30 days of gratitude: day 12 – aunt vivian

day 12

dear aunt vivian,

it’s a shame i didn’t have a relationship with you until high school, but i think we’ve made up for it in the last 15 years! life wouldn’t be the same without your wisdom and humor.

i am grateful…

  1. that my dad has a twin sister equally as cool as he is
  2. that i can still fit in most of the clothes from ruthie’s guided shopping sprees from my youth
  3. for spring break 2009 when you let me crash lily’s texas tour to help me recover from a broken heart
  4. for your incredible basketball skills, especially in the pool
  5. that you, ruthie, and pupsi (and annie) are such amazing female role models
  6. that we both love gin & tonics
  7. for the 60th birthday we got to celebrate together with you twins
  8. for your support of my endeavors, especially when it means donating to causes like the boys & girls clubs of grand rapids
  9. that you have taught me that true love comes in all forms
  10. and that it takes work to last (35 years and counting?)
  11. that ruthie is embarrassed by us in public (but secretly loves us more for it, maybe…)
  12. for that time you “accidentally” touched the matthew barney exhibit with your foot to see what the goopy sculpture was made out of (example of #11)
  13. that you rock socks with sandals and can pull off a visor somehow
  14. that you (but probably mainly ruthie) support my love of the arts by taking me to amazing exhibits and musicals
  15. for your sense of humor, worry-free attitude, and outgoing spirit
  16. that you let me spend a few weeks at your place every summer in college
  17. and that i now consider your house one of my adopted homes (although i guess i have to fight pupsi for my bedroom every now and then)
  18. for the stories of your past adventures
  19. that you aren’t afraid to fill me in on the schneider family secrets and memories of my dad as a child
  20. for your and ruthie’s heartfelt listening and “subtle” guidance
  21. that you need me to help set up your technological gadgets and teach you how to use facebook
  22. that i am a “schneider woman” and am proud of everything that comes along with that title
  23. that you were able to join us for one of our recent family reunions
  24. that you’re in good health, even if we had to postpone skiing in tahoe
  25. for the fact that you’ll binge watch netflix shows with me (despite ruthie’s disapproval)
  26. that you infect everyone you meet with joy and laughter
  27. that you and my dad blow your noses the exact same way (not grateful that i may have inherited that trait)
  28. that you love sports and cheer for michigan for me
  29. for your stubbornness and independence
  30. that you’re my aunt (who dreams about what it would be like if i was your daughter)

30 days of gratitude: day 11 – aisha

day 11

dear aisha,

from first grade on, you have helped me grow into the woman i am today. you have taught me so much about acknowledging privilege, embracing humility, and taking responsibility (just to throw some cbq’s out there). my memories with you are some of the fondest from my childhood and adulthood.

i am grateful…

  1. that your mother decided to send you to a boarding school (chicago jr. school – cjs) in elgin, illinois in first grade
  2. that my mother allowed you to come home with us basically every weekend
  3. that we thought it was a good idea to dump the bathtub water all over the bathroom floor and play slip ’n’ slide on the tile (that dang heating vent did not make a great stopping bumper)
  4. for your amazing spelling skills in elementary school
  5. that you let me be batman and were okay with being my robin (metaphorically)
  6. that your mom decided to take you out of cjs for 4th and 5th grade (not sure if that is accurate), so that i could take my first flight to come visit you in columbus, ohio
  7. for every single one of our shopping trips to gabriel’s (although i guess we should always try before we buy from now on…)
  8. for the tgi fridays waitstaff that humored us and “believed” that we were actually twins celebrating our birthday together
  9. for your tough love (we all know i needed it)
  10. that we had big dreams of opening a salon where i did hair and you gave massages
  11. that you matured faster than me and could give me the low down on boobs and periods and sex
  12. for your weirdly optimistic cynicism
  13. that you gave birth to the magical creature that is anna lisa
  14. and that i have been able to watch her grow up into a spitting image of you
  15. that no matter how long it’s been since i’ve seen you last, we always pick up right where we left off
  16. to have been your maid of honor and by your side through everything (even if only in spirit)
  17. that you have always been a role model to me, demonstrating strength, fearlessness, and the ability to stand your ground
  18. that i can be there for you when shit gets crazy
  19. that you are a constant reminder of how grateful i should be for all that this life has provided me
  20. for that time you wore all white and pretended to be an angel
  21. that you work so hard to support your family with all those long nursing hours
  22. for your laugh
  23. that your mother and grandma have always treated me as an adopted daughter
  24. for all the hours you sat watching my endless dance classes (i’m sorry)
  25. that you love “death becomes her” as much as i do and forced your daughter to watch it
  26. that you were there to remind me to be grateful for my stepfather
  27. for your infinite love and understanding of my shortcomings
  28. for the time you and your crew took me to shoot my first (and only) gun at the gun range
  29. that a trip to west virginia is one of the best things ever for me
  30. that fate gave me another sister (a twin even!)

