The Shaul Family
- Our family trip out west!! My cousin got married at the end of September in Red River, New Mexico, and we decided to make it an epic vacation while we were already out west for it! We’d never been to New Mexico or Arizona before, and I cannot even put into words how incredible, beautiful, awe-inspiring, and fun our 10 days in New Mexico and Arizona were. Y’all, the Grand Canyon is spectacular!!! Some day I’ll get around to writing a lot more about our trip, but I’ll try to write a quick recap here: every person on my mom’s side of the family was able to be there for the wedding weekend, which was amazing. We all spent a couple days in Albuquerque together (the Sandia Tram and marvelous views from the top are a must, as was Old Town!) and then spent a few days in the beautiful mountains of Red River, NM for the wedding with all of our family! It was so special celebrating their wedding right along the river and enjoying time with our extended family. Then my mom and dad, my sister and her husband, and the two of us continued our roadtrip adventure (all 6 of us in one minivan for almost 10 days!) and thoroughly enjoyed Santa Fe, Taos, and Albuquerque, New Mexico, toured many beautiful adobe churches, stopped in Winslow, Arizona (“standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, such a fine sight to see…”), and headed to the Grand Canyon for three magical days! It was stunning in every way and left me speechless on more than one occasion! We gaped at the majesty of the expansive canyon, walked and hiked a ton, did a fossil tour, went to lots of lookout points, enjoyed majestic sunrises and sunsets, stared in wonder at the heavens and the countless stars each night, and enjoyed every minute of the spectacular views. I can’t wait to return one day! Then we headed to beautiful Sedona, Arizona (the Chapel of the Holy Cross is stunning!) and Scottsdale and Phoenix, Arizona. What a beautiful state!! I can’t rave enough about the incredible, unique beauty (so different from the east coast) of the southwest, all of the laughs/views/conversations/memories, and treasured time with family. It was the most amazing trip in every way!
- The happiest, most exciting news of all: we’re going to be an aunt and uncle (again!) in the next couple months!!!! We’re all overjoyed about the upcoming arrival of a sweet niece or nephew (they’re waiting to find out the gender!), and I’m over the moon ecstatic to be an aunt!!
- Lots of amazing family time throughout the year! We don’t have any family living here in Raleigh, so we are very intentional about traveling to visit our family, whom we love dearly. We always look forward to our annual week at the beach with the Shauls, and it was such a special, relaxing, wonderful week together in the Outer Banks! Our nephew and niece are 6 and 4, which are such fun ages — they’re so cute and great to be around, and we soak up our time at Aunt Steph and Uncle Rob. We also just had an epic Thanksgiving week in Charlotte with my family! The six of us had a few wonderful, quiet days enjoying Thanksgiving, and then my sweet Grandma flew in and wholly surprised us!! She hasn’t flown since 2004, and though we visit her in Ohio as often as possible, I never thought I’d see her in North Carolina again! What an epic, amazing surprise — and lots of happy tears. Then my mom and I threw my sister her baby shower!! We are so, so beyond ecstatic to welcome a little one into the family in a few weeks, and it was the most special, joyful morning celebrating Bridgette and their sweet baby on the way. That little one is so incredibly loved already, and we it was so wonderful celebrating this happy addition with a tea party themed baby shower. And to top it all off, we threw my mom an epic surprise 60th birthday party that same night!! My dad, sister, and I had been conspiring for a year to pull off her birthday party, and we were able to celebrate my amazing mama with so many friends who adore her! It was also so wonderful having my grandma and some marvelous relatives in town for both celebrations — we are truly blessed.
- We also love when our family comes to visit us! My sister and brother-in-law came to celebrate my birthday weekend, Rob’s parents visited us for Easter and again in October, and my parents came to visit us a few times, too. They’re all the best, and we’ve made good use of our guest room this year. It’s the best being with our families!
- On a similar note, we’ve hosted countless friends and family in our house this year (a serious dream of mine!), and we are so thankful for the memories already created and the people who have filled our home! We threw big parties for the 4th of July, Halloween, and hosted two Friendsgivings (and we have a few Christmas soirees coming up, too). There’s little more fulfilling and heart warming to me than filling our home with dear friends. We’ve also had dozens of dinner parties, brunches at home, and game nights with our friends, and this year has been filled with so much laughter, happy memories, and wonderful community.
