Category Archives: The Good Stuff

A warm and memorable Sunday

I love glimpse-of-spring-on-the-edge-of-winter days. They’re full of hope for warm afternoons, breezy summer nights, and family vacations. Yesterday was one of those days.

We received the keys to our new house on Friday and spent most of the weekend hauling boxes. After we finished the last trip, we spent Sunday afternoon at our current home. Since the initial bitter sweet feeling when our home sold, I’ve been focused on the excitement of the new house: the paint colors; wall décor; kitchen organization, etc. It wasn’t until yesterday that the bitter sweet feeling came creeping back.

Once Bridget awoke from her nap, and on the right side of the crib (she’s been a bit of a crab apple the last two weeks, but I think we’re on the upswing), we went for our last walk around the neighborhood. Brian and I have walked the streets of our neighborhood hundreds of times (especially when I was 9 months pregnant and desperate), and waved to this neighbor or stopped to chat with that neighbor. If you live in Ohio, you know what a 65 degree day in March looks like. People are out in shorts, riding bikes, doing yard work, and walking their dog, so we got to wave to that neighbor and chat with this neighbor one last time. When I was on maternity leave from June to August, I had visions of walking every morning with Bridget while she napped in the stroller, but that never happened. She didn’t like the stroller then, but now that she can sit up and face forward, she enjoyed the walk just as much as we did.

Bridget 2

When we returned from our walk, we weren’t ready to go inside. The day was too beautiful not to soak up every minute. So, we slipped on Bridget’s first pair of shoes (thank you, Annie!) now that she can “walk” and let her attempt to take a few steps on the dry, crisp grass.

Bridget 4

While we were playing outside, our neighborhood kids stopped by to visit. In the summer, our street and driveways are a playground for the kids, and it wasn’t until today that Bridget could join. It made me a little sad to think that Bridget won’t ride her bike with them or swing on their swing set. But, she did get to share her first sidewalk chalk experience and loved every minute.

Bridget 3

Bridget 1

We wrapped up the day by grilling burgers for the last time on our deck; the deck that Brian with his Dad and brother built. There were many hours, hard work, and beer that went into that deck and I’ll always remember those long days.

When I woke up yesterday morning, none of this was in plans for our last Sunday at 117. It was thanks to that glimpse of spring and a happy Bridget that made it a day I will never forget.

House

The good stuff – 2.20.2013

I’ve learned this past month that the process of buying and selling a house sucks. Period. Brian and I have adopted a new mantra as a result: Keep laughing so we don’t cry.

I’ve been trying to stay focused on all the “good stuff”, too, and here is what topped my list this week.

Fellow parents who told me time passes quickly were not exaggerating. I seriously feel like Bridget is living her first year in fast forward. She’s crawling, standing, and showing signs of walking. She’ll be up and around before we know it.

She has also been quite the chatty Kathy (Kathleen is her middle name, after all) for the last couple months. I swear she’s expressed every sound but “M”. Finally, on Saturday, she said “ma ma ma ma” and didn’t stop. Although I know she has no idea what “ma ma” means yet, I do and it sure is a lovely sound.

This was a beautiful (and much needed) reminder that Zac Brown was a wise man when he said, “it’s the little things in life that mean the most.”

The good stuff: Much overdue edition

Is anyone still out there?

If you’re reading this, thanks for sticking with me; it’s been a while. Since I last posted, Bridget got two teeth and a hurricane hit Cleveland, Ohio. A lot has happened.

My dear friend and former co-worker, Annie, and her husband, Reed, visited for a weekend. They moved to Portland after traveling the world last year and this is the first time I’ve seen them since. It was just like it used to be with my group of current and former co-workers: we spent two days talking, talking, and talking. Oh, and Annie now works for Nike’s headquarters so she brought Bridget her first pair of tennis shoes. Adorable.

Go Blue!

We honored our annual tradition of attending a Michigan football game with my in-laws. We enjoyed tailgating, watching the Wolverines win in overtime, and a night out for wings and and a Killian’s. It was our first night away from Bridget so by Sunday morning, I was jonesing for her. Meanwhile, Bridget spent some quality time with Grandma and Grandpa Lichty and some of her cousins.

My company’s offices just relocated to a brand-new office building. My first day of working there was this past Friday and I felt like a kid on the first day of school going to the new campus. There’s just something about a new desk, paint, and a cafe.

My Mom came to visit today and it turned into a spontaneous date afternoon for Brian and I. We enjoyed lunch at our favorite local restaurant, Maya, and Taken 2 at the local movie theater. Eating lunch at a normal pace was a nice treat and Liam Neesan is still a bad a@*. All in all, it was the perfect day. Thanks, Grams!

