Surprise! I'm 30.

On my 16th birthday, I thought I was going out to a movie. My date was supposed to pick me up at my house after my mom and I got home from church. I thought my mom picked up a bunch of pizzas on the way home for her friends, who were coming over to play cards. When we arrived home, my best friend, who was always at my house and probably there to help me get ready, told me that my present from her was in the basement. She proceeded to lead me down there blindfolded. I distinctly remember asking, "Is it a puppy?" Just then, she uncovered my eyes and 20 or so of my closest friends stood before me and yelled "SURPRISE!" I was shocked. I didn't know my jaw could drop and stay there so long. As you probably guessed, I cried tears of joy (even back then) and could not stop smiling. It was unforgettable.

Fast forward 14 years. (Ugh. Only old people can say that.) I knew Rob had something up his sleeve for my 30th birthday, but I didn't know what and mainly when it would be. I was pretty sure it was going to be Sunday, Sept. 23 though so I thought I'd have to act surprised when that day came. Something was supposed to happen on that day, but since I kept changing plans on him, Rob was forced to call an audible. And boy if he didn't execute it to perfection.

We got home last Sunday from yet another Iowa State football victory. We were debating what to eat for lunch when my mom called. She was going to take my aunt out to dinner at Pizza King here in Council Bluffs at 4:30 or so, and would I like to come. Hmm, let's see here. A free meal at one of my favorite restaurants that I don't have to cook. Yesplease. Rob was upstairs at the time and had been talking all day about watching the Cowboys on TV.. So when I told him about dinner at Pizza King, he acted disappointed and said, "But the Cowboys are on TV then." This act was all part of his master plan, but I proceeded to get annoyed. "How would you like it if your family came to town to take you out to dinner for your birthday and I wanted to stay home and watch Big Brother?!" (or something to that effect ;) He apologized immediately (secretly pleased, I'm sure, with his superb acting skills) and it was settled: Pizza King for dinner at 4:30. I knew my mom had to get on a plane for D.C. bright and early the next day, so I didn't think twice about the early time.

We went about our day cleaning, napping, etc. At about 4:15 I was scrambling around the house trying to get ready. In hindsight, Rob was very calm considering he was moments away from the big reveal. We arrived and my mom met us at the front door. She's always eager to take her granddaughter away from me so this also seemed normal. She led me into the room and just when I thought "Hey, wait a second, this is where we threw my mom's surprise 50th," I rounded the corner and once again, my friends and family stood before me and yelled, "SURPRISE." The proceeded to sing "Happy Birthday." Once again, I cried happy tears. This was my second surprise party and I'm only 30 years old! To say I felt blessed is an understatement.

This surprise was extra special for a few reasons. My mother-in-law, sister-in-law and niece drove almost two hours one way. Friends came by themselves, knowing they probably wouldn't know anyone else there. Many others were there on VERY short notice. It meant the world to me.

If that weren't enough (and this is a total brag alert) my husband got every one's attention (in only the way a teacher can) once they were seated with their food and I was at the front of the room filling my plate. He thanked everyone for coming, gave a brief speech and then presented me with diamond earrings! If the party weren't enough, diamond. freaking. earrings! This man is gooood! I also had no idea those were coming so, naturally, I cried. Again.

The surprise party was so much fun, but the best part was learning the details of the planning process.    Rob acting upset about missing the cowboys game, Mom calling me all casually like, "Hey, let's go to dinner," when really the party hinged on my agreement. Getting the cake, flowers and balloons and paying for them without me noticing. But by far the best thing I learned after the fact was that Rob really didn't go running on Monday and Wednesday earlier that week. When Faith and I got home, he was wearing his running clothes and Faith called him dirty, as usual. But he hadn't been running. He'd be planning, and shopping. Not wanting me to suspect anything because he wasn't sweaty, Rob ran five laps around our backyard to work up a sweat. That right there is love. Hearing about it was like another present.

Having the party before my birthday really allowed me to put "turning 30" into perspective. Sure, I'm no longer in my 20s (time to drop my 20 something bloggers membership), but as a friend put it in one of my birthday cards, at 30 you really feel like you've "hit your stride, figured life out a little, built a family, etc." I couldn't agree more. I think the thing I love most about this age is getting to enjoy my parents enjoying my daughter. There's nothing else like it.

