Tag Archives: 30 before 30

30-before-30: How’d I do?

Oh, hey, I’m 30!

I’ve actually been looking forward to this birthday for awhile. I’m pretty happy with how my 20s turned out, so it’s not that I was wishing them away, but the 30s seem to be the decade of really owning where you’re at and appreciating life’s journey. Most of my good friends are rockin’ their 30s already and seem to agree. It’s a decade of feeling more comfortable in your skin. Right before it really starts to wrinkle, right?

So, how’d I do on my mostly random Before-30 list? Did I accomplish everything? Not even close! Maybe 14-30. But I’m seeing it half-full, because making the list definitely inspired me to try a lot.

When I look back on the time between when I created the list (August 2013) and now, I’m amazed by all of the opportunities and experiences, big and small, life has bestowed on me. What’s more, many of the things I did manage to do were accomplished while growing another human being and raising a baby-turned-toddler.

The list:

1. See manatees in the wild. Status: Achieved, January 2015! Kayaked with them, too. Huge, life goal unlocked. Read more.


2. Complete a sprint triathlon. Status: HAHAHAHAHA. Swimming is still part of a triathlon, right? Pieathalon, 2020?

3. Finish the quilt I started for my mom’s 60th last fall. Status: Maybe in time for her 64th birthday. But I have made some cool baby quilts, in the meantime, including this self-designed dog quilt for my bestie, Regina.


4. Learn how to shape and fill in my eyebrows. Status: Kind of. Was introduced to the best product ever for lazy brow-enthusiasts: Modèle Sourcils Brow Groomer. Magic wand!

5. Complete and submit a short piece of fiction for publication. Status: Still just freelance magazine pieces, because let’s face it – it’s nice to get paid.

6. Read the Anne of Green Gables books. Status: I read the first one! IT was just like the PBS movie that I know by heart, which is to say – AMAZING.

7. Visit the Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah. Status: We have an early fall babymoon-type weekend in Northeast Iowa planned, and this is so on the agenda.

8. Take Emmett on a Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad ride. Status: Achieved, in pajamas! We did the Santa Ride, which was kind of overrated and crowded, and at night when it was hard to see out the windows, so I’d like to do a summer picnic ride, too.

9. Shoot the hot dog gun at an Iowa Cubs game. Status: Achieved! One of the best experiences of my life in Des Moines to-date. Read more.

10. Take a dance class with Joe. Status: That would involve having regular date nights, right? Maybe there’s something on Netflix?

11. Bake a multi-layer cake from scratch. Status: Achieved! Two layers and dripping frosting (also from scratch) count, right?

12. Do Yoga in the Park at Gray’s Lake. Status: Achieved! Even better? It was on a weekend visit with Regina. Actually, this week I also did yoga at Greenwood Park with Pop Up Yoga. Check out their events this summer!

13. Learn how to get a hula hoop twirling from my arm to my waist. Status: Does taking a hula-hoop class one morning at the Des Moines Social Club count? I’m counting it. Read More.

14. Float down the river in a stock tank. Status: A girl can only dream…

15. Have my own stamp fabricated. Status: I kinda started on this a few times, but no finish.

16. Take a spontaneous road trip to somewhere more than 2 hours away. Status: Achieved-ish! Clearly I was delirious when I wrote this list as a new mother. Iowa City is almost two hours away, and we hopped in the car on Memorial Day to spend a pretty spontaneous afternoon with two families we rarely get to see. And we peeked at Iowa’s Largest Walnut Cane Rocking Chair in the Amana Colonies (the basket and broom shop was closed!) through the window, which totally makes it a road trip.

17. Make cheese in the kitchen and have a few friends over for a wine & cheese tasting. Status: I have a cheese kit and everything, so I have no idea why this hasn’t happened yet.

