Highlights of 2022 so far

How can we already be at the highlight reel of 2022? Time is flying so much more quickly now at this stage of life that I’m trying to keep up. We still have about a month and a half left of this year, but I thought I’d catch up since I haven’t posted here much this year.

A day hike in Phoenix

When I started writing this blog in 2017, the boys were 10, 9 and 7. Today the older two are in high school (grades 9 & 10) and the youngest is in 7th grade (and they’re all taller than me). Preschool is a distant memory and even elementary school seems like eons ago.

We’re not in the driving phase yet, but our 16-year-old is signed up for a driving course in January and he just started a part-time job at a sandwich shop earlier this month. He started off 2022 as an assistant to the girls basketball coach at his high school and this year joined the swim team (the season just ended.) Over the summer he went on a 10-day community service trip with other teens through Northern Arizona, Nevada and Utah and went white-water rafting. He was into making beats in Logic Pro for a few months and recently started experimenting in cooking.

The upcoming driving phase is freaking me out a bit. How did we get here so quickly?

In May, our 14-year-old graduated from the school where he attended for nine years, starting in kindergarten. It was a big change for him to switch to a large high school but he’s doing wonderfully in school and has started making some new friends. His class enjoyed a two-day trip to Disneyland right before graduation. Over the summer, he was in a leadership CIT program at a local summer day camp, which he really enjoyed, and especially likes his engineering class at his new school.

Our 12-year-old is in seventh-grade at the school where he’s attended since kindergarten and has a really strong core group of friends. Since many of his classmates are having their bar or bat mitzvah this year, his social calendar has really amped up this year. Both his older brothers’ years were affected by Covid, so although they did attend some parties right before and after the lockdown, this year’s bnai mitzvah calendar is in full-swing, from nights of dancing on the dance floor and a return to printed invitations (instead of email).

My husband is still working at home, as most of his colleagues live in other cities and countries, although there’s talk about making an occasional appearance at the local office soon. I work from home four days a week and go into the office (which is about 45 minutes away) once a week. I’m also working about 10 hours more/week and have taken on more duties.

In addition to family and work (and lots of driving), I’ve been busy with songwriting, learning from all kinds of sources and trying to implement what I learn in my songs. At the beginning of the year, I received an Artist Opportunity Grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts and the Arizona Community Foundation, which I used to to take a “Release Music Like a Pro” mentor class by an incredible and encouraging artist, Sherilyn, based in California. She walked our small group through the process of releasing a song out in the world and the experience was invaluable. So far I’ve released two songs, “Our Home” and “The Holidays are Here.”

Since it has been a dream since high school to share my songs, having two songs on Spotify was definitely a highlight of 2022!

I’m documenting my songwriting journey in a separate blog so if you want to learn more about that, visit leisahsongs.com.

After reading about how difficult it is to meet goals when you have many of them, a few months ago I decided to focus intently on one of my longtime goals – get to a healthy weight. I’ve been carrying around extra weight from my pregnancies for several years now (did I mention my youngest is 12?) so I wanted to once and for all, lose the weight necessary to reach a healthy BMI rate. After seeing a Facebook ad for their program, I signed up for a program developed by Sharny & Julius At the time, the fee was only $47 so what could I lose except possibly a few pounds?

Through that program (and encouragement and weight and food tracking via Noom, a program I signed up for at an earlier New Year’s resolution time), I avoided dairy, grains and sugar for 56 days and ended up losing 15 pounds, which led me to that goal of a healthy weight. So far, a few weeks later, I’ve been able to maintain my weight, so I hope to continue that (and even lose a few more pounds, although I’m happy to occasionally enjoy dairy, grains and sugar again).

Other highlights included going to a Billie Eilish concert with my oldest son – she was incredible! – a fun Mostly Kosher concert with my husband and oldest son, and a Rick Springfield concert with my husband – always a great time!

