27 days of thanks

I have a lot to be thankful for.

Despite having started this project on November 1st, it's taken me a little longer than I thought it would to put it all together. Every day I find something I'm thankful for. This year, I decided to document it as a countdown to Thanksgiving.

Nov 01: Cheering with New Family. The Schneider family and I spent the day at the Mall of America cheering Ryan's brother, Brad, on during a Kendama tournament. We waited a few hours before we got to witness Brad competing against kids half his height (and age). It was exciting to cheer and holler from above, even if he was defeated within five minutes.

Nov 02: Raking Leaves. With all my previous years of complaining, I think my parents may have a heart attack when they realize this is actually something I am now thankful for. Raking leaves just brings back so many memories of growing up, burying my brother and myself in the HUGE mound of leaves accumulated on the curb, and spending time with the family.

Nov 03: Girl Talk. Something totally irreplaceable and never taken for granted! I love the nights I get to spend with my girls- catching up, drinking wine, chowing down on food, and barely watching whatever show we decided to throw on. It's our time for us to talk about anything and everything. I would sacrifice anything for these ladies - I'd even sacrifice chocolate. Thankfully they'd never ask me to.

Nov 04: My Voice in My Vote. 

Nov 05: Spontaneous Date Night.

Nov 06: Messing up the Kitchen. I love trying new recipes and cooking with Ryan. We have a great system - I mess up the kitchen and Ryan cleans it. Seriously. It's great. It's fun to come home knowing we get to spend the next few hours cooking together, and then eating our successes and failures. You try to make a pesto without a blender. It's really hilariously entertaining.

Nov 07: Uncontrollable Laughter. When I leave Chelsey's, I know my abs got a work out from laughing so hard. This specific night involved a few movies and trying to sing to said movies. We are excellent karaoke singers, as long as the mics are unplugged.

Nov 08: Surprises. I loved being able to attend Michelle's surprise bday party! Her man went through a lot of planning to get us all at her house for the evening and it paid off! This girl always brings a smile to my face, so I'm glad we could all put one on hers.

Nov 09: The Unexpected. It's the little things, you know? Little things that catch you off guard and make you laugh. Like going into a White Castle for the first time and having the cashier, Rafaat, offer to marry you and your boyfriend at that very White Castle next weekend. He even promised sweet decorations.

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Nov 10: It's Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas. I love the first snow. Without fail, I can't help but have the lyrics, "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas" pop into my head and some point during the day. I honestly only know that line because it's the only one my Gramps sings around the Holidays.

Nov 11: My Protector. In honor of Veteran's Day, I used this photo of my Papa in the Navy. This past summer, up on the Range, I had several dreams involving my Papa. I realized it was time to bring Ryan out to meet him. It's one of the first times I've been back to his grave since he passed. I can't really explain what I felt when I was there, but I got this overwhelming feeling that he was there protecting me and our family. I'm very grateful we get such a sweet dude watching over the family.

Nov 12: Getting Cozy. On these cold Fall/Winter/Minnesota nights, I enjoy getting cozy in this handmade blanket my Gramma gave me. It's one of the many things she has handed down to me over the years.

Nov 13: That Giant Universe. I enjoy staring at the sky and pondering about the universe. It reminds me of how small I really am. It's humbling and exhilarating. 

Nov 14: Italia Nostalgia. I always love to be reminded of my first trip overseas. I learned so much about living on my own and what I was capable of (which was much more than I realized!) We passed a gelato store and I let out a little nostalgic sigh and pretty much drooled as I told Ryan how much better gelato was compared to ice cream. When he suggested splitting three flavors of gelato, there was no way I could resist.

Nov 15: Finding My Soulmate. Remember Rafaat from November 9th? Was he a freakin' mind reader?! Because Ryan proposed to me on the 15th and it was the best day of my life. Ryan surprised me with a note after eating dinner with my dear friend, Jenna. Let me be more specific. He surprised me with a LOST themed note and fake Oceanic Flight 815 ticket calling me to the Island aka one of our favorite dancing spaces next door. This man just gets me. I am so thankful we found each other in this great big giant universe and are going to spend this exciting adventure called life together.

Nov 16: My Loving Family. Hey! That new family I hung out with before is now going to be my actual family! When I first met Ryan's parents, they immediately made me feel like one of their own and welcomed me into their family. Ryan was the first guy I really brought home to meet my family and like I had figured, they liked him immediately. Even little Mischa Ewok approved of this wonderful guy in my life. After the engagement, we got both sets of parents together to meet for the first time and it was seriously awesome. 

Nov 17: Business Exploration. It's always exciting to chat with Jenna, my Bestie of 25 years, and embark on a new business idea together. The beginning development stage has been a lot of fun — figuring out details and eating donuts, all while hanging out with one pretty rockin' chick.

Nov 18: Being Auntie Brittany. It's a really fun title to have, even if it is only honorary. Many times during nights with the girls, Staci and Kate bring their adorable toddler daughters. Now, I get to buy a ton of Frozen things and introduce two cute little darlings to all the Disney movies!

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Nov 19: Enjoying Dharma Beer. No really. Every beer is immediately better with a Dharma label slapped on it.

Nov 20: Mission Project Accomplished. Our customizable photo card app officially got accepted and launched! I plan on sharing more about it soon, but if you're intrigued... check it out! I'm happy to see the final product live, after all of those hard days at work.

Nov 21: Live Music. A night out to Moscow on the Hill with Hanana had a brilliant surprise with live accordion music! The accordion always reminds me of my Great Uncle Jerry and it brings a smile to my face.

Nov 22: Bowling League. It's great to be able to bowl with Ryan's extended family and our two friends, Nick+Tina, every other Saturday.

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Nov 23: Material Experimentation. A new project, a new medium, a new challenge. I love it all.

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Nov 24: Being a Wine "Connoisseur". While I'm far from, I love an excuse to pretend. My motto: the best way to become an expert on wine is practice.

Nov 25: Mr. Plant. He might as well be a new puppy. Rebecca, the owner of the dance studio Ryan proposed to me in, gave us this plant as a housewarming gift back in May. He's grown a lot and he's the only plant I've been able to keep alive for this long.

Nov 26: The View. I love our view from the apartment. Wide open field, beautiful sunrises, and the other side of the river in the distance.

Nov 27: Family Banter. My family loves teasing each other. It's kind of how we show our love. After decorating our Christmas tree, I found my brother's yearly arrangement of ornaments revolved around an old photo of me. To you, it may look like Hercules, Spider-Man, the Batmobile, Quasimodo, Batman, and that Baseball guy are attacking me, but I know they're just coming in for a big group hug. I'm forever thankful for my amazing family and all of our traditions.