2023 In Review

Hello friends, and Merry (early) Christmas! I’m writing this final blog post of 2023 and then I’ll be signing off until the new year. I wanted to share a little recap of the year with you before I go, so here it is. 

2023 was full of a lot of good. I’ll look back on this year and see a million tiny (and big!) moments of happiness. 

It was also the saddest year of my life thus far.

It was one of those classic “both/and” years that life tends to throw at us. It was a year that made me feel so, so, so thankful for all of the huge blessings in my life. The small, every day moments with my two boys, the mornings at the neighborhood pool, the girlfriend dates, the movie nights with Nate, the many weekend birthday parties, the road trips up to Dallas to enjoy time with my family, the evenings watching my crazy offspring wrestle on the playroom floor in the PJs just before bed…these are the tiny moments that make life worthwhile.

I made the decision halfway through the year to cut back on my childcare hours…like, significantly! I went from full time childcare to only about 12 hours a week because I realized that these early years are going so, so fast. It will be a blink and both of my boys will be in a full-day school.

As any entrepreneur or creative can tell you, there’s an endless amount of work to be done. I could work 5 hours a week or 70 hours a week, and I’d still have more to do. I absolutely love what I do (and I love to work!!) but if 2023 taught me anything it’s that people are the most important thing. Maybe the only important thing. The vacations, remodels, gifts, matching pajamas, home decor, fancy restaurants, and all the other “stuff” can be a fun thing to enjoy within a relationship, but it’s all completely pointless without the people and relationships there to begin with. There will always be more time to work, but I only get a few years with my babies. And so this year I just wanted to spend lots and lots and lots of time with the three most important people in my life right now: Nate, Milo, and Dayton. (Plus a lot of extended family, as you’ll see in the recap!)

And so I’m going to be savoring a slow-paced holiday break with my boys as I step away from blogging and social media for the next week +. I’ll be back in January 2024 with lots of fresh and fun content for you to enjoy!  

Anyway, here’s a look back at 2023: 

2023 In Review

January

Our Disney Cruise was the highlight of January! My mom and dad were gracious enough to come on a crazy 4-night cruise with my family. The boys got lots of time with their Grandpa and Ama, and Nate and I enjoyed venturing into the world of Disney with our boys. 

By the way, you can read part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4 of my Disney recap on the blog. It was a great entry point into Disney….and we might have another fun Disney trip coming up again soon in 2024. 😉 

February

A lot of date nights with Nate, weekends at breweries with my boys, and checking out new Austin restaurants. February was cozy. 

Oh, and let’s not forget about the craziest ice storm here in Austin! We lost about half of the limbs of our trees in the front yard. 

March

In March I was in full-on training mode for the Cap Tex Tri. I’ll remember lots of early, dark mornings in the playroom, jumping on the Peloton for a power zone ride with Matt Wilpers or Denis Morton. Haha…this will sound so funny, but when I look back at March, I think of all of the hours I spent with Matt and Denis! I spent so many hours on that bike and I’m thankful for every single one of them. 

April

Cap 10k

A trip to Dallas to celebrate Nate’s and Sayed’s birthdays, the Cap 10K in downtown Austin with my sister Kylee, and a staycation in San Antonio with Nate’s parents. Lots of fun! The boys had their first trip to SeaWorld, their third (fourth?) trip to Kalahari water park in Round Rock, and I went to a million restaurants in both Austin and San Antonio. Nothing new.

May

In May Nate and I flew to Vegas to celebrate Caitlin and Jason’s wedding weekend. We had so much fun! 

And at the end of May, Kylee and I did the CapTex Tri. It was my first full triathlon and I had SO much fun! Such a thrill to race again!! The whole process of training and competing was a fun “treat yoself” moment after a few back to back years of using my body to make and feed babies. I mean, of COURSE I will forever and always be grateful for the gift of pregnancy and being able to bring Milo and Dayton into the world. But it really took me out and I felt like I had lost a part of myself, and this triathlon experience was a big part in “finding myself” again in my postpartum journey. Seriously….couldn’t have asked for a better first triathlon experience! 

