years, consistent study will result in my being able to get by in the language. Sam will probably always work with a lot of Chinese people, so this skill may come in handy!

-Read 50 Books (not kids' books)
This doesn't seem very ambitious to me--surely I can read 5 books/year? But most of my reading recently has been kids' literature. I want to expand my horizons and keep an ongoing list of books I've read over the next decade.

-Go on a 100 Mile Bike Ride
We did 30 miles for my 30th birthday, with NO training whatsoever. So 100 miles doesn't seem out of reach to me.

-Visit Nauvoo as a Family
We live only 7 hours from Nauvoo, so we are hoping to make this trip happen in the very near future!

-Take a Finance Class Online
I like to think I know a reasonable amount about family finances, but in reality there is still a lot I need to learn. BYU Independent Study offers a free personal finance course that I would like to complete--hopefully this year, before we make some bigger financial decisions (like buying a house!).

-Ride the Hiawatha Bike Trail as a Family
I've wanted to do this ride ever since I heard about it years ago. 15 miles long, 10 train tunnels, and 7 sky-high trestles through stunning mountain scenery, and it's all downhill??? I'm there. And since it's all downhill (and has a shuttle back to the top), it's totally do-able for our family even if we have young kids when we go.

-Buy a House
Need I say more?? I don't regret moving around so much, but we're both feeling ready to settle down somewhere and buy a house! Last year Sam and I independently made lists of "essentials" and "desirables" for our home and then compared them to see how we overlapped and what our top priorities are. I LOVE houses, so I've been looking at them since my teenage years! I'm excited to find a house and turn it into a home with the projects we have in mind for our family.

-Be a Consistent School Volunteer
Maybe it's a cop-out, but I have excused myself from volunteering much in the classroom while having multiple little ones at home. As time goes on, I would like to get more involved in the schools.

-Do a Humanitarian Project as a Family
I'm not sure what I want to do yet, but I want to do something that takes a lot of effort from our whole family. I know there is a lot to consider with "voluntourism," and I'm not at all set on the idea of travelling somewhere for this project, but I want to come up with an idea together as a family and execute it, probably when we have a few teenagers.

-Stay in a Cabin in the Mountains as a Family
Initially my goal was to stay in the Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee, but I guess the location will depend on where we live in the next few years.

-Plant a Giant Garden
This is definitely a top priority once we buy a house! We have dreams of fruit trees, berry bushes, lots of vegetables, and an assortment of flowers, all laid out in a beautiful framework.

-Help our Boys Start a Business
This is something Sam and I have talked about for years. I'm not thinking anything large-scale here--more like a neighborhood yard care business. This is something we will discuss and plan with our boys as Talmage hits the teenage years. We want them to actively work together to earn money for their missions, for college, and for their other future plans.

-Work Through Preach My Gospel
Preach My Gospel is the manual The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints uses for missionaries to study and teach from. I didn't serve a full-time mission, but I have recently been thinking about my work as a mother in terms of missionary service, with Sam as my companion and our children as our investigators. After all, isn't our focus as parents to help our children come unto Christ? I've started studying this manual, changing the word "missionary" to "mother," and it has already helped and changed my approach to mothering and teaching. I want to make it all the way through along with my study of Come, Follow Me.

-Study Isaiah's Words in Depth
"Great are the words of Isaiah," right? But I still feel like I muddle my way through with only a vague idea of what is being said, even after many times reading and studying them. Anyone have suggestions for a great companion book to study them more deeply?

-Visit Go Ape
Shelby Farms Park has a Go Ape adventure course, and I've been wanting to do it since we moved here. I'm thinking this would be a fun birthday adventure for us this year!

-Be a Refugee Mentor
I tried to sign up to work as a refugee mentor last year, but I was never able to get a response. I want to work harder at this and see if I can get involved and help a refugee mother learn the ropes of schools, shopping, and more in Memphis.

