2023 in Review

2023 in Review

Here we are at the end of 2023 and my, oh my, what a ride it has been. I’ve simultaneously gone through huge family, personal, professional, and really everything changes. And absolutely none of it has been expected, planned for, or even dreamed of. But that’s the funny thing about life, eh? The most impactful and meaningful changes aren’t planned: you just get tossed into stuff and either you scrape your way out of it alive… or you change and let it mold you into something different.

Just an FYI, I’ve pretty wordy when I write so here’s a TL;DR:

  • Family: Went from 0 -> 3 kids, moved down the street, reordered our life to accommodate kids

  • Professional: Attended my first tech conference, took 9 weeks off from work (paid for by generous coworkers sick time donations), survived a reorg, ended up with a new department/boss

  • Personal: I read more books this year, tried different personal accounting strategies (lots of fails), did zero exercising, kids made me realize I need to pay more attention to my health


Our family went through some huge changes this year. At the beginning of April 2023 we were a couple who both worked full-time and had a dog. At the end of December 2022 we had completed our first foster placement. He was a little boy who stayed with us for 7 weeks. We spent January 2023 trying to cope with these new feeling of emptiness. We now knew for sure that fostering kids was going to be a big part of our future and goals in life. Jump forward to April and we get a call about two little girls. Apprehensive (2? yikes!) but excited, we said yes. That was the first big change. And my, my was it a big change. I somehow thought I was busy before. Now we were we really busy. And it was just the start.

Jump forward a few months and we hear rumblings that the kids bio-mom is pregnant with a third and due soon. Of course, judges, social workers, CASA workers, and GALs can’t tell us for sure where this next kid will end up, but they all start dropping hints to us: “Better be ready for that call”. Uh, oh. We’re not ready at all for this. Our apartment is too small, we both work full-time, we barely figured out how to care for two little kids, much less a newborn. But there was never a discussion about what we would say: if they called, we were gonna say yes. We were way too committed and attached to these kids to say no to a sibling.

So, that’s what we did. We moved to a slightly bigger apartment, my wife quit her job at the end of July, I got everything set up at work to take some FMLA time off, we tightened our budget, and prepared for a call that we didn't fully know would actually come. But it finally came and we said yes. Somehow we ended up here at the end of 2023 with 3 kids more than we started with. It absolutely could not have happened if I hadn’t been able to take a large chunk of time off of work. Segue…


In comparison, my year professionally wasn’t as exciting, per se, just different. Over the summer I attended my first tech conference, Laracon US in Nashville. That was pretty cool and I definitely would want to go again and try and put myself out there more. In a crowd of strangers I can be pretty dang awkward. Starting in September I took off 9 weeks from work. My employer doesn’t have a paid paternity leave benefit, so I knew I’d be taking FMLA leave (unpaid). But they do have a sick leave sharing program which I think I qualified for. My boss assured we I would get the time off donated and (honestly) pressured me into taking off as much time as I needed. I’m so happy she did. Boy, did I need it. In the end I got 10 weeks donated (shout out to my awesome coworkers 🥳) and used 9 of them.

So, that was the big thing. I had to write up all my responsibilities at work and make arrangements so that my servers and code would keep running and hope nothing catastrophic happened. And it went off without a hitch. Or did it?

I’m 8 weeks in and I’ve set my start date for next week. I’m ready to be back and see my coworkers and write code again. It’s Monday and my boss texts my team telling us she’s been let go. And her boss as well. Okay, uh, what’s happening? Long story short, our department is being restructured and my team is being moved to a new department with a new supervisor. But in spite of feeling more than a little nervous what my future job even looks like, my transition back to work goes pretty smoothly. My sleep schedule was irreparably damaged because of the baby and I don’t have a clue how my job will change in the coming years but I’m still here doing my thing and getting paid. And that’s how this year wrapped up.


With the family situation changing so much this year I’ve had to be able to handle a lot of change and take everything in stride. That’s included a lot better time management, stress management, and remaining calm under frustrating conditions. I am not a pro at any of those. But I am getting better. With only one adult working full-time and a lot more grocery expenses budgeting and bookkeeping has also become more complicated. We were never very good at sticking to a system long enough to reap the benefits and this year is no exception. Hopefully our latest more simplified system works out. It's theoretically our easiest to maintain and get us relevant numbers to discuss every week so fingers crossed.

One kinda big win was reading more this year. I ended reading 13 books (2 in the last 2 weeks). Most were Brandon Sanderson books. Reading is a great way for me to relieve stress and escape life for a while. With a lot more stress this year I needed better ways to relieve it.

This year has been a year of realizations. I've been really bad at caring for my health and been able to skate around actually doing anything about it because it's only really affected me. But now I have kids that are relying on me and a wife who needs more support. I need to take a little better care of myself. Exercise has never been something I've been good at or like. But getting proper sleep? Remembering to eat 3 meals a day? Drinking water? Remembering to take my allergy meds? All those things are not as routine altering as trying to consistently exercise and go a long ways to keeping my day to day health on the up and up.


Despite being one of the most tumultuous years of my life it’s a great setup for next year to be even better and really find a stride and doing things a lot better. I absolutely have lots of room to grow as a father, husband, employee, and friend. Let’s see where we end up, eh?