2019 Year-in-Review

I meant to get this post up a few days ago, but we’ve had a lot going on that has prevented me from getting much of anything done. My dad has been admitted to the hospital 3 times in the month of December, so we’ve spent a lot of time at the hospital with him. In between, my sister and I have been splitting shifts to look after him every day.

So this post didn’t make it up before the end of the year as I had planned, but as we say goodbye to 2019 and usher in 2020, I wanted to do a recap of our year. I thought it might be a nice way for you to get to know me a bit better, but if I’m honest, it’s mostly for me.

We are ending this year in kind of a difficult place, so it was helpful for me to reflect on our journey over the course of 2019 and remember all of the positive things, too.


This is 50!

My husband and I both turned 50 exactly a month apart, so we decided to celebrate with an adults-only trip to the place where you can act like kids even when you’re not. Walt Disney World!

Look at our cute little photo bomber back there! 🤣
Birthday dinner at Ohana at the Polynesian
Starbucks in WDW? Obviously.
Up early to ride the new Pandora rides at Animal Kingdom
Up late for the fireworks!

It was soooooooo much fun. Trips like these, where it’s just the two of us and we can leave the real world behind for just a little while are so important to us. And my husband is the sweetest for indulging my love of Disney. I loved every minute of this adventure and it was a great way to kick off our year.


Couples Cocktail Contest Party

In early February, we hosted our Couples Cocktail Contest Party. It was so much fun. We invited several of our couple friends over to craft custom cocktails! And wow, our friends were up for the challenge! You can read how we did it and see how I set up the party HERE.

Valentines Day

We were both nursing colds, and the weather wasn’t very nice, so we decided to make our own romantic valentine dinner at home instead of going out. You can read that post HERE. These kinds of date-nights are actually my favorites. It’s nice to go out, but when life is busy and chaotic, staying in is my preference.

Dinner for two


We Saved a Goose

In early March, we noticed foot prints in the snow all around our house. For days, I couldn’t figure out what was making them, until one day I finally saw a sad, skinny little goose dragging his wing in the snow.

I fed him and left him fresh water for days, until I finally found a wildlife rehabilitator who would come help me catch him. After considerable effort, we managed to throw a blanket over him and pick him up him. He was so weak and tired by that point, he barely even fought us.

The rehab lady said he was skinny and dehydrated, but she would take him back to her place and fix him up. I stayed in touch for awhile with her, and she said his wing was badly damaged and he wouldn’t be able to fly again, but he could live on her farm with another rescued goose. Happy ending. ❤️

Poor little guy

Washington, D.C.

For something like 20 years now, I’ve been taking a group of around 200 7th graders to Washington, D.C. for spring break, and this year was no different!

A couple of my teacher-chaperones with me overlooking the Potomac at Mount Vernon.
This is only 1 bus out of 4 of my 7th graders in front of the White House
1/4 of my group at the Supreme Court

I celebrated St. Patty’s day on a beautiful cruise down the Potomac on The Spirit of Washington.

The Spirit of Washington
Shoreline views of D.C. at sunset.
The Washington Monument in the distance.

Lest you think it was serene, please view the next picture to see who my cruising companions were. Yup. More than 200 12-year-olds. On a boat. With a D.J. Aren’t you jealous? I thought so….. 😂

My cruising companions

I’m deep in the final planning stages for this year’s trip. And guess what? It finally has worked out with my husband’s schedule that he is joining us for the first time! I’ll let you know how that goes… 😜I think he’s a little uncertain about traveling with all these kiddos. 😂


A New Job = Graduate Classes

Right before the D.C. trip, I accepted a new position at the same school where I’ve been teaching for 15 years. This required me to finish up the Talented & Gifted Endorsement that I’d been working on for a few years.

So, as soon as I returned from D.C., I jumped right into a couple of graduate courses.

If you have to do course work, it might as well be on the porch with a nice view. And wine. I write better with wine, don’t you?


In April, we had to travel to Cleveland for the funeral of my hubby’s aunt. She was such a lovely lady, and I’m glad I had the pleasure of meeting her a couple of summers ago when we spent a week in Cleveland before getting married. She and her husband were so kind and hospitable to me, and I truly appreciated their warm welcome to the family. Her funeral services were lovely, and I’m so glad we got to be there.

The night before we made the long drive home, we slipped away to a little wine bar in Willoughby called Corks. After the craziness of the D.C. trip, grad classes and the funeral, we just needed a couple of hours of time together to relax.

Corks and Dorks?


Landscaping Our New Home

This was our first spring in our new home, and after spending the winter working on getting the interior all settled, I was excited to start working on the yard and landscaping.

When we built the house, we hired someone to do the limestone edging around the whole house, add the river rock, and build the boulder planting bed. We did not have them do any of the planting though, because we wanted do that ourselves! The plants are the fun part!

