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A Low-Key Christmas and Our Annual Recap

Posted on January 5, 2024 by under Life, Pickleball.    


Brian and I had a pretty low-key Christmas. I barely even took any pics. His parents came up from Oklahoma on Christmas Eve and then went home the day after Christmas. Instead of doing a traditional “Noche Buena” at mom and dad’s, we opted to get together for lunch. It was nice. We had lots of Filipino food thanks to Manny, who loves to cook also.

I ordered this game called Blank Slate because I absolutely loved it when we played it at Susie’s a couple of weeks ago. I brought it to mom and dad’s and we played a couple of rounds after lunch. Everyone loved it too. It’s so fun!

We had a quiet Christmas Eve dinner at our house with Brian’s parents. The next morning, Brian and his dad went to pick up grandma and the five of us celebrated Christmas Day together. Christmas Day lunch was also subdued. We ordered a holiday feast package from Hello Fresh and it worked out great. They pretty much sent us everything we needed for a nice charcuterie board and also a hefty prime rib meal. For dessert, I got this amazing cake from Prost.


We ate some of it on Christmas Eve but, as mom also ordered ube cake, we barely made a dent. We ate some on Christmas Day but we still had a crap ton left. I had been eating all week until I finally accepted that I wasn’t going to be able to eat the rest of it all by myself. I took what was left (a little over half) to Jeff Bally’s on Saturday when we played pickleball and we ate some of it while we played. There was a small piece left and my friend Zach Nguyen took it home.

I’m glad none of it went to waste because that would have made me really sad. This is seriously the best cake that I’ve had in a while. After having a slice of it at lunch a couple of weeks ago, I decided I needed a whole one because I wanted everyone to try it. #SharingIsCaring

I took time off work between Christmas and New Year’s and that week went by pretty quickly (much like all of 2023) but Brian and I were actually quite productive. We’ve both always hated the way our kitchen faucet looks so we decided to finally replace it. I had no idea kitchen faucets were so expensive! We found a $200 one at Lowe’s that we were happy with and then Brian got to work.


Here’s the before and after.


Installing the new faucet wasn’t too bad but getting the old one off was super tricky. We almost gave up partway through. But Brian persevered and now the kitchen looks much better. Who knew simply replacing your faucet could make such a difference? And I had no idea that a measly $200 faucet would bring me so much joy — more joy than any other gift could have given me.

I shouldn’t be so surprised though, because “acts of service” is my primary love language. And, replacing the faucet was not easy, nor did Brian enjoy it so this act is very much appreciated.

And now for our annual recap…

For the past couple of years (maybe more) my life has pretty much revolved around pickleball so it should come as no surprise that there as a lot of pickleball played in 2023. I did resolve to cut back on pickleball tournaments but, because I don’t know how to say no to anything (and I have major FOMO), I somehow still played in over 20 tournaments last year. They were mostly regional tournaments within driving distance so I spent about $5,000 less on tournaments than I did in 2022 when I traveled all over the country and played in 24.

The Oklahoma City Life Time hosts a Picklemania tournament about four times a year and I played in two of them last year.

The US Open is Naples is probably the most prestigious tournament I have ever played in and, this past year, I got to compete in five events! We had a big group go this year, including mom and dad, so that made it even more fun.

The other memorable tournaments this year are:

  • Mid-South RegionalI really wasn’t planning on playing in this one but Casey Dominguez who I played with in the January Picklemania wanted to play in it and I wanted to play with him so I squeezed it in.
  • APP CincinnatiThis was my attempt to earn a golden ticket for 2023 USA Pickleball National Championships for mixed doubles. I earned my golden tickets for women’s doubles and women’s singles at the Diamond Amateur Championships in Florida in 2022, but Ramon Lozano and I only got silver in mixed so I didn’t earn a mixed golden ticket.
  • Tulsa Pickleball ClassicThis tournament isn’t really a qualifier for anything, unlike the golden ticket tournaments or the regional tournaments that feed the Diamond Amateur Championships but it was on my list because Tanner Rice wanted to do it. Anyway, he ended up getting hurt so I played this one with a blind date, Mo Luqman instead.
  • PPA Kansas City OpenThis was another attempt at getting my mixed golden ticket. Due to another injury, I ended up with another blind date which is always disappointing but Kendra Wicks (one of my pickleball daughters and also my women’s doubles partner for Nationals) used both the Tulsa tournament and this one to get some tournament practice so I can’t say that it was a complete waste. Although I didn’t earn a golden ticket at this tournament, because of the cancellations and the mess of the whole tournament, they ended up giving EVERYONE golden tickets so I got my spot for mixed doubles after all.
  • Bartlesville Fall ClassicThis is a tournament hosted by my friend Kumar Krishnan. It is run super well and you get three events, a tournament shirt, and lunch included with your entry fee. They also have prize money at all levels. This is one of those tournaments that I highly recommend to everyone because it is not only fun but also a great value.
  • NEO Shangri-La OpenThis is a smaller regional tournament that is a fundraiser for one of the universities in Oklahoma. It is also hosted by Kumar so you know it is well-organized. One of my favorite things about this tournament is the beautiful resort setting. It’s just an amazing environment and I love that we have something like this within driving distance of Wichita.
  • USA Pickleball National ChampionshipsIt’s been one of my long-running goals (since I started playing in tournaments) to compete at Nationals. It was supposed to be at Indian Wells in California but they changed it to Brookhaven Country Club in Dallas, Texas. This is probably the biggest tournament I have ever participated in. My mixed doubles division had 80 teams registered!
  • ICT Summer ClassicThis is a much smaller tournament compared to the other ones on this list but it will forever hold a special place in my heart because, many years ago, this tournament was the first ever real tournament I played in. Also, I think the 2023 ICT Summer Classic is Kayla Keuter’s very last one because she didn’t have the ICT Fall-out tournament last year and, the last time we spoke, it seemed like she wasn’t interested in hosting any more of these in the future (which makes me really sad).

Besides these bigger tournaments, I also played in and hosted a bunch of DUPR events (both on my own and through iPickle Nation), and I played and helped with a bunch of local tournaments (some of which were charity events to raise money for my favorite social agencies):


And then I had two Minor League Pickleball events this year — one I played in (Chicken N Pickle Ambassador MiLP) and one that I helped organize (MiLP at Crestview Country Club). MiLPs are team tournaments and it probably my most favorite competition format. I highly recommend playing in one of these if you’ve never tried it. They are a blast!

I also had several friends have pickleball birthday parties (Molly Sager, Susie Ternes, Ramon Lozano, Katie Merrill, Alice Tunks-Jones) which I guess is the thing to do here in Wichita. The girls even threw me a birthday surprise at one of our pickleball sessions.

Speaking of birthdays, I threw Brian a rum tasting party this year as a belated birthday present. He loves rum so it was perfect. I totally patted myself on the back for that one. Anyway, so much has happened this year more than just pickleball (helping with the NPL tournament at Chicken N Pickle, pickleball Christmas parties)… Brian and I had our first colonoscopies (yes, we are officially THAT age)… We started Hello Fresh so we could eat at home more (we are still using the service and really like it so far)… We did our annual Shock N’ Clause breakfast with our travel friends… It has been quite a year and I am thankful to each and everyone of you who helped make every moment of 2023 a memorable one. Happy New Year!

Related Stories

  • Middle States Diamond Regional on July 6, 2022
  • Looking Back at 2021 on January 27, 2022
  • Highlights from an Epic Pickleball Tournament on April 25, 2024
  • Tournament Recap – OKC Picklemania on August 14, 2023
  • iPN Wichita Winterfest on February 12, 2024

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