My resolution this year was to avoid my normal 8-pages of well-intentioned resolutions, and that’s been useful since 2022 thus far has been more of the same muck and mire that we’ve all been muddling through since 2020. I gotta be honest, I don’t have time to care about my weight when every day, the world feels more and more like Groundhog Day, but the apocalyptic disaster movie version. Life is too short to give up carbs every January. Bring on the French fries, because Mommy no longer has any superfluous hoots to give.
Put on your safety goggles for this chapter, friends. Vol. 49 of Reflections from the Road is here and it’s a messy one!
NOT A GIRL, NOT YET A WOMAN
The biggest news of all around here is that Rick and I adopted our first placement from foster care. Her name is Kai (pronounced Kay), she’s 17 and more than a handful. Per the judge, we are now officially and legally Kai’s parents, as if she were born to us. We’re on a birth certificate?! What is life?
Adoption day was sweet and joyful. Christmas was fun. And now we’re back to the day-to-day teen dramas, which are as numerous as stars in the sky and as agitating as sand in your swimsuit. Parents of the world, I stand in solidarity with you all. Read more about our foster care journey.
OOPS… I DID IT AGAIN
MORE ADOPTING. Not another human… no, no, no. We got a puppy! Why?! I have no idea! I had a lapse in judgment when I agreed to bring home a 5-month-old rescue we happened to meet at the vet one day. His name is Luke Skywalker and his sister Princess Leia is so patient with his unceasing obnoxious puppy behavior.
And yeah, I know, the timing couldn’t be worse. Potty training is not the ideal project at this time in our lives. However, the good news is – and the reason I’m including here in the Highs section – is I actually love him to pieces. When he’s not acting like a feral hyena, he’s the snuggliest, sweetest little buddy. I didn’t know I would need a therapy dog at this time in my life, but he sure showed up right on time and plopped his fluffy butt right on my pillow.
I LOVE ROCK N ROLL
In case you missed it, Rae and I were thrilled to debut a new episode of THE JET SISTERS filmed in Franklin, Tennessee. It’s my favorite episode of ours yet, and it has all the characteristics of a Hall of Fame JS experience: celebrities, more biscuits than two sisters should reasonably eat, antics, shenanigans, guest appearances, bourbon, surprises and slow-mo camera effects. If you haven’t watched yet, what are you waiting for? Click here to watch THE JET SISTERS FRANKLIN on our YouTube channel or to explore our budget and luxury itineraries for Tennessee’s cutest town.
I turned 40! That doesn’t seem possible since I still feel the same as I did in my 20s. Just much wiser, a bit wider and caring about 96% less what anyone thinks of me. That part is pretty great.
As milestone birthdays go, it did not surpass the last one. You may recall for my 30th I went cage diving with Great White Sharks in South Africa, so doing an escape room with my family was not quite as thrilling. But we did have a very fun day, solving an art heist and throwing axes. (If you want to laugh your head off, please invite my dad to an escape room with you. It is worth every penny.) And I did get spoiled with prezzies from my Amazon wishlist – and surprise! The trampoline I’ve been wanting since I was a kid.
To cap off the celebration, Rick and I popped down to The Bahamas for a quick getaway with only one priority – eat as much conch salad as possible. We nailed that mission with a glamping adventure on Eleuthera, and came home tanner and fatter. It wasn’t a big bucket list blowout, but as far as last minute trips go, it was a winner. We rented the coolest treehouse in the middle of nowhere, where we played chess at night and watched sharks swim by during the day. If I could have a few more weeks like that in the next 90 days, that would be great!
Y’all know I’ve been waving the #FreeBritney flag for years – especially those of you who’ve been unlucky enough to ask me about it only to be subjected to 45 minutes of impassioned ranting on freedom – so I’m happy to report the conservatorship is over and she’s a free woman. This literally has nothing to do with me, but I hope her case is a step in the right direction for conservatorship reform across the US.
There’s very little I can say publicly about our current parenting situation out of respect for everyone’s privacy, but if you peeked in our window anytime over the past few months, you would probably just see Rick and me, wide-eyed, throwing our hands up in the air while saying, “I literally have no idea what to do right now.” We are in uncharted waters, having been thrown into the middle of the ocean with nary a life raft in sight. All I can say is it’s harder than it looks and more challenging than I’ll ever be able to share here.
I’M A SLAVE 4 U
In the grand scheme of *gestures wildly to all this nonsense*, businesses stealing my images isn’t the worst thing that could happen. But as a professional creator, I pay my bills with the content I create – be it photos, words or videos. If you’ve been here a while, you know I am adamant that creators be paid for their work.
One of my favorite hotel’s PR firm used my photos without permission to promote a giveaway. When I sent an invoice for unauthorized use – we had previously discussed price but they declined to purchase – they said, “Oops. We’ve had staff turnover and it was an accident.”