And last but not least, the holidays are officially upon us and I am so looking forward to experiencing them for the first time as a family.

The good stuff: Family wedding edition

This past weekend, my cousin, the sister I never had, my partner in crime growing up, and a true friend, Erin, married the love of her life, Tommy. Their day was simply perfect; from the weather to the dress to dancing the night away at the reception.

There was so much goodness to this past weekend that I’ve decided to dedicate my weekly good stuff post to it.

– It’s amazing to be a guest at a wedding of a couple that is truly and beautifully in love.

– While my family is close in the emotional sense, we’re not as fortunate in the physical. It was so much fun having all the family, including my aunt, uncle, and two cousins from Virginia, at the same place for an entire weekend. We laughed, cried, reminisced, and danced until they kicked us out.

– I was reminded in so many ways how incredibly blessed I am to be a part of the Mangan family.

– As a bridesmaid, I wanted to be all Erin’s that day so Brian was on Dad duty. He did awesome coordinating Bridget’s outfit, naps, feedings, and travel for the entire weekend. Thank you, Brian! It’s times like these that make us really appreciate that my Mom did it on her own everyday.

– Erin and Tommy had a subtle and classy Irish themed wedding, right down to drinking Smithwick’s beer imported from Ireland in the party bus. I may have discovered a new favorite beer (and also that the day after having a few of these beers takes on a whole new level of tired with a three and a half month old baby).

– Our Grandparents won the anniversary dance for being married the longest: 61 years! Their advice to the bride and groom: “Put up with each other” (Nanny) and “Behave yourself” (Papa).

– Erin and I went to school together and had the same circle of friends, so the dynamic of this wedding was unique in that I got to spend it with family and old friends. When we are together, there’s never a moment of silence between the chatting and laughter.

– Did I mention that it was the perfect day in every way?

Congratulations, Erin and Tommy! I love you both.

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The good stuff: Week of 8.26.2012

Hello, September: my favorite month of the year!

I can’t believe another summer is here and almost gone. Here is some of the good stuff that’s happening along the way:

– Bridget is settling in well at Miss Denise’s. She’s happy when we drop her off and happy when we pick her up (and Miss Denise snaps some cute pictures to send me throughout the day). This has helped make the transition from home back to work a little easier every day. Thank you to all my family members and friends who shared encouraging words with me this past week. They really helped!

– I received a postcard from my good friend and former co-worker, Annie, who moved back to Portland last year. In this digital world, there is nothing like the feeling of opening the mailbox to a hand-written letter. And, because we both share a love for volleyball, I got a good laugh from the front of it.

– 2012 is another crazy busy wedding year for us and this past weekend, we celebrated the nuptials of Brian’s former college housemate, Danny, and his new wife, Nikki. We also got to spend much-needed time with some of our best friends, Whitney and Ryan. These too-few-and-far-between get togethers always make me wish there were more of them.

– Long weekends make any week better. I’m still of the belief that working five days to get two days off (with a bonus three-day weekend sprinkled in a few times a year) simply isn’t fair. I work with many international clients who, I’m convinced, are on “holiday” more than at work. But, I’ll take what I can get. And I am enjoying every minute of this long weekend!

The good stuff: Week of 8.19.2012

This week had its ups and downs, but I’m feeling back on level ground. Bridget and I survived our first few days apart and although I missed her so much, it made the time we spent together as a family this weekend that much more special. Here are a few other highlights:

– I’ve always felt grateful to work with such a talented, kind, and fun group of people and this past week made me appreciate them even more. Not only did they welcome me back in such a thoughtful way, but so many of them covered my work responsibilities perfectly while I was out which helped make for a much less stressful return. In a few days, I’ll be right back in the swing of things.

– We celebrated my Grandpa’s 83rd birthday. He is still as ornery as ever and that’s one of the many reasons I love him so much. Happy birthday, Papa! Here’s to many more…

– Brian took the day off work on Friday to watch Bridget. Not only was it a relief for me that she was with him at home, but it was a great day for both of them. The love he has for her warms my heart and I can see it reciprocated from her more and more everyday.

