Friday, December 29, 2023

An Ode to 2023

Oh 2023, you started out tough (and a little scary, to be honest), you continued to be tough, and you ended tough.  It was a hard year… one of the roughest ever for me, personally, and I’m honestly not sad to see this one go.  Yes, the good times were plentiful, but my gosh, the tough stuff was abundant and constant this year.  There were many things that I shared here on the blog like my constant battle with vertigo for the entire second half of the year (that is STILL present as I type this on December 27 – UGH) and Olivia’s unexplained illnesses throughout the year, and there were many things that I haven’t and won’t be sharing here on the blog. 

My brother and my dad always chide me when I condemn an entire year just because of the bad stuff that happened throughout, but y’all, this year was FULL of crap, honestly, and it was HARD.  While I’m not full-on condemning it, it will definitely go down in history as one of my least favorites.  Aside from 2020, I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited to say goodbye to a year and welcome a new one.  I’m looking forward to a fresh start, and I’m so grateful that it’s just right around the corner.  I’m praying with every fiber of my being that 2024 is better than 2023. 

Shall we recap?  As always, I’m recapping the good and the bad, and I’m starting with the bad so we can end on a high note.  My gosh, was there a lot of bad this year, and the stuff listed below isn’t even all of it…

The Bad…

It was the year that I had my first cancer scare ever.  My doctor found a tumor at my routine mammogram/ultrasound appointment, and we had to wait two agonizing weeks to get a biopsy and wait for results.  Thankfully, it was benign, but boy, was that a rough start to the new year!  It's unsettling to know that there is a tumor in my breast, benign or not, but the doctor says that there's no need to remove it since it's benign.

It was the year that we also started off with another bout of Covid for Olivia (thankfully mild, though!) and a random non-Covid sickness for Jacob.  While not a big deal in the scheme of things, it all happened right in the middle of my cancer scare, so that compounded my stress.

It was the year that our garbage disposal, kitchen sink faucet, and garage door all broke within the first three weeks of the year.  Compared to the other stuff that happened this year, it almost seems petty to even mention it here, but again, it all happened in January while it was already figuratively “pouring” over here, so it wasn’t fun to have to deal with in the midst of other trials.  

It was the year that the kids spent most of the month of January sick, but we were just grateful that it didn't happen in December when we had so many fun things lined up.

It was the year that Olivia suffered from some weird stomach/rash/fatigue illness for the whole month of February.  And then again for a couple of days in November.  And then again for a week in December.  We're still not sure what it was, and it's frustrating to not have answers.

It was the year that we got bad news about my cousin's cancer.

It was the year that we lost Brian’s cousin to cancer.

It was the year that my father-in-law was diagnosed with cancer.  Thankfully, his is slow-growing, it has not spread, he was treated with radiation, and he is going to be just fine.

It was the year that we had to say goodbye to Jacob’s beloved music teacher as he took a new job.  Jacob was so very crushed, but we are grateful for the year that we had with him.

It was the year that I was diagnosed with Raynaud’s Syndrome where the blood drains out of my fingers unexpectedly.  It freaked me out the first time it happened, and it’s very unsettling every time it happens, but thankfully it’s not dangerous most of the time.

It was the year that Brian was in a car accident.  Thankfully, he was okay, but his vehicle was totaled.

It was the year that my anxiety ramped up again after months of and months of having it under control.

It was the year that I started experiencing short/mild bouts of depression in addition to the anxiety.  I’ve experienced anxiety for the better part of my life, and after feeling “too much” for so many years, it scared the hell out of me to feel “too little” when I was going through it.  I’m sure it’s from all of the things that happened this year, as it started shortly after a lot of things piled up in a short amount of time.  That paired with an extended period of dreary weather was just a recipe for disaster for me, apparently.  I’m grateful that mine wasn’t ever severe, and my heart goes out to any of you who have to deal with depression in any way, shape, or form.  

