2021: A Year in Review

Even though 2021 wasn’t a normal year by any means, it was certainly better than 2020!  Today I thought I’d look back on the past year and share some highlights from each month as well as some of the things that happened that I’m proud of professionally, as a family, and personally.

My word of the year for 2021 was “Intentional” (full blog post on that here), and overall I’d say I did a pretty good job of sticking with that.  The main areas I wanted to be more intentional were with my fitness, meal planning, business, marriage, and my faith.

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My fitness dedication ebbed and flowed a bit by I ended the year on a strong note, completing 2 of the GlowBodyPT plans (blog post here) and feeling better and stronger than I have since having my third child 2 years ago.  I’m excited to tackle a new GlowBodyPT plan in the new year!  Code WHIMSY10 is my GlowBodyPT discount code for y’all to use and it works on all of her paid plans.  GlowBodyPT workouts make me feel strong, capable, and they give me a better mindset and more patience with my children.

With meal planning, I started the year off strong but struggled to keep it going.  Jack’s palate has really expanded this year and I attribute that to being (occasionally) more intentional about offering him different things he wouldn’t normally go for.  I still rotate through chicken nuggets, frozen pizza, and spaghetti each week but the kids have learned that they like ground Korean beef bowls (pictured above), ground turkey tacos and some other things now, so at least we have a couple more options than we did in 2020.  This will be a focus moving forward into 2022 as well.

cheerios + operation homefront at walmart

The area I showed the most intentionality is in my business.  Most days, I used my 3 hours of alone time on school days to focus on blogging and social media posts, and my content and partnerships for 2021 shows that.  I work hard to be authentic and build a community that trusts what I share, and I’m so thankful for your trust and I don’t take it for granted.  It still amazes me that this hobby turned into a job that enables me to stay home with my kids while also paying bills and saving for our future (we plan to buy our first house this year!).  My mindset switch from “this is a hobby” to “this needs to be a real job” really helped  me focus on content and growth.  In 2021 I organically grew my audience on Instagram by about 3.3k and the number of blog sessions and users increased significantly.  A lot of the traffic came from more strategic Pinterest activity (something I outsourced last year) and organic Google searches (due to being more intentional about SEO and key word usage) for topics like Dudley Stephens, Madison-Mathews, switching to clean deodorant, my Trader Joe’s Ahi Poke Bowl, how to wear faux leather leggings, and GlowBodyPT.  I worked on a number of paid campaigns including brands like Walmart, Thomas Lee Sheets, Tupelo Honey Cafe, Cheerios, Jenzy, and The Everymom.  I figured out how to strategically and authentically grow my LTK and Amazon earnings through affiliate links, and I continued sharing my love of Beautycounter as a consultant.  My aim isn’t to say “everyone needs every single thing I share” but my aim is to share the things that I find helpful that I truly like, kind of like a girlfriend you trust for recommendations.  I try to weed through Amazon stuff so you don’t have to, and I’m very intentional about what I share. While I do need the commission I earn from affiliate links to pay bills and for the girls’ school, I try to be really deliberate about rewearing things and sharing things that I truly do think are worth purchasing- if it’s something you need.  The thing I’m the most proud of though is that I finally set up my business as an LLC and hired an accountant to help me get my business set up properly.  I got a handle on business and personal taxes and started a SEP IRA to save for retirement, all thanks to the guidance of my incredible accountant Rocco Tundo.  He has given me confidence in my business and it’s the most amazing feeling.  That confidence has allowed me chase my dreams unabashedly, knowing that I’m doing everything properly on the back end side of things.  I have big plans for 2022!  While I am proud of how my business grew this past year, I still have lots of room for improvement and know that I really need to be better about consistency, especially on the blog.  That’s a goal for 2022!  (And if you have a small business and need an accountant I can’t recommend Rocco enough.)

