But since it was only a month (ish) ago, I thought I should write about my birthday. I turned 37 this year. It's not a big birthday or even an even numbered year. It's just another year that I am supposed to keep track of but somehow can only get it within a year or two of remembering. Definitely a sign of aging I guess. It still gets me whenever people say I am not old enough to have 5 kids. I don't know if I look younger or if they don't know how close together I had my kids, but 37 is definitely old enough. If I had started when I was 22 and had the same spacing I'd be old enough to have 8 kids. 37 is probably about the time when I should stop having kids. But I digress...
This year, I wanted to do something a little bit different, and this was completely inspired by one of my Florida friend's blog (thanks Kendra). I decided to do an act of kindness for every year I have been alive. I had been thinking about this and planning out what I wanted to do for at least a month. I knew it would be tiring, but I wanted to do all 37 in one day. And I knew I had to do it before I got too old or it would get way too overwhelming. It ended up being a great day. There is this show called the Middle where the girl does an experiment to see if smiles are contagious. People end up getting freaked out because her smile is so big and creepy. That's how I felt all day, like I couldn't wipe the big smile off my face. I couldn't have done much without Jared taking the day off work to be home with the kids. That was a huge act of kindness on his part. Here are the highlights of the day.
I started by writing some notes to various people while eating breakfast is bed (thanks to Jared again!). There are so many people that mean so much to me and I just wanted some of them to know. I then went to the kids' school to buy them each a candy gram (side note: Alex ended up with 9 of them! It kills me because he is such a quiet kid and yet all these people seem to like him). I also left two notes with chocolates and gift cards to Office Depot for both my kids' teachers. They are both great with my kids and I am so grateful for them.
After that I swung by our old home teachers' house to leave them a note with some candy (it was a father and son). I just wanted them to know that they were probably the best home teachers we have ever had. They were so interested in our family and each of our kids, and we were only in that ward for less than 6 months, living in a basement. They knew we were temporary, but they still came. Then they helped us move even though the dad was on crutches at the time. I think I will always remember them and I wanted them to know that. A lot of the things I did were for strangers and things that I will never know if I made someone's day or not. I thought I would never know about this one either, but that night, he called me and thanked me for the note (even though it was my day to be nice to people). That made me feel like at least something I did made a difference in someone's day.
I wanted to let the ladies that do story time at the library know that I appreciate all that they do and that we really enjoy coming almost every week. I left notes and chocolates for the three ladies there. Then I headed to my favorite car wash place, washed Jared's car and then bought a gift card good for three car washes and taped it onto the spot where you swipe your card. That's one that I will never know the end result of, but I can only hope that it brightened someone's day. Oh, and the car wash attendant thought I was a nut for doing what I was doing. Could have been the creepy smile, who knows?
After that I headed to Walmart to do a couple of things. First, I knew they had a food bank drop in the entrance so I left a bag of food there. I also had a $10 gift card to give to someone. Sitting in my car, I noticed a mom walking in with a baby in a car seat and two little kids that she was also pushing in the cart. I felt like I was looking at myself when I saw her so I rushed in to find her. She was a little confused, but I told her to read the note explaining that it was my 37th birthday and I wanted to do 37 acts of kindness today. She was so grateful! I loved that feeling of helping someone personally.
I also knew that there are usually some various homeless people holding up signs in the area. I made up some homeless care packages with socks, some rolls, water, snack food, etc. I don't know how many times I've passed these people, or people like them and not done anything. It felt good to have something ready for them. But I only had two and there was another guy standing around the corner. I felt bad that I didn't have anything for him, so I went and bought him some lunch at Chick-fil-a and brought it back. He was so grateful, especially for the drink. One of my other favorite moments was paying for the person's lunch behind me in the drive through. Looking in the rear view mirror I noticed that she looked tired and run down. After I paid, I told them to give her the note with my explanation. I tried to see her reaction as I drove off, but didn't want to look like a creepy, smiley weird-o staring at her, so I had to leave her reaction to my imagination. I hope I made her day a little brighter.
I met Jared for lunch where I bought a gift card to give to someone else. The girl I gave it to was also so happy. She gave me a hug and told me she would definitely pass it on. That one made me feel pretty good too.
From here I went to volunteer at the cannery. I don't know why I was so excited for this one, but I had been wanting to go for a while and never had the chance until Jared could watch the kids for me. We ended up being the clean up crew which meant that we not only wore hairnets and rubber gloves, but big rubber boots and goggles as well. I looked ridiculous, but I loved it (I wish I had a picture of this one). We got to use these huge hoses that sprayed soap everywhere and then scrub everything from top to bottom. I don't know why, but I had fun.
It was getting pretty late so I quickly delivered some candy and notes to my visiting teaching sisters and the relief society president, and then went home to a lovely pizza dinner and cake that Jared had made for me. I gave him a note and some stuff that I thought he would like. And I got my present, I mean besides letting me do these 37 things. It was a hard wood floor vacuum so I don't have to sweep with a broom anymore. I love it!
This is what my lovely family looked like that night:)
And sweet, happy Hallie holding the birthday balloon.
I still hadn't finished my list, so after dinner I dropped off two freezer meals to a couple of families in my ward. This was kind of a big one for me because I hate to cook and when I do, I want to keep it for myself to spare the torture of having to do it another day. But I knew I wanted to do it so I had them all ready the night before. One of the families was one that I had never met, but I knew that the wife had broken her knee cap falling on the ice (ouch!). I left it with the husband, who apparently didn't remember my name to tell his wife. She went on our neighborhood Facebook page and thanked whoever dropped dinner off. I could only smile a little bigger when I saw that. I'm glad I made her day better.
The last things I did were done really late at night. I heart attacked three different neighbors' doors and left some brownies. I was so hoping they wouldn't hear me or think I was a burglar or something. I think I pulled it off.
So anyway, that completed my 37 things. It was seriously one of the best days ever! It's not that I don't do nice things for people on other days, it's just that this was my only focus all day. And it really opened my eyes to ways that I can help other people. I could have spent the same amount of time and money on myself pretty easily, but I felt so much more fulfilled giving it to other people. I am so glad I did it! Happy Birthday to me!
For Presidents' Day we had a winter party with my parents, my brother's family and Emily. It was a nice day for sledding. Do you believe that our kids have never sledded before this? It was fun. No pics of us actually sledding, but I liked how Jared was pulling three of them in this one.
Fun times with the family.