It was the year that I randomly woke up one morning with vertigo, and it ended up staying with me for the rest of the year… it’s still here as I type this.  It was awful for the first few days… so awful that I could barely get out of bed.  I couldn’t walk straight, I could barely sit up, and I couldn’t drive for four weeks.  I had debilitating nausea for the first few days, and I’ve struggled to do daily activities since then.  Therefore, the last half of the kids’ summer break ended up being awful because we were stuck at home.  The beginning of their school year was also disrupted because I couldn’t drive, so we had to rely on my Mom and Brian to drive us around everywhere.  (I thank God for our village every single day.)  Getting proper care for it was horrible, too, because every doctor I needed to see had a long wait, so it was a very long, drawn-out, frustrating process that ended up in ungodly amounts of money spent and… no answers.  I ended up going to acute carehaving a bunch of testing done with my ENT doctorhaving a VNGtrying occupational therapydoing lots of vestibular physical therapyseeing my primary care doctorhaving an MRI of my brain and neckseeing a cardiologist, having an echocardiogram and an EKG, having testing done on my carotid arteriesseeing a neurologist, and getting a CT angiogram only to be told by the neurologist (my last and final hope) that I, “will just have to wait for it to go away on its own.”  It has been nearly six months as I type this, and I’m terrified at this point that it may never go away.

It was the year that we had a cancer scare for another close family member.  Said family member had to wait a long time for answers, and had to have lots of tests run, but thankfully, everything turned out to be okay.  It was a long scary couple of months, though.

It was the year that I got my first traffic citation in more than a decade… and it was because my registration was expired because the county tax commissioner failed to send my renewal notice.  Sigh.

It was the year that one of Jacob’s teachers found out that she has stage four pancreatic cancer that has spread to her liver.  She is obviously taking leave from the school to fight it and we are still praying for her daily.

It was the year that Brian injured BOTH of his knees at the same time playing tennis.  Thankfully, it was nothing major, but he was on the struggle bus for quite some time.  We think he sprained/pulled both of his MCLs.

It was the year that I got another flat tire… right after having four brand-new tires put on put on my car.  And it wasn’t able to be patched… I needed a whole new tire.  And Brian nor my dad were able to help rescue me as they were both down with injuries.  Yeesh.  A minor inconvenience in the scheme of life, but it’s become a running joke now to see just how many flat tires I can have, so I thought it should be mentioned here.  It was also a MAJOR unexpected cost after a long line of other unexpected costs for the year, so it was like very expensive icing on a very expensive cake that doesn’t even taste good.  Haha.

It was the year that Matthew Perry passed away… he was my favorite actor on my favorite show of all-time and losing him was like losing a friend.  He was also my cousin’s wife’s brother, so it literally hit close to home as we watched our family members grieve his loss.

It was the year that one of my best friends went through the heartache of infertility, finally getting pregnant, receiving heartbreaking news about her pregnancy, and then ultimately losing her baby.  Walking through that with her… there really are no words.

It was the year that we found out our sweet baby girl, Maui, has stage one kidney disease.  She just turned 14 earlier this month, and we’re praying that we still have some good years (months?) left with her.

It was the year that one of my aunts and one of my uncles were both diagnosed with dementia (and one with Parkinson's, too) and both have declined rapidly.

It was the year that my beloved second home (the movie theater that I worked at for my first job and had some of my favorite years of my life) closed down forever.  Again, not as big of a deal as the other things, but just one more thing that broke my heart.  :o( 

It was the year that Georgia lost to Bama by three in the SEC Championship game, crushing our hopes to have a Threepeat in the National Championship Game.  Not nearly as horrible as the other things going on, but definitely a HUGE bummer for our household.  

It was the year that five of my close friends and family members lost their family pets that they’d had forever, and another just found out her dog has cancer.

There was just so much sadness and loss this year, y’all, so many unexpected and unexplained illnesses in our little family of four, so many unexpected expenses with Brian totaling his car, other things breaking, and the loads and loads of medical bills we’ve accumulated, so many illnesses with family members, and so. much. cancer. 

I mean, honestly.  

I am willing 2024 to be better.

