Category Archives: Friendship

Feeling thankful

Not just on Thanksgiving, but always, I am thankful for the blessings I enjoy every day. And this season is a time to celebrate them with the ones we love, around a table filled with lots of food.

Here’s a wrap up of our Thanksgiving 2013:

– I spent my 29th Thanksgiving with my family at my mom’s cousins’ house. My favorite people, delicious food, and French silk pie made it another one to remember.

– A weekend at my in-laws can be summed up by full bellies (my mother-in-law can cook and bake, let me tell you), endless laughter, lots of hugs from my sweet nieces and nephews, and a couple chilly nights in the hot tub. Can’t wait to do it again in a few weeks.

– Bridget playing with her cousins is something I’ll never tire of watching. Granted, the few days off her nap schedule resulted in more-frequent-than-usual melt downs, but she made up for them with her adorableness. Sorry, but I’m not sorry. I love that kid!

– We scored a 4-piece luggage set for $35 from JCPenney on Black Friday…from the comfort of home on my Smartphone. While part of me is slightly curious to experience the
madness since I never have before, I think I’ll continue to live vicariously through others.

– Saturday was a college football day for the books. My blood pressure has finally leveled out, and I’m still saying GO BLUE over here. Thanks to the Cleveland Browns for raising me well, I know that there’s always next year.

– We helped celebrate my best friend, Jenny’s husband’s early 30th birthday. Jenny and Tom are expecting their first baby in February (yay!) just a week before Tom’s real birthday, so she had a surprise party for him at a local restaurant for the Browns game today. It was great to see everyone and the place was really neat: Union Depot in Berea. Check it out sometime!

I hope you and yours had a very happy and blessed Thanksgiving. Hello, December!

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A November to remember

Hello, blogosphere!

November has been busy, busy, busy. I’m finally sitting on my couch, catching up on Grey’s from two weeks ago (yes, I still watch Grey’s Anatomy), and thought, “Ah, I should write.”

Another Halloween has come and gone. The weather in NE Ohio was not ideal for trick or treat, but we braved the wind and misty rain and took Bridget around the block. I couldn’t not let her be seen in this adorable get up, right?

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The following weekend, we continued the annual family tradition at Michigan for the Nebraska game; five years and going strong. The “grown-ups” dropped the kiddos off at Grandma and Grandpa’s (God bless them!), and we headed to Ann Arbor. The Wolverines lost, breaking our four year winning streak, but we had fun nonetheless. Here is some of the group in the Big House. I just love that place!

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Last weekend was our big weekend away to Chicago. Again, thanks to the wonderful care of my in-laws, Bridget hung with them for the weekend while we headed west for my dear friend, Renee’s, wedding. We had a crazy weekend planned for our first trip sans-Bridget. We were going to take a nap when we arrived, go out to dinner later then 5:00, stay up past 10, and sleep in. Unfortunately, after our fun day of shopping, lunch, a movie, and dinner, some insert not nice name here stole my wallet. Out of my purse, from under my coat, hanging on my chair, while we were sitting at dinner. Ugh. That put a quick damper on the weekend, but we celebrated a beautiful couple at a beautiful wedding the next day, and I got to catch up with my old BWFFs (best work friends forever). A silver lining, indeed.

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This weekend, we have a whole lot of nothing planned. I could not be more excited.

A longtime friendship

Imagine this picture taken in 1997. A time before flat irons existed, sausage roll bangs were in, and Umbro shorts with Adidas shoes for girls were the fad.

Ashley, me, Erin R, Erin M, Tiffany, Jenny
Ashley, me, Erin R, Erin M, Tiffany, Jenny

Thank goodness that exact picture is buried in my boxes alongside other middle school and high school memorabilia. But it exists. Same girls, same pose. Except we were sitting in chairs in a row brushing each others’ frizzy hair. This group of my friends have known each other since we were in grade school (or since birth for me since the brown curly-haired beauty is my cousin). We experienced so much of our youth together; the good, bad, and everything in-between. We remained friends through college, celebrated each others’ weddings, and are still friends today. We may not all see each other as much as we wish, but when we get together, we pick up right where we left off.

