Happy New Year, everyone! I am definitely the type of person that loves to look back and reflect on the past. Whether I’m reflecting on the whole year or a previous time within the month or year, I always feel like it allows me to see all the blessings I’ve received throughout the year, how I handled circumstances and things to improve on. So I’m taking time to reflect on this past year to share all the fun things I got to do or be a part of, the things I learned, and see and remember all the amazing ways God has blessed Dave and I in 2018.
Dave and I rang in the new year with his family at his brother Rick’s house! This has been a tradition of ours for the last 4 years. Our usual schedule includes going to visit my parents in St. Charles, IL ( a western suburb of Chicago) for my birthday through Christmas and then we head to Ohio to celebrate the end of December through the New Year with Dave’s family. This year is the first year in 4 years we won’t be able to visit them. We played lots of new games. One hilarious game that we played and I’m sure everyone else and their mom played was “Speak Out.” We had so much fun and laughed so hard!
Dave went full time at the O’Reilly corporate office. Dave had received an internship the year before, which was originally supposed to last 6 months- they kept him on all year and then hired him full time. Dave is of course loved by many of his coworkers and his bosses are always highly complimentary of his work.
Got a couple snow days! I know students love snow days, but I think Teachers enjoy them even more! On the second snow day, my best friend, Kel and I got together to see “The Greatest Showman” and grab lunch at a local burger place Black Sheep. It was such a fun day! Plus, I’m still obsessed with “The Greatest Showman! ”
MMEA- Music Educators Conference at Tan-Tar-a! This is always one of my favorite times of the year… a time that I can get away from the classroom, learn some new tips and tricks, and this last year I got to stay in a beautiful condo on the lake! It was exactly what I needed! I absolutely loved waking up every morning, grabbing my coffee and making my way outside to sit on the porch overlooking the lake. I even felt inspired to write a blog post!
I got a chance to work with Jord Watches doing a fun giveaway and surprising Dave with an incredible wooden watch for Valentine’s Day.
Dave and I went on a fun date night… My idea was to write out all the places Dave and I have said multiple times we’d like to try on a piece of paper, cut the selections out, fold them, and place them in a bag for Dave to select. I came up with four different options and placed the selections in the bag they corresponded to: cocktails, appetizers, Dinner, Deserts. I wanted it to be like a little tour of our town… a staycation if you will. We had a fun time, but when I planned the night out, I didn’t realize that Dave had already taken meat out for dinner later that evening, so we did everything but dinner.
I became an Aunt again to the sweetest ,most beautiful little girl, Margarete ” Marlo” Rose Hefta. Marlo came into our world on February 15th! And my Niece Charlie turned 2 years old on February 22nd! She is so spunky, funny, and definitely the sassiest little girl.
We found our new church- Connect Church! This church has been such an incredible blessing to us and I’m so glad that we decided to visit on February 18th. Since visiting and becoming a part of this church, Dave and I have met some amazing friends, have had some incredible experiences, and have been able to find great joy in serving on the worship team, check in team, social media team and coffee team.
March 1st and 2nd were Springfield Public Schools Large Ensemble Contest and I was in charge. I had been pretty stressed about planning, scheduling, and executing contest but everything seemed to work out alright. Even though it was a ton of work, It was fun for me to be a part of the whole day and a privilege to see all my wonderful friends’ groups perform.
Trip to Nashville for Spring break. I had a fantastic time getting to hang out with my sister, Emily, my brother and sister-in-law and their beautiful girls, and my parents! While I was in Nashville, Emily and I got to have some one-on-one sister time, go to the HER collective launch party, and celebrate my brother and dad’s birthdays! I also got a chance to hang with the cutest little girls ever, my nieces, Charlie and Marlo. Marlo was only a month old and I was completely enthralled with her. I even held her one day for 5 hours… my arm was completely asleep and while I could have placed her in her crib, because she was pretty out of it, I wanted to soak up as much time with her as a could since I only had a few days.
Got a new fun look, thanks to my awesome hairstylist, Blair!