30 days of gratitude: day 10 – kari

day 10

dear kari,

you’ve been holding down the kiddy table with me at family holidays since we were born… exactly 6 months apart. it has been an absolute pleasure growing up alongside you and watching you develop into such a stunning woman and mother.

i am grateful…

  1. that we were born exactly six months apart and basically are the same person
  2. except that i will always be younger than you (you’re old)
  3. for the childhood video of us shaking our sillies out together
  4. that we learned to make ice cream together
  5. that the fire only affected your arm, and not your life
  6. for the endless love you give everyone you come into contact with
  7. that you found a man to love you so deeply
  8. that you and gary were able to take a vacation and come visit me in hawaii
  9. for the thoughtful things you do completely unprompted, like drawing me a bath (complete with candles and relaxing music) after a long day of travel and family time
  10. that your son and stepchildren look up to me and are so fun
  11. for aunt beth and uncle scott raising you however they did to make you turn out so lovely
  12. that you gave birth to tavyne and have raised him with such strong values
  13. and that i guessed the exact date on which he was to be born (and pretending to be pregnant as well…)
  14. that you have always taken care of our grandparents
  15. for the fact that i can still kick your kids’ butts at any dance video game
  16. for your ability to remain calm in the face of chaos
  17. that you correct people’s grammar as much as i do (lovingly, of course)
  18. that you didn’t light your face on fire when you couldn’t blow out your s’more marshmallow
  19. for always making me feel so special
  20. that you found a job you enjoy and excel at
  21. that despite the distance between us, we still manage to stay close
  22. for the love and understanding you show your mother (and my mother) during rough times
  23. that you make me laugh by doing things like wearing a million layers while working out
  24. that you continue to explore your faith and find what works for you
  25. for your incredible strength and ability to overcome adversity
  26. that you wear grandma’s old sweatshirts with pride
  27. that i always know i have a bed and am welcome in your home
  28. and that tavyne will make me breakfast
  29. for your incredible listening skills
  30. that i have a cousin that i am lucky enough to call one of my best friends

30 days of gratitude: day 9 – nancy

day 9

dear nancy,

you’ve been a part of my life since childhood in one way or another, and i’m so glad i grew up alongside the evolution of your love for my father. “step” parents aren’t typically supposed to be awesome, but you are absolutely awesome.

i am grateful…

  1. that you make dad change out of his work uniform when not at work
  2. for your intelligence, wit, and matter of fact attitude
  3. for that scary pinky finger pointing (no messing around when the pinky comes out)
  4. that you put up with the schneiders magic ability to bring up toilets in any conversation
  5. and our need to correct every minor detail
  6. that you always have a spare bed made up for me when i come home to visit
  7. that you’re reasonable and let me borrow your car occasionally (despite dad’s judgement)
  8. for your amazing nana-ing to your grandchildren (maybe one day you’ll have more…)
  9. for how excited and animated you get over the smallest things
  10. that you push dad to travel to new places and experience new things
  11. for forcing our whole family to purge unneeded junk when we moved out of the big green house
  12. that you bring out the best in dad and keep him in check at the same time
  13. that you only broke a rib under that atv
  14. for your great listening skills
  15. for letting me use your address as my forever mailing address
  16. for the love and understanding you have for your family
  17. that you treat amy, dan, and i as your own children
  18. that you got to retire and have been enjoying the more relaxed side of life
  19. but that you still volunteer and find meaning to fill the hours of the day
  20. that you let me in on some “secrets” about my dad
  21. for your outgoingness and positive energy
  22. that you respect my mother and always make sure us kids are thinking about her
  23. that you nicknamed me “hula” even before i moved to hawaii
  24. for your abundant giving to others
  25. for the example you set when it comes to food restraint (go get a pumpkin spice latte though, seriously)
  26. that you got dad to finally wear shorts and sandals
  27. that you always have the coffee ready for everyone in the morning
  28. that you let ryan and i store our winter coats in your closet
  29. that you let me intrude upon your spot on the couch when i am home
  30. that i know you are always there for me, my dad, and my family

