Last August, I shared about how, almost immediately after starting a nonprofit for mentoring foster youth, we (unexpectedly) met and promptly adopted our son Logen who had aged out of foster care. My husband had just changed careers, my oldest daughter was in the process of moving out on her own, we were in the process of getting licensed to foster/adopt more teens, and we were building a home that was more conducive for doing just that.
So what's happened to the Five J's in the last 12 months?
I'm still working as a graphic designer, mostly doing things for authors like book cover design and interior layout. I'm still working as the volunteer Executive Director for my nonprofit WAY Alliance, but the COVID lockdowns have really made things difficult for our mentors to meet with their youth, so it's been an ongoing struggle for the last 5 months or so. We are currently working on raising funds to help some of our youth get their drivers licenses by providing them with professional driving school hours so they can practice behind the wheel.
My husband is still working as a Database Administrator and is still completely addicted to mountain biking. He's even gotten an indoor trainer so he can bike indoors when it's too hot outside. He's also working as the audio engineer at our church in addition to still doing some book design work for me—so yes, that's three jobs! His latest new hobby is gardening, and he's trying his hand in particular at chaos gardening. He also just completed building a new deck off our back door which we absolutely love!
We moved into our new home in February, and we absolutely love it! We were FINALLY licensed to foster/adopt in March (after 9 months of ridiculousness and our making reports to the state licensing authority about some no-so-above-board practices in the licensing process that we encountered), and our 17-year-old foster daughter—whom we also met through WAY Alliance—promptly moved in officially. We should be adopting her next month—and she already had a J-name!! What was also super cool is that she was able to choose which bedroom she wanted even before the house was finished. She's an awesome kid and we are so blessed to have her as part of our family.
My oldest son Jaden is now the Senior Director at his Chick-fil-A. He still loves his job and is working like a beast and building up his savings account.
My oldest daughter Jerah successfully moved into her own apartment in February and is working full-time as a nanny for the most awesome family ever (read "they're geeks just like her!"). As I mentioned in my last update post, she had to withdraw from college in the spring of 2019 due to some health issues, but her health is now much better and she's registered for this upcoming Fall semester as a full-time student. She'll still be working full-time as a nanny, so she's chosen hybrid classes that will make it easier for her schedule. She's still working toward a Child Development bachelor degree, but she's focusing first on an Associate of Arts in Teaching for early childhood. She's an absolutely awesome teacher, and while her ultimate goal is to get a PhD in Child Development, I can totally see her in the meantime working as a teacher of young kids—probably Kindergarten age or so—in some capacity.
Logen spent this last year in welding school while living about 45 minutes away in his own apartment. That was a really tough transition for him, but he's survived and has earned some welding certifications that will allow him to secure a good-paying job. He purchased a small truck last spring and FINALLY got his drivers license last week after a nearly three-month fiasco with the Texas drivers licensing division because of the changes with COVID and the local drivers license offices being closed. He'll be moving out of his apartment in a couple weeks (on his 20th birthday), and the next chapter of his life will begin. He's not exactly sure where he's ultimately going to end up yet housing-wise or job-wise, so he's got a lot of changes and decisions to make very shortly.
My youngest daughter Joely graduated from high school after doing a year of dual credit through our local community college. For the last year while she was taking only dual credit classes, I thought I might be done with homeschooling. But that was not to be.
Just a week or so after our new daughter moved this last March, the COVID lockdowns happened, and because of a that—and a variety of other circumstances—we will be homeschooling her through the rest of her high school career. So here we go again! I'm elbow-deep in curriculum again! (The pic below is Jerah teaching our new daughter how to prepare a particular recipe—part of her culinary arts course!)
Speaking of Joely, she has changed her mind slightly again about her career goals. Previously she'd wanted to pursue music therapy, and she still does want to stay in the music field, but she is considering instead focusing on worship ministry. She's chosen to take the next year off school, focus on guitar and voice lessons, study some apologetics and work on her faith, get licensed to be an insurance agent, and work on building her financial foundation so that she is more prepared to start (and pay for) college full-time next fall.
The pic below is from her llama-themed graduation party in June. We don't do caps and gowns in our family for graduation. But we DO do sparkly tiaras, crazy t-shirts, and multiple choice "Joely Quizzes".
So that's where we are. The Five J's are now the Six J's plus an L! I can't even imagine what next August will look like for us.