Saturday, December 21, 2019

2019: Big milestones & the Game of LIFE


It’s been a jam-packed three years of adventures and milestones!

This year, we spent a lot of time in theatres and at Walt Disney World. We rang in 2019 at Epcot and decided to upgrade our park tickets to annual passes because we knew we’d be back in April and for a trip (or two) in the fall.

In January, Matthew visited San Francisco for work and spent quality time with friends in the Bay Area.

James was selected for the University of Toledo’s 2019 Advanced Leadership Academy. Throughout the six-week program, James heard from local leaders and networked with other professionals.


In February, James had a date night with his sister Jessica for a Kelly Clarkson concert in Detroit. It was a fun night.

Later that month, he played the role of Rumpelstiltskin in The Toledo Swiss Singers’ production of “Once Upon a Murder!” (written by one of their members).

In March, Matthew directed Tennessee Williams’ classic memory play “The Glass Menagerie” to rave reviews at Michigan’s oldest continually operating theatre and one of our favorite places, The Croswell Opera House. And he collaborated with our talented friend, Luke Rosen, who composed an original score for the production.

 

We returned to Orlando in April for James’ work conference (for the AAMC), where he facilitated a session on social media. He received an Award of Excellence in the “Shoestring Budget” category for his medical school orientation social media project. We extended our trip and spent four days at Disney Parks, enjoying the warm weather and the International Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot.


In May, we celebrated our niece Olivia’s First Communion. Then, after Memorial Day, Matthew introduced James to New York City. It was a marvelously musical trip with seven shows in five days and an unforgettable experience in the studio audience of “The View.”


The best moment came when Matthew had the opportunity to ask co-host Whoopi Goldberg a question. He asked for advice to give his cast of “Sister Act.” See Whoopi's response below:



Shows we saw: “My Fair Lady,” “Tootsie,” “Dear Evan Hansen,” “Pretty Woman,” “Hadestown” (2019 Tony winner for Best Musical), “The Cher Show” and “Beetlejuice.” We also celebrated Mass at the historic St. Patrick’s Cathedral.





From New York City, we headed to Lexington, Kentucky, to celebrate the high school graduation of one of Matthew’s family members, Elisabeth.


We returned to Lexington in July to see an incredible production of “West Side Story,” for which Matthew’s cousin Mike was the rehearsal accompanist and played piano in the orchestra pit.

We also toured Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, the oldest continually operating distillery in the country!


For a relaxing summer break, we headed to a staple of Matthew’s family: Hilton Head Island in South Carolina. We stayed at a beautiful oceanfront property with Matthew’s cousins, The Friends.


We tasted some delicious seafood (including grouper fingers!) and ventured out on the Calibogue Sound for a dolphin cruise.

We also spent some quality time with Matthew’s parents, who started taking Matthew to Hilton Head when he was a kid.


Upon arriving back home, Matthew dove right back into the final weeks of rehearsals for “Sister Act,” which he directed at The Croswell. It was a truly fabulous run!

 

To celebrate our second wedding anniversary on Sept. 2, we headed to another one of our favorite places: Stratford, Ontario, Canada. We stayed at a cute Airbnb and attended the Stratford Festival. We saw some impressive productions of “Little Shop of Horrors,” “The Crucible,” “The Front Page,” “Othello,” and “Billy Elliot.”

 

In mid-October, we took a road trip to Walt Disney World to enjoy the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival with theatre friends and to experience the new Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge land that opened at the end of August.



It was a lot of fun piloting the Millennium Falcon, and we had enough people in our group to fill the six-person cockpit. We also experienced the new, temporary fireworks show Epcot Forever, which we really enjoyed.


At the end of October, Matthew’s cousins, The Friends, traveled up for a day trip to Frankenmuth. We enjoyed introducing them to Michigan’s Little Bavaria and the world’s largest Christmas store, Bronner’s.


As the days began to get shorter, we saw Céline Dion in concert in Detroit with Matthew’s parents and our friends. It was très magnifique to see her on stage again!


In December, we made our final trip of the year to Walt Disney World with Matthew’s parents, which was extra special because he hadn’t visited the parks with his parents in more than a decade, and it was the first time celebrating his birthday in the parks!


We spent time at yet another Epcot festival, the International Festival of the Holidays, and we attended the Candlelight Processional concert with guest narrator Pat Sajak. This trip required two 3:30 a.m. wake-up calls to experience the brand new Star Wars attraction Rise of the Resistance at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We rose, we resisted, then we rested both of those days!

As we look ahead, 2020 brings great excitement with several family members graduating high school. And James will graduate in May with his MBA in Marketing from The University of Toledo!

We wish you a Happy and Prosperous New Year, and thank you for being a treasured part of our lives.

With love,
Matthew, James, Kitty, Sonoma, and Kira



Recaps

2017 Highlights:
January: James’ 30th birthday at Disney, 10K run, then cruise.
March: James’ first business conference — in San Diego.
March 31: We bought a house!
May: Tour of the Columbus Zoo giraffe barn and feeding.
July: Charleston then Hilton Head Island. Our Florida friends David and Michael got married on the beach, and Matthew officiated!
August: James started grad school at The University of Toledo.
September 2: We got married!
November: Matthew directed “Meet Me in St. Louis.”
December: Matthew’s surprise 40th birthday weekend.
Read more about 2017


2018 Highlights:
January: Honeymoon to Walt Disney World!
March: James featured on the front page of The Wall Street Journal for his Oscars fanaticism, and met his friend Kristine for the Oscars in the bleacher seats. James also traveled to Seattle for a work conference.
April: Matthew in Las Vegas for a massive product launch; James joined.
May: Attended James’ BFF Sarah’s wedding in Chicago.
June: The Toledo Swiss Singers hosted an international yodeling festival, and James was the marketing committee.
June 18: Added Kira to our “fur family.” She’s a split-faced tortie cat we adopted from James’ sister, Jessica.
August: Lexington with Matthew’s family, a wedding in Indianapolis and friends Hunter and Matt’s wedding in Phoenix (hot hot hot!).
September 2: First anniversary and trip to Stratford, Canada.
October: Extended vacation to Las Vegas and California. We joined friends David and Michael in Santa Barbara Wine Country and then Disneyland.
December: Celebrated the end of the year at Walt Disney World. Matthew’s cousin’s daughter, Elisabeth, marched with her high school band in a parade at the Magic Kingdom!
Read more about 2018


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