holiday traditions

Everyone has different holiday traditions and I am always interested in hearing about them. This year I will get to experience new holiday traditions. This holiday season marks a new chapter in my life. From here on out I will be celebrating two ways: once with my family and another with Matts. As I know my family’s traditions, I am excited to learn about the new ones I will encounter with Matt and his family. Below Matt tells us about his family’s traditions. Is it Christmas yet?

you can find me at: @K_AnnM | Insta | LinkedIn

Christmas, edt

guest blog presented by: Matthew D. Shalbrack
You can find Matt on Twitter: @hamsterjockey; insta: hamsterjockey, make sure you follow him

With the holidays quickly approaching, Kendal Ann wanted me to share some of the holiday traditions that my family and I partake in each Christmas. Christmas has always been a big festivity for my family. Each year, we put the tree up, make cookies, go to my Grandpa’s on Christmas Eve, go to midnight mass and then open presents. I get excited for Christmas each year and I’m even more excited for it this year because it’ll be Kendal Ann and my first Christmas together. So many memories will be made! I cannot wait. Here’s a rundown of the main Christmas traditions that I have with my family and ones that Kendal Ann will be a part of this Christmas season as well!

The first weekend in December

On the first weekend in December, my Mom, Dad and I put up our Christmas tree. The type of tree we use varies – a few years ago we used an artificial tree while last year we used a real tree. We have boxes on boxes on boxes of ornaments that we put up each Christmas. Each of these ornaments has a meaning and it’s hard to not get a little misty-eyed while remembering the memories that each ornament possesses. We use colored lights instead of white lights and we sometimes put gold garland around the tree as well (I’m not the biggest fan of this to be honest). But besides spending time with my family, my favorite thing that we do when we put up the tree is listening to the Charlie Brown Christmas CD. On a boom box mind you.

The weekend before Christmas

During the weekend before Christmas, my parents and I always make Christmas cookie cutouts. We roll and knead the dough, bake the dough and then DECORATE DECORATE DECORATE! We have the same old cookie cutouts that we use each year and we use the same sprinkles, but the designs are always different. I have a tendency to put too many sprinkles on my cookies, but I’m okay with that. It’s always great fun and this tradition goes back to when I was just a wee little tike. Can you guess what is playing in the background as we do these cookies? The Charlie Brown Christmas CD obviously.

Christmas Eve

On Christmas Eve, my family has a whole conglomerate of traditions that we take part in. In the early afternoon, we go over to my Grandpa’s house with most of the Shalbrack clan (except for my relatives who live super far away) and we all get together and have dinner. The same thing usually happens each year in terms of eating. My cousin eats all sorts of hors d’oeuvres and then she can’t eat the actual dinner. After we eat the meal, the cousins and I go upstairs and claim out spots in the living room. My cousins and I actually sit in the same spots year after year. It’s great. While we are sitting by all the presents and snooping, the parents are downstairs doing the dishes and cleaning up. After about 30 minutes, my uncle comes upstairs and turns on, you guessed it, the Charlie Brown Christmas CD for us to enjoy until everyone decides to come upstairs. Once everyone is upstairs, we pass out gifts, open them and shoot wrapping paper balls into the garbage bag. After we finish at Grandpa’s, my parents and I head back home to prep for the midnight (10:30 p.m.) mass at church. My Mom is a part of the choir, so she has to get there extra early, so my Dad and I always go later and sit in the choir loft with her. Once mass finishes, we scurry home because Santa has already dropped presents off (my house is obviously one of the first ones he hits). We open presents, listen to more of the Charlie Brown Christmas CD and then we go to bed.

Christmas Day

On Christmas Day, my family and I have breakfast together and just relax for most of the day. We have a dinner with my Grandma early in the afternoon and that’s about it. Christmas Day for us is all about relaxation and enjoying spending time with one another. It’s great and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

Well there you go! You know have a firsthand look into what my family does during Christmas. I cannot wait for Kendal Ann to be a part of these festivities this year! What do you do for the holidays? What things are different and which things are similar to the ones that I have listed?

giving thanks round 3

30 days of thankful, edt. 3

you can find me at: @K_AnnM | Insta | LinkedIn

As a little recpa, Last November one of my friends was talking about her 30 Days of Thanks project and I wanted to hop on board. Now let me get this out of the way by saying, the idea that being grateful for 30 days is ridiculous; you should be grateful every day, not just for 30 days. That’s the problem though. We know we should be grateful every day, but we aren’t. That’s why 30 Days of Thanks was a project I took under my wing this November.

I understand that you should be grateful every day thing; however, I recognize that doesn’t always happen in my life. I’m working on that. I hope by the end of 30 Days of Thanks project, I will stick to it every day, not just the 30 days that are in November. Alas, every project must start somewhere, so here it goes. Here is a recap of the first 10 days in November.

