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Dear 2023:

I went through the photos I took of you this year. You were so damn good to me, and along the way you asked me to be a stronger version of myself than I ever thought possible. I tried to capture the year with 25 of my favorite photos, and there was no way I could keep it under 100.


It was the year of concerts, the year of adventures, the year of humongous shifts, and the year of coming home. The only way I could do this year justice for my own archives is to pick 10 photos that best described each month.


Jump to a Month

JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJulyAugustSeptemberOctoberNovemberDecember


JANUARY


The year started with me moving through Covid, deep cleaning Kristy's place, hopeful of developing a romantic relationship with Kristy, but still on the sidelines grateful that our friendship and connection was there after spending most of 2022 not talking. She came home from California and surprised me with a New Years kiss that I'll never forget.


I pulled a card that set the whole year in motion, "Loyal Heart." The year tested my heart, and found it pure and full of love for this woman I couldn't breath the habit of loving. Kristy recovered from Covid, Carson and I got quality team on the weekends, I got to hear Addie sing her last high school solo, and hosted a Men's Circle gathering at my house compliments of my Great Grandma Annie's famous sauce.


Kristy and I officially began the second phase of our relationship mid-month and had a lovely snow shoe adventure up Soldier Summit where we happily froze our asses off and rekindled the love.




FEBRUARY


Carson and my relationship took a weird turn in 2023 with distance I still can't explain. We did get some really quality moments in February when he repeatedly kicked my butt in chess and he got to join the men in some poker. I also got to see him put his heart and soul into volleyball.


Kristy and I got to see Seth and Rachel's son Ben perform in Clue where Derek went in full Col. Mustard cosplay. We also shoveled snow during some massive snow storms. The Utah Men's Circle was still going strong as we found winter places to gather. Kristy continued to learn the guitar, I was gifted a beautiful didgeridoo from a Men's Circle friend Michael, Addie killed it as the P.E. teacher in her school rendition of Freaky Friday. Kristy and I also got to enjoy an amazing date night at Rawtopia, the first of our tradition of at least one fancy date per month.



MARCH


March is Kristy and Ash's birthday and it was filled to the brim with exploration and amazing adventures. Kristy and I joined friends in Lava Hot Springs for some soul diving experiences. We cried hard, laughed harder, and cuddled in the middle of a winter wonderland.


We went to our first ecstatic dance as a couple ( a place we both loved and enjoyed while apart). I got to take Carson to see The National Parks in concert (his favorite band). I watched as Kristy proudly took her kids to Texas and then Mexico while Tommy and I held the fort down in Utah and I got to freeze my ass off with a friend at an RSL game.


The month was also heavy as Carson broke his leg and needed surgery that put all of his 2023 Volleyball dreams on hold. More amazing Men's Circle gatherings, outdoor walks as we itched for Winter's end, and Kristy's love of sour dough bread making developed.




APRIL


April came with a lifelong bucket list item checked off. Seeing Kristy dress up in her teenager's clothes and act like them for April Fools Day. (Joke Joke). While that really happened, Kristy and I got to adventure through Wyoming thrift stores and college town eateries and coffee shops, visit Momma Tori on our way to Morrison, Colorado to see our favorite artist Trevor Hall bring us to tears at the most special concert venue I've ever witnessed at Red Rock Amphitheater. The whole Colorado trip, from the Airbnb to the food was a highlight for the whole year.


I also got to see my beautiful daughter go to prom, Kristy's beautiful teen in her dance competition, and visit with Carson while he recovered from his knee surgery. Kristy and I also got to visit another beautiful spiritual place in our friend Alec's Kirtan gatherings. I even managed to get some good training miles in as my body prepared for a race in May.




MAY


Three straight months with a concert highlight as Kristy and I got to see the Ecstatic Dance legend Porangui hold space and serenade the ground at The Clubhouse. I got to wait in the longest concert line (time wise) when I took Ash out of school early and we awaited their favorite band Love Joy. Kristy got to go to the concert while I took Derek and Lennox to Army Navy Surplus to do boy things. I also got to visit Reams property as Derek sported an end-of-the-school-year mullet.


Erik Kirkham let us hold another UMC event in his back yard, which was another success with his Laughing Yoga. Addie and Carson tore up another dance situation, Addie wowed us with her second-to-last school concert. I got to spend some time with Carson as he recovered from his injury. Kristy and I got to return to the Peace Ranch for an enchanting drum circle with a lot of old and new friends.