Bridget after she rolled over

– We had dinner with my family on Friday night and Bridget accepted two bottles from my Mom with no trouble. Poor Grams; she had battled the bottle so many times and finally nailed it. Again, folks, it’s the little things. :)

– And last but certainly not least, Bridget rolled over for the first time! She’s been so close for so long and we knew it was going to happen anytime. I kept hoping she would do it for us and not while we were at work and thankfully, she did. As Murphy’s Law would have it, I recorded about 30 minutes of her getting closer and closer and when I didn’t have the camcorder in reach is when she decided to be our little show pony. It’s funny how when you become a parent, the most simple things become so much more. We cheered and high-fived like the Browns had won the Superbowl (although I will probably never know how that really feels).

I hope you all have a great week. A three day weekend is upon us!

The good stuff: Week of 8.12.2012

This past week was a good one; a really good one. It was my last full week home with Bridget. I know this coming week is going to be tough (I can’t even type this sentence without tearing up), so I’m going to enjoy this feeling for a little while longer.

Our future volleyball player

– Since my days of competitive volleyball ended in college, I’ve been involved in many leagues since. After Brian and I married, he joined in the fun and for the last four years, we’ve played year round with the same group of folks. I sat out for this last year, and Brian did as well for the summer, so we missed seeing our teammates week after week. Since many of them hadn’t met Bridget, we played spectators to a game and took her along.

– Bridget and I spent our last Thursday at Nanny and Papa’s. We created so many memories this summer, and these will be some of my most cherished.

– For our baby shower, my Mom’s longtime friend, Linda, bought us a bottle of champagne with a card attached that read, “Celebrate when you can.” The bottle’s been chilling in the fridge, waiting for the right time to be opened, and this past Friday was it. After Bridget turned in for the night, Brian and I enjoyed some bubbly on our deck. Cheers to having so much to celebrate and thank you, Linda, for encouraging it!

– While this may not seem like a big deal to some, anyone who I’ve spoken to since June knows the ongoing battle that was the bottle. Fingers crossed, we *think* Bridget has finally mastered it. This is undoubtedly the really “good stuff” from this past week, and just in the nick of time.

I am determined to find the good stuff in the coming week. As much as I wish my maternity leave wasn’t ending, I am grateful to have a job I enjoy, kind co-workers to welcome me back, a caregiver who will keep Bridget in good hands, and the love and support of family and friends.

Have a great week, all!

The good stuff – Week of 8.5.12

Cheers to another week! Here’s the “good stuff” from last week:

– Bridget and I visited Brian at work for lunch. It was the first time I had been to Brian’s office and it was neat to see his workspace and meet his co-workers. Seeing Brian proudly show off Bridget never gets old.

– Brian’s former housemate from college, Randy, got married this past Friday. Thanks to Grams, Brian and I enjoyed a date night. It was so much fun catching up with Brian’s college friends and their significant others. There is never a dull moment when those guys get together. And, Bridget’s night with Grams was much more successful than the first. I’ve learned a lot these last few months, and one lesson is to celebrate the little victories!

Brian with his college friends

– My in-laws live about three hours west of Cleveland so it’s been difficult to visit as often as we’d like since Bridget was born. We finally made it back this weekend and had a wonderful time visiting with Brian’s parents and his oldest sister, Amy, and her family. My niece, Madison, and nephew, Mason, are so cute with Bridget. Having cousins of my own with whom I share so many fond memories, I am grateful that she will have cousins to go through life with as well.

BONUS: My mother-in-law made my absolute favorite dessert (well, maybe second favorite; French Silk pie still tops the list): Butterscotch Pecan Dessert, and we ate the whole dish. The. Whole. Dish. I was too busy eating to take a picture for this post, but the recipe is worth sharing. Even if you’re not crazy about butterscotch (which I’m not), give it a try:

BUTTERSCOTCH PECAN DESSERT:

Ingredients:

1/2 cup cold butter or margarine
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup of chopped pecans, divided
1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
1 cup of confectioner’s sugar
1 8 oz. carton frozen whipped topping, thawed, divided
3 1/2 cups of milk
2 packages (3.4 or 3.5 oz. each) instant butterscotch pudding mix

In a bowl, cut the butter into the flour until crumbly. Stir in 1/2 cup of pecans. Press into an ungreased 13 x 9 x 2 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool. In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until fluffy. Fold in one cup of whipped topping; spread over crust. Combine milk and pudding mix until smooth; pour over cream cheese layer. refrigerate for 15-20 minutes or until set. Top with remaining whipped topping and pecans. refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

– I snapped this photo tonight and got a good laugh from it. For anyone on Facebook or Pinterest, it seems like there should be some funny quote attached to it but I’m not creative enough to think of one. If you can, feel free to share it in the comments section below.

The good stuff: Week of 7.29.2012

Good morning and happy Monday!