Limelight hydrangea on both sides of the front porch.
Lupines planted behind the limestone boulder.

The limestone boulder in the picture above was on the property when we bought it. On Labor Day weekend of 2017, while we were discussing buying the property, we sat on that boulder together admiring the view of the pond, the pasture, and the sunset.

After we signed on the dotted line to make this place ours, we made sure to tell the builder to just move it aside when construction began, and then when the house was done, we had the landscaper use his skid loader to place it right there in front of our home. I love that memory.

We also used some of the money we got as wedding gifts to buy the porch swing. It’s on the shady side of the house in the afternoon, and the perfect place to sit, swing, and relax.

Clematis is one of my favorites.
Yuki Cherry Blossom shrubs.

While I was growing up, my mom and my grandmothers always grew rhubarb in their yards and used it to make so many delicious things. It’s no coincidence that one of the first things I planted was my own rhubarb. I can’t wait to harvest it!

I had a vegetable garden in my previous home for 14 years, but we haven’t yet planted one at our new place, because we aren’t quite sure how to keep our deer friends out of it. We hope to get something figured out this spring, so if you have any ideas, let me know!

But, I couldn’t imagine a summer without fresh tomatoes, so we bought a half whiskey barrel and planted our tomatoes in it. It worked pretty good, and on this side of our house it got plenty of sun and the deer didn’t seem to find it, luckily. 🦌

Farmhouse Herb Box

What goes great with fresh tomatoes? Home-grown basil, of course. I mean, caprese salad is one of my favorite things, so I set about building my own farmhouse style herb box. You can read about that HERE.

Mother’s Day

My husband served me breakfast and coffee on the screen porch on Mother’s Day morning, and then we headed out for Cedar Falls to see my kiddos.

My hubby always gives me the sweetest gifts.

We had lunch, and spent the afternoon playing some games with all of them before heading back home. It was just what this mama needed. 😍

Love all these people.


The End of an Era

When the school year ended, I packed up the classroom I had been teaching in for the past 10 years, as I prepared for a new role.

Goodbye, classroom

And then we celebrated the end of another school year at a local winery with live music, wine, and charcuterie. Does it get any better than this?

A beautiful night

Kansas City West Bottoms Weekend Getaway

Shortly after school was out, we headed off for our first adventure of the summer– a long weekend in Kansas City to go antique shopping. It was such a fun weekend and we came home with a jeep-load of treasures. You can read all about it HERE.

A Birthday Tea Party for my Mother-in-Law

We hosted a tea party to celebrate my sweet mother-in-law’s birthday with some of her friends. I really enjoyed setting up a lovely table with tea and treats, and pampering them a bit. They were so much fun to visit with, too. What a great group of ladies. You can read all about it HERE.

Alexander Mansion Bed & Breakfast

Our second summer adventure was a few days at a B&B in Minnesota, which was a Valentine’s Day gift from my sweet husband. I told you he was a great gift-giver.

We spent 4 days in Minnesota and Wisconsin just relaxing, browsing antique stores, dining in unique places and cruising down the mighty Mississippi. It was glorious.

Dad’s 76th Birthday

My dad turned 76 in late June, and we celebrated him with dinner and his favorite, rhubarb pie. When you’re 76, if you want pie instead of birthday cake, then that’s what you get.


The Fourth of July

We hosted the family barbecue at our home. Apparently, I was too busy enjoying the day to snap any photos other than the delicious strawberry-basil vodka lemonade we made. This delicious drink was inspired by one we sampled at a BBQ restaurant we dined at on our K.C. trip.

Strawberry-Basil Vodka Lemonade. Yes, please.

Zoo Brew

We finally tried out Zoo Brew at our local zoo. I seriously have no idea why we had never gone before, because it was so much fun!

I mean, what’s not to love about a warm summer evening at the zoo for adults only? With adult beverages. And food samples. And live music. And lots of adorable animals. We will for sure do this again next summer.

Giraffes and wine.
Hello there

Secrets The Vine in Cancun

In July we headed off for summer adventure #3– our annual trip to Mexico. This year we stayed at Secrets The Vine in Cancun. It was smaller than most of the resorts we’ve been to in the past, but we enjoyed it. It was adults-only, and every room had an ocean view. Ahhhh….. so relaxing.

We enjoyed sunrise walks on the beach…

Lunches by the pool…

So much delicious food…

And cocktails…..

Sunsets each evening…

Did I mention cocktails?

We had a little bit of excitement one afternoon when a quick-moving storm stirred up a water spout over the ocean!

And we were lucky enough to see several sea turtles coming up on the beach one night to lay their eggs. I’ve been to Mexico so many times, and never got to see this before!