Erin hosted all of us and our families for a summer cookout a few weeks ago. It was such a blessing to spend the day with this group of friends, their husbands, children, and niece and nephew. We vowed to plan at least two of these get-togethers every year, and I look forward to seeing this group continue to grow.

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Missing Miss Denise

Picture it: December 2011.

I was four months pregnant and Brian and I had begun researching daycare options for our “bean.” Two words describe our initial finding: sticker shock. We had no idea how expensive day care is, and unfortunately had no other options to consider at the time. So we visited a few centers and joined the waiting lists.

A few months later, I was invited to a get together for moms in our neighborhood. Not knowing many moms at the time, I was hesitant to attend, but decided to anyway. That night, I met a woman named Denise, and she overheard me telling others about our daycare plans (or lack there of, more accurately). She messaged me on Facebook later that week to ask if I was interested in having her watch our daughter as she was just reopening her home daycare after a hiatus to raise her own children. Some people may say it was meant to be, and I couldn’t agree more; a little thing called fate.

After 12 weeks home with Bridget, it was time for me to go back to work and Bridget to begin her days at Miss Denise’s. Being a working mom is tough, for many reasons that millions of women know well. I am no mathematician (as my family and friends can attest to), but it doesn’t require a calculator or Excel formula to figure out that in a typical week, I spend a small fraction of the time with Bridget that I spend at work. It’s a harsh truth. Thank God for weekends!

Because of this, I am forever grateful for Denise. From the first day we brought Bridget to her home, she loved and cared for her like she was one of her own. And the feeling was mutual. It was obvious that Bridget enjoyed her time with Denise and her family. Bridget is a stubborn little one and there were periods when she cried and cried and cried. Denise never gave up on her but instead would smile and say, “We’re just along for Bridget’s ride…we better buckle up.”

She answered my calls at least once a day to check in, when she would rattle off her last nap and feeding. She was the first to notice some of Bridget’s teeth, or when a cold may be coming on. She would frequently send me pictures throughout the day like the ones below.

If we couldn’t be home with Bridget, Denise was the next best thing.

When we moved last month, we had every intention of keeping Bridget with Denise, even though the commute would not be ideal. Unfortunately, not ideal also meant more time in the car and less time with our Bridget bear. Like I said, there aren’t enough hours in the working day to spend as many as we wish with her, so even an hour counts. We decided to move her to a daycare closer to home, and she starts on Monday. Friday was Bridget’s last day with Denise.

I know that kids are resilient, and that the daycare we’ve chosen is excellent, but I still feel sad. Bridget will be too young to remember, so we will make a conscious effort to stay in touch with Denise for Bridget to know the woman who took such great care for her during her first year of life.

Wish us luck during this adjustment period. I haven’t felt these kind of nerves since my first day of school!

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A challenge to myself

I’m not big on New Year resolutions. I can only think of one that I made and successfully stuck to in the past: Flossing my teeth every night – no excuses. And as a result, I had my first cavity-free dental checkup in years. Yay me!

This year, I contemplated making another but nothing notable came to mind. Sure, I have lots of goals that I want to accomplish in 2013 (read more, organize our pantry once and for all, waste less time on my iPhone, learn more about my new camera, etc.), but none of these seemed like resolutions.

And then it came to me this past Sunday when Father Wally delivered his usual educational and inspirational homily. The message was nothing new: love God and your neighbor like you love yourself. But then he added some spice to that idea. It’s just as important to be lovable.

I asked myself: What makes one lovable? What can one do to be more lovable?

So, this will be my challenge for 2013 and beyond…to be more lovable.

Here I go…

Love,
Shannon

P.S. Input and insight welcome!

Christmas through my eyes

The Christmas marathon has concluded. We’ve been on-the-go since last Saturday afternoon and haven’t stopped since: visiting with old friends and their families, and then three days of family Christmases. Our first Christmas as a family of three was pretty awesome.

Along with a car load of baby gear, gifts, and food was my new camera. Here are a few of my favorite photos from Christmas 2012.

