My last family update was August 2020, and a lot has happened since then! My husband is still working as a database administrator and he is still completely addicted to mountain biking. He's also started a couple of side hustles, including a T-shirt shop related to biking called Shreddy Threads.
I'm still volunteering as the Executive Director for WAY Alliance (the nonprofit I founded in 2018 and through which we met first adopted child, Logen). However, I'm hoping to find someone who would like to take over the reins of that nonprofit soon (so if you know of anyone in the DFW area, please let me know!). I started graduate school in June 2021 in the Marriage and Family Therapy program. I transferred programs in March so that I could be in a program that was NOT fully online, and I hope to be all finished up in May of 2024.
So what are the other changes in our family since August 2020? In October 2020, we adopted our daughter Jaeyla who was 17 at the time. She was one of the mentees in our WAY Alliance program.
Then in January 2021, we adopted Jaeyla's 21-year-old sister, Kirstie…and that made us instant grandparents! Kirstie's daughter Ellie is a great introduction to grandparenting for us!
We met Ellie for the first time when she was only 10 months old, and she is now 2.5-years-old, talking up a storm, and she's a bundle of energy! My grandma name is Grammar (no surprise there!) and my husband's grandpa name is Yondu (yes, he's a total nerd).
Kirstie and Ellie lived with us for about ten months, but then they moved into her very own house with her new husband, Jon. (So that now makes me a mother-in-law too!).
In July of 2021, because COVID shut down Jaeyla's hopes of attending a prom, we held a prom at our home with our family and the family of Joely's boyfriend Matthew who are great friends. We even had a bounce house!
Now I'll give you a rundown of what the kids are all doing now. Here's a photo of our family of eight so you know who I'm referring to!
Jaden's first job was Chick-fil-A when he was 16, and he ended up becoming the Director of Operations for his store a couple years ago. He finally resigned on January 1, 2022 and moved into a warehousing job that he really enjoys and which has just a teensy weensy bit less stress!
He discovered powerlifting in March of 2021 which has totally changed his life…and body. As you can see, the formerly scrawny boy is not so scrawny anymore! He's really enjoying the challenge and has even competed in a couple of powerlifting tournaments. He's currently dating a wonderful young lady who also worked at CFA with him (and yes, that means he was her boss!).
Jerah has had quite a struggle since August 2020. She had moved out on her own in Feburary 2020, but due to COVID and a variety of other issues, she had a really hard time with her employement. Her health was also a HUGE issue, and even though she ended up returning to school in August of 2020, she had to drop out of both the fall and spring semesters.
Dropping out of the spring semester was mostly due to her recovery from a surgery she had in February of 2021. For years she had been having extreme problems with what appeared to be endometriosis, and since she has never wanted to have biological children (she has so many health issues she doesn't want to pass down and she has always wanted to adopt), she ended up finding an awesome OBGYN who was willing to perform a hysterectomy.
She had the surgery in February, and her doctor was a little confused because during the surgery, it appeared that Jerah only had mild endometriosis. However, after they biopsied her uterus, the discovered that she had severe adenomyosis, which is like endometriosis on steroids! Had Jerah even ended up pregnant someday (if she even could!), her pregnancy would have been extremely painful, more painful than anything she'd experience up to that point. So we are SO thankful that this doctor was willing to perform the hysterectomy. It was definitely needed! What is also good, is that the hysterectomy seemed to alleviate several other issues Jerah had been experiencing, including cold intolerance and her POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome). Jerah has not regretted the hysterectomy for even one second, and neither have any of the rest of us.
When Kirstie moved out in June 2021, Jerah moved back in with us in our new home and she is planning to stay here until she is done with her undergrad. She is again back in school and doing very well. She is working on finishing up her Associate of Arts in Teaching right now at our local community college (which she'll be done with at the end of the summer), then she'll return to the university to finish up her undergrad degree in child development. After graduation, she'll be getting her alternative teaching certification and obtaining a job as a public school kindergarten teacher. She then hopes to pursue a masters and eventually a doctorate in child development.
Kirstie just completed her bachelor's degree in social work and is working at a battered women's shelter as a case manager. She will working on her masters in social work in the upcoming school year.
Logen moved back in with us in October of 2020, right after we adopted Jaeyla. He started attending automotive tech school in summer of 2021 and is now working at a local mechanic shop and loving every minute of it. We also LOVE having our own personal mechanic who doesn't charge for labor. We instead pay him in tools, room, and board!
Joely is working on finishing up an associates degree in human resources management while working as a pizza delivery driver (which she loves and which pays really good money!). This fall she'll be transferring to the same university I'm attending to finish up a bachelor's degree in professional development (concentrating on human resources management). Then she'll be working on a masters in human resources management.
Joely has been dating Matthew (whom our family adores!) since summer of 2020. He attends college in Michigan but will be graduating in May 2023.
Jaeyla bought her own car in the summer of 2020, then got her license in October of 2021. Since then she has been working as a barista for a local coffee shop while homeschooling her senior year.
She was interviewed for a local news station in November of 2021 and ending up being the focus of a several-minute segment on the evening news about her experience in foster care. That was a unique experience for sure!
Jaeyla just graduated from high school a couple of weeks ago which is a huge accomplishment for her, especially since she moved in with us at the end of her sophomore year with VERY few credits due to her stint in foster care and multiple placements all over the state. She is still unsure what she wants to pursue as a career (although she'd eventually like to be able to work with adolescents who have experienced trauma), so she's taking some time right now to continue working, save money, and spend time with her boyfriend.