All of the hotels along this stretch of beach are required to dig up the sea turtle eggs laid on the beach in front of their property and move them to a protected area. Our hotel had this sweet little pen for the eggs to rest undisturbed until they hatched.

We watched fireworks over the ocean from our balcony….

We took a lot of selfies… 😜

And enjoyed the sun…

I love the relaxing vibe of the Mexico all-inclusive resorts, although I think this may be our last one for awhile. Next year, we are headed a bit further away– France. Oo-la-la.


A Bridal Shower for my Beautiful Daughter

As soon as we returned from Mexico, things kicked into high gear preparing for my daughter’s bridal shower. It turned out to be a lovely day, and I enjoyed every minute of it. ❤️

I Love Summer

As the summer started to wind down, we spent a lot of time just enjoying being outside.

Breakfast and coffee were enjoyed on the deck every single day possible.

And most evenings were spent like this.

Back to School

Finally, the new school year began, and I started my new job with this group of lovely ladies.

ELP Teachers

I got my new “classroom” set up. You’d never know that it actually is a storage closet in a former life, would you? 😂

My hubby sent these flowers on the fist day of school. ❤️


Bridal Shower #2

In September, I traveled to Coralville for another bridal shower for my daughter. It was put on by a sweet group of friends of her fiance’s mother, and it was so much fun to just sit back and enjoy this one. My daughter is a lucky girl to have so many people on both sides of her family who helped her celebrate her impending wedding.

The happy future bride.
Bridal Shower #2

New Car

This was also the month that we finally pulled the trigger on a new car for me. When we built our new home, I moved further away from work and instead of the 3 minute commute I used to have, I now have about a 30 minute drive each morning and afternoon. There were quite a few snowy days these past couple of winters that made my commute to work a bit treacherous, so we decided something with all-wheel drive was now required.

After a lot of shopping around, researching and test-driving, we finally found a winner.

We haven’t had much snow yet to try it out, but I imagine it’s coming, unfortunately. 😦

Apple Orchard

We spent a HOT Saturday at the apple orchard. Not really the fall weather I was expecting, and I’m pretty sure I almost died. It was freaking HOT. But, as always, I had a great day with my hubby, and we came home with a million pounds of various apples.

My handsome apple-picker.
Fall-flavored Moscow Mules

And then we spent the next few weeks creating lots of ways to use up our millions of pounds of apples.

Caramel Apple Hot Toddies
Apple Pancakes


Final Wedding Prep

October is mostly a blur from the frenzy to finish up all the final wedding details. I’m not joking. As I looked back through my phone to remember everything we’ve done this year, there are hardly any photos from October. Like almost none.

In fact, we were so busy doing wedding things, most of our “dinners” looked like this.

Coping strategy


Wedding Day!!!

Rehearsal dinner at Centro
All the lovely ladies…
My heart
Couldn’t love her more
Thank you, God, for letting me be their mother
The Maid of Honor’s speech
The Best Man’s speech
Dropping off the newlyweds at the airport for their honeymoon.

Recovery Mode

The weeks between the wedding and Thanksgiving were spent in recovery mode. Lots of charcuterie was involved.


I hosted Thanksgiving dinner at our house for the first time. My daughter’s new in-laws joined us, and it was a wonderful day. You can read about it HERE.

Blessed indeed

We used up our leftover cranberries to make a delicious cocktail.

Because that’s how we roll around here….


Wine Advent Calendar

We kicked off December by cracking open our Costco Wine Advent Calendar. It was fabulous.

My Birthday

I had a birthday somewhere in the midst of one of my dad’s hospital stays, so even though our plans got cancelled, my sweet husband did his best not to let it slip by completely unnoticed.

Birthday gifts in bed ❤️


We got a few of our Christmas decorations up before the month started to fall apart.

But I did manage to get my mom’s sugar cookies baked.

And prepare a low-key, non traditional Christmas “dinner” for my crew.

My Dad

Pretty much the rest of December was spent helping my dad. He had 3 separate hospital admissions all in December.

It was a hard month.

Lots of things had to go undone, plans had to be set aside, and priorities had to be reevaluated. A few days before Dad’s third admission to the hospital, my husband and I decided that our Nashville/Memphis trip for New Year’s Eve wasn’t going to happen. The timing just wasn’t right to leave him. He’s been there to support us for my whole life, and now it’s our turn to do the same for him.


I’m not sure that the next few weeks or months are going to be any easier than the end of 2019. I’m not sure what they will bring us at all.

Generally, when a new year rolls around, we find ourselves making resolutions, making plans, looking ahead to all the things we want to do in the upcoming year. Right now, I’m not even planning a couple of days in advance.

So for now, this is the my New Year’s Wish for 2020. For myself, for my dad, for my family, and for you.


Happy New Year…

Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

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