I participated in the Spring 10×10 minimalist challenge. This was by far one of the hardest, but coolest challenges I had been a part of. The point of the challenge is to create a capsule wardrobe in which you select 10 pieces of clothing to wear for 10 days. I learned a lot about myself while doing this challenge… interested in reading more, check out this post.
Evaluated at the Northern Missouri District Fine Arts festival. This year the event was held in KC at Northland Cathedral. It was fun seeing familiar faces, evaluating, and chatting with some of my favorite people.
I started reading “Girl Wash your Face.” This book is such an encouraging, uplifting book and its a MUST read. She addresses so many topics within this book and challenges you to stop believing the lies you continue to believe, so that you can become the person you were mean’t to be.
I had more opportunities to collaborate with companies like Smile Brilliant and I did my first ever Instagram giveaway! It was a lot of work, but it was super fun to work with other bloggers and get to know them better through the process. So glad I got to try Smile Brilliant because it is one of my favorite products to use and it works so well.
Weekend Getaway in Kansas City with my best girl friends celebrating a couple birthdays. Becca and Felicia met us in Kansas City after both of them had moved away within the last year and we had the best weekend hanging out in an incredible Airbnb, seeing the sights and having some of the best conversations. One of my favorite parts of the trip was the evening in which a brief conversation in the kitchen, turned into a four hour convo with all of us sitting on the floor, Indian style around a couple candles, drinking wine, eating ice cream and sharing our souls.
May 15th was the last concert of the year with my 8th graders. It was really hard to see those kiddos leave. Since 6th grade, those students had been the most hard working, talented kids I had ever had and I loved how much we were able to accomplish together. They were the sweetest- they bought me flowers for the last concert and had some really touching things to share- I may have teared up a bit. Okay, lets just say if I wouldn’t have applied waterproof mascara, I would have had a stream of mascara running down my face. May 22- Last day of my 5th year of teaching. It was a rough year. I was a part of a couple different learning teams which had me out of the classroom more than I would have hoped and caused me anxiety. I had taken on way too many things and I definitely felt the stress of that throughout the school year. Time to recharge… Hello Summer!
My best friends and I have always enjoyed getting together to watch the bachelor and bachelorette shows and take turns hosting every week. I decided to throw a fun bachelorette watch party at my place complete with wine, goodies, our printable bracket, and a fun photo booth.
Dave and I began our house search. We finally decided to not renew our lease at our apartment. This was a really scary decision, but we knew that we were ready to find a house, so we began our search looking to buy a house. We ended up finding a really unique house, but unsure of if it was the right decision and having some complications come up, we decided to abandon the offer. This was a moment in time when Dave and I really had to put our trust in God and what he had for us… we were unsure in the moment and really nervous about making the wrong decision. It was during this time that I also applied for a job with the Cleveland Symphony, since the school year had been pretty rough and I was unsure about returning and if teaching was still where God wanted me to be.
Dave and I got more invested in our church, Connect Church and I was able to be a part of a community outreach organized by Convoy of Hope. This is one of the largest community outreaches that occurs annually here in the Springfield area. Convoy of Hope had tents set up for food, hair cuts, dentist work, shoes, and career services. I helped in the shoe tent sizing children and getting them some new shoes- it was seriously one of the best moments of my life. The smiles on the kids faces mean’t so much and knowing that I was there serving them and helping bring them joy will forever be one of my favorite memories.
A friend gave me a pink violin case! I have always wanted a pink violin case and my friend just decided to give me hers one day- it was the sweetest thing!
I have always loved fashion and I absolutely love a good deal, so I began going to goodwill and other thrift stores on a more regular basis. This is when I really began thrifting more and have found that I get such a rush when I find something incredible and trendy for just a few bucks!
I got all these shorts from goodwill for $3 each!I took a roadtrip to Chicago to see family and go to Swedish days! My parents live in a suburb of Chicago that is close to a ton of other really cute, quaint towns and one of my favorite little towns is only 10 minutes away from their house. Geneva, IL has some of the best, most unique stores, restaurants and festivals. One such festival is the Swedish days festival that occurs every June and believe me, I’ve heard a ton about it. So when I found out that my brother and his family were going to be there too, I made it a plan to drive to Chicago and be a part of the fun as well! I’m so incredibly glad I went on that trip! Check out some more pictures and read about my roadtrip here.