As for marriage and family life, Tom and I finally found a babysitter that we have now used a few times.  We need to hire her more often because it’s so easy to forget to make each other a priority.  And if you’ve never gone on a day date, I highly recommend it!  You get full use out of your babysitter because your kids are actually awake, and you don’t have to stay up too late.  That’s our favorite type of date these days!  I’m proud that Tom and I were able to work together and pay off our van 2 years early.  It’s so nice not having a car payment and the earnings from my business helped me tackle the principle while he paid the monthly principle and interest payments.  We have chosen to only have one vehicle since Tom can currently commute via metro.  It’s not always the easiest if the kids have activities or if Tom needs the car for something, but it’s a choice that has worked well for us this past ~2 years.

automatic watering system - amazon watering kit - potted plants - gardening tips - diy watering system - boxwoods - hanging boston ferns - flower box planning - craftsman front porch

Personally, I’m proud that I stepped out of my comfort zone in a number of areas.  I joined a running group in January and it has become a welcomed weekly appointment to help my sanity and get some quality miles in with great company.  I also picked up tennis this fall, which is something I was very nervous about doing because I did not grow up playing tennis.  I learned to garden and had a quite fruitful raised bed this summer.  I also installed an automatic watering system for my hanging and potted plants on the porch and the raised bed and it was such a game changer!

Here are some other highlights by month:

January:  Tom and I spent New Years in Charleston, the kids started weekly swimming lessons, and the kids’ had their first ever snow day after living most of their lives in Hawaii!

February: Tate started walking at 14 months old.  We went on a hike at Great Falls.

classic style spring

March: The kids and I discovered a Civil War fort near our house called Fort C.F. Smith and the camellia in front of our house finally bloomed for the first time since we moved in.

April: I weaned Tate after nursing for 15 months.  It was bittersweet knowing that this phase of motherhood was coming to a close!  We spent Easter at Fripp Island, SC.  Jack and Caroline started playing soccer.

May: Jack graduated from preschool, and I cut my hair significantly shorter than it’s been in years and I don’t think I’ll ever wear it super long again.  We spent some time in Atlanta with family and visited the Georgia Aquarium.

June: We spent time at Fripp Island, SC and Tom and I had a little getaway to Charleston.  We explored DC in the summer and went to the Yards, Georgetown, and the National Mall.

July:  We spent the 4th of July at the Fort Belvoir Officers’ Club swimming pool, my dear friend from our 2011-2012 Hawaii days visited us at Fripp Island and brought her son and daughter.  It was wonderful watching out children become friends too!  My parents sold my childhood home in the Atlanta area and I helped them go through 27 years worth of keepsakes that they held onto.  It was sad to say goodbye to a big part of my childhood but I’m excited for my parents to start their next chapter on Fripp Island full time!

August:  Tom and I went to the Bahamas for a quick getaway and then we all drove from DC to Maine to visit Tom’s family.  We stopped in NYC on the drive back south and it was a lot of fun showing the kids the big city and visiting some friends!  Jack started Kindergarten!

September: Caroline turned 4 years old, Tate started Parents’ Day Out (her first school experience), Caroline started Pre-K.  Jack started taking weekly tennis lessons and Caroline started weekly gymnastics classes.

October:  Tom and I surprised Jack and Caroline with a visit to Disney on Ice.  It was MAGICAL!  Tom and I celebrated our 7th anniversary.

November:  Jack turned 6 years old, we spent Thanksgiving at home with just our family of 5 and ate Thanksgiving dinner at Army Navy Country Club.

December:  We went to Brunch with Santa, Tom and I took Jack to NYC for the weekend for the the Army Navy game.  We also ice skated at Rockerfeller Center, explored Central Park, and attended some gold star family events.  Tate turned 2 years old and we learned that she does not like it when we sing happy birthday to her…just like her sister. We spent Christmas at Fripp Island and visited family in Georgia.

I appreciate all of you who have read my posts, followed me on social media, taken the time to comment or tell your friends about my feed, or shopped using my affiliate links.  This job is such a joy for me and I am so thankful for this opportunity to share my life here on the internet.  Cheers to 2022!

Katie Vail
Katie Vail

Find me on: Web | Instagram | Facebook



  1. Kara
    January 11, 2022 / 11:48 am

    Looks like you’ve had a super year. I am a Navy 95 grad and I believe I read somewhere in your blog that you went to West Point( sorry!—haha). If you are not a member of the Service Academy Women Facebook page you may want to join. I believe once a week they allow business promotions and there are a lot of bloggers, independent authors, small business owners, etc. who promote themselves there. Us service academy sisters love to support each other. Good luck!

    • January 12, 2022 / 5:05 pm

      Thank you, Kara! Yes I’m USMA ’09! I believe I am part of that group but haven’t seen posts recently, now that I’m thinking about. I need to keep an eye out for those posts where I can share with such a wonderful group. Thanks for letting me know about it and for taking the time to read 🙂

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