As far as "getting older," let's face it, I've always been "old."
Number one: I'm a huge morning person. Just ask my college roommates, who thought I was crazy nuts annoying for going to the gym at 7 a.m.
Number two: I enjoy reading the newspaper. In print.
Number three: I fall asleep on the couch at approximately 9:15 p.m.
Number four: Ever since Faith was born, we eat dinner no later than 5:30 p.m.
Number five: For fun in high school, my friends and I would play cards. No, not drinking games. Rummy. Grandma's rummy.

I had great friends at age 16 and have a pretty great family at age 30. What more can a girl ask for? Not even diamond earrings.

The Birthday Post

So Nicole told me that the only thing she wants for her birthday is a blog post from me. I thought about going through with this in a few different ways, especially since I knew darn well that just a blog post wouldn't do ;) because it's the dirty-thirty.

Here are the ideas I came up with:

1) Since Nic loves lists so much (see any of the previous posts) I thought I could make a list of why she rocks. ***Please notice the list is the first on my list; bonus points***

2) Filming a romanticized and fairly well written soliloquy, relating my thoughts and feelings about the many wonderful qualities about my wife and posting it here.  Buying a sweet card and writing a meaningful message... man, I blew this idea.

3) Opening presents at Pizza King for surprise party.

3) Throwing a surprise birthday party (with the help of her mother!)... bingo.

4) Buying her a new set of golf irons; ooooh wait, Nicole's 30th birthday, not mine.

5) Getting her a meaningful gift, from Faith and me, that represents my love for her, and that I'm willing to do everything I can to make her happy (including making her mad at me for silly stuff as to not ruin any surprises).

6) A trip. A house. A dirty-thirty. Well, one will have to do.

Anyway, I'm stretching now. My wife knows that I have always considered myself the luckiest guy I know. And the point of the matter is, no matter what, she is stuck with me for a long, long time. And for that: I am grateful, I am happy, and I am truly lucky.

And might I add - she got pretty lucky herself. Not because of me. No. But because of how smart, beautiful, and funny she is, she gets to pass that down to our child.

I love you dear. Happy 30th. And the nice part - from now on every birthday is your 30th :)

Faithisms The Sequel

Faith: (two inches from Howie's face) "Howie, it's your sister. I right here."
Howie: (not having it)

(later that day, in the car)
Me: "Good job, Honey."
Faith: "I not honey. I Howie's sister!"

Faith: "What's my name?"
Me: "Faithy Janna Lindquist."
Faith: "That's me...That's my name...Faithy Janna Lindquist Janna."

Our neighbors rented a princess-themed bouncy castle for their daughter's 8th birthday. Upon not seeing it in their yard the next day...
Faith: "Where'd the princess house go?" (100 times)

Faith: "Mommy have a tall butt. Faithy have a short butt."

Me: "Do you like the Cyclones?"
Faith: (nods, then pauses) "I like da Hawkeyes too. I like bofa dem."
Me: (in my head) "Nooooooooo!" (Thanks alot, Papa Stevie).

Me: (singing the Hokey Pokey)
Faith: "Dat Gampa John's song."

Me: "What are you getting me for my birthday?"
Faith: (long pause) "Baby candles?"

Rob: (singing) "I wear my sunglasses at night."
Faith: (trying to sing) "I wear my sunglasses at home."

Rob: "Bye, Faith."
Faith: "Bye, Daddy Fairy." (Everyone is a princess fairy in our house regardless of gender.)

Til next time!

Flower Power

When one of my best friends from high school asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding, I was excited. Standing up for a bride on the most memorable day of her life is a huge honor.

When that same best friend asked my daughter to be her flower girl, I was excited, but also nervous, anxious and worried. But mostly I was REALLY REALLY excited.

There's nothing parents love more than to watch their children excel and for them to look adorable while doing so (just ask Facebook).

It didn't take long for the bride and I to agree on a beautiful, ivory dress from JCPenney. I found some gold shoes at Shopko to accessorize it and she found a headband and bracelet to complement all of the above.

We spent weeks practicing at home. And not just because we wanted her to get it right. Coming up with new activities (that don't involve screen time or messy art materials) that keep a two-year-old busy can be challenging. This was an easy, mess-free activity so yeah, let's practice 10 times a day.

