The Shaul Family
- My “best of 2021” blog post share quite a few recaps, highlights, and thoughts on this year, if you’d like to read that, and I’ll share some more here, too!
- Our marriage! It’s cliche but so true: I fall more and more in love with my husband every passing day and year. It’s crazy to think our fifth anniversary is just a couple months away! Rob and I have spent almost every hour of every day together over the last two year, and I’m so glad I absolutely love and like my sweet husband. This has been an incredibly sweet year of marriage in countless ways, and we’ve tried to be really intentional about how we spend our time together, what brings us joy together and also separately, ways to communicate even better, and finding new ways to have fun with each other. Rob is really, really good at finding thoughtful and sweet ways to love me well, and I’m always blown away by his thoughtful words, actions, and special touches. We try really hard to make the ordinary moments anything but, to find creative (and easy/simple/inexpensive) ways to infuse delight and memorable touches into our days and our lives, and to be intentional in our marriage. We’ve had some really incredible dates this year: an adventure day in Saxapahaw, lots of gorgeous hikes and long conversations, visits to our favorite outdoor breweries, picnics in the park, playing tennis and going to the pool, and so much more. Rob and I have had deeper and longer conversations than ever before, have time to be still with one another rather than running to the next event or activity, and to pause and savor quieter times together. We’ve also had the time to focus on the little things – and not the grand adventures – that bring us closer together and really connect us. From long walks to playing games together to happy hours on our deck and more, I’m grateful that these last couple years have blessed Rob and myself with so many hours and months together. I believe our marriage is stronger for it, and I’m really glad he’s not sick of me yet! Joking aside, I know how blessed we are to have a happy, thriving marriage where we value, respect, love, support, and encourage each other. We’re not perfect by any means, but our marriage is a constant source of joy and love, and even more time together has only strengthened us.
- Our families and our new nephew! Time together this year has thankfully been more abundant than last year; hallelujah! We hosted my parents for Easter and Rob’s parents in late Spring, traveled to see our families many times over the course of the year, reunited with our niece and nephew in Ohio after twenty months apart, got to attend my cousin’s wedding with family, celebrated the life of my grandfather with family, and were just so grateful for many more trips and visits with those we love the most. We also welcomed another nephew into the family this summer, which was the highlight of 2021, and I was able to be in NYC the week he was born, as I stayed with our other nephew (his brother) as my sister & brother-in-law went to the hospital for the birth. How special it was to meet baby a day after he was born!!! We also just spend a week together for Christmas, which was the best (and cutest) gift imaginable. Nothing better!! We are wildly blessed by such wonderful families and just love and miss them all a lot.
- I’m about to kick off my ninth year of Stephanie Shaul Events (my eight year anniversary of launching SSE is in mid-January!), which is still a little surreal for me! As you can imagine, being a wedding planner in 2020/during a pandemic was not an easy task (which I shared a bit more about in this wedding season recap post), and being a wedding planner in 2021 was wildly busy and full (more on that here!). As I reflect back on this year, I am also incredibly overwhelmed and deeply grateful for all of the lessons learned, the wonderful and kind couples and families I’ve worked with, the flexibility, resilience, strength, and beauty that I’ve seen firsthand, the wedding industry’s resolve and the wildly talented vendors and friends I get to serve alongside, and the hope that I know deep in my heart. I’m excited for 2022 and all of the amazing couples I have the honor of working with!
- Rob had his very best year of real estate yet with so many big closings this year! I couldn’t be prouder of him and simply love witnessing him thrive in this work. He loves his real estate firm and clients, is excited for what’s in store for 2022 with work, and serves all of his clients with such care, professionalism, and wisdom. (Let me know if you are local and need a real estate broker!)
- Despite so many sweet memories this year, there were definitely 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. With some heartbreaking losses and big scares and unsettling news in our families and with our closest friends, not to mention the state of the world and our country and all that’s unfolded this year on a wider scope… I just have to trust in Him, cling to hope, and believe that He is mighty and faithful. It’s not been an easy year, but simultaneously, I feel like my faith has grown because of it.
- 2021 was the year of walking and time outside! I walked 3-5 miles every single day in 2021 (most all of them with Rob!), and I shared all about this milestone here. We’re keeping it up as long as we can this year, too!
- While not back to normal, it’s been incredibly refreshing to see so much more of our close friends this year! We know and value the sheer importance of community and relationships, and there’s little more important than this. We’ve been able to do lots of walks, picnics, dinners on the deck, and even a few small gatherings inside over the last year, and it’s been incredibly sweet to spend more time with our closest friends and do life together in person. Our community is incredible, and we’ve been able to celebrate births, birthdays, friendships, promotions, and life in general together this year!
- We celebrated six years of our articles club! This is far and away one of the highlights of each and every month for me, and it was such a special celebration as we toasted to six years of articles club! You know reading is such a vital part of my life, as is community with other women. My monthly articles club (and book club, too) 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. I shared a ton more about what an articles club is, how much I absolutely adore ours, and how you can start your own on this post.
