My Top Nine Moments of 2013

If I could give 2013 a theme, it would be The Year of Family.

One of my personal goals that I wrote down at the beginning of  2013 was to try and visit with some of my relatives. I have quite an extensive family on both sides – literally all over the world – and many of them I had not seen for over a decade.  Probably the most difficult things about being a Jamaican and living in the Pacific Northwest is not being able to see my family on a regular basis, so I vowed to be more intentional about making the time to some extended family.

I can definitely say that 2013 exceeded any and all expectations I had for accomplishing this goal. I was so grateful that I had the time and the means to have travelled several times in 2013 to attend a graduation, a funeral, and a wedding to be reunited with many, many family members.  It was truly nourishing to my spirit and my soul .

Read along to see some of my other top Highlights for 2013, in addition to all the family reunions this past year :).

My Top Nine Moments of 2013


9. CJ & I Lost 30 Pounds

In September 2012, CJ and I decided to try clean eating. We both wanted to lose weight and make healthier choices about what were were eating. We have both always been very active people but once we saw how much weight we lost just be changing our eating habits, we were both permanently committed to a clean eating lifestyle. One of my goals for 2014 is to share that experience here on the blog along with some recipes ( there I said it so now I have to do it!)


8. I Officially Become a Stay At Home Mama

After James was born in September 2010 I took the rest of the year off to be at home with him. It broke my heart to leave him and go back to work in January 2011, and I was never quite the same career-focused woman that I used to be after having a baby. When we found out we were pregnant with Dominic in November 2011, CJ and I committed to making the necessary lifestyle adjustments so that I could be at home with both boys.

We did it! And the biggest reason I was able to leave a well-paid, corporate job to stay at home with the boys? We got rid of all our consumer debtthat made a huge difference  in allowing us to make a lot of lifestyle adjustments to live below our means.

I was able to take six months maternity leave after Dominic was born in June 2012, and I was beyond elated when I called my former employer in January to tell them I wasn’t going back to work after my maternity leave..


The boys were pretty excited when they heard too!

7. I Started My Own Business and Become a Work At Home Mom

I have always felt the entrepreneurial buzz in my spirit. I’ve always wanted to be in business for myself but for the longest time I had no idea what to do or even how to go about doing it.

In addition to staying at home with the boys, part of the reason I took extra time off for my maternity leave was so that I could revitalize my soul, recharge my batteries and figure out what the heck I wanted to do with my life.  I’ve read so many blogs and stories of successful work at home moms, and I knew I could do it too if I could could channel and focus my energy on something that I loved to do and could monetize in the marketplace.

There are two books that greatly helped me in my soul-searching and jounery of giving me the confidence to a) start my own business,  b) discovering my passion for web design and c) combining the two and putting it out there for the world to see:

After reading both these books and drawing from some of the principles,  Marquardt Creative Consulting was born in February and officially launched in May 2013 – Yaay!


6. Attending My Sister’s Graduation

My sister Gilly is a rockstar. I call her the Excel Nerd and Math Genius. If you applied for and got accepted as 1 of 10 Jamaicans( out of hundreds of applicants!) for a  Fulbright Scholarship, and graduated two years later with a Master’s Degree in Actuarial Science, I would call you the same thing too.

I’m bragging on my sis here but as you can tell I am an inspired and proud big sister 🙂


Domy came along too for the trip to Nebraska and he did great for his first plane ride – no epic meltdowns on the plane is always a win!

After Gilly’s graduation, we drove 8 hours from Nebraska to Oklahoma to meet our cousin Michael ( Mom’s cousin) for the first time. We had such a great visit and this would turn out to be one of many family reunions this year for me!

Even on the way back when we had a 6-hour delay in the Colorado airport, Domy was quite agreeable – at the time he was only 10 months old so he couldn’t go to far 🙂


5. Anniversaries & Birthdays

I know it may not seem like a big deal,  but after reading this story, I am truly grateful that my husband lived another year. I am grateful for each year of marriage that I celebrate with CJ. I am grateful that both James and Dominic are healthy, active boys and lived to celebrate their birthdays. I am grateful to celebrate another year of life because tomorrow is never promised.

  • I schemed with friends and family to throw CJ a surprise 32nd birthday in March – I had to blindfold him so he couldn’t figure out where we were going.)
  • The youngest Marquardt turned a year on June 23rd, and big brother James rang in his 3rd birthday on September 1st with a brand new Gator that he( and Dom) love to ride around the farm.
  • I rang in my 31st birthday with a quiet, relaxing day of pampering and dinner with two of my dear friends 🙂


CJ and I celebrated our 7 year anniversary in May by staying at the Embassy Suites for the weekend( kid-free). He won this weekend getaway at a charity auction, which made it even better!