Now to end with the good stuff…

The Good…

It was the year that Georgia won the National Championship for the second year in a row!  We are so proud of our Dawgs!

It was the year that we headed to Athens yet again to celebrate our Natty win complete with a parade and a trophy ceremony!  Two years in a row!  What fun!

It was the year that I got braces!

It was the year that we celebrated Brian’s 45th birthday!

 Celebrations Part 1

Celebrations Part 2


It was the year that we celebrated our sweet girl’s 9th birthday! 

 Celebrations Part 1

Celebrations Part 2

Birthday Interview

Birthday Letter


It was the year that we celebrated my Mama Cass’s 94th birthday!

It was the year that I took up a new hobby and starting learning to play piano!  (Until my vertigo took it from me.)

It was the year that I celebrated my 41st birthday and Brian got me the best birthday present everrrr!

 41 Things for Age 41

Celebrations Part 1

Celebrations Part 2

Celebrations Part 3

It was the year that Brian’s cousin, Erik, and his wife came for a visit.

It was the year that Olivia continued voice lessons and performed in her first voice recital.

It was the year that Olivia danced in her 5th recital… and she nailed all five of her performances – ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, and musical theatre!


It was the year that we were able to enjoy a Mass with our beloved Father Manny who left our church last year.  He came back to visit for one weekend this summer and we were so excited to celebrate Mass with him and be blessed by one of his homilies again!

It was the year that we were able to get away and head to our favorite place, 30A…

 Days 1, 2, & 3

Days 4, 5, 6, 7, & 8

By the Numbers 

It was the year that Brian got a new vehicle!  It was not planned, and it didn’t stem from the best circumstances, but it’s always nice to have something new, even if it was a very unexpected expense.

It was the year that we celebrated Jacob’s 12th birthday!

 Celebrations Part 1

Celebrations Part 2

Birthday Interview

Birthday Letter

It was my sixth summer home with the kids.  It was not ideal this year.  We started the summer with a wonderful beach trip, but then things went downhill.  We had two straight weeks of rain, when the rain finally stopped, the pool in my parents' neighborhood remained green for the rest of the summer so we weren't ever able to swim, then B got in a wreck and we had to share a vehicle for a couple of weeks which meant we had to get B to and from work for a while (not the end of the world, but just one more weird thing that happened outside the norm this summer), and then we were stuck at home for the last four weeks of summer break because I had a terrible bout of vertigo and I couldn't drive.  Yes, we squeezed in a few fun things here and there, but yikes, this was definitely not my favorite summer.  There were some good times to read about, though...

 Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Week 6

Week 7

Week 8

Week 9

Week 10

It was the year that Olivia got student of the month at her music school.

It was the year that Olivia got glasses… she loves them so much!

It was the year that we skipped the mountains for our fall break, and did a little staycation instead. 


It was the year that Jacob was inducted into the National Junior Honor Society!  We are so proud of him!

It was the year that I went on a girls trip with my Momma, my Aunt Joy, and my cousin Shelby to New York City at Christmastime!

 Day 1

Day 2

Days 3 & 4

By the Numbers


It was the year that we went on 6 weekend getaways and day trips.

 UGA National Championship Celebration – Athens, GA

 Callaway Gardens – Pine Mountain, GA

Huntsville, AL – By the Numbers / Trip

Atlanta Braves Game/Museum of Illusions – Atlanta, GA

Georgia vs. Kentucky Game & Putt Shack – Athens, GA & Atlanta, GA

Georgia vs. Missouri Football Game & Shakey Graves Concert – Athens, GA

It was the year that we were able to go to 7 concerts.  This was, by far, the best year we've ever had for concerts!!!!  That was definitely one thing we had going for us this year!

 Paul Thorn – Columbus, GA

 Taylor Swift – Atlanta, GA

GP-38 – Columbus, GA

Ed Sheeran – Atlanta, GA

Dave Matthews Band – Alpharetta, GA

Phillip Phillips – Atlanta, GA

Shakey Graves – Athens, GA

It was the year that we went to 1 Atlanta Braves game.

