Sunday, December 31, 2023

2023: The Year in Review

This post is one of my favorite ones to write each year. It gives me a chance to look back at how much our family has changed and grown in just twelve short months, and, this year; those months seemed shorter than ever. Time really does seem to enter warp speed the older you get.

If there is anything that I can say about 2023, it is that it was our year for hosting friends and family. It seems like each month offered opportunities for us to spend time with those that we love, and, for that, I am incredibly grateful.

As always, the post is extremely picture-heavy, so I apologize for that in advance.


We kicked off the New Year with a fondue party with Erin and the foster child that she and Kristi were housing (Kristi was in Florida, visiting her mom, I believe). This alone shows how much can change in a year, as Erin and Kristi are now living abroad. Crazy.


Queen B made the first of what would be many, many trips home this year. We celebrated her birthday with a surprise party that our Katie girl organized. It's not easy to surprise Queen B, so we felt quite satisfied with our accomplishment.

The following day, we made the trip over the mountains to celebrate Queen B's goddaughter's second birthday. We absolutely love this family and are always so excited to spend time with them.

You may remember that I had made the decision in the fall of 2022 to stop fighting the gray in my hair. This is where we were in February.


I found myself with some free time on my hands this month and thought that I would spend it catching up on the kids' scrapbooks. I think I managed to catch Queen B's up to her senior year in high school. It's still a work in progress. It didn't help that I was constantly interrupted by my fur babies, who demand almost more attention than my humans.

We also started working on the annual 5K for Not So New Job, which meant a photo shoot starring everyone's favorite runner.

And, speaking of photo shoots; I also squeezed in a weekend visit with Phoebe and her daughter. We had taken senior pictures for her in both the summer and fall, but she wanted winter pictures as well, since very few of her classmates would be able to copy her. She's competitive, that one.

While we were shooting, a giant glop of slushy snow fell out of a tree and onto Phoebe's head. We got a good laugh out of that.


I hosted Easter brunch, but not before Mom and I decorated a batch of cut sugar cookies, requested by the Man-Cub.

Mom, Oscar, Emily, the Man-Cub and Shanti, Erin and Kristi all joined us. We decided on doing a brunch this year, so that we could attend an adult Easter egg hunt at Mama Jill's later that afternoon. It was actually quite fun, so we will probably do that again in the future. Brunch is so easy to prepare, and, there are mimosas!

Later in the month, Mom and I headed over the mountains to Mayberry, where we attended my great niece's ballet recital and spent some time with her and her father, the Rebel Without a Cause, who, it should be noted, is still a rebel, even at the ripe old age of 32. We're hopeful that he will eventually mature.


I planted my garden this month, crossing my fingers that it would be more productive than it was the prior summer. Spoiler: it was. 

This month, we also started working our way through the items on Erin and Kristi's Colorado Bucket List, starting with making hats at the DIY Hat Bar at a local small business. It was a lot of fun and the hats made the cut when it came to what the girls were packing for the move.

Mom and I also tried something new; we visited an iris farm just outside of Petticoat Junction. The drive to the farm was gorgeous, the day was beautiful, and the company was perfection. Definitely something that we plan to do again in 2024.

Memorial Day weekend, Hugh, the Man-Cub, Shanti, and I went 4-wheeling and cave exploring. It was a fun way to spend a day.


The first weekend in June, I had a yard sale and the most exciting thing I can say about that is that the Man-Cub chose that day to tell Hugh and me that he intended to propose to Shanti in October/November, when they were planning to vacation in the Dominican. To say we were excited would be an understatement. It also meant keeping the secret for five months. Torture!

In June, Hugh also graduated from the Fire Academy...

...we attended Kaley and Isaac's gender reveal...

...we celebrated Father's Day with a BBQ for Hugh and Oscar...

...our Katie Girl got hitched...

...and we hosted a 60th anniversary party for Oscar and Emily that was attended by the majority of the extended family (missing one nephew, who was on a trip to Israel).


Hugh, Erin, Kristi, Tom, Sean, and I went on our annual 4th of July camping trip. While we were there, we did a retro photo shoot of the girls with their beloved vintage camper. Photo shoot with Tink was on the Colorado Bucket List.

The trip was memorable in many ways, not the least of which is that it was probably our last, since the girls were well into their relocation plan.

It was also the most beautiful July in recent memory. The snowy winter and rainy spring made for the most gorgeous wildflowers in the high mountain meadows, and we took full advantage of them.

I'm going to miss doing things with this group 😢

Thankfully, I still have Shanti and the Man-Cub! Hugh and I spent the actual 4th of July holiday with them at the Cherry Days festival in a neighboring town. Before the festival, we went cherry picking in one of the local orchards. We had cherries for days!

Later in the month, we hosted the annual golf tournament fundraiser for Not So New Job. It was Erin and Krist's last one (are you sensing a theme, here?). We will miss our most ardent volunteers, for sure. However, it was at the tournament that my staff and I decided to do more than just talk about learning how to golf. More on that, later.

This year, the Man-Cub joined Hugh's team and I think he really enjoyed himself. I loved having him there.

I ended the month with a trip to New Mexico with The Girls for our annual Girl's Weekend. It was so much fun! We stayed on T's new (old) houseboat, went speed boating with one of her co-workers and his wife, slow-trolled around the lake on T's pontoon, and just generally enjoyed our time together. I always end our trip wishing we had more time together. So grateful for these amazing women and our 34 year friendship.