2021 Travel Highlights:
While travel looked a bit different this year, we were thankfully able to travel a good bit more than last year! I drove to New York City three times to visit our family: once to help my very-pregnant sister, brother-in-law, and nephew move apartments and unpack, once when our second nephew was born, and once with Rob to hang out and play with our family! These three weeks in New York with them were simply magical and filled with the sweetest memories together. And Springtime in NYC is downright gorgeous. Rob and I had the most peaceful, relaxing winter beach getaway (and are going again soon!), as well as an amazing, gorgeous fall foliage trip to Blowing Rock and the Blue Ridge Mountains for lots of hiking and fall fun. We got to meet my parents halfway between their house and ours in Pinehurst a couple times this year, went on a hike at Pilot Mountain with my mom and dad, took a couple day trips to the beach, and went to Pennsylvania for a long weekend for my cousin’s wedding. We were also able to get to Ohio twice this year: once for a memorial weekend for my Grandpa with all of my extended family (Rob’s family lives just 30 minutes from where we were!) and then for a week for Thanksgiving (Thanksmas!) with Rob’s wonderful family! We just wrapped up 2021 with a week in Charlotte with my whole family, which was the perfect week together. We were so, so glad to be able to spend much more time with all of our family this year (niece, nephews, parents, siblings, grandparents, and extended family) — hooray! Our times together were truly the highlight of year and something we never take for granted. Thank goodness for vaccinations and boosters and plenty of precautions to keep our loved ones safe and healthy.
2021 Stats & Figures:
- Trips taken: 15
- Consecutive 3-5+ mile walks: 365 (and counting!)
- New pairs of tennis shoes: 3 (2 for me, 1 for Rob)
- Books read: 108 (all by me; here’s my roundup!)
- Blog posts written: 57 (one more than last year!)
- Fantasy football leagues: 8 (all for Rob)
- Shows binged: 5 (Ted Lasso, New Girl, Downton Abbey, Only Murders in the Building, Survivor 41)
- Board games played: countless
- Dinners hosted on the deck: 15
- SSE largest wedding guest count: 235
- SSE smallest wedding guest count: 114
- Half Baked Harvest recipes cooked: 31
- Briskets & pork belly smoked by Rob: 7
- Starbucks consumed: 0
Favorite fourth year of marriage memories:
trips to the beach and mountains together, daily walks around our neighborhood and at local parks, outdoor dates at local breweries and favorite restaurants, our annual Angus Barn Christmas date night, blueberry picking & strawberry picking, exploring little towns and new lakes/trails together, smoking meat and grilling all year long on Rob’s smoker, never getting tired of spending time together, even when we’re basically together every minute of every day for the whole year, curling up to watch new movies or favorite shows, board games and chess and puzzles together, date nights on our deck with the market lights, picnics in the park, cookouts with friends, playing tennis, cooking dinners together and trying many new, delicious recipes this year (Rob loves surprising me with recipes he’s researched!), fun surprises for Rob’s birthday, lots of long conversations and laughter on the couch, Facetimes with our nephews and niece, Sundays spent watching football (and cheering on the Bills!), watching Rob’s real estate business thrive, romantic steak dinners by candlelight, celebrating our 12 days of Christmas, enjoying Scholl family Christmas traditions, and celebrating our fifth married Christmas!
I adore reflecting upon our year and look back on this one with great fondness and happiness, at least in our little corner of the world. Celebrating the everyday joys doesn’t diminish the hard circumstances around us in the world but reminds us to be grateful for what we do have and to look for the good. Despite life looking far different right now than most of us ever predicted or planned or hoped, nevertheless, life is unfolding right now, moment by moment. Instead of wishing these fleeting days away or hoping for a return to the past or growing angry at the present (sometimes easier said than done), I am choosing to find the good in this year and to celebrate the little moments however I can.
When I look back on this year, what do I want my story of 2021 to be? How will I have handled this year? Will I have merely survived or did I choose to thrive, even amidst the hardships? What will I remember? What did I do to love God and love others well? How did I help others and how did I create joy in our own home?
What about you, friends? It’s not easy, and it certainly doesn’t always happen, but I want my story of this year to be filled with so much more focus on the good things. There have been a lot of hard circumstances, news, days, decisions, headlines, and moments this year, but I know God is still here and He is still good. Everything I’ve shared here is proof that, while it has definitely been a harder season than ever imagined, we have been given opportunities to claim this year as a good year, to triumph through the struggles, to do the best that we can with where we are, to live our lives with faith in something far greater, to thrive however we can right now (even if it may feel like anything but), to serve others and live selflessly and share hope and joy, and so much more. Cheers to 2022!
Thank you for your love and support, friends! I am incredibly grateful. I hope your year had moments of joy and magic even though it may have been a hard year in countless ways. Wishing you and yours hope, peace, and joy in the year ahead!