Every month, I hope to say things have gotten better, but we’re still in medical limbo over here. More on that in a minute. And then there was the tornado that stripped our backyard of trees and privacy at the beginning of the month. Still, December was a good month for client projects, photography gigs and murals, so let’s start with the positive first, shall we?
In December, I spent just four nights out of town: one in Atlanta for a five-hour Taylor Swift dance party, which was definitely a highlight of the year, and the other three in Texas. I also got to have a whole lot of Christmas fun with the kiddos, from Breakfast with Santa to dance parties at my cozy, very lit house.
There’s a new mural in Tullahoma! Without a doubt, the best part of December was our nonprofit’s new mural, Rainn, painted by the incomparable Mobe, with whom we’ve worked on several projects now. This piece depicts Mobe’s one-year-old son Rainn, a heart warrior born with CHD, reading his favorite children’s book in a piece designed to promote literacy and the great work The Book Shelf does. You can find this mural and all the ones we’ve done via our mural map.
Ascend Federal Credit Union and Tennessee Arts Commission sponsored this project, and we’re in love with every bit of it. We can’t help but think this is the most adorable mural yet! And the fact that Mobe completed this piece (with the help of his pal Folek) with this level of detail in TWO DAYS is just mind-boggling.
Walls for Women was featured in the Daily Yonder. I loved speaking with fellow journalist Kristi Eaton about why murals are important to rural communities. I was also a guest on the Yonder Report podcast.
I got to end the year with a few photography projects for families and brands I love. From Jack Daniel’s to all the adorable kiddos and their parents who I got to photograph this year, it was a fun time behind the lens indeed. For 2022, I’m working on building out a separate family photography site to showcase all these sweet portrait sessions.
The rest of us got boosted. SVV, Mom and I got our booster back in October before our winter Iceland trip, but Dad was still in the hospital then (he finally got his cast off this week!), and he and Kari went in this week to get their third shot. We are determined to not let Omicron step foot in any of our houses!
We sold Myrtle! Remember the investment property we bought about five years ago? We’ve been sitting on it trying to figure out what to do with it and decided to list it this year. It sold at the very end of the year with our closing in two weeks. We plan to put the profit in savings and potentially invest in something else down the road after we refinance the Cedar House, which is also on our early-2022 to-do list.
We still do own the Victorian and are in year three of a long-term lease with an excellent tenant, so hoping that continues indefinitely, and both of our Nashville condos are rented out through this time next year (they’re both furnished extended stays, so we mostly get professors, doctors and students studying abroad at Vanderbilt as renters).
We fostered the cutest kitten. One day, SVV looked out the window and a small cat was just strolling through the lawn. He went and opened the door, and he came right in. We dubbed him Sazerac, and he’s the sweetest little thing that someone likely dumped (*tear*). After two weeks here, he left yesterday for a trial basis with my BFF Katy in hopes she’s his furever home. I miss him already!
I snuck away to Austin! My college/life bestie Lemon turned the big 4-0 this month, and her husband had been planning a vax-required surprise party since spring. Against all odds, I made it there on Sunday in time for the big dinner, then stayed through Wednesday so I’d get to spend some one-on-one time with her.
This is us at my wedding (she officiated) since I manage to get zero photos of the two of us together!
This was the month we fell apart. Luckily, none of us had the virus, but Mac getting RSV and a stomach bug in November meant me getting it shortly after—it took about three weeks to get over, too—and then Charlotte and Josh getting sick, as well. I feel like the kids have been out of school more than they have been in this year!
Then, Mom got pneumonia, which at 72 is a scary thing. She’s OK now, nearly a month later, but still has a lingering cough. If we could just get through this month without the kids getting some weird virus then passing it around to half the family, I’ll consider it a win!
A tornado tore through our backyard. We’re so lucky compared to the damage neighborhoods near us sustained, but lightning bolts and heavy winds took down four big trees, a couple of them white oak. Two are still laying on their side across our backyard and into the neighbors’—the trees took out their fence while they were at it.
Since insurance doesn’t cover tree removal, we’ve been biding our time doing a little work here and there as SVV feels up to it, then we’re going to have a tree removal company come and get the bulk of it. Given that our house was struck by lightning in August—and at least two trees split by bolts in December—and the house also hit by a tornado that same week in 2016, I’m not believing this “lightning doesn’t strike twice” adage one bit.
SVV is still feeling miserable. The problem with the VA system is how you’re jerked around within it; he’s seen at least five doctors, all of whom have prescribed a different course of treatment for his undiagnosed chronic illness. One will put him on one medication paired with a low FODMAP diet, while the next will say that’s all wrong and he needs to be on no carbs/starches entirely and a strict supplement and probiotic plan.
Part of the reason we’re likely in this mess is because of a misdiagnosis almost four months ago—he was initially diagnosed with and treated for C.diff—which killed all the good bacteria in his microbiome. He’s currently signed up to be a part of some different studies, because if we’re not going to get answers or attention from the VA, it’s time to take more serious action.
But this, paired with my dad’s failing health, has dominated much of the second half of our year. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be in so much pain you can’t get out of bed most days, and it’s affecting his quality of life (not to mention our work and more). I’m going to believe that January is our month of answers. New year, new health diagnosis?