A Look Back at 2018 December 26, 2018 Before this year even began, Chip and I had an idea in our minds of what 2018 was going to be like. We had recently announced that season five of Fixer Upper would be our last, mainly because our hearts and our bodies were telling us it was time for a break, and we knew we needed to take some time to simply rest and refuel. Well, only two days into the new year we shared the news that we were expecting baby number five. And just like that, Chip and I knew that 2018 was going to look a lot different than anything we had imagined. Now, as the year nears its end, it’s easy for me to see how the real-life version we ended up living was far better than what we had envisioned. In January, Chip started training for the Silo District Marathon, which we hosted for the first time right here in Waco. We joked throughout his training that as he was losing weight and getting fit, I was gaining weight, growing ever more pregnant. Even though Chip was the only one training, it really became a family event. When he would go on one of his long early morning runs, the kids would write him sweet notes the night before and leave them out for him to find. Then we’d make it a point to be waiting on the front porch for him when he got back. As soon as he would come into sight running up the road, the kids would all head to the end of the driveway to “finish” the run with him. The marathon itself was an incredible experience, watching people from all over the world come together to run this race they’d been training for. The day was special in so many ways. Chip ran all 26.2 miles, and our kids, close friends and family ran different legs of the race right alongside him. Chip’s initial inspiration for running a marathon was Gabe Grunewald, who he met in New York City. She’s a professional runner, and continues to run even in the midst of her battle with cancer. When we hosted the Marathon here in Waco, it was to help support the Brave Like Gabe Foundation, an organization that supports rare cancer research. We are thrilled to be hosting the Silo District Marathon again this coming April! In the spring we opened our restaurant, Magnolia Table and I released my first cookbook of the same name. Seeing those projects come to life was a dream realized for our family. For us, it’s not just about recipes or eating out at a restaurant, but time spent around the table sharing a meal together. Being intentional about these everyday moments was the heart behind both of these projects. In late spring, Chip took the girls to Northern Uganda to visit Restoration Gateway, an organization that helps provide education, healthcare and loving homes to hundreds of orphans in that region. All these months later, the girls are still talking about the friends they made and how they can’t wait to go back again. It was such a transformational experience for them to see this part of the world with their own eyes and get to serve alongside their dad to see the good work RG is doing. This was a particularly meaningful trip for them to take with Chip right before baby Crew came along, and I know it was one they’ll never forget. Crew was an active baby throughout my pregnancy, which is why it shouldn’t have come as such a surprise when he arrived 2 ½ weeks early this summer. One of the sweetest memories of the whole year was Chip grabbing the hospital bags and all of us piling into the car to head to the hospital as a family—knowing that I was in labor. In my past pregnancies the kids were too little to understand what was really going on, much less ride with us to the hospital. But this time, each of them knew fully that we were about to become a family of seven. This was one of my favorite photos from the evening that a friend sent to me after Crew was born. Each of them had their designated spot right next to the door listening and waiting. They didn’t have to wait long, as Crew’s entrance into the world was a speedy one and it seemed like just minutes later they were filing into the room to meet their new baby brother. What I’ve loved about this season with a newborn is how it’s prompted all of us to pause more often in the everyday. It’s like Crew is slowing down time for all of us, and mostly all I feel is grateful. The week after Crew was born happened to be the same week that the manuscript for my design book, Homebody, was due. I really thought he would come on his due date like the others did, so I assumed we had plenty of time to finish up the book. But in true “Jo fashion,” I like to push things to the very last minute. Looking back on that time, it seems a little crazy, but in reality, Crew’s arrival really gave me the final inspiration I needed to finish that project strong, and with a renewed sense of clarity and purpose. Home is where I’m the most inspired, and with Crew by my side, I felt that even more. When Homebody officially released in November, it felt more surreal than anything else I’ve done in my career. I had been working on it for more than three years, and putting it out there for the world to see was a vulnerable moment for me. More than anything else, I wanted it to fully articulate my heart for what home means—that it’s not about perfection or high design. To me, learning how to tell your story throughout your home is how you make it a place that feels significant and personal to everyone who lives there. Toward the end of summer, our family took a trip to New Mexico and Arizona to get away and unwind. Chip wanted to be “on the road,” so a road trip it was. He ended up making so many stops throughout the drive that the trip almost doubled in length. On top of all the pit stops, he tried to find every backroad he could by intentionally driving where the map told him not to drive. Naturally, the drive took two or three times longer than it should have, but all of our adventures along the way made it that much more worthwhile—the way Chip approached our whole trip speaks volumes about the kind of person he is. For him, the reward wasn’t necessarily in the destination, but in taking the time to discover new places and find “hidden treasures” along the way. And even though our trip went a little long, Chip’s adventurous mindset was a refreshing reminder to enjoy the journey. (In Santa Fe, New Mexico) For a quick weekend trip at the beginning of October, Chip surprised us by taking the whole family to New Mexico for the annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. He grew up in Albuquerque going with his family, and he has always wanted the kids to see it. Watching hundreds of hot air balloons floating against the sunrise was nothing short of magical. I don’t think any of us will ever forget it! This October at Silobration, we celebrated 15 years as a company. Every year, this event reminds me of the beginning and where it all started for us. That small dream and spark of passion has proven time and time again that the sky’s the limit if you are willing to take the leap. Just last month, when we were promoting the release of Homebody in New York, we (and by we, I mean Chip) shared some news about the possibility of a television network in our future. While that opportunity is not a done deal and we are still in the initial stages, we’re thrilled about the chance to get to inspire people in different ways, whether it be through design, cooking, entrepreneurialism, arts and entertainment or family. Stay tuned for more on this in the new year! As I sit here and reflect on 2018, I can see how the past twelve months could very well look like the opposite of rest to a lot of people. But the change in rhythm that Crew has brought to our family, and the margin we created in order to identify what things we are most passionate about ended up giving us the rest and re-envisioning that we were looking for. We’re ending this year with hearts full of gratitude, and even though we’re not completely sure what 2019 will hold, we’re expectant with eyes wide open. Chip and I both want to wish you and your family a beautiful and happy New Year. May this new year allow for unexpected turns and surprises along the way. Here’s to enjoying the journey in 2019!