As I approach my 4th decade on this earth, I felt like it was appropriate to write a post highlighting some of the best moments of my 30s. When I was 20 years old, I dreaded turning 30...did not want it to happen AT ALL...I was in denial and refused to believe that I was getting older. Looking back, I realize how silly that was because we should all be grateful for whatever time we are given and look at each day as a gift. I have experienced some of my favorite moments in the last ten years. Here are some of those memories, not in any specific order...well except for the first two...which are pretty much tied for first place...
Tied for #1-Getting married to my perfect match. I knew when we met 12 years ago, and when he took off his sunglasses and looked at me with those magical hazel eyes, that I was going to marry Chad. I turned 30 in July and I kicked off my 30s with the most amazing wedding day on August 31, 2002. We got married at Olbrich Botanical Gardens in the Rose Garden (which is now called the Event Garden--and there are not as many roses in that area anymore). We had an amazing day celebrating our union with family and friends, making memories to last a lifetime. I am a lucky girl!
Tied for #1-The birth of my beautiful baby boy. I've always loved children--a big part of the reason I wanted to become a teacher, and I always wanted to have my own kids. I never knew just how mind-blowing becoming a mother and a mommy would really be, though. I guess you never really know how awesome it is until it happens to you. Josh is 8 1/2 years old now and I feel so lucky every day to have such an incredible little boy. He is growing up to be an intelligent, caring young man and I couldn't be more proud.
I count my blessings every day to have Chad and Josh in my life. They are the best part of me and they make me a better person. So you can see why these two moments tie for the best moments of this decade, and I can guarantee that they will be two of the best moments for the rest of my life.
Another memory from my 30s is that I put aside my lifelong ambition to become an elementary teacher to pursue a "career" in administration and give a little bit of my self back to the college that helped shape me to becoming the person that I am today. I started working at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in September 2004. I have worked for a few different departments on campus and have been lucky enough to find challenging opportunities every few years to allow myself to grow professionally. I honestly hope to get back into teaching some day, but for now I am interested to see where this road will take me.
My love for reading was also re-ignited in my 30s. As a child and teen I absolutely loved to read. I devoured any book I could get my hands on. In high school and college, I got so busy reading the books that I "had" to read for required coursework that I drifted away from reading for pleasure. I was introduced to an 11 year old boy named Harry Potter by my best friend, Genny, while we were co-teaching (this was a little before I turned 30). I was pulled into the magical world of Harry Potter and I never looked back. I read the first three books and re-read them over and over again. Each time a new book would be slated to come out, I would start the series again from the beginning in preparation for that next book. The Harry Potter books are the only series that I did that with and I wasn't really interested in reading anything else, just those stories, to escape into that world and feel like I was at Hogwarts among friends. I looked forward to book releases and even went to the midnight release party for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on 7/21/07 at Borders (I'm still gutted that they went out of business!). Which leads me to meeting some pretty awesome friends...
A few years ago, in March of 2007 I think...I stumbled upon an online quest put on by HPFanTrips. I joined on using a silly screen name and later was allowed to change it to ObsessedHPFan. I met some pretty incredible friends on the forum that was set up for us to share clues and try to make it through these challenges that were set before us to solve this mystery. HPFanTrips chose some one to go on one of their trips as the prize for this quest, but the true prize for me was meeting a wonderful group of friends that I still keep in touch with today. They introduced me to a few other book series that have further shaped who I am today. One of those series was The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott and the other was The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer. My good friend Jules, who I met through the hpquest forum suggested I read the Flamel books. I read the first one and was hooked. She had a great idea to create a fan forum dedicated to this series, and I told her I would help her out with it. She contacted the author and he was happy to work with her and create a site for fans to talk about these stories. Flamel's Immortal Portal was created http://www.flamels-immortal-portal.com/ and the great group of friends I met on the hpquest forum became a solid team to run this great place for fans of the Flamel series...it's the Official Fansite and Official Forum for this series!!! This group also mentioned the Twilight Saga, and I picked up the first three books in May 2008 as a Mother's Day gift for myself. To say that I devoured them is an understatement...I was completely sucked in (LOL-see what I did there?!). I had to find a place to talk about these books, so I searched online and found a forum called TwilightMoms.com. I joined as TwilightTammy and have met so many incredible women from there through the years. The Flamel and Twilight books were the springboard that got me into reading new genres and following the recommendations of friends who read some fabulous books and wanted to share the love with their friends. This love for books also led me to becoming a book reviewer for my friend, and fellow TwilightMOM, Yara for the past year. I get the wonderful opportunity to read and review books for authors and publishers before the general public and we have an amazing group of reviewers and Yara is the best. You can check out the blog here: http://www.onceuponatwilight.com/
I am happy to call the wonderful people I've met through these fandoms my friends, and so truly blessed to have them in my life. I have met some of them in real life and it's like I have known them forever. Those who I haven't met in real life, I honestly hope that I can meet them some day, and I know it will be just like with the others. They have been such an amazing source of support and I'm so grateful for each and every one of them.