18. Plant sunflowers. Status: Planted them! They did not thrive, but I did get a few blooms.

19. Have a buy nothing new month. Status: My debit card statements will probably tell me otherwise…

20. Take an online, non-academic class. Status: Achieved! I took a creative nonfiction class taught by my idol, Susan Orlean, on Skillshare. I’ll confess that I didn’t make time to do the assignment, though.

21. Tour the Iowa Capitol. Status: Achieved! We got to do tours as part of Mentoring Day on the Hill when I worked for “I Have a Dream.”

22. Visit a psychic. Status: Achieved! One of the most fun dates Joe and I have had. Read more.

23. Order from the swim-up bar at Adventureland. Status: Probably not going to happen for this preggo this summer.

24. Organize my basement craft corner. Status: Meh. Still looks like a hoarder lives here, but I did tidy up the other day before we got a new washer/dryer delivered. Also, this was a lame goal. Instead, I went to a live Burlesque show at the Vaudeville Mews with a bachelorette party! Woo! 

25. Go on a house tour in Des Moines. Status: Achieved! Not only did I go on my neighborhood tour, I volunteered for it.

26. Take a Chicago Architectural Boat Tour. Status: My brother made us a “coupon” for tickets to tour (and an offer to babysit!) and we SO need to plan a July/August trip to Chicago when there isn’t another big event going on.

27. Hit balls at a driving range. Status: Kind of fore-got about this one! Nope.

28. Learn to drive stick. Status: I can drive on lonely country roads, but not out to get groceries. Still scared of stop-and-go, hills, sharing the road with other vehicles.

29. Learn a recipe for something complicated by heart. Status: Does taking photos of meals Joe makes count? Naw.

30. Ride at least one day of RAGBRAI, the Register’s Great Bike Ride Across Iowa. Status: Was planning on doing a day last year, but Joe’s grandma passed away. We did a 35-mile ride on the Wabash Trace that doesn’t quite count, but made me feel better about achieving this goal! Pie!


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Chaturanga, now

I don’t practice yoga regularly, but whenever I make time to pop into a class, I enjoy it. It takes me awhile to stop feeling self conscious about my limited abilities and wandering mind, but eventually, I feel more in tuned to my body’s movement and more mentally focused.   nzLEVIBTPxvZtBdrImlRLVfVB-McCjOC-nzrTt7LaBiZ=w1263-h946-no

So when my BFF from home, Regina, came to town, we tackled #12 from my 30-before-30 list and did Yoga in the Park at Gray’s Lake together. (I figured it would be a good counter balance to bringing her to the Iowa State Fair later that day for Bauder’s Peppermint Ice Cream Bars!)

Yoga in the Park is free and runs from 9-10 a.m. in a wide grassy area at the southeast corner of Gray’s. It’s a different instructor each time, and the week we attended it was Pauline Tan, from Spark Barre Pilates & Yoga. She has a great Australian accent and reading her bio, it looks like she moved to Iowa from Naperville, IL, which is where Regina lives. Crazy, huh?


I would estimate there were a few hundred people from a wide variety of skill levels there.We biked down with mats in our backpacks, then popped over to the Farmer’s Market for some green smoothies before indulging at the Fair. If you’re looking for a relaxing way to kick off the weekend, I highly recommend it! Drew and Sandi who will be teaching classes in the coming weeks are great.


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Sun’s out, hotdog gun’s out

Shooting the hotdog gun at an Iowa Cubs game was one of the big ticket items on my “30 before 30” list. I got to cross it off on Friday night with 13 months left to go! I have a LOT to accomplish in the next year, though.

Before hot dog gun shooters go out onto the field, they wait in a shed-type area under the bleachers. If you’re a big dork like me, you have a huge smile on your face and ask one of the staff to take your picture.


I would say I scored a B- in my hot dog shooting. I was supposed to wait until the Cubs staffer riding in the back of the gator tapped my shoulder before shooting, but I saw a group of people I knew standing in an area and… well, I got excited and pushed the button. It was premature. I also had another dud that didn’t get over the fence along the third base line.