My friends from high school (minus a few who couldn’t be there) got together with our families (husbands, kids, moms, and dads). Here we are in 9th grade and then now.

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My Grandparents, Nanny and Papa, and their great grandchildren. Having been lucky enough to get 17 years with my great Grandma before she passed, this picture makes me so happy.

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My aunt and cousins and their families. I think of them as the brother and sisters I never had and am glad I could capture this picture of them.

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My cousins, Quinn and Wade. Such handsome boys with beautiful eyes.

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Our first Christmas as a family of three.

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Bridget with her Grams.

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Four generations of Mangan women.

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The annual family game of Christmas Bingo. Utter chaos and always a good laugh.

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Bridget’s first glimpse of winter in Ohio. Granted this was taken indoors looking out, but she was fascinated. I think we might have a snow baby on our hands.

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Bridget with cousin, Keller. They are one month apart and I swear if I took them both out in public together, people would think they were twins.

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Playtime with the cousins. There’s no rhyme or reason to this picture but I love it.

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And these just because…

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Here’s to a happy and healthy New Year for all. Best wishes!

Our “Doomsday” surprise

As I mentioned previously, I was not part of the 12.21.2012 Doomsday crowd. However, we had a scare on “Doomsday” that made me second guess its possibility.

Friday night was cold and snowy. It took me double my normal commute time to get home. I was officially beginning my holiday vacation. It was definitely an order-pizza-because-I-don’t-feel-like-cooking kind of night.

When the pizza delivery man dropped off our pizza, he handed us a box delivered from Amazon that was on our front porch. It was addressed to Brian and I. We weren’t expecting anything in the mail so there was an element of excitement: What is it? Who is it from?

When we opened the package, there was a gift note and a return label from a name we didn’t recognize at an address in France. The contents of the package were two shot glasses with images of flames and skulls that read “DOOMED.” First, we were confused. And then we became freaked out. A package from a stranger addressed to us personally containing Doomsday shot glasses ON Doomsday?

We took the package out to the garage and called Amazon immediately. When we reported the suspicious package, the customer service agent put us on hold to investigate. She returned and reported that the credit card used belonged to a friend of ours from college. We were a little annoyed at this practical joke that gave us such a scare. It just didn’t seem like something this friend would do. She put us on hold again and came back with more information.

Turns out, this friend ordered a toy for Bridget and it was mixed up with a gift for someone else at Amazon’s warehouse. The agent said, “Imagine their surprise when they open up the gift of a baby toy.”

Brian responded, “Probably a lot better than ours.”

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My Reverse Bucket List

Between last week’s tragedy in Connecticut and the supposed pending apocalypse, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on life recently. This has reaffirmed my belief that every day is a blessing. Every day we get to spend with the people we love is one day more than some are given.

With that sentiment in mind, I’ve created what I call my “Reverse Bucket List.” If the world were to end (which I haven’t bought into, by the way), I want to focus on the cool things I experienced in my 28 years; not what I have yet to experience.

Before reading my Reverse Bucket List, keep in mind the following: 1) Far above any of the items in this list are the incredible blessings of my family and friendships and the memories we’ve created, and 2) I am a simple person, so my version of “cool” may be ordinary to others, and I am perfectly content with that.

– A few years ago, I shook the hand of former President Bill Clinton. This was a totally awesome moment for me. Fortunately, I have approximately 7367863 pictures to remember it.

– I climbed the same museum stairs in Philadelphia as Rocky. It was not, however, as easy as he made it look.

– I drank a freshly brewed beer in the Guinness Factory in Dublin, Ireland.

My co-worker, Karen, and I   at the Guinness Factory.
My co-worker, Karen, and me at the Guinness Factory – Fall 2010

– I cruised the Alaskan waters with my Mom for seven days. It was cold and beautiful and a week I will never forget.

– I occupied a seat in The Big House on the day Michigan broke the record (and still holds today) for most attendees at a college sporting event.

– On that same day, us attendees were evacuated from the stadium during the third quarter due to weather conditions. This is the only time in history that a Michigan football game was called due to rain.