While this trip down memory lane has been fascinating for me, I feel like this post is never going to end...so I'm only going to mention a few more things: authors I've been fortunate enough to meet this past decade, celebrities I've been lucky enough to meet, and the people who have been with me from the start.
One of my favorite-author-meeting-moments is also another one of my "I'm never going to forget this moment for the rest of my life" moments. I.got.to.meet.J.K.Rowling!!!!! I know, right?! So freaking amazing! And it would have been so much better if I would have been able to actually talk to her, but I was so awestruck when I met her that I thought I was going to throw up on her and my voice just wouldn't work. It was a magical night (yeah, cheesy I know)...that I will never forget. In that moment I decided that if I ever met another famous person I would not choke up, I would say something to them...anything (as long as I didn't get sick on them). I've been so lucky to meet so many of my favorite authors including: Michael Scott, Lauren Kate, Cassandra Clare, Suzanne Collins, Maggie Stiefvater, and of course, J.K. Rowling. There are so many more that I would LOVE to meet. I hope to attend BEA or a similar convention some day to be able to meet more of these amazing folks who change my life on a daily basis through their words.
Other celebrities I've been lucky enough to meet were mostly due to the fan conventions I've attended over the years, either as a fan or as a volunteer working for the company sponsoring the convention. I've attended a number of Twilight Conventions and The Hunger Games Convention, too. I've been lucky enough to meet the following celebs (and even got stuck in an elevator with a few of them--but that's a story for another day): Peter Facinelli, Edi Gathegi, Gil Birmingham, Alex Meraz, Chaske Spencer, Bronson Pelletier, Kiowa Gordon, Julia Jones, Tinsel Korey, Boo Boo Stewart, Nikki Reed, Catherine Hardwicke, Michael Welch, Justin Chon, Charlie Bewley, Daniel Cudmore, and I'm pretty sure I'm forgetting some Twilight people...I'll come back and add them later if I remember them. For The Hunger Games I met: Dayo Okeniyi, Jackie Emerson, Eric Hennig, and Amandla Steinberg. Ooh, and in the summer of 2011, Josh and I went to Illinois to meet Tom Felton--so awesome!!! I made some Slytherin Scrabble tile magnets for him and he absolutely LOVED them!! All of the celebrities I met were super cool and down to earth. They are people just like us and I think it helps to remember that when you meet them so that you can keep your wits about you and not say anything stupid. My dream is to meet Stephenie Meyer and the rest of the cast of the Twilight movies (who I haven't met yet), but I don't think a trip to The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 premiere is in the cards for me. Maybe I'll be lucky enough to meet them another way some day. I'd also love to meet more of the cast from the Harry Potter movies. A girl can dream, right? **sigh**
And this leads me to the reason I am here: my parents. Words cannot express how much I love these two people! I am so so lucky to have them as my mom and dad, and as an adult I can also proudly say that I count them as two of my closest friends. They have always been there for me, no matter what--always supportive, loving, caring, always. I am here because of them, I am who I am because of them. I have two fantastic big brothers because of them. My brothers and I didn't always get along, but I am happy to say that we have become great friends over the years and they, along with their wives and children, bring light and happiness into my life. My family is very important to me and the past ten years have been filled with many wonderful moments with them including the weddings of both of my brothers, my sister-in-law, and my mother-in-law. In addition to those fabulous weddings, we have welcomed a few nieces and nephews into this world in the past ten years and I am so proud to be their aunt.
So as I type the last few sentences of this post, the clock slowly ticks closer and closer to midnight, and my 30s are beginning to slip away. While it makes me sad to see them go (because I'm a pretty emotional and nostalgic person), I have decided to approach my 40s with anticipation that I will have another decade filled with memorable moments, amazing friendships (both continued and new), the love of and from my remarkable family (including my parents, brothers, husband, son, and the rest of my family), and making the most of each and every day I am here on this earth. As I said before, each day is a gift and I truly am grateful to have been given 39 years worth of gifts...and I look forward to entering this new decade to see what incredible memories are in store for me and the world.
Thanks for coming on this journey with me! I hope I didn't bore you too much. :)