4. I Changed My Business Name

I actually almost quit my web design business. After pouring many hours and late nights into my website launch, officially getting my business started and telling the world about it – something didn’t quite feel right. The initial excitement died and I wasn’t as enthusiastic about it. I got distracted and starting to focus on other business ideas that seemed more appealing at the time.

There were many reasons why I lost the fire for MCC, but the main reason  was because the business I had created was very corporate, very professional – but it didn’t feel like… me. The website was great but it wasn’t attracting the type of clients that I wanted to work with – small business owners and non-profits.

I was stuck in this cycle of fear and indecision and was about to give up when I was presented with an opportunity to speak with a life coach ( Teresa Calpado – you should check her out she is amazing!) She gave me some much needed clarity and reminded me that:

  • I didn’t have to figure everything out today
  • That I just had to pick one idea and focus on that
  • I had to Let Go of the Fear and just Take Action.

A few days later, one of the ideas,  WebSpyred was bought to life. I am 1000 times more excited about WebSpyred than I was about Marquardt Creative Consulting. WebSpyred looks and feels like me( my personality) and I am so excited for what 2014 will bring for my business.

WebSpyred Media

3.Grandma’s Funeral – Jacksons Reunited

My dear sweet Grandma ( Dad’s mom) passed away on September 18th, 2013 and was buried on September 28th in Fayetteville, Georgia. She was 87 years and was a phenomenal matriarch for our family. I was so heartbroken when I found out and even writing this now I have tears in my eyes when I think about her.

So why am I including this as a highlight? Because I think this was Grandma’s and God’s way of bringing our family together. Even though the circumstances were sad and this was a time of grief, a lot of great things happened from this trip

  • I am so grateful that I had the time and the means to fly down to attend her funeral.
  • I am grateful that I got to spend time with my Dad whom I hadn’t seen for a year and a half, and he got to meet his grandson for the first time( Dominic  did quite a bit of travelling with me this year!)
  • I am grateful that I met a new cousin who welcomed me and my son into her home to stay so that I didn’t have the added expense of booking a hotel ( Denise & Allie you guys are awesome and I love you both)
  • I’m grateful that I got to spend time with my brother and sisters.
  • I’m grateful that I got to see and spend time with my aunts, uncles and cousins. Hug them, grieve with them. Catch up on each others lives.
  • I’m grateful for all the memories that I have of my grandmother throughout the years. Bless her for sending me cash and warm clothes in the mail when I was a freshman in college with nothing but island girl wear.

She was an amazing woman and I’m sure when I become a grandma myself( fingers crossed) I will still be talking about her to my children and grandchildren. Her funeral was an emotional day filled with tears, love and lots of laughter and the perfect way to say goodbye (for now) to our matriarch.


Rest In Peace Edna J. We love you, miss you everyday and we know your legacy continues on in all of us.

2. My cousin’s wedding.

My cousin Kirk and I were pretty close when we grew up together in Jamaica. Time and circumstances took our lives in different directions as he moved away to Canada with a lot of other relatives in the late 90s, and I moved to Oregon in 2000 for college.

October of this year I was blessed beyond belief to travel to Jamaica to see my cousin Kirk, meet his(now) wife, and spend an epic weekend with many other cousins, aunts and uncles for the first time in 14 years. My heart was filled with so much joy to be around so much family, and it really took me out of the funk that I had been in since my grandma’s funeral and definitely helped to rejuvenate my spirits.

The wedding was absolutely beautiful – and of course being in my home country at an all-inclusive hotel and eating Jamaican food was just an added bonus.And, I ran into one of my old high school friends at the hotel the day after the wedding ( love you Tracy!).  Since it was a solo trip, the only thing that would have made it better was if CJ and the boys could have been there.


Can you tell I have a big family? And not everyone is here!

And the #1 highlight of my year….

1. Christmas in Florida!

We had a blast. We did all these great things while we were in Florida: went to Legoland, DisneyWorld, rented a lake house, went to the beach, and in general enjoyed the warmer weather. I even got to visit with more cousins while I was in Florida and see a childhood friend of mine from Jamaica.

But by far the most epic and cherished memories of my vacation in Florida was being with my brother and sisters for the first time ever on Christmas morning. This was also my first Christmas with my side of the family in eight years!  It truly doesn’t get any better than this.


And there you have it! My Top Nine Highlights for 2013. A Phenomenal Year to say the least.

In addition to all my family reunions that happened this year, I am also happy and energized that I was able to start( and restart) my web design business. It’s going well so far. I don’t have all the answers figured out yet but the important thing is that the more I take action and put myself out there the more success I have.

Let’s see what 2014 has in store for me.

How about you? What were some of your highlights for 2013 ?