Something seemingly-to-me quite awful happened a couple weeks ago.

I had a birthday.

Which is normally all fine and dandy, right? Birthdays are the best, even when you get older. I mean, I love that my birthday is close to the new year: January 24th. There is something renewing to me about not only having the gift of a new year, but the gift of my very own new start as I contemplate what happened the last year and what I can do better the coming year. Oh the things you can learn in a year!! And I love that I get to grow older surrounded by people I love.

But this birthday was different. Because it was a big one. I was turning FIFTY for crying out loud!

And for some reason this hit me strangely. I don’t know why, maybe it’s a vain thing? Maybe it’s because I did this “compass” exercise a blog reader recommended and it made me realize I have been spinning my wheels lately? (It is actually such an awesome tool to create and contemplate…everyone should try it…but maybe not right before you turn fifty?? Ha!) I don’t know the reason, and I KNOW it is silly, but it was real. I kind of felt like I was holding my breath leading into that big day. Let’s just get this thing over with!

Maybe others can relate to that? Or maybe people are shaking their heads at that silliness. Or maybe people are thinking yes! FIFTY IS OLD AS THE HILLS!!!

Anyway, leading up to the big day I went from embracing it to feeling like I was sinking into this black pit…a little claustrophobic, back and forth. For some reason it really helped that my friend from high school turned fifty the day before and pumped me up. You know how sometimes little things just hit you in just the right way? Liz did that for me. And all was shaking out just fine until I realized Dave had planned a party for me.

But let’s back up to the beginning of the weekend before we get to that.

Because turning fifty didn’t actually turn out to be that black hole I felt like I was falling into.

Remember in the last post I mentioned that Dave flew the big kids home for a bday weekend celebration? I hadn’t even thought of getting those guys all back home to help celebrate but Dave is seriously the best ever and thinks of good things like that, and proclaimed that it was going to be “my weekend.” (Which he may have wished he could take back a couple times, but if you’re going to give me leeway to have my very own weekend, you should know it will be packed up to the brim.:)

This was good because it took me out of wallowing in my old-ness and got me into planning mode.

We had heated the hot tub for Claire’s party, so we kicked off the family togetherness with all of us married couples hanging out there. We talked late into the night while Claire worked with friends figuring out their “day date” the next day. I love them all with all my heart.

The next day was filled up with the of us at hot yoga sweating our guts out:

…and then getting in our freezing pool after, yikes!:

We rode bikes a couple miles to Pita Jungle for lunch:

(I was so happy on that ride I couldn’t stop smiling, so happy to have all these people at my side!)

Lots of football watched (made me so happy Dave had some buddies to join him at yelling at the refs and cheering their teams on, LOVE having Max & Carson home to bring a little more testosterone into our house!)

Also more hot tubbing.

Where was Claire, you might ask?

She headed up to the mountains at 5am that morning to ski with her whole MORP group for their “pre-dance day date.”.

She got back late that night pleased as punch to tell us all about it over some games.

And also some snuggles with Bo on the floor. I find it funny that out of all the places to sit in this house, these kids love to lay on the floor:

(I like how Bo Jangles is kind of smiling in that picture.)

I loved having everyone at church, sharing that with them, and them with everyone else. Loved having my girls in Relief Society. We had a nutty night the night before when our substitute RS teacher canceled on us due to a family emergency (the original teacher had covid), so it was a little bit of a scramble to figure out a solution at 6:00pm the night before 9:00am church (I promised my new secretary later that it wasn’t going to be like that every Saturday night! HA!). But luckily we got three of the best ladies to each take their own parts of this talk to discuss during RS and it turned out so beautiful. Man I love our church congregation more than I can say.

Dave gathered us out on the back porch for our family Come Follow Me lesson, all of us on those white couches out there all cozy with the fire on, just like back in covid days, and he gave the best lesson-turned discussion.

Then we prepped for dinner (the boys working their hearts out to make a special “steak rub” that they found online complete with a butter baste, oh I loved that):

…and then set out on a Sunday hike in the shadow of the golden mountains of Flat Iron.

We hiked the “Treasure Loop” trail and I already told all about that beauty hike over HERE, but I wanted to put this picture here not only to remember the name of the perfect hike for that day, but to show how excited everyone was including me:

Haha, I promise we were excited setting off on that trail, love that at least Abby is showing it!