 Atlanta Braves vs. Arizona Diamondbacks


It was the year that we went to 2 Georgia games.

 UGA vs. Kentucky – Athens, GA

UGA vs. Missouri – Athens, GA

It was the year that B and I managed to squeeze in 12 dates.  We always aim for 12 each year (one per month).

 Benefit Ball and After Party

Dinner Date for B's Birthday

Dinner and Paul Thorn Concert Double Date Night

Triple Date Trivia Night for Jeannine’s Birthday

Taylor Swift Concert

Dinner and GP-38 Concert Triple Date Night

Ed Sheeran Concert

Brewery Date Night with 10 Other Couples

Dave Matthews Band Concert

Dinner with Fahed and Connor/Phillip Phillips Concert

Georgia vs. Missouri Football Game/Shakey Graves Concert

Christmas Shopping Day Date

It was the year that I spent loads of time with dear friends.

 Pizza Flight Dinner with Jeannine, Jen, Jenn, Becky, Jessica, and Heather

Lunch with Greg

Benefit Ball and After Party

Galentine’s Day Party

Lunch with Shelly

Girls Trivia Night

Dinner and Paul Thorn Concert Double Date Night

 Night Out at the Bar with Shelby and Zoe

Girls Trivia Night

Lunch with Donnie

Triple Date Trivia Night for Jeannine’s Birthday

Dinner and GP-38 Concert Triple Date Night

Happy Hour and Dinner with the Girls

Girls Dinner at Publix... LOL

Brewery Date Night with 10 Other Couples

A Visit with Fahed

Flower Arrangement Girls Night

Girls Night at the Mexican Restaurant

Homecoming Alumni Social and Football Game

Girls Night at the Thai Restaurant

Georgia vs. Kentucky Game with Family

Fahed’s Birthday Party

Dinner with Fahed and Connor

Georgia vs. Missouri Game with Family

Friendsgiving with My Girls at My House

Girls Christmas Brunch and Ornament Exchange at Jessica’s House

It was also the year that was full of play dates and fun family get-togethers.

 Poker Night at Jeannine and James’s House

Olivia’s Birthday Party at the Trampoline Park

Poker Night at Our House

St. Patrick’s Day Party at Jeannine and James’s

Lorelei’s Birthday Party

Callaway Gardens Day Trip with Jeannine and the Boys

Poker Night at Khristina and Ian's House

Downtown Spring Concert with Jeannine and Khristina and Families

Dinner at Amanda and Josh’s House

Sleepover with Aubrey

 Maren's Birthday Party

Poker Night / Foam Party at Jeannine and James’s

Ellie’s Birthday Party

Pool Day with Khristina and Noah

Impromptu Lunch Date with Jeannine, Heather, and the Kids

Impromptu Playground Evening with Jeannine and the Boys

Playdate at Khristina and Noah's House

Playdate with Khristina and Noah at Our House

Poker Night at Our House

Jillian's Baptism

Olivia's First Time Spending the Night Away

Sleepover with Aubrey

Playdate with Jack

Lemonade Stand with Mack and Buckley

Bowling with Mack, Buckley, and Noah

Arcade with friends for Jacob’s Birthday

Savannah's Birthday Pool Party

Play Date with Noah at Our House

Poker Night at Khristina and Ian's House

Poker Night at Jeannine and James’s House

Spirit Halloween Store with Friends

All-School Football Game Tailgate

Buckley’s Play

WJ and Cami Sleepover at Our House

Playground/Picnic Lunch Date with Friends

Pumpkins at Callaway with Friends

School Fall Carnival

Sleepover at Jack’s House

Lego Convention with Friends

Poker Night at Our House

Trunk or Treat at School

Trick-or-Treating with Friends

Taylor Swift Eras Tour Movie with Friends

Poker Night at Khristina and Ian’s House

Hangout with WJ and Savannah at Our House

Cookie Decorating at Jeannine and James’ House

Fantasy In Lights with the Whole Family

Extended Family Christmas Barbecue

Sleepover with Clara

Sleepover at Maren's

Sleepover with WJ

It was the year that I continued volunteering a ton at the kids’ school, serving on their Home & School Advisory Board, serving on the new playground committee, chairing and co-chairing several events and fundraisers (Mother/Son Dance, Father/Daughter Dance, Grandparents Day, Reindeer Run), serving as room mom for Olivia’s 3rd grade class, assisting with Teacher Appreciation Week, serving as room mom for Olivia's 4th grade class and Jacob's 7th grade class, and also continuing in my role as part of the school’s alumni affairs team.