I got the best new experience in running a Ragnar Race with some of the best people I've ever been around. The 30-hour event featured two four-mile runs, and one eight-mile run at all hours of the day and night. We mixed in camping, Mormon handcarts to get our stuff to camp, and ended in a glorious rain storm as we broke camp in Eastern Zions National Park.




JUNE


My heart filled out in June in the most magical, unexpected ways.


Addie graduated high school, and she, Kristy, Ash, Derek, and I attended the Pride Festival, and we held a small but potent Men's Circle in Weber Counry. We also had a send-off party for Addie as she prepared to move to Washington, D.C.


Then there was Summer Solstice. My soul soared as I became more in love with Kristy. We went to the festival and had an amazing time every second of every minute of every hour of our time there. The labyrinth of the event mirrored the labyrinth of our life. I walked it with humility and intention, and when i walked it one time with Kristy, I knew it was time to ask her to marry me and close the circle that had started in Sedona, November 2020. She said "yes" and we immediately announced it to the group of time travelers. It was absolutely perfect.


We ended the journey with a quick trip up to Montana to watch my sister run her first marathon and squeeze it in before her 40th birthday. Kristy and I had a magical time in an impromptu camping spot, and made the first of two long drives through Montana on I-15 after watching the proud brother moment. Kristy's support in that endeavor solidified this new chapter's foundation for me.


I was also inspired by our friends Doug and Mike to pick up the guitar and seriously practice it, which I did for at least an hour almost every day for the remainder of the year.





JULY


July was filled with two more amazing concerts. Trampled By Turtles rocked us at The Twilight Series, and we got a surprise when we saw my brother Scott and aunt Jackie. We got another surprise when we magically got tickets to Park City to see our other favorite band Caamp perform. Getting nearly front row seats on a whim was magical, even if we lost all the beer we tried to sneak in.


We had some fun parties at our friend's house, where we played music and threw knives. That could only be topped by an epic Family Reunion party for my Grandma Andrus's birthday party. It brought people from all over the country, including my sister Ali and brother Cody. It was an unbelieveable weekend topped only by the fact that Cody and I got my grandma into a dance battle and had riot getting to see her shake her booty.


Addie and I also got matching tattoos and a farewell breakfast that failed at Ruth's Diner and ended up at Oasis Cafe before she scooted off to Washington, D.C. My old teacher friends also got to see off our former co-teacher Tiffany Love as she moved to the midwest to follow a new job and love. I hadn't seen my teaching friends in almost a year and it was like time never stopped.


I also got a treat at the end of the month when my best friend Michael and military friend Alan came in town for Michael's brutal triathlon and Michael's birthday, the only time in the year we'd see one another this time around.




AUGUST


We tried to soak in every ounce of summer and kidless weeknights, and 10 photos will never do this month justice.


Barbie movies, Friends' Anniversaries, and family dates were just some of the daily highlights. I got to take my Dad to Virg's for his birthday brunch, and take my grandma out for her favorite, Arctic Circle pineapple shake and friends, too.


Kristy had a work BBQ on a magical night, where our honorary "son" Lennox accompanied us and was in for one of my favorite pictures of the year. Kristy and I kept up with Sam's 5K Fridays and our cat decided to get in a yard brawl and tear up his face for his first of two doctor visits for 2023. When the kids came back, we went to the Drive-in for some Ninja Turtle action.


The highlight, however, was a impromptu absconding to Bryce Canyon with my love, where we camped on BLM land, hiked the beautiful land, had campfires, sang songs, and had the most lovely time that two love birds could enjoy. We even failed to pack enough water for a summer hike in Southern Utah and almost got in big trouble with heat illness.


We send the kiddos back to school, with Ash in 10th grade, Derek in 3rd, Carson in 11th, and Addie in College. I didn't even have room for the annual White Trash Party or the campfire concert that Mike and Doug of Flavor Country offered in our friends' Seth and Rachel's backyard. I also left social media at the end of the month so I could get a much-needed break and see what I was missing beyond the ease and distraction.




SEPTEMBER


September is a blur, probably because I had my first surgery when an abscess on my neck and shoulder made life nearly unbearable for a while. All the while I was moving out of my house I shared with my good friend Patrick and back into the house where Kristy and my relationship started in Magna. It was a time of huge shifting, and more time to enjoy together.


Mixed into that experience was some more magical in the warm weather. As a family, Derek, Ash, Kristy, and I got to see the Lumineers in concert at USANA. It was my 7th concert of the year, and Kristy's 9th. Ash and Kristy also went to see Boy With Uke, so Derek and I got to blow a bunch of gift cards at the arcade.