- I’m about to kick off my seventh year of Stephanie Shaul Events (my six year anniversary of launching SSE is in January!), which is still a little surreal for me! 2019 was another really amazing year overall for my work, and I feel incredibly fortunate that this once-dream of mine has really blossomed and supported me/us for so long now. I adore the couples and families that I’ve gotten to work with, and I also really value the flexibility that owning my own business has given me.
- After a very busy 2018 in terms of life changes (buying our house and Rob switching his career to become a real estate broker), our goal for 2019 was for as few life changes as possible! We still absolutely adore our house (the high ceilings and tall windows! the deck! the lake!) and also love working from home together. Rob had several closings this year, loves his real estate firm, and is excited for what’s in store for 2020 with work. (Let me know if you are local and need a real estate broker!)
- Despite many amazing memories this year, there were a fair share of challenges and harder moments. But through it all, we’re deeply grateful for our faith and the hope that we have in Him, our marriage and love for one another, and truly wonderful families and friends.
- Rob and I celebrated our second anniversary with a long weekend in Charleston! Charleston is one of my favorite places in the world, and it was so special introducing Charleston to Rob and spending so much quality time together. We walked through so much of beautiful Charleston, ambling throughout the charming Southern streets, admiring the gorgeous homes, smelling the blooming wisteria, and popping in and out of shops and cafes. We also ate so many incredible meals (truly some of the best meals of our lives!), walked on the beach (the off season is amazing!), reminisced on our second year of marriage, and enjoyed a sunny weekend away together.
- We love our church, Vintage! We’ve been members for almost three years now, serve together on the welcome/greeting and communion team, and are leaders in our weekly community group. We have loved the friendships formed in our community group and sharing life with these friends, and we’re so grateful for our church home.
- I started a book club and also celebrated four years of our articles club! You know reading is such a vital part of my life, as is community with other women. My monthly book club and articles club are both highlights of each month, for sure! I am thankful for the kind, thoughtful, wise ladies in each of these groups and have learned so much from each of them! Rob has been enjoying lots of football and recording his fantasy football podcast, and he and the guys often get together for poker nights and/or football, as well.
2019 Travel Highlights:
Grand Canyon/New Mexico/Arizona
many trips to Charlotte to visit my family and many trips to both Dayton, OH + Columbus, OH to visit both sides of our families
Charleston for our 2nd anniversary, Charlottesville x2, the Outer Banks for our annual Shaul family beach week, a couple girls weekends for me for reunions/bachelorettes (Oriental/New Bern, Chapel Hill, and Charlottesville), Washington DC + Leesburg, VA + Baltimore for back to back weddings, Carolina Beach, Holden Beach, Stone Mountain/Winston-Salem, Asheboro, and Pinehurst!
- Trips taken: 25 (slightly more than last year!)
- Books read (by me): 54 (slightly more than last year!)
- Blog posts written: 50 (slightly more than last year!)
- Fantasy football leagues: 5 (1 for me, 4 for Rob)
- Guests we’ve hosted overnight in our house: 9
- Dinner parties and/or game nights hosted: 43
- Big holiday parties we hosted: 4th of July, Halloween, two Friendsgivings, Christmas
- Family/friend weddings: 6 (all out of town!)
- Weddings planned: 10
Favorite second year of marriage memories:
all of our trips with each other, going to see Aladdin at DPAC, day trips to the beach and to the mountains, cooking dinners together and trying many new, delicious recipes this year (Rob loves surprising me with recipes he’s researched!), visiting wineries and breweries, hosting friends for game nights, lots of long conversations and laughter on the couch, double dates, going on walks around our neighborhood and local greenways, serving together at church, Sundays spent watching football, enjoying Shaul family Christmas traditions, and celebrating our third married Christmas!
Thank you for your love and support, friends! I hope your 2019 was filled with joyful memories with loved ones. Wishing you and yours a love-filled year ahead!
Looking back at our 2018 year in review!