When others expressed doubt about my little woman actually making it up the aisle on the big day due to her young age, I listened, but knew they were wrong. Faith has an incredible attention span (girl has been to two movies, sat still the entire time and not made a peep). She also follows directions pretty well (on a full stomach). Last but not least, she ADORES other kids. I knew she'd be smitten with the ring bearer, so if he cooperated, Faith would too.

(Sidenote: I make Faith sound like a perfect angel sometimes. That is most certainly NOT the case. She can throw a tantrum just like Carlos Zambrano can throw a pitch. But I don't think you want to see/hear about it when we turn off Mickey Mouse after just one episode. Or when she can't go outside and play because it's raining. Or when Daddy tries to put her to bed instead of Mommy. That's when she acts like she's on an episode of "Real Toddlers of Council Bluffs.")

So where was I? Ah, the rehearsal. As expected, she fell in love with Connor at first sight. They walked down the aisle perfectly, albeit a little slow.

And then they tried to scale the stairs while holding hands. First he fell. Then she fell. (Both were OK.) The second trial run was just as cute as the first. I knew the only questionable part of the D-W-Day would be her nap.

With the ceremony starting at 3, I wasn't sure if we should keep her awake until her walk of fame was finished, or try for an early nap. First the kids had to run out their energy.

With Rob and I both in the wedding party, it was hard to do both the job of usher/bridesmaid and dad/mom of the flower girl and do it well. I kept bouncing back and forth between trying to get Faith to nap, practicing my speech, entertaining a girl who wasn't going to nap for the life of her and being there for my best friend. I don't think I did either one well and it left me feeling inadequate if I'm being honest.

About five minutes before the ceremony I could tell tiredness was kicking in. Faith wanted to be out in the hallway with her buddy Connor but she also wanted to be by her mama. Mama couldn't be out in the hallway. Basically, she ended up in tears right before the wedding was about to start. This is when I momentarily broke down. My friend, the bride tried to comfort me saying she understood no matter what happened.

I wasn't about to let my friend concern herself with this situation for a second, so I just said everything was fine and stood to the side comforting Faith. Yes, my head knew that life would go on if she didn't make it down the aisle and that obviously that was not even in the Top 5 of important things happening that day. However, my heart was devastated by the prospect of no walk.

We had talked this up for weeks -months even- practiced numerous times in the hallway, read books about being a flower girl, shopped for the perfect shoes and spent three hours with the other bridesmaids doing hair and makeup.

I knew how excited Faith was to be a "fairy princess." I didn't want her delirium from exhaustion to ruin it for her. Thankfully, it didn't.

I credit Connor and his cuteness to her making it without crying/making it at all. If it weren't for him, I honestly don't know if she would've done it. But they did. It might've gone down as Guinness' slowest walk ever, but thankfully the aisle was fairly short. Since Connor's dad was at the front of the church, they both stopped there and just stared, not sure what to do next. Faith wasn't going anywhere. Connor leaned over and gave her a hug and she hugged back. Daddy bribed Faith over to him with a pacifier and that was that. Tears fell from my face and I was relieved it was over.

Finally able to concentrate on the bride-to-be, I watched my best friend since elementary school walk down the aisle. She looked so happy. I felt so happy for her. A childhood friend who sang at our wedding performed "God Gave Me You." It sounded like a professional cover. It was the perfect ceremony. Our family was so grateful to be a part of it.

Just ask the dancing queen. (This was after a two-hour pre-reception nap).

24 things...what we've been up to edition

Did my absence make your heart grow fonder of this blog? Well, damn. Here's what we've been up to, 24 things style.

1) The POTUS spoke in CB...and I was there. I wasn't about to miss out on the chance to get tickets, except that I was. We planned to meet friends at the zoo at exactly the same time tickets became available, so I did what any desperate woman who can't be in two places at once would do. I begged my mommy to stand in line for me. I didn't anticipate her two hour wait, so I owe her yet another "one" (or seven) which brings my grand total of owing her one to 72, 491. Thanks again, Mom. I went by myself since it was Rob's first day back to school and waited about 3.5 hours before he finally took the stage. What a once-in-a-lifetime experience! I'll never, ever forget that day.

2) Rob starred in a DMB music video. Starred might be a strong verb, but that's why they pay me the big bucks at UNMC ;) Just because there were 14,333 others who "starred" in it alongside him doesn't make it any less special. Check it out, he's about 13 seconds in. And here's the original video he submitted. It's not every day you "star" in your favorite band's music video.