Another week is here and gone. Time is flying by and I’m noticing it now, more than ever, as my maternity leave winds down. Only two more weeks at home with my Bridget, which is difficult to grasp, but I’m trying to focus on the good stuff and there was plenty of it last week.

– One of my best friends, Kim, and her husband, Rick, welcomed their first child on Saturday, August 4; a baby boy, Maksim William. Kim and I were pregnant together for most of the nine months and it was fun to share our excitement and nerves; and now the experience of motherhood. I had the pleasure of meeting baby Maksim yesterday and he is healthy and beautiful.

– Bridget and I spent a morning with Miss Denise, the woman who will be caring for Bridget when I go back to work. While it is sad for me to think about not spending my days with Bridget, it is comforting to know that she’ll be in good hands.

– Bridget had her two month checkup and is doing well. She’s in the 79th percentile for weight and 74th for height. I see a volleyball player in our future!

– Longtime friend of mine, Jenn, was visiting from Indianapolis and we were able to spend some quality time together. I am so proud to call her my friend. Since we met 17 years ago, Jenn always said she wanted to be a doctor when she grew up. Well, we’re grown up and she is now in her last year of residency in Pediatrics. It’s not often people become what they say they will at 11 years old. Go, Dr. Jenn!

Jenny, Jenn, and me at the reunion

– This past Saturday was my 10 year high school class reunion. As class officers, my best friend, Jenny, and I were responsible for planning and hosting the event. Although the attendance out of our class of nearly 300 was disappointing, I really enjoyed myself and the company. It was humorous how much we knew about one another, thanks to Facebook, though many of us hadn’t been in touch since graduation. I can’t decide if that’s a good thing or kind of creepy…

We displayed some mementos from high school, including the edition of our high school newspaper dedicated to our class. One of the features was, “Oh the places we’ll go…where do you see yourself 10 years from now?” and we had some good laughs reading through the responses. Some were spot on. Others weren’t. And mine was quite simple: “Married, rich, and happy (hopefully).”

My immediate thought was, “Married? Check. Happy? Absolutely. Rich? Well… hey, two out of three isn’t bad.” Then I thought more about it. At 17, I probably meant rich in the financial sense, but now I appreciate that there is a far more important definition of rich that I’ve accomplished. I am surrounded by people I love and people who love me and at the end of everyday, that’s the only kind of rich that really matters (although I wouldn’t mind winning the lottery, too!). So, I’ll consider myself three for three. Well played, 17-year-old, Shannon. Well played.

The good stuff: Week of 7.22.2012

Happy Monday, all!

Here’s the “good stuff” from last week:

– We purchased our tickets to the Michigan vs. Northwestern football game in November. Brian is a huge Michigan fan and because I never watched much college football before we met (that’s changed significantly since then), I quickly became a fan as well. For our first wedding anniversary, the traditional gift is paper, so I surprised Brian with tickets to his first Michigan game and we made a pact that it would be our little tradition. This will be our fourth year at the Big House and we’re so excited. Although I am immensely proud to be a Student Prince, the Berg didn’t quite offer the same experience of tailgating and football, so this weekend away is quite the treat. Go Blue!

Emily chose Jef in the season finale of The Bachelorette, who was my second choice, and became first when she, in my opinion, prematurely let Sean go. I normally don’t watch much reality television, but Emily’s story was enough to intrigue me and let’s be honest, summer television leaves something to be desired. Of course I am now sucked into the horrible waste of time that is The Bachelor Pad and I do not encourage you follow my lead.

– Bridget and I spent a day with my Grandparents, Great Aunt, and cousins. It was fun watching Bridget take in the new faces and voices.

Former CDH housemates

– In college, I lived in an on-campus house called a Cooperative Learning Community. It’s essentially a house owned by the college that groups can apply to live in by volunteering in the community. I lived in the Children Deserve Happiness (CDH) house for three of my four years at Heidelberg with some of my very best friends still today. A former housemate was visiting from Texas so we got the gang together for dinner and laughed and reminisced for hours.

– And last but not least, the Olympics kicked off on Friday. The concept of the Olympics is still fascinating to me, and aside from the very strange opening ceremony, we’ve enjoyed watching each event and look forward to the next few weeks. I downloaded the free NBC Olympics London 2012 app for my iPhone and it’s been a handy assistant to navigating the games. It offers news stories, results and schedules, TV listings, medal counts, athlete bios, and more. Go USA!

I’d love to hear about your “good stuff” from last week. Feel free to share in the comments below.

Have a great week!