Friday, January 6, 2023

That's a Wrap on 2022... and New Goals for '23!

 Happy New Year friends! I hope you spent the weekend surrounded by people you love and are starting 2023 off with a full heart. It wasn't until I started pulling pictures for this post that I realized just how quickly this year flew by. Each year goes by faster and faster, especially now with the kids! Here's a look at 2022 went for the Darrell family:

In January:

Our sweet little girl took her first ski lessons, and LOVED it!

We were just hoping she would go out there and have fun, but she figured out how to "make a pizza" and go down a bunny hill on day 1!

We also had two weeks in a row of snow in Charlotte, which isn't common!

In February:

We took a family trip to Asheville to celebrate my father-in-law's birthday. We took the kids to visit Grove Park Inn and it brought back memories of some other times Devin and I had been there. The top picture is 2010, then 2017..

and then 2022! A lot more gray hairs and wrinkles haha!

In March:

I substitute taught a lot, which brought back all the feelings of missing teaching. Which eventually led me to going back to teaching later in the year. 😀

In April:

We went to Ireland!! We learned that we travel well as a family of 4, even internationally. We learned that the kids could handle a long flight easily and I learned that I was capable of traveling internationally with them on my own (I was a little more worried about this than I let on!). 

You can read more about our trip here (Part 1), here (Part 2), and here (Part 3).

In May:

We celebrated our sweet girl's 5th birthday in style...

Devin and I had a little "staycation" in Charlotte for both of our birthdays...

and Lily Grace graduated from preschool!

In June:

We kicked off summer with our annual trip to Hilton Head, then we spent the rest of our days at the pool...

or playing outside in our new favorite creek spot. 

In July:

I was lucky enough to get a weekend away at the lake with girlfriends...

and play a LOT of tennis with one of my best friends, Hannah!

In August:

On the days it was too hot, we went to the American Girl store to play. Liam likes to come too because we usually hit up Auntie Anne's Pretzels afterward, and who doesn't like that? 😁 

We also spent a lot of time playing in the nearby creek...

Or at the Whitewater Center, our favorite place. 
And then our big girl started kindergarten!

In September:

Liam and I started back at school, and that's when life became a total whirlwind. It slowed down a little bit, but was honestly pretty crazy from the first day of school until we let out in December (see goals for 2023 below-- home/work balance is top of the list!). 

Also, our handsome fella turned 3 with a Lightning McQueen themed birthday!

In October:

We did all sorts of fun fall activities. We went to Devin's work Fall Festival...

The pumpkin patch...

and decorated our skeletons daily!

In November:

I started the month with the annual best friends trip-- this time in Blowing Rock! 

Then, we were supposed to go to Florida for Thanksgiving but unfortunately came down with the flu. 

The kids had recovered by Thanksgiving Day, so I attempted to make the feast on my own last minute-- it turned out okay but definitely not great. After eating the big meal, we all put on our matching jammies and made our Christmas Bucket List. 

I am happy to report we were able to squeeze everything in!

In December:

We met Santa...

I got to volunteer at LG's school while the class baked gingerbread cookies.

We went ice skating at our favorite place, the Whitewater Center. 
We went skiing in Colorado...
and then spent Christmas in Blowing Rock with my family. 

It is nice to look back on our year and realize how much we have to be grateful for. It also helps to look back at what didn't go well last year, so I can be more intentional moving forward into 2023. I only have 2 goals for right now, and the first one is by far the most important to me:
Improve Work/Home Balance
I love being back at work. I love spending my days with sweet little kiddos and watching their faces light up over an activity I planned for them to do. I love the preschool director and the other teachers I work with. I love the families of the sweet children at the school. 

Unfortunately, the way my days are set up, there is no planning time during the school day. Zero. Meaning I write/answer emails, plan lessons, and prep materials on the weekends or after school when I should be having family time with my own kids. I feel very guilty when one of my own children needs me but I can't help them because I'm doing something for school. This isn't working for me, and I need to figure out a way to improve it ASAP. I have some ideas, but need to see how they work once I put them into action now that we're back in school. To all my teacher friends out there-- I'd love to know any tips you have for making it work if you have limited planning time. Please leave me a comment or send an email! 

75 Soft
Another goal I have to 2023 is for overall wellness. Are you familiar with the 75 Hard program that went viral a couple years ago? It focuses on establishing healthy routines (exercise, nutrition, drinking water, reading, etc.) but it is a little too intense for me to attempt the real thing right now. Therefore, I'll be doing 75 Soft, the much easier version. I'll write more about this in the next week or two to explain in further detail. 

Today I am linking up with Andrea and Erika for Friday Favorites. Have a great weekend!!


  1. What a great year! I can totally relate to the working mom life, I never feel like I'm doing work or home life particularly well, but we push on. I don't really have any tips for you though. I know you probably already get up early to workout or do some quiet time, and that time is precious enough. Otherwise I would say getting up early to get those emails out of the way before everyone else wakes up. I hope the strategies you're developing work out!

  2. What a lovely look back at your year! I used to wake up so suuper early (like 3:30/4:00am) when I was teaching to correct papers and plan in the morning while everyone was sleeping or after the boys went to bed at night-- thankfully they went to bed early around 7:30 but usually I was much to beat to focus on much of anything at that point (probably because I was up so early! LOL). It's tough but you really haven't been working all that long and I'm sure you will find you groove with a bit of experimenting and tweaking.

  3. I've never heard of the 75 hard/soft program - I'm intrigued. Y'all had such a great year, with lots of changes in the fall. Maybe the spring will bring solutions to the work/life balance.

  4. What a wonderful year you had! That work/life balance is so hard, especially as a teacher. One of the reasons I left the classroom was because of this. In the library, there is more quiet time and I can get pretty much all the work done at school. The only work I brought home before we had virtual/hybrid school was reading books. I’ll keep thinking about some suggestions and share back. I’ve never heard of the hard or soft 75, but I am intrigued.
    I used to live in Charlotte about 20 years ago (gasp - how has it been that long) and I never heard of or visited the Whitewater Center. It looks amazing! I wish we had something liek that here in Maryland! Have a great weekend! Sarah @ Sunshine & Books

  5. What a great year you had! I can't wait to hear about the 75 soft program. 75 hard was a "no ma'am" for me haha