We came home to have that yummy dinner everyone had previously prepped along with Josh too, and then we sat in the kitchen, some sitting on the counter, three of us painting our nails on the other side with Claire’s new gel polish, talking deep about investments and Elle’s new potential job and life.

I told Dave later that was the best birthday gift… I looked around at everyone there I marveled at how lucky I am that not only do I love all these kids as mothers do, but I really LIKE them too. I love what we can talk about and the points and thoughts they bring up. How can fifty be that bad when you’re surrounded by that??

Then Dave sent me to bed so they could get ready for the big day the next day.

I woke up to find the whole kitchen plastered with pictures from all those fifty years and Dave made my favorite breakfast.

(Max was already at the dentist and had to miss…)

Loved getting this special note from my sweetie missionary girl:

And I need to find a picture of the rest of the kitchen, but how sweet are all these pictures they set up for me??

How can you be mad at turning older when you have all those memories plastered all over the kitchen?

A couple friends showed up with balloons and we headed out on a quick hike while the married kids went to dentist appointments.

I loved huffing and puffing up that hill talking through the world with those two.

I had been excited to get some birthday service in, but the Afghan refugee apartment I had signed up for us to set up didn’t end up being needed that day so the kids and I put together valentine’s banners for cancer patients.

Elle sat at the counter and looked through every scrapbook I had and was so sweetly enthralled. This picture is funny when Dave and I were dating with the same sweatshirt my girls have now worn through the bone:

We got sushi for lunch:

…we stopped by to see the end of Lucy’s basketball game.

We packed it in.

What a weekend right? I felt like the luckiest girl in all the world. And the birthday itself was finally quickly coming to an end. (Hallelujah)

I had told Dave before to be sure not to throw me a party. (I mean, that whole weekend was a party and it was the BEST, and also too much, I really wanted this one to go under the radar). But I started sensing something was up and when I told Dave so he assured me it was just extended family and not to worry. But when we got home that evening there was a caterer here setting up shop. The last thing I wanted was to be the center of attention and to have a party. I felt so bad that Dave had put all this work into this and I was so sad, I really tried to put on a happy face but he reassured me that I just needed to embrace it, these were all so many good friends, and gradually I was able to transform my wanting to shrink into a hole into gratitude for all those wonderful people I love all gathered together.

And for that awesome husband of mine who likes to celebrate others and not himself.

And do you know what? He was right, it turned out to be a beautiful night. So many good people. Who made me feel like I could do this: turn older. One of my sweet young-mom friends from relief society even helped me blow out the candles when people decided, with the lingering people at the end, that I needed to be sung to.

Oh gosh.

We sat in the hot tub for one more tub talk and then we had to drop off Elle and Carson for their red-eye flight back to Miami (we got to keep Max & Abby one more day).

I was so happy to lay in bed that night, birthday crossed off the list.

I learned some good things over the weekend (after all, I am so wise now that I’m so old:)

  1. I am the luckiest to have my family. I love them with all my heart.
  2. You can survive turning 50.
  3. I am married to the best person ever, (even though he ignored my no-party request). No one I’d rather hang out with, and he “gets” me (even though he still thinks I would like a party…)

Other links:

Compass Exercise to plan for a new year

Claire’s birthday leading into this one

Similar Posts


  1. Happy belated birthday. I relate to how you described feeling about our own birthdays as we get older and not wanting to be in the spotlight to celebrate ourselves. This is a testament to the love your family and friends feel for your and how wonderful that you embraced that love and celebrated YOU 💚

  2. Happy birthday! A dear friend of mine recently suddenly died at 51. This has broken my heart and also completely changed my perspective on aging. Getting older is a gift that I am deeply grateful for. My current age, about to be 49, is my perfect age.

    I wonder if some of your sadness is around your child rearing stage of life coming to an end? If a large part of your identify is raising kids, if you believe that raising children is by divine decree why you’re here on earth, then where does that leave you for the next 50 years?