3) Faith is still sneaking into our bed at night after I go downstairs. She comes and snuggles with us in the morning, too. Rob accused me of "secretly liking it." My response: it's not a secret. I love it.

4) My "Day in the Life "of a doctor story was featured on Livewell Nebraska's website (part of the Omaha World-Herald). It was good exposure, but I personally liked the version on the UNMC blog better.

5) Rob Bloggy Blog. Ed Tech 365 is his latest project. Yes, the focus is technology in the classroom, but the posts are relatable to real life.

6) Somebody likes makeup. If only it didn't look like a drunk drag queen put it on.

7) Us parentals ran the Glow Run on August 18. Thanks to Grandpa John for babysitting and not grounding us for staying out past our curfew. The course measured a little short. We're in the worst shape we've been in all year and somehow recorded personal bests. That or eating 2 giant pineapple brats before a race is the secret to success.

8)We are ready for some football. Iowa State's season is underway with a two touchdown victory against Tulsa. My tailgating season is also underway with a 6-0 loss to Michelob Golden Light.

9) Faith is officially potty trained (notice I didn't say poop trained). Does anyone else hear angels singing? In other news, we're out of bum bum (dum dums) and M&Ms.

10) One of the many reasons excuses for my lack of blogging includes my newest baby, the Council Bluffs blog. He turned three months old recently and is already sleeping through the night.

11) We found out earlier this summer that Howie has a food allergy. Apparently, you can't feed a dog the same food/protein for four years straight or they develop and allergy to it ie. start throwing up like a woman with morning sickness. Thankfully our vet caught it right away and Howie's back to his rabbit-chasing, but never-catching ways.

12) Faith's favorite pasttimes as of late: looking for alligators with a magniKYing glass, running away from monsters, putting on face lotion, eating "lemonems" after going potty, taking Howie for walks down the block on his "yeash" and identifying the mommy, daddy and baby of everything she sees.

13) Rob took a day trip this summer to visit his grandma Alice/Faith's great grandma (great in more ways than one). I think this will be a picture we treasure for many years to come.

14) One of my fondest childhood memories is careening down the big slides in downtown Omaha. I remember using wax paper to go even faster. That tradition is alive and well today. We went to the Old Market on a recent Friday night and the slides were a happening place to be. Faith had one word for them: GINN! As in again, and again, and again.

The Instagram version
 15) Rob and I attended a "green tie" gala recently in support of Keep Omaha Beautiful. The event was nice, but the best part was the picture he texted me beforehand. Yes, that's my almost 30-year-old husband making a duck face.

16) With the start of school came the end of summer and daddy-daughter bonding time. This was Faith's reaction.

17) I submitted about 10 samples from this blog to, the Omaha World-Herald mom blogger website. About 90 other moms did too, so we'll see if my posts make the cut for readers to vote on. Here's the list of what I included.

My Valentine’s Day Debacle (another most popular one)
My New Breast Friend (I strictly pumped my breastmilk and bottlefed for 8 months.)
Ode to Daycare (a poem)
Alarm Clock for Rent (reads like an advertisement)
Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It’s Off to the Nuthouse I Go (This one just proves how crazy I am.)
Faithless for 36 Hours (enjoying time away from toddlers)
The Ouch Report (a humorous take on all my daughter's "ouch" reports)
Daddies Do It Different (includes a link to a If It Weren't for Dads")

18) Faith is getting ready to be a flower girl this Saturday. We've been practicing, though I'm sure she'll either move at the pace of a turtle or march like a soldier. Hopefully her cuteness distracts from all that.

19) Another fun convo with my favorite 2-year-old.
Me: (tucking Faith in)
Faith: Why are you putting me to bed?
Me: Because it's bedtime.
Faith: I'm WAKE!

20) Faith is also big on her "friends" right now. She loves her cousins, Cameryn and Kylee, Avery and Katie from daycare and boys (help me) Gavin and Jack.

21) I'm officially "that driver." You know, the one with this on her car. (Sorry Howie, there were no dogs.)

22) Oh how the whole family wishes this were true.

23) The Big Bad Wolf is a popular guy in our house right now. Did you know he'll puff and puff (not a typo) before he'll blow your house down?

24) I'm running out of things to write so here's yet another picture of a night in the life of Faithy Janna!