30 days of gratitude: day 8 – bruddah

day 8

dear bruddah,

whether in person or across the globe, distance has never been an issue for us. you are the best brother i could have ever imagined, and i am glad our relationship continues to deepen year after year.

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i am grateful…

  1. for you tucking me into bed every night as a child and giving me “bear kisses”
  2. for you level head and logical thinking during times of high emotions
  3. for your hilariousness and reincarnation of chris farley (minus the drugs and stuff)
  4. for your “big brother” judgmental opinions of the boys i date and yet your full support of my choices
  5. that even though we are eight years apart, you still found ways to bond with me in our youth
  6. that when people say “oh, you’re dan’s little sister,” i am proud to say “that’s me!”
  7. that you are always there to turn to for prayerful guidance and support
  8. for skype and facetime and every other form of video chat, so i get to see your face from whenever i am and wherever you are
  9. that i can bounce marketing ideas off of you and talk shop
  10. that you still let me curl up in your lap, even though i am an “adult”
  11. for your extreme passion for movies (and making sure i know all the good ones to see in theater)
  12. for your willingness to take chances and risk failure
  13. that you are the best “danta claus” ever
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  14. for your creativity and artistic endeavors, especially your stint as a choreographer
  15. that you turn to me for advice and trust my knowledge
  16. that i never broke any ribs while being repeated steamrolled in our youth
  17. for the app that records your sleep talking (one of the best and funniest things ever)
  18. for every time that i have shot milk out of my nose at a family dinner thanks to your hilarious antics
  19. for your honesty, integrity, compassion, and understanding nature
  20. that you helped me grow into the woman i am today
  21. for that one time you slapped me in the face unexpectedly and got the whole thing on video in slow motion (and that it is funnier every time i watch it)
  22. for your love of bright colors and the interesting outfits you’d sport during the 90s
  23. for your vhs, dvd, and cd collection back in the day (good thing you wrote your initials on those cases…)
  24. that you are patient and gentle with the women in your family, including me
  25. that you are always up on the latest technology research and releases
  26. that you followed your gut and moved back to japan (mainly so i can come visit, but also because you seem so happy within that culture)
  27. that you decided to make blue baby back ribs one time
  28. for the times when i get to hang out with you in person (see you at christmas!)
  29. that i have siblings who continue to amaze me with their accomplishments
  30. that i am your little sister

30 days of gratitude: day 7 – grandma bird

day 7

dear grandma bird,

i have never seen such immense love in someone’s eyes. when i looked at you looking at grandpa in his hospital bed last week, i could not help but get lost in your sadness, and yet, there was such an intense connection of love and life. i guess that is what 68 years together does.

