Well, here we are on the eve of my 25th birthday. It feels a bit surreal, but maybe because it doesn’t seem quite real. When I think about all that the 25 years of my life have brought, I realized I am blessed. But I also know I still have so far to go. Because, really, I didn’t start making a significant dent in my life until the past years. And that all comes with being an adult and branching out and making decisions, but I know the next 25 (which leads me to 50, GULP) will bring so much more.
Instead of boring you all too much with me waxing poetically about all the wonderful people and opportunities that have made my life to this point so memorable, I decided a better way to take this trip down memory lane is via photos. So I present 25 photos to celebrate 25 years of life. Thank you Lord for this life I love.
1) So this isn’t a baby-baby photo of me, but I generally think babies are not the cutest, so I thought we’d skip a few months. And hooray for being the firstborn, AKA STUFFED ANIMALS OVERLOAD. I was also the first grandchild on one side of my family, so double bonus.
2) My parents were really big fans of dressing me up in costumes during the early years. Here I am in lederhosen (Germany heritage represent!). Typically lederhosen are donned by men, but obviously that mattered not a bit.
3) I had really great parents growing up (and still do).
4) I also had really great grandparents. Unfortunately, only one of my grandmas is still with us today, but I’m thankful for the time I had with my two grandpas and grandma. I’m pictured here with my Grandpa and Grandma J. I think Grandpa in particular would be really proud of where I am in life now.
5) I was a stylin’ kid (until the teenage years hit). I wish I still had those sunglasses.
6) Two years and four days after I was born, this squirt became my sister. We’ve basically been inseparable ever since (except when I moved away for a few years).
7) She’s still my bestie.
8) Two years after my sister, this kid came along.
9) We bonded quickly.
10) Seriously, these two are the best.
11) There was one time, however, that Amanda and I got into a fight over a doll in our treehouse. She was 2, I was 4, yet somehow I was the one who got pushed out of the treehouse and ended up with a broken arm. I’ll have that story FOREVER.
12) My Grandpa J taught me how to fish when I was really young. However, the young fashionista I was, took over about .2 seconds after this photo was taken. A gust of wind blew my awesome trucker hat off, so I jumped into the pond behind me to rescue it. Grandpa wasn’t too thrilled.
13) I have some really great cousins, but there was that time my cousin Lauren gave me a box of our great-grandma’s hair. I was 7. And it’s a long, weird family tradition story.
14) We took a lot of family vacations growing up, which was simply the best. I somehow ended up in front of the White House on one of these trips in a glow-in-the-dark Tweety shirt, skort (skirt + shorts for the less enlightened), high white socks and Birkenstocks. Can’t say I miss the 90s too much.
15) I had a rabbit for a few years, but this is probably the only photo of the two of us together that exists. Because she was basically a devil bunny. Just look at her eyes.
16) I was the luckiest 15-year-old kid, apparently, because I won a family vacation to Disney World that year. It was, well, magical. I want to go back.
17) It was during this vacation that I discovered I’m not the biggest roller coaster enthusiast.
18) I went on two missions trips during my teenage years–one to the Dominican Republic and one to Peru. This photo is from Peru. Those two trips were huge for me in terms of personal growth. I am the woman I am today partly because of those trips.
19) I’ve been blessed with some basically lifelong friends. They’re kind of the best. I’m also incredibly thankful for all the friends I’ve gained throughout the years. Near or far now, they’re all so special to me.
20) I went to college and joined the student newspaper for my junior and senior years. One of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I still have regular contact with the majority of the people in this photo, and when I think about good college memories, I think about them. Working on staff also gave me a boost on my resume, so that was just an added perk.
21) I graduated with a degree in print journalism after four years, which was a mini-miracle for me. BUT I DID IT.
22) After I graduated, I headed to Washington, D.C. for the summer. It was an incredible summer in the city of my dreams. I’d like to return one day. Eventually.
23) After D.C., I moved to Brownsville, Texas for nearly two years. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Though I always missed Wisconsin, that community was like none other and I miss them daily. I learned a lot living there.
24) Then I got a chance to move back to my home, which I obviously took. And I am so happy I did.
25) Today I got to spend my pre-birthday with some of the people I love most in the world. I am a lucky girl. Two things would’ve made it even better: a Packers win and the ability to fly in friends spread out over the U.S.
Here’s to the first 25 years. Let’s see what the next quarter of a century brings.