On a sad note, our former neighbor Shari (mom of Ollie, the dog we used to dog sit), lost her battle with cancer this year. Although we texted often during Covid, we hadn’t seen her very much but luckily we did arrange a visit before she became ill again.

This year’s travels included a day trip to my old summer camp for a camp open house (six of us went to that, including the dogs – our oldest son opted out) and a day trip to Sedona for a hike (also with the dogs and without our oldest).

Our biggest trip of the year was to Disneyland over the summer and my dad joined us for this one, which is something I’ve been wanting to do for several years now. We went to Disneyland regularly when I was young, so I was excited to experience it with both my dad and my own family (I even got to go on “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride” with my dad, which was a favorite childhood memory.) Ron and I had taken the older two to Disneyland when they were about 3 and 5 but neither remembered much of it. Of course since J had just went to Disneyland and California Adventure with his class a month before, he served as a helpful tour guide and assisted us with the new Genie pass, which is like the former “FastPass” from yesteryear but through the Disney app, and you can also order food through the app, which wasn’t the case during our previous visit.

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland

When we first started going to Disneyland, admission was free and you needed to purchase tickets to go on the rides, which explains why we went so many times when we were younger. Once we went through our book of tickets, that was it (back in the days of the E-Ticket, which offered entry to the most popular rides.) At one point, you could buy an all-access pass to any ride, which was very exciting because you could select the same ride multiple times. I remember that my mom rarely went on any rides, she mainly held our stuff.

Even as an adult when I lived in Los Angeles, I’d go at least once a year to Disneyland – it was only a little over $30 for the day, which made it reasonably affordable. Now each ticket is well over $100 so a trip for five, with a hotel, was a big splurge. But it was one of those “If not now, when?” post-Covid decisions and I’m so glad we went. My dad, at age 79, was a trooper as we were at Disneyland for 13 hours. (The next day at California Adventure, my first time there, it was a shorter day as they closed early for an evening program. But it was OK, we had had enough after 8 hours and it gave as a chance to go out to dinner to celebrate Ron’s birthday.) The night we arrived we went swimming in the hotel pool and watched Disneyland’s fireworks from the hotel. We also stopped at Hadley’s for a date shake on the out, another multi-generational family tradition.

It was so much fun being to have this time together at Disneyland!

On the way home, we stopped by in Los Angeles to visit my aunt and uncle, as well as a cousin and her daughter, for brunch. A few days later my uncle was diagnosed with cancer, so it made the brunch even more meaningful. I got to see them again this past weekend during a trip to L.A. for a conference so I’m especially grateful for that visit, too.

We were in Los Angeles earlier in the year, too, for the bar mitzvah of my cousin’s son. It’s always so fun to be able to celebrate these special life moments with our extended family and an extra bonus was that my sister was able to be there, too. We even got to play some mini-golf at the hotel and see the beach (a very short visit as it was cold and we were on the way to dropping off my sister at the airport.) My cousin’s son did a great job on his bar mitzvah!

Another highlight was traveling with my youngest son and my dad to Dallas to visit my sister and her kids and my adorable little grand-niece). It was a trip for my dad’s 80th birthday and his first time both seeing my sister’s newest home and flying since Covid. It was fun to see my Dad and Grace connect since he hadn’t seen her since before Covid when she was an infant. In addition to the trip being a gift to my Dad from me and my sister, we also gave him a book filled with photos and messages from his friends and family members.

Of course there were other memorable moments as well, such as enjoying the first watermelon from our garden, dogsitting our friend’s dog, Buffy, birthdays and holiday celebrations and the conference I mentioned above, which was the TAXI Road Rally where I got to learn about sync songwriting for three whole days.

So here we are almost in the middle of November edging closer to 2023. I realize that nobody likely cares about these moments in our lives except for our family, but if you’ve read all the way through, hopefully you’ve remembered some beautiful moments in your own life this past year and that those memories brought you a burst of joy.


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