Hello, January!
Car organization bringing me joy


230126_fam-portraitI had hoped to get our annual family photo by now but alas! So this one from New Year's Eve will have to suffice.

On the first Monday of the year, when all three kids were back in school and daycare, Chris and I embarked on a house-wide power delcuttering. It was just what I needed to banish the slightly tired and blah feeling I was carrying into the new year. When we were done we had donated, sold, or gifted bags and bags of things we no longer needed, the kids' closets were tidy and had empty space to spare, and our home felt more calm than ever. It was exactly the refresh I needed to start the year feeling energized.

And so, I've been reflecting on what I want to make of 2023. First, a big picture for the year ahead. A significant factor guiding our year is where we aren't going which is to Eau Claire. Earlier in 2022, Chris applied for a sabbatical that would have taken our family to Eau Claire to live in our home there for six months. We knew his sabbatical wasn't a certainty but we had felt pretty confident and Chris especially had his heart set on redesigning his professional life for a time. Then, two weeks before Christmas we got the news that Chris's sabbatical wasn't approved. It was a bummer for sure and cast a bit of a cloud on our holiday. But! Always the optimist, I feel certain that although the year will look different than we hoped I know we'll make it a good one. (As for our house in Eau Claire, we'll continue renting it out to tenants and are figuring out when we will next visit. Eventually we still hope to convert it to a furnished short-term rental and spend our summers there.)

A few other notes about life in 2023... Dash is 9 and will turn 10 in April, Cedric just turned 8, and Maeve is 2 and will be 3 in April. On April 1 Chris and I will have been married for 13 years. In late July of this year Dash will start 5th grade, Cedric 3rd grade, and Maeve will start 3's preschool at the boys' school! I am excited to have them all at the same school for two full years (since our elementary schools go through 6th grade). I'll miss the school where Maeve goes now but our lives will be significantly simplified with only one school drop-off just in our neighborhood. For travel we have a HomeExchange trip planned for a week of the boys' spring break. We'll be driving to Salt Lake City and staying in someone's house while they come to Gilbert to stay in our house. I'm really excited about visiting Salt Lake City, taking the boys skiing, and hosting our first HomeExchange guests. Chris and I hope to visit our friends in Portland, Oregon and I hope to go back to Portland to stay with my friend after she has her baby this spring.



My word for 2023 is abundance. Towards the end of 2022 I found myself dwelling on the time I didn't have to do one thing or another, or the money I felt like we couldn't spend on one thing or another. When in reality I have time, money, and good fortune in abundance. Which is not to say that I have no demands on my time or that we can spend with abandon or that I don't have hard things in my life. What I've found so far is that just reminding myself, "abundance", reframes glass-half-empty thoughts I might have and instead leaves me feeling grateful for all that I do have. It's quite a lovely perspective flip!


Goals for 2023

As usual, I'm breaking these down across different areas of my life. Here's what I've got for 2023...

Personal care & growth

+ Read 80 books. Reading is my most enjoyable past time and I enjoy tracking what I read with Goodreads. Last year I read about 80 books so that seems to be about what I have time for right now.

+ Spend less time on Instagram and be very intentional about the way I use it. I love many things about Instagram but also it can also distract and drain me. I've started the year using the app very little which I'm enjoying. I'd like to find a balance between getting the best of the app (genuinely connecting with people, capturing moments from my life, and promoting The Girl Next Door Podcast) and intentionally disconnecting from it.



+ Break the habit of going to sleep listening to podcast or audiobooks. It all started when Dash was a baby. He was up multiple times throughout the night for a loooong time. To help me get back to sleep after another wake up I started listening to a podcast or audiobook which I find so comforting. But now my baby is nearly 10 and I still usually fall asleep listening to something. It's still comforting but I don't like depending on a crutch to fall asleep and I wonder if it affects my sleep quality. Starting in the new year ,I've already been doing a good job falling asleep on my own most nights. I hope by the end of the year to more easily fall asleep on my own and after any night wake ups as well.

+ Exercise 185 times. This was also a goal of mine in 2022 and I exercised a total of 175 times! So making the same goal for this year to see where I land. I love my current exercise routine with four planned workouts plus the option to add an F45 class in here or there. I'm not looking to change anything, just to keep up a good thing that I love. I really enjoy tracking each workout on my daily habit tracker (available if you sign up for Elise Joy's newsletter). In previous years I've used a highlighter to mark out the little circle for each day but this year found the perfect size small stickers. Sticking one on after I get home from a workout brings me a lot of joy.

230126_sibswrestling 230126_scrabble 230126_m_dash 230126_dash_hike

Parenting & Relationships

+ Understand my parent's care preferences for their later years. Inspired by the book Being Mortal as well as some difficult experiences of friends' with their aging parents, I would like to open a dialogue with my parents about their thoughts and preferences as they age. I'm so grateful that my parents are healthy, living their best retirement life, and have planned well financially. So it can feel like a downer to bring up hard things like getting sick or needing assistance. However, the time to have these conversations is now when they are a luxury and not years down the road when they are a necessity. Luckily, my parents are very open to talking about these topics. Thank you, Mom and Dad!

+ Seek family adventures and big kid family fun. As Maeve gets older (and eventually out of diapers!), it's becoming easier to get out for family adventures big and small. We've recently gone on some hikes and were pleasantly surprised at how well everyone did. I'm excited to keep seeking family adventure together and to see what we find. Similarly, our boys can now play board games we actually enjoy, like Scrabble, and watch great movies, like Holes. Maeve will join in eventually but for now Chris and I are trying to make sure we're intentional about making time for big kid fun with the boys.


Creative work

+ Complete a bigger writing project. I'm sorry to be vague about this! It's both because I don't like to make big declarations before I have a plan and because I'm still figuring out exactly what form this will take.

+ Post more on my blog than last year. Last year I published 33 posts which is actually one of my lowest years ever. In thinking about this, I'm sure it's because I've added the audioblog. I love offering that medium and I think it's cool that no other bloggers that I know of publish their posts in two formats but it does add additional work to getting a post out. I want to think about ways to simplify or template-ize my editorial calendar and/or to work in batches.


Home & Finances

+ Get involved in our everyday finances. I've gotten away from being in the loop about our day-to-day finances. Chris manages this and does a great job but I realized I don't like feeling disconnected. Being disconnected from our finances also exacerbates the stress I sometimes feel from being an under-buyer because I'll put off buying something even longer. Plus, I feel motivated to get on track with our savings goals after having a few spendy years. So we are back to tracking all our spending and budgets in Mint and I am loving it. For the first time in a while I feel really on top of our money and we're surprised at how much we're saving instead of how much we're spending.

+ Continue creating a cozy, functional, and beautiful home that works for our family. I'm starting the year loving our house more than ever. It's a wonderful feeling. As a result, I feel more inspired than burdened when I think of changes I'd like to eventually make around the house. This year I want to get art back up on the walls (we took it all down to paint and it never went back up), refresh the boys' rooms, and finish the front room.


That's what I've got for 2023! I hope that you are feeling hopeful and energized to start the year. If you have a one-word theme or goals for the year I would love to hear about them.


Happy 2023, friends!