June

San Antonio

In June I worked really hard to get my San Antonio site up and running. Since I own a few Texas travel blogs, I’m constantly running around and exploring new sites, eating food, taking photos, and producing content. I went to San Antonio so many times in June and I now know this city inside and out. I’m really proud of this San Antonio site and the hundreds of thousands of people who now use it to find great recommendations of San Antonio things! June was a hustle. 

Oh, and let’s not forget about this gorgeous trip to Glacier with all the girls! 

June was also a (seemingly) normal double date with Cara and Sayed. I had no idea this would be the last double date we’d ever have. I mean…there was just no way of knowing what was going to happen in July. And so June 2023 has this sacred place in my heart and it always will. 

July

Sayed

In July I got the phone call from my sister that, quite honestly, I just never in a million years thought I would ever ever ever get. Her boyfriend had been shot and killed in a road rage shooting, and life just turned upside down. This wonderful human who we thought would be in this family forever was no longer here.

July was a lot of trauma, tears, confusion, and frantic flights around the country to show up for each other. It was too big of a month to try to fit into one tiny paragraph in a recap post. 

I will say this thought: July was full of the biggest pain, and it was also full of the biggest love. It made me hold on to my people tighter and love them bigger. It showed me how this family will always, always, always show up for one another, in our highest highs and our lowest lows. 

But of course…I can’t possibly recap Sayed’s death in a single paragraph. We miss him in a way that’s too big for words. 

August

Ella Fest

In that “both/and” manner that I was talking about earlier…

…August was the biggest and happiest month because we officially welcomed my niece Ellie into the family! My sister officially adopted her precious daughter in August and we all flew to Utah to celebrate ELLA FEST and welcome this precious girl into our family. She is spunk and character and enthusiasm and just so much fun. Also, legit the cutest girl. I mean, that round face and those perfect curls… COME ON. 

Also in August: our kitchen remodel started.

September

September was a lake house weekend, a new preschool for Milo, and a new stay-at-home schedule for me. Our home was a construction zone and this whole month felt just a bit wonky….so I decided to join a beautiful gym, work with a personal trainer, and start lifting as a way to recalibrate my energy. 

September is always a weird month in Texas because it’s 100% still summer with 100+ temps, but school is underway. Milo very quickly settled into his new montessori preschool. He’s been thriving there since the beginning!

And I got to soak up lots of special one-on-one time with my baby Dayton boy. 

October

The boys and I flew to Utah so they could spend some time with their new cousin! They also got to enjoy a fun camping trip here in Texas, thanks to my parents. We have such a wonderful family. 

November

This highlight of November was the completion of our kitchen remodel!!! It was done just in time to host my big family for Thanksgiving. It was an extra special Tgives this year because it was my sister Kylee’s first year to welcome her boyfriend Tyler into our family’s holiday madness. He was so great. 🙂 I mean, my family is fantastic but it’s really big and loud and not for the faint of heart. Haha.

December

how to host a wreath decorating party

All the holiday things! Trail of Lights, hot cocoa, family Christmas tree decorating night, lots of Nutcracker performances for me at the Long Center, early Christmas celebrations with each side of the family, and many, many cozy movie nights at home snuggled up on the couch with Nate while we watch our favorite Christmas movies. Grateful. 

I probably say this at every major holiday each year, but it is getting so fun to celebrate Christmas with my boys! Milo at age 4 is just a blast with his sincere belief in Santa. Dayton at age 2 is starting to kind of understand all the Christmas stuff (he “gets” presents now!). I’m soaking up all the holiday memories with my boys.

And that was our year. Full of bucket list items, lots of great meals, a few significant trips, twists and turns that no one saw coming, and mostly just being together.

Y’all, there’s no way we can predict what will happen in 2024. I mean, I don’t know AT ALL what I’ll be typing to you at this time next year.

But my hope, as always, is that we can show up through the hard stuff, practice gratitude for the good stuff, and become braver and stronger and better every day.

I’m sending you and yours all the love as we finish out 2023. Happy holidays, and I’ll talk to you in the new year!

Xo, Kelsey 

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Jess
Jess
5 months ago

Merry Christmas, Kennedy family!

Kylee
Kylee
5 months ago

Love this recap! Real, raw, and beautiful. What a jam-packed year. Love you and your sweet fam!!

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