We also got to see Ash in their natural habitat at FanX with their QSMP friends and I got to experience true crowd overwhelm. (More Joke Jokes). We took trips to Marissa's Used Book Store before Kristy and I rounded out the month in Preston, Idaho (home of Napoleon Dynamite) for a drum circle at Erik Kirkham's family property, we finally got to put our paddle boards in the water for a romantic adventure for two. We also got to see the splendor of fall on an enchanting drive up to Maple Grove as September blended into October.





OCTOBER


October is birthday month for Derek and Addie, as they were both away from home this year. We made up for it with Derek on a trip out of the country to Canada.


Alberta and Banff National Park were just some of the highlights. Derek's wildest dreams got fulfilled in the hot tub of our AirBnb while our friends Peter and Pam were lovely Canuck hosts to our first journey north of the border. The kids were the best in the car as we made another long trip home on I-15. Kristy finally dared to sleep in the car (twice.)


Our naughty adopted cat got into another cat and royally messed up his last existing top canine and had us going to the E.R. room for another pricy visit. He got to wear a crown for his efforts which he did not like one bit.


Kristy and I ventured into Eden, Utah near Triassic to rock hound with our friend Josh and Helena, looking for a stone for our upcoming wedding rings. While we didn't use the stone, we had a blast looking for natural treasure and soaking in the last bits of warm weather and camping under the stars. The cow trough in the middle of nowhere made the best impromptu cold plunge spot.


The end of October saw Kristy embrace her natural self for a witch party, we got to walk with her sister Jen in a Breast Cancer awareness 5K. The month finished up with me getting ready to finally get to see Addie in her new home.




NOVEMBER


November was the penultimate adventure to a full and fulfilling year. I got to visit Addie in Washington D.C., and had a magical time ogling over how grown up she was. Picking me up on the Metro of a big city, and navigating so effortlessly was only part of the highlights. Perfect weather, scooter rides through town, eating at the indoor/outdoor food truck food court was only second to the amazing history we got to see at the Holocaust and African American Museums, the National Archives and Library of Congress. Watching Addie navigate this all while learning sign language just added to the awe. I also got to witness the largest pro-Muslim protest in U.S. history.


A trip to D.C. was a celebration that was worth the wait.


I got initiated into Old Lady Bingo with Kristy and her sister Jen. We held a special Men's Circle at Synchronicities, which would only foreshadow one to come next month.


Kristy and I got to introduce Derek and Lennox to rock climbing and bouldering which was a real treat. Kristy and I also deepened our relationship with a "Hottie on the Potty" photo series with each other. The initiation was as funny as it was brief. We got together as a full family as Addie visited for Thanksgiving and we got to celebrate dinner at Cracker Barrel. I have less photos to show since leaving social media and have even forgot my phone in several moments since then.


Our month ended with Thanksgiving Celebrations with my grandparents, and then a Friendsgiving celebration that topped it only because of the wonderful relationships that have been developed.





DECEMBER


For the third year in a row, a gnarly cold tried to knock me out. This time, it was before Christmas, and couldn't stop the fullness of 2023 from unfolding.


I didn't even get a picture of the most important moment of the year. (More on that in a moment.)


Kristy and I started off the month at her work Christmas party, and somehow I got the celebrity treatment as five kids who looked fresh off the set of The Sandlot took to her and i and made quick friends. They joined us in the human hockey tunnel, and wanted more hugs and pictures with a 43-year old man than seems healthy, but it was one of the funniest memories of the year.


We made it down to Spanish Fork with our wedding officiant Adam and his wife Analee and rocked out to a superb 90s cover band, while drinking beer and having a grand ole time.


As a family we decorated for the Yule with all sorts of homemade crafts led by Kristy. I saw my 8th concert, and Kristy her 10th, when we went to the Lower Lights Christmas Concert to put us in the holiday spirit.


We sat with Santa, welcomed Addie back to Utah for a month, dressed like Grinches, and celebrated Christmas a few days later as we welcomed Derek and Ash back home. We visited the Tree of Life, gathered with family, and saved the best part of the year for last.


Kristy and I decided to semi-elope on the Solstice and have a small wedding ceremony with our kids, and officiant, and another adult witness. We did a hand wrapping ceremony, I promised Kristy she had my heart forever, we made six sacred vows, and all of my guitar practice since June paid off when I sang the song I wrote for Kristy, as well as one of our first and favorite love songs. We were together as a family and enjoyed Braza Grill before Kristy and I had a romantic dinner and a few days together as kids went with their other parents.


The final week of December has been a massive rest from a busy year that saw love grown deeper, promises made, and more travel, music, and good friend with my best friend than I ever imagined possible at the beginning of the year.



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