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i am grateful…

  1. that your love and marriage is an enduring example of commitment and loyalty
  2. that you and grandpa had my mother and raised her to be the woman she is today
  3. for every grandparents’ day that you came to and that you let me share you with aisha, since her grandparents couldn’t be there
  4. for your sage grandma wisdom including, but not limited to, making sure to look smokin’ hot for my man, so he’ll never stray
  5. for your reliable prayer work and dedication to christian science
  6. that you knitted me an amazing baby blanket
  7. for your peach cobbler and baby back rib recipes
  8. that you made me jump over a broom so i’m not living in sin with my boyfriend
  9. for the love and generosity you have for your grandchildren and great grandchildren
  10. for the jewelry passed down to me that you acquired from your many travels
  11. that you have kept a detailed account of when and where you and grandpa have traveled
  12. for the strength you have and the strength that comes with being a “bird woman”
  13. and that i am a bird woman
  14. for your relationship advice and reminding me that forgiveness is essential
  15. for your beauty, in youth and now
  16. that backseat driving runs in the family, starting with you
  17. that you are always there for my mother (as a mother should be)
  18. that you took care of grandpa for all of us, especially over the last few years
  19. that you always buy milk in a bag
  20. for your skepticism of the internet
  21. for that time you got down on the dance floor with anthony at mark’s wedding (seriously, so good)yeah anthony!
  22. that thanks to you, i will always have a plethora of beautifully embroidered pillow cases
  23. for all the photos you collected over the years and the album you created to preserve them
  24. that you are healthy
  25. for your hugs and big kisses on the lips
  26. that you are the glue that holds this family together
  27. for how warm and inviting your home has always felt to me
  28. for all the times you babysit me as a child
  29. for your infamous wall of photos of your 14 grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren
  30. that i am your granddaughter

30 days of gratitude: day 6 – seester

day 6

dear seester,

with six years between us, i know i was that annoying little sister that would never leave you alone and wanted to be just like you, but you know what, i’m not sorry. i still look up to my older sister and enjoy every minute that i get to be around you.

i am grateful…

  1. that we totally both think of each other and get super emotional every time we see a movie about sisters, hear a song about sisters, or read an article about sisters (insert reba now… “my sister…my friend”)
  2. that despite protest, you eventually were okay with me taking horseback lessons (aka your sport), i think…
  3. that you bought me my very first journal as a gift when i was sick in fifth grade (who knew it would be the first of many, many, many more)
  4. that you sat through the “boring” ballet half of my dance recitals to get to the good stuff like tap and hiphop that came after intermission
  5. for that time you visited me freshman year of college and we took a random road trip that involved a selfie photoshoot with our wendy’s order???

  6. that you ran my bookkeeping for me`free of charge when i first started my own business
  7. that you are such an amazing adventure partner always up for the next snowboarding trip or wakeboarding outing or atv excursion
  8. for the drunken bar phone calls i would get where you would tell random guys next to you how hot your little sister was (i think you’re hot too)
  9. for loving karaoke just as much as i do and owning the mic whenever we go
  10. that you play hockey and brought home a bunch of hot canadian freeze players to live with us for awhile
  11. that i was there to witness you slashing that asshole and getting 10 minutes in the penalty box during one of your hockey games (you’re a badass)
  12. that you potty trained me (or so mom says)
  13. that people say our personalities are similar and i take it as a compliment
  14. for that one time i stayed at your house and you cut up watermelon for me just like mom used to do
  15. that you’re always there to help me pick up the pieces when my heart falls apart
  16. for all the times you dropped me off or picked me up from somewhere because mom or dad couldn’t
  17. for giving me a key to your house and all the times you’ve let me crash in your guest bedroom
  18. for the incredible passion you have for learning new things
  19. that despite all our sisterly fights, i know you always have my back
  20. that you taught me how to summersault (and that there is video evidence of how awesome i can summersault)
  21. that you would let me hang out with your cool, older friends around the bonfire when we were figuring out our lives post parents’ divorce (even if my habachi style massage techniques were slightly annoying)
  22. for the times you’ve set me straight (everyone needs a little tough love sometimes)
  23. for being the one who takes care of our parents when dan and i are thousands of miles away
  24. for the fact that i have two of the most amazing siblings ever (not biased at all)
  25. and that i got to watch you both and learn from your mistakes (benefit of being the baby)
  26. that you found such a strong interest in technology and have crafted an amazing career from it
  27. that you have always been such a positive role model to me
  28. for that time you sent me like 10 birthday cards in the mail for my 30th birthday (oh how i do love me some greeting cards)
  29. that you forgave me for cutting off all of your “my little pony” tails (i really thought they would grow back, i’m sorry)
  30. that i have a built-in best friend to help me get through the hard times and celebrate the good times

