It is hard to believe we are nearly a week into 2024. I really could use another week between Christmas and the start of the New Year…anybody else? As I start to dive into planning and setting intentions for the year ahead, I have been reflecting on 2023 and I thought that it would be fun to share a few highlights of the year. 2023 came with it’s shares of trials, and at first, when I thought about the year, those trials stood out. But after reflecting a bit more, and looking back at pictures I was reminded of all the everyday magic and joy of 2023. So here are some of the things that brought joy to my life this year.
Favorite Books I Read
One thing that I did well in 2023 was make more time for my own personal reading. I read/listened to about 50 books this year and these were my favorite:
The Magic of Lemon Drop Pie by Rachel Linden- A really sweet and fun book with a time traveling twist. I didn’t even know I liked time travel, but I enjoyed two this year!
What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon- My favorite book of 2023. Set in Ireland with a time traveling plot, I feel in love with the characters and the story! it would be a perfect March read.
The Beekeeper’s Promise by Fiona Valpy- This book, set in France, had two story lines, one current day and one set during WWI. I really loved the historical fiction story line, but both were good.
The Giver of Stars by JoJo Moyes- This historical fiction is set in Kentucky during the depression era and follows the story of a proper English girl turned horse pack librarian.
Favorite Read Alouds
We were able to read/listen to about 40 books together this year. Here are my favorite books that we read. (I know my children would pick different favorite books):
The Adventures of Miss Petitfour/ Further Adventures of Miss Petitfour by Anne Michaels- These two books are so festive and fun and whimsical! We learned new vocabulary while we read about they zany adventures of Miss Petitfour and her cats that fly through the air using a blanket.
The National Park Mystery Series by Aaron Johnson- It’s no surprise that we are enjoying this national park series since we love visiting the National Parks. It has a fun dual time line and lots of mystery and clues.
A Place to Hang the Moon by Kate Albus- I loved this historical fiction story set during WWII that features 3 siblings that evacuate to the country, but are secretly on the hunt for a home and new guardian.
The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Carlson- This heartwarming story is set in Paris and tells the story of a mother and her children who befriend a homeless man when they fall on hard times.
The Puffin Keeper by Michael Morpurgo- We read this quick read in one setting and enjoyed the story of a isolated lighthouse keeper on the Isle of Sicily.
Favorite “New” Celebrations/Traditions
Our Nativity of Mary Celebration- We have celebrate Mary’s birthday the last few years, but this year felt extra special with the addition of praying a rosary together wearing party hats. I can’t think of a better gift to give to our Mama Mary.
Our Lady of Guadalupe- We haven’t really celebrated this feast day before, but since she is the Patroness of our country it felt like a good one to celebrate. We watch a show on formed about her appearance to Juan Diego and enjoyed Mexican Hot Chocolate with frozen whip cream roses. The hot chocolate and frozen roses were delicious and meaningful!
Audrey Hepburn Movie Night- I love Audrey Hepburn movies and have wanted to do an Audrey Hepburn inspired movie party for a long time. I decided to do a little Audrey movie night with my daughter and she loved it. She loved wearing pearls and jammies and that it was “girl’s only”. She even watch Roman Holiday! It was a fun night that I hope can become a little mother-daughter tradition.
Best Things I Did This Year
Visiting Arcadia National Park- This was definitely a highlight of my year. I love Fall and you can’t beat Maine in the Fall. It was such a special trip to take with one of my best friend’s and her hubby. We have never taken a couple trip before, but I would love to do it again, it was pretty close to perfection.
Spiritual Direction- I took a step and signed up for spiritual direction and it has been a great way to hold myself accountable and to learn and grow closer to Christ.
Cultivate Friendships- I have been so blessed to find a little group of friends that are willing to invest time and energy into each other. They are a major source of support, encouragement and laughter on this journey of motherhood. We enjoyed quite a few girl’s nights this year, as well as a slumber party and it was all so life giving. I also get out of bed extra early to walk with a friend and it is good for my mental, spiritual and physical health!
Cut Flower COOP- I signed up for a local cut flower COOP and it was a real cool experience. I loved trying something new, developing a new skill and bringing beauty into my home. It was extra sweet to do with my daughter.
Puzzling- I have really gotten into puzzling, and I am not afraid to admit it. I find it really relaxing, as well as challenging. Of course, I especially love themed/seasonal puzzles. This Fall in Maine puzzle is my favorite from this year!
An Advent Study- A couple of my girlfriends and I did THIS advent devotional together, and it was such a beautiful, fruitful season. We are already planning to do THIS Lenten study by the same author.
As I wrap up 2023 I am filled with gratitude for all the everyday moments, memories made, laughs shared and even for the trials that made me a better version of myself. I have no idea what 2024 will bring but I have decided my word for the year is CULTIVATE. I want to give special attention to the people, relationships and activities that bring out my best and fill my life with joy.
What did you do in 2023 that brought you joy in 2023? What are your intentions for the year ahead?
Happy New Year!