So, I can fight with them over payment (which I could really use right now) for the image on principle, or I can chalk it up to another business either not knowing or not caring how to work with creators. The point is, while I am doing my best to earn a living, there’s always someone trying to get something for free.
Kristin Luna has a fabulously detailed article on this topic on her site.
YOU DRIVE ME CRAZY
At any given moment in my house, there’s probably poo on the floor, fake eyelashes stuck to the coffee table and someone is either barking or yelling “Maaaaaaa” at me. In the past few months, all of our rugs have been destroyed by Skywalker; the majority of our bedding, pillows and carpets have been damaged/ destroyed by lash glue / nail polish / art supplies from the kid(s).
Everything is stained, stinky and wet. Somebody is always breaking something. Or getting into something they’re not supposed to be getting into. Or being sneaky. Strangely, the puppy and the teen are just about equally as naughty and prone to disaster. I am on red alert 24 hours a day for emergencies – and there have been more than I can even recount off the top of my head, for both pup and kid. I’ve been to the hospital and the vet far too much.
For those of you with biological kids, is it really like this for 18 years? And if so, why isn’t every parent institutionalized?
We’re out of space at home, so I’ve been trying to get a permit to put a storage shed on our property since October. The building inspector assigned to us has been nothing short of useless. The shed plans have been pre-approved by the state because it’s a master plan from a builder. And yet, he keeps rejecting the plans for the most ridiculous of reasons.
There’s absolutely no reason this shouldn’t be the easiest stamp of approval in the world… unless there’s more to the story. Remember our drama with our neighbor last year? Something tells me this absurd situation is related to that. I won’t say more here but suffice it to say, maybe it’s not always worth standing up for yourself.
I still believe the whole foster care/adoption thing is our calling. I can’t see much in the way of fruits of our labor yet, but I hope that someday it all makes sense. I’ve been reading through the book of Job this week (I’m reading the whole Bible chronologically this year via The Bible Recap), and I relate to him in new ways. You can know in your heart that God is good and just and faithful, and still feel stuck and forgotten when things just don’t make sense. I’m heartened that our church is taking up foster care as a priority cause this year, because we can use all the encouragement we can get while we walk through this season.
Thanksgiving and Christmas have historically been pretty fun for my family. Yes, there are straight up stupid political disagreements from time to time, but usually we all get along and enjoy one another’s company. I know how blessed I am to get along with the vast majority of my relatives.
This year I had a new insight into the holidays from a broken family perspective, and it made my heart ache for all the people for whom “the most wonderful time of the year” is not that at all. There’s so much pressure to be jolly, but that’s hard to do when you don’t have joyful memories to draw from.
MY ONLY WISH
Our quick and easy backyard project has turned into at least 3x the cost of what we initially planned, due to inflation and unforeseen material costs. We’re going on 4 months with nothing but dirt in the backyard – a real adventure when you have two rambunctious dogs, let me tell you. My earnest prayer is that this thing is done by the end of January so I can sit outside with my coffee in the morning and scream quietly into an outdoor pillow.
We can make our plans but God determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9
FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY BROKEN HEART
Everyone’s asking when we’re getting more kids, and I have to be honest, we have no idea what comes next. After some time, we may be ready to welcome more placements. Right now, we need a break to heal and recover. You’ll be the first to know if and when more kiddos arrive.
While we’ve got just one kid in the house and we’re not actively accepting foster placements, I’m taking on as much writing and blog maintenance as I can in an attempt to catch up on the last 6 months of inconsistency. You may have noticed I’m barely posting anymore, on Instagram or this site. Things have really fallen apart on the back end, so I need to do some major clean up to get back on track. If you want to support this endeavor, click around on the site for a while. It’ll put actual $ in my bank account, something that’ll really help as I pay for repairs to the site.
I WANNA GO
I miss traveling whenever I feel like it so very much, but I’m grateful for the home I have during this transitional time. I don’t think there will ever be a day when I’m not daydreaming about snorkeling in the Bahamas or hiking in Kauai or frolicking in Arizona… still, I am hopeful that there are some more flights and destinations and projects on the agenda in the next couple months. My intention is to do more travel for fun this year, and only take on campaigns I’m really jazzed about, so let’s see how that shakes out over the next 90 days.
This update has been more of a downer than I intended, so I’m sorry to pile on. If I’ve learned anything in the past few years it’s that just about everyone you meet is dealing with more than you know, from Britney Spears down to the foster kids from the wrong side of the tracks, so all we can really do is be kind and understanding with each other in the midst of it all. Wishing you an easy, breezy 2022 with more laughs than tears and more fun than failure. Thanks for sticking it out with me all these years!
Are you more-than-ready for 2022 and some precedented times? Or was 2021 good to you?
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