Texas Tenors performances in Branson. I had the incredible opportunity to be a part of the Texas Tenors PBS special ” Rise” in 2015 with some other Springfield teachers and friends. Flash forward to 2018 and the guys were going to be doing some shows in Branson and asked if I would want to perform some shows with them. The whole experience was incredible! I even tried on the most beautiful dress in one of the dressing rooms.
Dave and I finally visited the “Wonders of Wildlife” and were completely amazed at how massive, impressive, and elaborate the designs, habitats, and structures were. If you haven’t been to the museum, I highly suggest it and I’m not alone- “The Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium” was voted Americas best aquarium and best new attraction. We could have spent way more time wandering around, but we had planned to go to the Branson landing to see fireworks! Our evening was spent dining at the Bass pro floating restaurant, the White River Fish House, strolling down the landing stopping in the occasional store or two, grabbing a drink at another restaurant and then heading outside to watch the fireworks.
July 4th was spent with our best friends. We ate lots of yummy food, did some small fireworks, poppers and sparklers with the kids and then a couple of us girls went to Jordan Valley park to watch more fireworks.
We found a rental house that we would be moving into at the end of July.
Took another trip to Nashville for my first blogger retreat , which was also set up by my sister! Stopped in Nashville for a couple days before heading to the beautiful Airbnb we were staying in over the weekend in Chattanooga, TN. While in Nashville I got to see a good friend of mine, Marie, and dine at Holler and Dash. While in Chattanooga, I stayed at the cutest airbnb, got to know some really amazing gals and creatives, ate at some of the best restaurants, learned about makeup combos from the fabulous Ella Blake, Dressed up and took lots of pictures at the most beautiful places, and took an incredible hike ending in a completely freeing and Impromtu skinny dip in a waterfall.
Upon my return from Chattanooga, Dave and I had a couple days to get ready for our move. We cleaned out the apartment which we had created so many memories in and prepared for a new beginning at a home. We were settling into out new place but had to go without internet for a couple weeks… I never realized how much I use the internet and Dave and I almost went crazy… ok, maybe it wasn’t that bad. But it also made me realize just how lucky I am to have the opportunity to have internet at our house.
Dave and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary and I wrote a blog post about the ten things I’ve earned in those 5 years. I have been completely blessed to be married to my best friend and love.
I began my 6th year of teaching at Carver Middle School as the Orchestra teacher and a reading teacher for the first time. I was a little nervous about the new school year, since I had experienced a rough year the year before, and on top of that I was going to be teaching a subject i had never taught and honestly, had no idea how to teach.
Dave turned 29 years old and I planned a fun St. Louis Getaway for us. We enjoyed some of our favorite restaurants, a couple new places and had the best time at the St. Louis Science Center. Dave loves space and the Science Center just happened to have the Apollo 11 exhibit showcased that weekend. It was a really amazing exhibit and the whole Science Center was truly incredible and so much fun!
Dave and I began to co-lead our small group from Connect Church. It was fun to get to know our group better and to be able to lead discussions.
I had the opportunity to play violin for the DFL ( Designed for Life) conference again. This is one of my favorite events to be able to play for and be a part of seeing God move in so many women’s lives and my own life. I allowed myself to just sit and reflect, to be spoken to and I found myself allowing God to reach me and begin to calm my fears and nervousness of the school year and the previous year. I was reminded of who I am in christ and that He is proud of me. It was during this time that I was able to find rest.
Tried Stitch fix for the first time.
Finally got to decorate my cute porch with some pumpkins, mums, and a new welcome door mat. This was something so exciting for me because I had wanted a front porch to decorate for years.
We celebrated Halloween week with some time around the new firepit, roasting hotdogs and making s’mores, carving pumpkins, and handing out candy to the trick or treaters for the first time! I dressed up for Halloween at school as Arora “Sleeping Beauty” but was asked multiple times if I was dressed as Princess Peach…. I guess either would have worked. 😉 Dave and I then dressed up for our Halloween evening…. I was a scarecrow and Dave was a cowboy!