30 days of gratitude: day 5 – dad

day 5

dear dad,

it’s time to say thank you to the other half of the sara creation equation. after a quick week of snuggling up on the couch by your side, i miss you already. i am so lucky to get to pop back to chicago as much as i do to catch up my daddy time. now onto all the other reasons, i am so lucky.

i am grateful…

  1. for friday nights country line dancing at the vfw honing my killer tush push, slappin’ leather, and two-step skills
  2. for your frightfully loud yells to interrupt long periods of silence in the car on road trips (and how hilarious you thought it was every time)
  3. and for your meticulously tracking of which gas stations and restaurants were at every highway exit along said road trips (before google maps)
  4. that you taught me how to check my oil and are always there for calls about weird noises my car is making (seriously though, what is that cricket in my tire?)
  5. that you are so proud of your three children (we are so proud of you too)
  6. for your perfect comedic timing and dry sense of humor
  7. that for several years, you spent 60+ hours cleverly hiding money into every day objects and turned christmas into an EPIC scavenger hunt (i still can’t figure out how you get a dollar bill inside a seemingly unopened can of tuna)
  8. that i understand and appreciate that a smack to the gut or a tug on my ponytail means “i love you so much”
  9. for all the long hours and hard work you put in to make sure i could take advantage of everything this life had to offer
  10. that you always had conversion vans accessible to help move all my stuff from one college house to the next (and that you drove the five hours there and back to help me do it)
  11. for your collection of amazing machines growing up… slushy machine, cotton candy machine, popcorn machine, hot dog machine, soda machine… what more could a kid want?!
  12. for your incredible ability to make the biggest splash doing a can-opener off of the high dive
  13. that you sat through every single one of my dance recitals, school musicals, and other performances
  14. that i always knew when you had eaten the ice cream (no one else can make it quite as perfectly flat as you)
  15. for the letters and poems you sent to me while i was at the new england literature program in college and disconnected from technology for six weeks (and your secretly amazing wordsmith skills)
  16. that you still allow me to curl up next to you or into your lap even though i am a grown woman
  17. that you are the only person i know who can make that weird hissing/spitting/puckering sound effect with your mouth (i won’t even attempt to try and spell it out, but you know the one)
  18. for your siblings and everything that is “the schneider side of the family”
  19. for your delicious recreation of your mom’s german pancake recipe (you’re going to have to give us kids a lesson one of these days)
  20. for your extremely…long…drawn…out…way…of…telling…stories…complete…with…hand…gestures…
  21. for your extreme attention to detail (ahem, perfectionism) and intensely creative mind
  22. that you seem to figure everything out without ever asking me any questions
  23. that you finally started to get out and see the world through your travels (and for the times you bring us kids along)
  24. that you have a mailing address that remains the same for long periods of time (and that you allow me to use it as my mailing address no matter where i am calling home at the time)
  25. for your outgoingness, charm, and wit
  26. that you always let me ride in your big chief go cart when i was too small to drive my own
  27. for the fact that your garage at old kirk was basically like getting lost in an “american pickers” episode (i think that old snow sled might be worth something nowadays)
  28. that you know how to build the biggest bonfires i’ve ever seen and that we grew up in a place where we could do so
  29. for the times i’ve seen you happy and the times i had to figure out why there was a photo of a panda on the wall
  30. that i am your little weasel and always will be

bonus: for the days when you used to wake us up with “sin wagon” and the rest of that dixie chicks album blaring as loud as the speakers could go

30 days of gratitude: day 4 – ryan

day 4

dear ryan,

today i am feeling homesick, which is strange because i was just “home.” i just spent a week with my family and the friends who have been home to me since i was a child. but, nowadays, home is wherever i’m with you (not to steal edward sharpe’s words or anything). this list could literally go on for hundreds of reasons, but here are the first 30 that come to mind.