It was another year of wonderful holiday celebrations…

 New Year’s

Valentine’s Day

St. Patrick's Day


Mother's Day

Memorial Day

Father's Day

4th of July

Labor Day





It was the year that I read 32 books.

It was the year that I continued working out consistently, eating (mostly) healthy, and taking care of my mental health.  I shared several blog posts about wellness in case you missed them.

 My Skin Care and Makeup Routine

My Workout Routine – How I Stay Fit, My Favorite Workout Items, and More

On Anxiety and Going Through a Difficult Season

The Four Supplements I Take Every Day to Feel and Look My Best, One of Which Has Been Life-Changing

It was the year I intended to share more recipes, but I only shared a board I made.  Haha.

 Valentine’s Day Fruit Board

It was the year that I shared some fun organizing tips, how-to’s, DIY projects, and Other Helpful Tips with you.

 House Cleanout – End of January Update

Oh, the Places You'll Go! Keepsake Book for Your Kiddos

The Easiest Way to Organize All of Your Recipes

The Most Efficient Way to Meal Plan and Grocery Shop

House Cleanout – End of March Update

Easy Summer Lunch Ideas for Kids 

Favorite Planner Accessories

My Bible Journaling Experience + the Supplies I Use

A Simple Way to Make Food Festive and Fun for Halloween

Easy, Affordable Christmas Tree Craft for Kids Class Christmas Parties

And now I’ll leave you with my top five most viewed posts that were written in 2023.  Before I get to these, a few notes…

These are the top five most viewed posts that were written in 2023… all of my most viewed posts of all-time were written in previous years. 

I do still have several old posts making the rounds on Pinterest, and several new ones that picked up speed this year.   

Income was steady yet again which is exactly what I’m aiming for these days as I haven’t had quite as much time to dedicate to my blog since I’ve taken on so many volunteer responsibilities this year.

Y’all LOVE my Amazon purchases posts and my weekly recaps.  Those are always some of my most viewed, but this year none of them made the Top 5.

Without further ado, here are my top five posts that were published in 2023…

F I V E – Thankful for Answered Prayers

A little heart-to-heart about my tumor / breast cancer scare at the beginning of the year.

F O U R – Unique Gift Ideas for Taylor Swift Fans AKA Swifties

This one is working its way around Pinterest, and thanks to that, it was my fourth most viewed post of the year even though it was just published in October.


T H R E E – Four Taylor Swift Eras Tour Outfit Ideas

Apparently all of you love Taylor as much as I do, and because of that, this was my third most-viewed post of the year!

T W O – Oh, the Places You’ll Go! Keepsake Book for Your Kiddos

This is another post that has been making the Pinterest rounds making it my second most-viewed post of the whole year.

O N E – Easy Summer Lunch Ideas for Kids

And finally, this post has been making the rounds on Pinterest, making it my top-viewed published post of 2023 by far!


And just for fun, my Instagram Top 9 photos/reels from the year…

2023, after a wonderful 2022, you were a shock to the system.  You were scary at times, you were sad at times, you were devastating at times.  Yes, there were so many great things to remember about you as well, but overall, you will be remembered as a year of sickness, sadness, and anxiety.  Though I’m not one to rush time, I do have say that I won’t be sad to see you go, and I’ll be ushering you straight out the door at midnight on December 31.  But I do thank you for the good times we had and I promise to never forget them... especially the concerts!

2024, we are welcoming you with open arms, and I pray that you treat us with kindness, happiness, good health, and answered prayers.