-Watch Sam Present at a Scientific Conference
Sam regularly presents at scientific conferences, but I've never seen him present at one. It always makes me a little giddy to see him talk about his research and to see his expertise on display!

-Go Skiing with Sam
Even after being raised in the state with "the greatest snow on Earth," I've only been downhill skiing once, with my sister. It was fantastic, especially once I stopped falling over every time I stood up! I hope sometime this decade to hit the slopes with Sam.

-Write a Song
I took an AP Music Theory class in High School, but I've never written a real song, beyond little exercises I had to write for the class or composing quick melodies or arrangements as I mess around on the piano. I'd love to actually write a song--with words and printed music.

-Make a Backyard Basketball Court
This is another top priority for our future house! Poor Sam has never gotten to have a basketball hoop since we've been married--we were strongly considering getting one at this house, but the driveway is so steep we knew it would be a recipe for constant balls in the road. We have big plans to make a good basketball court with painted lines and such in our backyard soon after we buy a house.

-Get my Tooth Fixed
You've probably noticed that one of my teeth is black above it and the gum is much higher than the other side. I was born without that tooth, and in fixing it the gum was cut away asymmetrically and the metal implant shows through. Last time I was at the dentist, he gave me a referral to someone who might be able to help me out. It's not something I'm willing to invest thousands of dollars in at this point, but I want to at least look into it and see what it would take to improve my smile at least a little bit.

-Go on an Overnight Trip with Sam
The only real overnight trip we've had together since having kids was when we spent one night out here to see our house before moving here. I really want to change this in the very near future and I have talked with a friend about figuring out a child care swap, because she's in a similar situation. I'd even be okay combining this with a scientific conference! But few things recharge my mom batteries like spending one-on-one time with Sam.

-Make a Dress
I've made skirts before, but I've never made a full dress. This will be a fun project that should be pretty easy to check off my list!

-Finish our Food Storage Plan
I am almost done with this, but it keeps getting pushed aside. I have a 12-week menu plan with recipes and inventory that I am compiling, made entirely with shelf-stable foods. I can then ensure that our food storage supply always meets the inventory requirements so that, in case of disaster, I know we have 3 months worth of food on hand. I've made good headway, but I need to finish typing up the recipes and make the inventory list with actual amounts so I can see what foods we are lacking.

-Enter Something into a Fair
Why not? This would just be for fun. Many of my hobbies align with fair entries anyway.

-Memorize Something Big
I'm not sure what, yet--any suggestions? I've memorized the Family Proclamation, and pretty much memorized the Living Christ (although I definitely don't have them memorized anymore), and I'd like to memorize something else along those lines.

-Take Violin Lessons
After learning of my desire to play the violin, my dad got me one after our third boy was born. I've occasionally dabbled on it, but I'd really like to take lessons for at least a year to master the basics and then be able to better learn independently. Some things, like posture and technique, are difficult to improve without the help of a teacher who can quickly see problems.

-Finish the Quilts my Grandma Started
When my grandma passed away, my mom saved for me the beginnings of a quilt that had been tucked away in a closet for decades. My grandma had hand-stitched a bunch of Dresden plates using what appears to be vintage printed flour-sacks, probably in the 1950s or so. I feel like I'm going to explode with nostalgia every time I look at them, but I haven't made them into a quilt yet, largely for fear that my amateur sewing abilities will not do them justice. I also have some lovely brightly colored squares she sewed that I want to make into a smaller quilt.

Phew. That feels like a lot, but when I remember that I only have to complete three items on the list each year, it seems feasible. I'll let you know in June how I'm progressing!


  1. I love all of the goals you set!

  2. These are really great goals! For studying Isaiah, I took a Writings of Isaiah class a couple semesters ago from Terry Ball. He studies Isaiah for a living, and he's written several books about it. I haven't read any of them, but the class was really good, so I bet any of his books would be interesting and helpful as well!

    1. Thank you! I will have to check into those!


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