The way the gun is positioned, you’re really aiming back over your shoulder. As a spectator I’d never realized that!


My family and Joe’s family both were in town, and my nephew Oscar was able to nab one of the hot dogs. Emmett didn’t make it long enough to see the Friday night fireworks, but he was a trooper.


Watching the sun set over Des Moines from the cheap seats in Principal Park is a favorite pastime.

So, how’d I get to shoot the hot dog gun? It’s a super secret. Kidding. I just asked. They even sent me a certificate in the mail! Then you call and reserve your game.



Or, when the honor hasn’t been pre-reserved, a trick is to go hang out near the splash fountain by the bleachers between the first and second innings and again before the sixth. That’s where I hear they recruit people and you might just be able to walk up and ask.


P.S. Not on my “Before 30” list but something else cool that happened Friday: An piece I wrote for the Des Moines Business Record was published: Guest Opinion: Help foster nonprofit leadership.



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Des Moines Dates: Tarot for two

We needed to do something different. To get out of the sweatpants+Netflix rut of marriage in a Midwest winter. I wanted to check something off my “30 Before 30” list, and my aunt had gifted us some Christmas cash to spend on a date night*. So, naturally, I e-mailed some psychics and scheduled a couples tarot card reading.

Ula and Vianne of Visions Psychics were recommended by friends, and I liked the idea of going to a neighborhood psychic (they can come to you, but also offer readings in a home parlor in the North of Grand neighborhood.) We opted for two 15-minute tarot card readings, which they performed together at a round table lit by candles.


I don’t really believe in psychic powers, per se, but I do feel that we all carry certain energies as part of our personhood. We weren’t searching for deep answers or anything, but it turned out to be an interesting experience.

I’m not sure if my aura or extensive presence on the internet clued them into my career in communications, but a big surprise was that the American Southwest kept coming up in connection with my moneymaking and career future/spirit guide. Hmmm.

Joe was excited to hear that his cards indicated something to do with food/alcohol and Colorado. I did get emotional when they showed cards that indicated a parent had died when Joe was younger. We told them that was true for me, but not him, and Ula elaborated in a way that made me reach for the tissues.

Do I feel like we’re really going to uproot ourselves from Des Moines to pursue some sort of brewery-running life in the mountains? Not at all. But after the reading, we went to Louie’s Wine Dive and split a carafe and lobster poutine and talked through what they said and had some good laughs together.


We’ve been really wrapped up in the day-to-day logistics of parenthood, home ownership and work/volunteer responsibilities that it was nice to use our psychic reading as a catalyst for dreaming together and talking through some topics that we wouldn’t otherwise bring up on a random weeknight at home, or if we had just gone out to dinner.

*We saved money by calling on our babysitting co-op for free babysitting, using Christmas money and going out for a drink and appetizer instead of dinner, but the evening was still a little spendier than our typical outings.


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30-before-30: Goals 21-30

The final installment of my “30 before 30” list:

21. Tour the Iowa Capitol. Does anyone know if the tours go up into the dome?

22. Visit a psychic. I don’t really believe in psychic powers like I don’t really believe in horoscopes, but I think it would be entertaining/fun-in-a-scary-way for someone to look into my future. My friend Liz recently did this, and so did my friends Danny and Katy, so I actually have referrals.

23. Order from the swim-up bar at Adventureland. I did order from a swim-up bar at the resort we stayed in in the Dominican Republic (it was called the manatee bar!), but I’ve never been to the waterpark part of Adventureland, and this 100-degree weather has me daydreaming.

24. Organize my basement craft corner. You guys. My craft storage area looks like a horror scene from an episode of Hoarders. Joe brightened it by putting up yellow pegboard for my birthday a couple of years ago, but it’s like some giant craft monster went into the basement and vomited fabric and buttons and paper and other various notions. I just know that someday a rich old lady with bequeath me her amazing Victorian home with its many rooms, and in one I will create a heavenly, self-cleaning space in which I can craft. (Like this?)

