Turning 36

“How many numbers will you be on your birthday, Mom?” my daughter Lucy recently asked.

“36!” I proudly responded.

“Wow, Mom! That’s a lot of numbers!”

Come on, kid. Perspective is everything. 36 isn’t old … if you’re a tree!

Well, I’m not a tree. And even if I was, 36 isn’t old, dang it! I feel younger and healthier today than I did a year ago. My friend Kathryn turned 38 a few weeks ago and created a list of 38 things she wants to do. Taking her lead, here are 36 things on my mind as I celebrate my birthday today.

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#3: Perpetual Adoration Chapel, St. Augustin, Des Moines

1. Start each day with a morning offering. End with a daily examen.

2. Create a prayer corner in my home.

3. At least once a month, meet Jesus for a date in that chapel there. —>

4. Say NO with conviction to things I am not being called to do. Say YES with enthusiasm to things I am.

5. If it’s God’s will for Joel to become an ordained deacon, it will happen. So chill, girl. Take it one day at a time.

6. Be charitable with my “first fruits.” Give from the top of our budget rather than the bottom.

7. Trust that people have good intentions. If I’m wrong, freely forgive them.

8. Spend more time with spiritual director.

9. Land that really big interview for the blog. And I mean BIG. I know who I want to ask, I just need to make it happen!

#14: Embrace her free spirit!

10. Kiss my husband more. And in public!

11. Go on a monthly date with Joel. Hey, more opportunities to get those kisses in! And get this — some friends have graciously offered to watch the kids once a month so we can make these date nights happen!

12. Call my Mom more. And not just when I need something.

13.Teach Jude baby sign language.

14. Embrace Lucy’s personality — the talkative, charming, gregarious, creative, distractable, and flighty social butterfly she is.

15. Be available to my sister to help plan and celebrate her wedding.

16. Be nicer to my dog.

17. Take Lucy to the theater. That’s the theatre not the movie theater.

18. Watch classic movies like A Man for All Seasons, Citizen Kane, Little Women, It’s a Wonderful Life, and On the Waterfront. (What should I add?).

19. Finish that 1,000+-page novel I started reading in February.

20. Purchase more fine art for our home, from local artists when possible.

21. Play my piano more.

22. Build a vegetable garden and grow tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, peppers, and lettuce. And radishes. Oh yes, radishes.

23. Build a compost pile to recycle food scraps and other biodegradable waste.

24. Eat more fish.

25. Bake homemade biscotti. Savor every bite.

26. Run the Des Moines half-marathon in October.

#31: Smokey Row, Des Moines

27. Wear dresses and skirts more often. I feel pretty in them. And I am happier when I feel pretty.

28. Make one new good friend.

29. Play card games more with married couple friends.

30. Host more dinner parties. The house will never be big enough, the lighting will never be right, and the dog might bark all party long. So what. Deal with it. Joel’s cooking will make up for it!

31. Hang out at local coffee shops, like that one over there.  —–>

32. Paint my laundry/mud room blue — like this.

33. Paint my daughter’s fingernails more often. Heck, paint MY fingernails more often.

34. Feed the birds.

35. Go to bed by 10 p.m. and arise by 6 a.m. on most days.

36. Ask for help, with grace, when needed. And don’t wait until the last minute.

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There you have it. Joel says my list is like New Year’s resolutions on steroids. Maybe so.

Well, what am I waiting for? Let’s get cracking on #36.

Help me, please!  Give me your best advice for year 36. You can comment by clicking here. I’m looking forward to reading your ideas! 


  1. These are great! You should have more one-time things on the list (like flying on a trapeze or sliding down the bannister at work, both of which were on my friend’s 27 list and then they were checked off for good) — so you don’t have to remember them all all the time! Have a great year!

  2. Love #10. You can totally do #13. It helped L’s speech tremendously. I wish I would’ve done it with all the kids. For #18: 12 Angry Men and more awesome movies from the AFI Top 100. We are working our way through the list. You will never regret #32. A happy laundry room makes a happy momma. I’m honored you wrote the list. Awesome!!

  3. Happy Birthday to my beautiful wife! That blind date we went on in 2003 is still the best decision I ever made, and it looks even better with each passing year!

    For the record, I didn’t make the “New Year’s Resolution on steroids” remark to get quoted in a blog post. I guess everything is pretty much fair game at Das Schmidt Haus.

  4. Stephanie

    What a great idea! I turn 37 next month and have a LONG list of things I’ve always wanted to accomplish. Not bucket list items, but things to help me be a better me. I will surely use your list as a guideline!

  5. Christen Cota

    I love the list! I think it is great and already fulfills what my advise for 36 would be…make a list! When I turned 25 I made a list of things to do before I turned 30 and it was the only reason why I actually became a stained-glass apprentice for a summer (when I was 28) and rode in a hot air balloon (when I was 29)! Now that I am getting closer to 40 I was thinking about making a list again, but maybe I should do it annually like you.

  6. Jenna Grimes

    Happy birthday to you. May 36 be the year of blessings to you, and the whole family. The list is awesome.

  7. Sara Brinker

    Happy Birthday friend!!! So great to get to see you and celebrate with you tonight!!! Cheers to a great year!!!

    Oh. And yes. Smokey Row rocks. Let’s go there!! ;). Gage LOVES it there too!!

  8. Lisa Bourne

    Turning 36 isn’t for sissies. Heck, for that matter neither is any birthday after that. If you find a way to get through all of your list before 37 rolls around, let me know. Point being, the list is nice, the list is great, the list is a good idea; however I recommend you be sure which things mean more to you than others, go after those first, and then do NOT beat yourself up over anything you don’t get to. Remind me to tell you about my experience training for the Des Moines half-marathon as a way to work through my first miscarriage. God never ceases to amaze with what he has in store and his ways of leading us.

  9. Karey M.

    Wow, I agree with Joel. Ambitious list. You’re going to do all that and get 8 hours of sleep a night? Hope your birthday was blessed.

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