– I sipped the only glass of wine I’ve ever enjoyed in the heart of Napa Valley.

– I was carted in a rickshaw through Central Park.

– I spent a week with my closest college friends on a boat in the middle of a lake. We parked in an alcove and didn’t move for five days. It was the perfect way to say farewell to college and hello to the real world.

– I have visited 30 of the 50 states, and cities from Boston to New Orleans to San Francisco and Seattle.

– I swam with stingrays, unplanned and unsupervised, and survived.

The Kentucky Cruise Crew - Spring 2006
The Kentucky Cruise Crew – Spring 2006

– I participated in a flash mob.

– I have met two NBA players: Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Lebron James. You can guess which one I liked better.

– I toured the English countryside from a train. The rolling green hills are just as beautiful as they look in movies.

– I rode a “bobsled” down a portion of the Smoky Mountains.

– I shopped at the Mall of America. Quite frankly, it sounds cooler than it really is.

– I drove the same route as President Kennedy when he was assassinated in 1963. Eerie, but interesting.

– I’ve gone horseback riding.

– I stood at the most southern point of the United States.

– I played Russian Roulette at a casino and won $50. Beginner’s luck.

– Brian and I starred in the Love & Marriage Game Show. Okay, so it was on a cruise, only in front of a few hundred shipmates, and we lost. But, it sure was fun.

– In my wallet, I carry an official ‘Friend of Police’ card. Thank you, Brett!

– I started this blog which brings me one step closer to fulfilling my lifelong dream of writing a book. Maybe one day.

Happy birthday, Kim!

Today is my dear friend, Kim’s 30th birthday. Instead of a big bash, we opted to celebrate Kim-style with an afternoon at the spa. My four college roommates and I enjoyed a few hours getting manicures and catching up. We then celebrated the big birthday and the upcoming holidays over dinner and cake. Simple; yet a wonderful day.

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These girls and their husbands are like family to me. I’ve known them since we were nervous college freshman to confident college graduates, brides, and now for a couple of us, Moms. Hopefully our 30th birthdays are just another milestone of many we will share together. 

Happy birthday, Kim! May your next 30 years and beyond be filled with much happiness and good health.

I am thankful for…

I love Thanksgiving. A day with family to enjoy a delicious meal topped off with a couple slices of french silk pie…what could be better?

I have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving and here’s what tops my list.

(Caution: Sap ahead)

Brian
For our first dating anniversary, I filled a heart shape box with 50 reasons why I love him (cheesy, I know). Almost eight years later, I could fill a refrigerator box. I am thankful for this ever-growing list of reasons.

Bridget
According to my What to Expect When You’re Expecting book, Bridget was the size of a lime last year at this time. Now, she’s here and laughing, “talking,” rolling around like a log, and sitting up. Every bout of morning sickness, back ache, and labor pain was absolutely worth it. I am thankful for the endless amount of joy she brings to our life.

Mom
I could write a book on the reasons I am thankful for my Mom, but I’ll just pick one. I adapted this saying for her and it describes how I feel perfectly: “The only thing better than having you as my Mom is my daughter having you as her Grams.” Her love for Bridget is amazing and I am thankful for witnessing it.

Nanny & Papa
I am thankful for the time we get to spend with my Grandparents and their unconditional love and support.

My Extended Family
Aunts, uncles, and lots of cousins (first, second, and third) are a special part of my life and I am thankful for getting to spend the holidays with them and their families.

My in-laws
From Brian’s parents to brothers, sisters, nieces  and nephews, there are 24 members of this family. The love and laughter (and good food) that we share is a true blessing and I am thankful to call them my family.

The Girls
I am thankful for my best friends who I am just as close with now as when we met many years ago.

Work (you read that right)
Although I wouldn’t turn down winning the lottery and never having to work again, I am thankful to enjoy what I do; and also thankful that it helps provide a roof over our head and a safe car to travel in.

Protective Services
I am thankful for the men and women, near and far, who fight for our freedom and protect my family everyday, including my best friends’ husbands, Brett, a police officer, and Ryan, a firefighter.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!