25. Go on a house tour in Des Moines. I geek out looking at homes, and sometimes go to real estate open houses for fun, even though we’re not in the market. I know Drake, Sherman Hill and Riverbend neighborhoods have annual home tours. (Our home was on the Drake neighborhood tour before our time!)

26. Take a Chicago Architectural Boat Tour. I can’t believe I haven’t ever done this. It’s a Chicago sightseer staple. I’m sure I’d enjoy it even more if I brought along Garrett’s Chicago Mix to munch during the ride.

Photo via architecture.org

Photo via architecture.org

27. Hit balls at a driving range. I’ve only ever mini golfed, and I don’t do that very well, but I think it would be fun to try. Maybe it’s the fact that I spent the day staffing our charity hole at a golf outing today.

28. Learn to drive stick. I mention sometimes how I bought a VW, and it’s stick shift, so Joe’s the only one to drive it. I’ve heard that the State Fairgrounds are one of the best places in Des Moines to do driving lessons. There are some hills, but not the through traffic you’d get other places.

29. Learn a recipe for something complicated by heart. Even as I improve in the kitchen, I lean heavily on my cookbooks. It would be nice to have a go-to dinner beyond tacos or meatballs that I could whip up without looking at the step-by-step directions.

30. Ride at least one day of RAGBRAI, the Register’s Great Bike Ride Across Iowa. This past July would have been my ideal route, but it wasn’t feasible with no training and a two-week old. (Joe went for a few days though, and of course I have a half-finished blog post about that from earlier this month.)

See 1-5 here, 6-10 here, 11-20 here.


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My 30 before 30 list, 11-20

My 30 before 30 goals 1-5 here and 6-10 here.


11. Bake a multi-layer cake from scratch. Thanks to All Cakes Considered and my KitchenAid mixer, I dipped my toe into baking from scratch a few years ago. I’m not going to go all rainbow cake crazy, but maybe my next b-day cake will be a double layer creation, with some fruit filling in the center. Joe wants this pineapple upside down carrot cake again for his 30th in October.

12. Do Yoga in the Park at Gray’s Lake. Canoeing and jogging there are great, but I’ve never joined the huge crowd that shows up for downward dog. Schedule here.

13. Learn how to get a hula hoop twirling from my arm to my waist. You know the ladies with the hypnotic, fluid hooping moves you see at music fests? I can keep a hoop going while walking, but that’s about it. (Thanks for the inspiration, Ash!)

14. Float down the river in a stock tank. What can I say? The suburban Chicagoite in me is weirded out and delighted by the concept of floating a river in the kind of tank livestock drink out of. Joe’s from the Iowa-Nebraska border, and this is more of a Nebraska thing.

Image via outdoornebraska.ne.gov

Image via outdoornebraska.ne.gov

15. Have my own stamp fabricated. There’s a place in town my friends at Ephemera have these done, and I’ve always wanted to make one. Maybe a little hand-drawn baby manatee reading a book and wearing glasses? You can’t buy that.

16. Take a spontaneous road trip to somewhere more than 2 hours away. Traveling with a kid takes a lot more planning, but I can tell we’re already becoming more adept at pulling together what we need to leave the house. I’d like to think that we could pull off a random adventure sometime. It will help that I’ve switched to working just four days a week and have Fridays off. (Semi-related, my amazing friend Amy took her toddler daughter backpacking and survived!)

17. Make cheese in the kitchen and have a few friends over for a wine & cheese tasting. Homemade ricotta? A few selections from The Cheese Shop. Maybe with some spent grain bread Joe makes? We’d be so fancy and modern homesteader-y!

18. Plant sunflowers. There’s a totally overgrown, weedy back corner in our garden and after passing several homes with thriving giant sunflower patches on walks, I think they’d be the perfect thing to grow back there.