So here is is friends, these are my last days of  30 Days of Thanks project. I must say, it sounds easy to find one thing to be thankful for everyday, but I wanted to look for more than the easy answers. Every day I am thankful for something and here are some…just to name a few!

11/21- Appreciation

Appreciation goes a long way in the work place. Today, I am thankful for these tiny thank yous and little signs of appreciations from the team I work with. My boss will often go out of her way to show her appreciation or say thank you to me, which is amazing. My team, doesn’t usually do that, but today it was apparent that they were making an effort and wanted to show their gratitude for one another. Seeing these smalls gestures and hearing thank yous gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. Let’s keep these up, team. Today I’m not only thankful for y’all, but the work you do with and for me and he attitudes possessed today. Thanks!

11/22- A Simple Hello

Today I am thankful for simplicity. After leaving the Hoodie Allen concert Zach and I got on the metro to head back home. Zach and I were talking to one another and more people would board the train as we got closer to our destination. A man said a simple hello, which sparked a conversation between us and another person. In that moment four strangers were riding the metro in a deep conversation. Those moments are simple. I am thankful for little things like this. These moments make me see that mankind isn’t totally terrible and there are decent people left in the world, we just need to find them.

11/23- The Badgers & Wisconsin Pride

With a heart that bleeds red and white (blue and gold & green and gold) for the badgers and especially Wisconsin, I will always have state pride. Sure it’s hard to be in dc when my badgers are playing the biggest game (minus the rose bowl) of the season, but I feel right at home when I see badgers walking around town. The bars are filled and people are getting into the game. Every year the badgers fight for the Paul bunion (sp?) axe against the gophers. Honestly, it’s not even a fight anymore, they really just let us have it. I am thankful for Wisconsin state pride and my badgers. Great game and thanks for keeping the axe in Madison!

11/24- Surprises

Today, it’s surprises. I love surprising people, and I love being surprised. For a little background, I was going to stay in DC for thanksgiving, but last minute I found a crazy cheap ticket. My boss told me to take it, fly home and enjoy the holiday with my boyfriend and family (thank you!). Originally I was going to surprise the whole family, but I told my parents and we kept my sister in the dark. After meeting up with my parents and doing a little holiday decorating, we made it over to my sisters new house (congrats) for dinner and (for me) to meet her new boyfriend. She was thrilled, and totally surprised. The best part about a surprise is seeing someone’s face light up with a gorgeous smile. The genius happiness makes the room glow and when you’re in that presences you can help but smile yourself. Today, I have a lot to be thankful for.

11/25- A Classic Date

I am thankful for a boyfriend has an unconditional love. I am thankful for my person to be so good to me. Today was classic date night. Matt and I started dating while he was on a visit from Tennessee, so we never had the chance to do the “classic date”, ie, I will pick you up at 8, talk to my parents while I am finishing getting ready, go to dinner and a movie, but today that changed. When Matt arrived he had gorgeous flowers in-hand when he greeted me. He was a gentleman and opened all my doors, kissed me on the cheek and wouldn’t let me pay for a thing. Today I am not only thankful for the classic date night, but also for Matt. #CTBOT I love you.

11/26- The Ability to Work from Home

This week I am working from home, thanks to my awesome boss. I saw an opportunity for a chance to go home and because I asked here I sit. I sit at my kitchen table with my puppy at my side, the fireplace on working. Working from home is a blessing. I couldn’t be more happy or thankful for this opportunity.

11/27- My Aunt

My Aunt Loy is a remarkable lady. Today I am thankful for her and all the bits of knowledge, wit and life experience she has to share with me.

11/28- Family Traditions

Thanksgiving is always different in my family. Sometimes it’s just the 4 of us, sometimes it is with relatives and other times we open or home to neighbors and friends. This year, it was the four of us and my aunt. We always do a few things on Thanksgiving regardless: a last minute grocery store fun, watch football and the parade, make home made rolls and enjoy a holiday movie. Today I am thankful for my family and our little quirky holiday traditions.

11/29- Family Memories

Today I had the opportunity to not only make memories with my family, but also with Matt’s family. Today I am thankful for the opportunity to remember our memories and to reminisce. I am also thankful to make new memories with another family as well as reminisce on their family traditions and memories.

11/30- Unspeakable Moments with Friends

Today I am thankful for the unspeakable moments that I am thankful for. It’s that text message received, a the way a friend smiles when you are talking, a simple let me get the first round. These are thankful moments. The moments with friends shall never be forgotten during the holiday season. Friends are the family you choose, so choose them wisely and most of all show your appreciation and gratitude. This one for you kiddos and our moments!