I’ve got so many updates from 2022 that a single post wouldn’t cut it.
That’s not true. I could put it into a single post, but it would be far too long for the modern individual’s dwindling attention span. How will my written words hope to compete with TikTok’s 3.33s average watch time? Not to worry — I’ve cut this into smaller, digestible chunks! 2000 words is hardly digestible, you say?! I’ve added exclamation points to keep the energy high! You made it through that entire sentence! Let’s go!
A Weird Year
I need to start things off with a confession: this was an odd year for our family, and it’s mostly because of me. I won’t belabor the point since I’ve written about this elsewhere, but I left an executive role at Fox in August. My career decisions impacted our family quite a bit.
When I was working my corporate job in the first half of the year, I had money but very little time. Now that I’ve started my own business, I have time but little money. I keeping falling victim to the flawed mindset that may sound familiar to some of you: “When full-time-jobbing, must work endlessly so as not to jeopardize said job. When new-business-starting, must work endlessly to secure work.”
I mention this up front because of the impact this unhealthy cycle had on my family. I didn’t prioritize non-work matters like I should. I spent time with family, but it was always second-class time, scraps leftover after I was spent for the day. In short, I didn’t give my family and home life the intentionality that I gave my professional life.
That will change in 2023. More to come on that in a later post.
I’ll share my own personal updates from 2022 in a later post, but here are some of this year’s goings-on from the rest of our family.
No two ways about it: my wife’s superpower is her thoughtfulness and productivity.
This was the busiest year yet with her candle business, The Thoughtful Gardner. We wrote up a year-in-review over on the site, but in short, she was very busy this year, selling over 600 candles and carving out some really unique business channels and partnerships.
She also continues to serve on the steering committee at a local homeschool group our family is involved with. That role has been especially important during and after the pandemic. For a better part of the year, she and Ethan have been volunteering at a local food pantry, and she’s volunteered weekly as a teacher Sunday mornings for the pre-k and kindergarten children at our church.
And she still managed to win a chili-cook-off and finish reading 70 books this year. Like I said: superhero.
We celebrated our 17th anniversary this year with a trip to NYC. We saw Wicked, took a food tour of Greenwich Village, and wandered around MoMA and the New York Public Library. We also took a private tour of the New York State Archives for Jessica’s birthday. I can’t stress this enough: what a glorious feeling when you find someone who enjoys the same unusual things you do. 💕
Ethan continues the long journey through the teen years. Can you believe we’re already having conversations about driving and college!? No surprises, he’s a really social kid. He loves the friends he’s made at the youth group and home school group. He’s got considerable emotional intelligence; we’re just trying to channel that toward peace and consideration. 🙃
Karate is still a big part of his life. He’s now a 1st degree Shodan (初段) black belt. He competed in the 518 Martial Arts Winter Cup and won 3rd place. He participated in a demonstration at the Valley Cats in Troy. He also took a leadership class and has been helping lead some of the younger student classes.
He started a YouTube channel called Insight Unlocked where he reviews tech gadgets and shares tech tips. This was all his own doing, and he’s shown a lot of drive keeping it going. Also, his editing and style is on point. 🔥
Anna also started a fun little TikTok channel called Zelda Talks where she dreams up scenarios for our dog Zelda, using Elliot’s voice to play the story out. (She publishes to YouTube, too.) She’s also been very driven about creating content. I haven’t really said anything to either one about it; they like it and keep making that content!
Anna was baptized in July, and this was her first year in youth group. We were a little nervous how she’d do since she tends toward introversion, but she loved it and has really picked up a gaggle of friends. She’s also really enjoying the home school group she’s a part of and has made several really close friends.
Gymnastics is still a big part of her life. One of her goals for 2022 was to get her round-off back handspring on the floor, and halfway through the year — she did! She competed in several meets this year and took 4th place overall for her class.
She’s also continued to improve her cooking and baking skills. Just a few weeks ago she made a chocolate babka from scratch, and it was delightful. I’m not sure I’m going to keep to my health goals if she keeps this up.
Elijah finished his first full year of karate, passing his test and getting a blue kyu belt. He had a goal this year to get stronger, and he definitely has. He’s continuing to show interest in veterinary sciences. He’s fascinated with animals, loves learning about them, talking about them, taking care of them.
He’s a Lego-maniac, inspired by his cousin Josh who is a Lego-master in his own right. One of Elijah’s 2023 goals is building at least 10 new large Lego sets, so we can improve his Lego building skill in general. He’s also wants to improve his handwriting, a goal he set for himself. He even wrote out a sample of his handwriting so that when he reviews his goals next year, he can see how much improvement he’s made.
He loves to play Fortnite. It’s amazing to me how little he cares about the game and how much it’s just a social network for him. Even though he’s not on any actual social media, he’s able to jump into a match of Fortnite with friends who have moved away or other family members and just chat with them. Welcome to the future!
Another goal Elijah set for 2023 is to learn to ride a bike.
It’s hard to believe Elliot just turned 4. He’s a very vocal child, and has mastered quite a lot for his age. He can read and write numbers up to 10. He recognizes all the letters in the alphabet. He’s even able to read and write his own name.
He’s a parrot, and fiercely independent. He watches the siblings with a hawk-eye, and copies them as best he can. Just don’t try to help him… he’ll do it on his own. 😄
This is especially evident with music. He’s really taken to the piano lately. He’ll sit down at the piano for 15-20 minutes and play the chords I’ve taught him. I’d really like to nurture that interest if possible.
Elliot’s (well, mom’s) big goal is to get him potty-trained this year.
It wasn’t just family time that suffered this year. I invested very little time this year around our property and home.
I did cut down a few pine trees to make room for an expansion of our orchard and berry patch, but beyond the miracles Jessica performed with the large flower garden in the center of our circle driveway, our property went largely untended. We neglected our vegetable garden, and left quite a bit of work we had planned around the hobby farm unfinished.
We’ve got a lot of plans for the next year. Put in a new retaining wall, walkway, and shade trees next to our back porch — the current wall is collapsing and the cedar have died. Install a shade sail over the back porch. Build a new chicken coop and pen further away from the garage. Move the raspberry to a dedicated area of the property and expand it significantly. Double the size of the orchard. Move the vegetable garden. Seal coat the driveway. Replace all the shutters. Fix spindles and columns on the front porch and repaint. Clearly, we’ve got our work cut out.
This year was a big one for work inside the house, primarily because I was able to hire someone to do it. In case you haven’t seen it, these bathroom transformations are 🔥🔥🔥. My sister helped design the space, and my brother made it a reality. If you’re wondering, yes, you can hire Sarah to help you with your interior designs and you can hire Nathan to remodel your bathroom (if you’re in Upstate NY).
We also considered the possibility of having family moving in with us for a time. Since we don’t have enough room in our house for anyone else to stay, we did drew up some plans and renderings to imagine what would it look like to finish part of our basement and turn it into a small standalone apartment. We didn’t end up needing it, but we’re still considering building this out to make it easier (thus, more likely) for friends and out-of-town family to visit.
Given all we have planned for outside, this might have to wait until 2024.
And So Much More…
There’s a lot more I could write about.
Weekend dinners with our extended family. Trick-or-treating for the first time. Losing our cat. Ice skating at the Empire State Plaza. Sweating buckets at the circus.
But I’ll end the post here. More to come in my next post: travel.