19. Have a buy nothing new month. (Except groceries, of course.) I took a pay cut to stay home on Fridays, so this is probably financially advisable. It should probably involve taking stock of the things I already own, and paring down.

20. Take an online, non-academic class. Craftsy has lots of sewing classes and Skillshare might help me learn how to make my blog prettier, or get better at using my SLR camera.

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My 30 before 30 list: 6-10

Everyone needs a bucket list. I need deadlines! 22 months until 30.

Goals 1-5 posted here.

6. Read the Anne of Green Gables books. Huge confession: Although Anne Shirley has been a personal heroine of mine since I was little, I’ve never read the original books by L.M. Montgomery – just seen the PBS movies starring Megan Follows. I know, I am a fraud. Maybe after I finish them I can plan a celebratory trip to Prince Edward Island?

7. Visit the Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah. This is a spot on my Iowa Bucket List. Can you see why?

photo via the Seed Savers Facebook Page

photo via the Seed Savers Facebook Page

Forbes also recently ranked Decorah one of the prettiest towns in the country.

8. Take Emmett on a Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad ride. I think he’d appreciate the “pumpkin express” next fall. I have so much fun taking him to experience “firsts,” but he pretty much sleeps through all of the excitement at this point.

9. Shoot the hot dog gun at an Iowa Cubs game. My friend Erin did this for her birthday this year. Majorly jealous!

10. Take a dance class with Joe. We tried to waltz at my cousin’s wedding earlier this month, and it was kind of a disaster. At my K-8 Catholic school, we were all required to take dance lessons in Jr. High. It was a sweaty palmed nightmare at the time, but it meant my brother and I know the same swing routine, which we busted out at my wedding. Joe and I drove past this place the other day, and it got me thinking.



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My 30 before 30 list: 1-5

Just 22 short months before I hit the landmark age of 30, and I’m brainstorming a few things I’d love to try or accomplish in that time. I’m a big believer that the moment I write something down, it transforms from an abstract ‘maybe someday’ to an actually attainable goal.

Here are the first five items on my list, in no particular order:

1. See manatees in the wild. Pretty much anyone who knows me beyond a handshake is clued into the fact that I’m obsessed with manatees and have been for 20 years. (This may explain why I’ve been lovingly gifted everything from a manatee spoon-holder and tea strainer to manatee boxer shorts!) I saw live manatees at Sea World as a kid, but I’d love to visit their home turf at Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge. I know touching/harassing manatees is a huge no-no, but it would be amazing to canoe or kayak among them. I’m also not-so-secretly terrified of sharks and open water.

Scan 2

2. Complete a sprint triathlon. I can run and bike, but I’m not a strong swimmer. At Girl Scout camp one year, I was the only one who didn’t qualify for the deepest section of the lake. I also tend to swim in a diagonal when I do backstroke. Awkward! My friend Cassie started small in her quest for triathlon training, and if I dedicate next summer to challenging myself in the pool, perhaps a year from now I’d be ready?

3. Finish the quilt I started for my mom’s 60th last fall. Both my mother and I are captains of unfinished projects. But she finally finished the Daisy Chain Sampler she was working on for me, so I think I need to follow through and finally put all of the fabric I invested in to use.

4. Learn how to shape and fill in my eyebrows. I have a weird fascination with women’s eyebrows. When properly maintained, they tend to make a face look “finished” and polish off a makeup look. Maybe I’ll try enlisting help from Ivy? I had it done once for me when I got professional makeup applied to model for Salon W and think it made a huge difference. Shameless computer camera selfie from that night:

Photo on 2011-11-18 at 21.57 #3

5. Complete and submit a short piece of fiction for publication. I still do a fair share of freelance magazine and newspaper projects, but I’ve let my fiction writing muscle atrophy. I’d love to spend time on something, then submit it to a publication like Des Moines-based Spoilage, or next year’s Juice Fiction Contest, if they continue that.


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