i am grateful…

  1. for four years of laughter, friendship, hardship, and deepening love
  2. that you decided to go climbing in maple canyon back in september 2013
  3. for your impressive ability to ride the highs and lows of my dramatic emotions with complete stability
  4. that you share my passion for adventure and travel, especially rock climbing and snowboarding
  5. for your creative, problem-solving mind, always crafting or dreaming up your next project
  6. that you know how to fix everything when it breaks (except your computer, which is why you have me)
  7. that even when you don’t know how to make me feel better in hard times, you listen, and try
  8. for airplanes and our ability to afford flights, because let’s be honest, without them, we are nothing
  9. for your loving and thoroughly entertaining family and friends
  10. that i am so proud to have you as my partner
  11. that you are just so damn nice (and help me be nicer too)
  12. that you are always willing to lend a hand when friends are in need (or even strangers broken down on the side of the road)
  13. that you created a coffeeshop out of cardboard (complete with sounds and smells) when i was stuck in the australian desert and missing my portland lifestyle
  14. that physical activity and good health is important to you
  15. that you love my big butt
  16. for all the times you have brought me ice cream, and not judged me for it
  17. that you challenge me to try new things (kiteboarding is awesome)
  18. that you don’t mind (too much) that i suck at “womanly” things like cooking and doing the dishes
  19. for your written words and stories (when you give yourself the time to write)
  20. for the life we have built together in hawaii and the life we will continue to create together
  21. that we continually try to push the limits of what is “normal” even for us
  22. for the moments when you need me
  23. that you support my career even when it means lots of time apart
  24. that you brought home two baby kangaroos to make life better in the desert
  25. for your positive influence on my finances and spending habits
  26. for your hot bod and head of curls (it had to be listed)
  27. that you are independent and respect my independence as well
  28. but that we basically do everything together anyways
  29. for your horrible dad jokes (i might regret writing this after a few more rounds of hearing the same ones over and over)
  30. for your acceptance of everything that is me

30 days of gratitude: day 3 – kayla & kristina

day 3

dear lala & tine,

every time that i hang out with you two, i cannot help but have a hilarious time. for the past 25 years or so, you have both been such huge parts of who i am. you’re sharing a day of gratitude because there is way too much overlap. thanks for being two fixtures that remain the same in my ever-changing life.

i am grateful…

  1. that my mom decided to send me to copeland dance when i was six, and eventually made it into junior stars and into your hearts ❤
  2. for your ability to make me (and everyone) feel included, even if they feel like an outsider
  3. for your amazing and lovable parents (and siblings) who have always cared for me as their own
  4. that you had bebe clothes you didn’t mind passing along to me
  5. for your down-to-earth borderline raunchy dude bro personalities
  6. that no matter how long it has been since i’ve seen or talked to you, i know you are always there for me
  7. for your incredible love of animals (i don’t know anyone else with more pets than your two families)
  8. that you support my crazy adventures and follow along
  9. that you love ryan almost as much as me and immediately initiated him into our clan
  10. for the way you go out of your way to make people feel special
  11. for your extremely skilled ability to fart, burp, and just generally be gross
  12. for an endless amount of ridiculous memories including lawnmower races, hillbilly jam sessions, peach smelling showers, poolside shaving, falling down (and up) stairs, fast food parking lot hangouts, and a slew of month long sleepovers
  13. that you were still my friend even though i didn’t get an escape as my first car (and my name doesn’t start with a ‘k’)
  14. that you are both as loud, outgoing, and tall as me
  15. that you make coming home to st. charles something to look forward to
  16. and that when i am gone, i miss you both… a lot

kayla, i am grateful…

  1. that i got to ski aspen with you and the fam, and will smith
  2. for our open door poop talks
  3. for your beautiful eyes (seriously)
  4. for how epic our high school locker was for all four years
  5. that you honed my ocd organization skills at a young age (you can hire me in adulthood too)
  6. for the incredible way you are able to keep in touch with your core group of friends daily (so impressive)
  7. that you forgave me for spilling the beans about the screwdrivers (i think i’m forgiven…)

kristina, i am grateful…

  1. you found such a quality husband who has always lovingly put up with our shenanigans
  2. and for the beautiful family you are creating (and sharing with us)
  3. for reminding me that you are stronger than me and can kick my ass (or just duct tape me to your kitchen floor)
  4. for your stubbornness, sarcasm, and sensitive side
  5. that you are so hardworking and motivated to help others
  6. that you were there for my mom and i when she was going through treatment
  7. for your steadfastness and honoring of traditions (i always know where you’ll be on your birthday)