August was another month filled with friends and loved ones. We started off with Kaley's baby shower.

Followed by the bridal shower that Queen B and I threw for Miss Mia.

Later in the month, my staff and I started golf lessons! We signed up for a weekly clinic at the golf course that hosts the tournament for Not So New Job after being encouraged to do so by the General Manager and his Golf Pro. The clinic is called Wild Women Wednesday, which should tell you all you need to know. It was a blast and, I can report that several of us, including myself and Shanti (she and Kristi joined the staff in the lessons) now own a set of clubs, as well as several really, really cute golf outfits. We are going to sign up for the first clinic offered in 2024.

Mom, Shanti, Shanti's mom, and I visited the cut-your-own flower farm, where we made bouquets. I really enjoy Shanti's mom and, since the Man-Cub had already asked for her dad's blessing to propose; her mom was also keeping the secret. We shared a lot of knowing glances, if you know what I mean.

A few days later, I hosted the Bon Voyage party for Erin and Kristi. 


We started the month off with Miss Mia's wedding.

Enjoyed our last golf lesson, which saw us actually playing a few holes (baby steps!).

And Not So New Job hosted its' annual Barn Dance, at which Hugh, the Man-Cub, and Shanti volunteered.

The following day, Erin jetted off for the UK, leaving behind Kristi, who was awaiting her official VISA. She stayed with us, and, to keep her mind off the wait, we jumped into Fall activities, including a trip to Pickin' at the Pea, where we each found treasures and where Hugh fell in love with Mennonite slow-drip coffee.

We also canned pickles, because my cucumber haul from my garden this year was off the cuff. We have pickles to last until next year, without a doubt.

We also attended the third annual Apple Pie contest hosted by a local orchard. Hugh usually judges the contest, but was at EMT class, so was unable to attend. This was probably a good thing, because Mom entered the contest this year and, we wouldn't want her third place finish to be questioned on the basis of favoritism.

We ended the month with a rowboat photo shoot, which is something that I've had on my Photography Bucket List for ages. The Man-Cub and Shanti were such good sports and I'm hoping they will indulge me in another shoot next summer. Maybe as their official engagement pictures!


The gray was coming in hot and heavy by this point. I'm not hating it.

You all know that October is my favorite month and that Halloween is my jam. This year was no different, in fact, I added a new event when I joined Mama Jill and some other friends in a Supper Club; I hosted in October and the Witches' Supper will be an annual event, moving forward. Even if the Supper Club itself is less consistent than we'd hoped.

The day after the Witches' Supper, the Man-Cub, Shanti, and I joined Jules and her Boy Toy for a trip through a not-so-haunted corn maze in Neighboring City. It might not have been scary, but it was fun. Plus, I don't get to see Jules nearly as much as I would like, considering she lives an hour away. I really need to do better at that in the new year.

Meanwhile, Kristi finally made it to Wales! Her VISA was finally approved the day before Supper Club, so she started a thirty-some hour journey to join Erin.

Before the month was out, the Man-Cub and Shanti helped me dip some caramel apples, which is something that hadn't happened in my kitchen in years.

And, it wouldn't be a year in review without documentation of the skeleton display!


Finally! We were able to let the cat out of the bag!

They haven't set a date yet, but we are patient people, obviously.

Thanksgiving dinner was a quiet affair this year, with just Hugh, Mom, Oscar, Emily, and myself in attendance; I didn't mind, I knew that we were going to have a full house for Christmas, so I was savoring the quiet. Shanti and the Man-Cub did stop by for dessert and to participate in the photo shoot for the annual Christmas card, however (more on that, later). Queen B and the Rodeo Princess stayed in Texas, where they were joined by my cousin's daughter for Thanksgiving dinner, which they had at a friend of the Rodeo Princess. They did send us pictures and also FaceTimed with us during the photo shoot (again, more on that, later), so we felt their presence with us.

On the last day of the month, I boarded a plane for Texas. The flight was a gift from my staff, who knew I would like nothing more on the occasion of my 55th birthday.

Queen B met me at baggage claim and we headed for our hotel, where we got ready for the first adventure of the trip; a carriage ride through Highland Park, where we viewed the Christmas lights.


In the following days, we visited a German Christmas Market...

...hosted a sip'n'paint...

...thrifted our way from Hico to Ft. Worth...

... and generally just enjoyed each other's company.

Once I got home, it was a race to Christmas. Mom, the Man-Cub, Shanti and I attended the community theater's holiday production...

...I sent out our Christmas card...

...and I laughed at the out-takes from that photo shoot.

A couple of days before Christmas, we hosted the 3rd Annual Holiday Cocktail Contest, at which Shanti took top honor, ending Queen B's winning streak.

And, on Christmas day, we were joined by all of my extended family, with the exception of my older sister.

It was a lovely holiday and I enjoyed having so many people that I love in my home. Like I said at the beginning of the post; time with family and friends was the theme of the year and I have zero complaints about that.

Hugh and I will end the year quietly; just the two of us at home. I'll be surprised if we make it to the ball drop, honestly and I'm fine with that.

My hope for the new year is that we will, once, again, be surrounded by friends and family, and that we will have opportunities to celebrate together. There is nothing more important than time with our loved ones.

On to 2024!

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