    1. I think you’re right, I do think some of the sadness is that I’m losing grasp on that part of motherhood that is truly so sacred to me: the baby on my hip, the tucking in bedtime stories, the eye to eye contact, the nurturing and teaching. But I am learning to embrace this new stage of motherhood where these kids are becoming my best friends. More on a level playing ground. It is exhilarating in it’s own way. But I will always miss those raspy little voices and the wide-eyed wonder of their “littleness.”

      There is so much to do in the next 50! And I have quite a few ideas up my sleeve that I’d love blog readers’ opinions on. Working to get those things together.

  3. One additional thought, if young motherhood is something you are passionate about there are lots of opportunities to help, support, encourage, and cheer on mothers with young children. I bet you have some great insights into how challenging marriage can feel when you’re deep into parenting babies and little kids, for example. Charity is drowning in littles and also beginning to learn about having a child with special needs. I bet you and your other sisters have a million ideas of how you can shower her with love, support, and practical help.

    1. You’re thinking right down my alley, Jenny+also. One of the ideas I’m working on involves my sisters and another involves young mothers in a broader spectrum. Hopefully I’ll be able to share those things soon!

      And Matilda, Charity’s baby, August, is struggling to meet some developmental milestones and they are working to figure out the cause. They are unsure at this point what the future holds but they are working on some awesome physical therapy and meeting with different doctors to figure it out. He is the sweetest most smiley baby ever and we sure all adore him.

  4. Happy birthday, Shawni! I related to this post so much, albeit from a younger perspective. My birthday is also in January and I LOVE having it line up with the new year!! I’m glad I’m not a crazy person for thinking that. I had a small little meltdown this year turning 30! Hah! Thank you for sharing the perspective that getting older really is a gift (even if the gift requires some adjustments in learning how to use it.).

    1. Oh 30 is the fountain of youth! Live it up!! HA! But really, it just gets better. Happy (late) birthday to you!

  5. Looking great Shawni! I thought, as an avid blog reader, that you were in your early forties!
    I’m looking at 50 in 2 yrs. Hoping to ease into it like you did.
    bless you!

  6. Happy Birthday Shawni! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on turning 50. Turning 40 was HARD for me so I can relate.

    1. It’s so funny how those milestones just hit weird, right? But isn’t it awesome to look back and think of all we have learned over all those years? Enjoy the 40s, they were good ones!

  7. My 50th (16 years ago!) wasn’t traumatic at all. I had two grandchildren, and my give-a-dang was completely busted forever after that day, along with a good portion of my internal filter. A few years later, when my youngest married, I decided to stop with the hair coloring that covered the gray. Turned out there wasn’t much gray, I was mostly WHITE HAIR. Since I’d been blonde, not a lot of people even noticed!! At 57, I got braces, & at 58, I had to have cataracts removed and got the corrective lenses inserted. No more contacts after 50 years!! I had five more grandkids. I’d say my 50’s were better than my forties, in many ways.
    I also faced incredibly difficult losses, but felt more able to deal with them.
    Besides, 50 is the new 30; and grandkids are the best thing I’ve ever done!
    Smile! You’re in your prime, physically and emotionally. Great things are coming!!

  8. Happy Birthday! Thank you for this beautiful blog! Love your zest for life, your family, and your ability to bring more beauty into the world.

  9. It really touched me that you did service on your birthday.

    Even tho the 1st choice was cancelled, you still did something else to help others. I think this is lovely.x

    You are such a kind & caring person.

    I’m so glad that your special birthday went well.

  10. I admire your constant being on the go and when you have a blog you definitely need to have interesting content. But do you ever take a complete day to just do absolutely nothing? Or Netflix and chill? It is very healing and almost magical. I know being Relief Society President is even more than a full time job and Sundays are the busiest days. But you should relax a bit. If only for a day. Pretty sure God will understand. Ha!

  11. Happy birthday! I can totally relate to not wanting to be in the spotlight but I’m glad you felt allll the love. You’ve certainly shared so much love and light with so many others in your first 50 years. I’m just a grateful blog reader, but you’ve really helped me mother my children and celebrate my family!

  12. Great post! So glad you survived! Such a memorable day! Love almost feeling as though I was there. Thanks for sharing! Who knew when my mom paid you not to whine for a whole week when you were a kid, that you would turn out so well! Haha! I am so blessed to be your mother!

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