I was on the Evangel Alumni Orchestra committee and we effectively put together a wonderful weekend of fellowship, rehearsals and a great alumni orchestra concert. This event took a year to pull together, with the committee meeting together five or six different times, setting a date for the rehearsals and the performance, calling, emailing and messaging alumni who had been a part of the Evangel band or orchestra, and last have rehearsals and perform.
I got new hair- Thanks Blair!
I got the opportunity to perform ” Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” in Tulsa with some of the Tulsa Symphony. This was by far one of the coolest things I’ve gotten a chance to be a part of. It was a crazy week: Only 2 rehearsals and 3 performances. I found out about playing on Tuesday and the first rehearsal was Thursday night, so I drove to Tulsa right after school, did the rehearsal and drove back to Springfield to teach the next day. Friday I taught all day and then left after school for Tulsa. I got to stay in a hotel while I was there and I got a couple opportunities to hang out with my cousin, Tia. I was pretty tired after all the performances: 2 on Saturday and one on Sunday afternoon, each 2 hours and 30 min of straight playing.
Got to spend Thanksgiving with some family at Tia’s house. My parents were hanging out with my grandma, so Dave and I headed to her home first. We sat with them as they ate their Thanksgiving lunch and then headed toward Tia’s house. I got to see my cousin, Ian and his wife Jess, and their two boys, Tia and my Aunt and Uncle! My parents came by for a bit to see everyone and to enjoy some pie! It was a lovely time! ( I also created a lovely Thanksgiving Tablescape for our house and shared it on the blog).
I decorated the front porch with a beautiful Christmas tree, a lantern and a Santa Clause sign. And we put up icicle lights, which has been another one of my wishes for so long!
I participated in three different Christmas productions, including at our new church Connect!
I got to be a part of another fun giveaway with some StyleCollective sisters. The giveaway was a $500 paypal giveaway.
Dave and I had a fun evening celebrating Christmas Together- Dec 21st. We went to Kai for dinner and then returned home to open our presents to each other. I ended up getting an Apple Watch, which I’ve been loving!
My 31st birthday and Christmas! I got to go back home again this year and I was so happy I could . With Dave having a newer job, we were unsure what our plans would be for Christmas and we were unsure if he would have any days off for us to make the trip. I have done the same things on my birthday for the last 4 years and although one would think one might get tired of doing the same things, it’s quite the opposite. I look forward to my fun-filled day celebrating my birthday with my favorite people and at my favorite places! We spend lunch at my favorite quaint little cafe, Town house book cafe, where I order the same thing every year- the 1/2 sandwich and salad combo with the apricot chicken salad sandwich on Pumpernickel and the salad with spicy ranch. I also LOVE their chai tea latte! Then we head to Geneva to walk around and admire all the beautiful and unique stores, I grab my free Starbucks and then for dinner we get Giordano’s Deep Dish Chicago pizza!
The next day we ended up baking cookies and making some goodies to eat after the Christmas eve candle lighting service. This year as we were eating our goodies, we got a little surprise visit from my sister, Emily, who had been celebrating Christmas in NYC with a work friend. It was quite the surprise- We all thought she would be spending Christmas in NYC. Christmas morning we usually gather around the Christmas tree preparing to start opening presents. Dad begins to read the Christmas story and we all grab some coffee and breakfast pizza ( part of our Christmas tradition), and then open presents. This Christmas we were a little more relaxed with our timeline and normal traditions- it was really nice to not rush around and to enjoy everything a little more.
New Years Eve! Dave and I were originally going to just stay at our house and celebrate in a more low key way, but some of our friends ended up returning home from their Christmas trips earlier than expected, so we all got together. It was definitely a super fun evening and a great way to ring in the new year!
2018 was a jam packed year of new opportunities and growth. It was also a year in which I struggled with my career, felt more anxiety than ever before and experienced a bit of depression. I can look back now and say that while there were lows, I was able to learn so much and I know that 2019 is going to be a great year of more personal and relational growth. Cheers to 2019!- with love, Erin