Life with Jess and Friends (Jessica Whitehouse)

By Jessica Whitehouse

In honor of the upcoming holiday season and some ruined Spring Break plans courtesy of the pandemic, I bring to you a poem called, ‘Twas the Night Before Spring Break:

‘Twas the night before Spring Break,
when all through the house,
not a tourist was stirring, not even a spouse.

The suitcases were packed by the staircase with care,
in hopes that New York City would soon be there.
The teenagers were nestled all snug in their beds,
while visions of Broadway danced in their heads.

My friend on her laptop, and I on my phone,
had just settled down with the Big Apple map.
When on our news feed there arose such a clatter,
I sprang to Facebook to see what was the matter.

Away to the computer I flew like a flash,
tore open the cover and let out a gasp.
The news of a pandemic crossed over the screen,
Bringing confusion of COVID to travelers unseen,
when, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
but crashing down in full gear.

With a news of a virus, spreading so quick,
I knew in a moment we did not want to get sick.
More rapid than hornets, we canceled our plans,
and we cursed and shouted and called 2020 bad names.

“Now quarantine! No travel! Use masks and hand san!
Close airports! Close Broadway! Buy TP galore!
Stand six feet apart! Order curbside pickup!

Now lock away! Lock away! Lock yourself up!”

Plan B

Whew. You can probably judge from the gist of my poem how well our Spring Break plans went. On Wednesday, March 11, 2020, my friend and I were anxiously glued to the news, watching minute by minute as the world shut down and our hopes of traveling to New York City for some Spring Break fun, were dashed. Warm clothes were packed. Plane tickets and itinerary printed. Hamilton tickets secured. Statue of Liberty and World Trade Center tours scheduled.

And then, COVID-19. The lights on Broadway went dim. New York City began their first lock down. The world as we once knew it, was gone.

We wrestled over our decision…Dare we go and risk getting stuck without an easy way back home? Dare we go and risk getting sick? It seemed as though the universe was sending us a message loud and clear. Don’t go. So, like the rest of the world at that moment, we tried to undo months of planning as we scrambled to cancel our flights, request refunds on shows and tours, spending hours on hold or stuck on websites so overloaded, they were crashing before our very eyes; much like the world around us. We were bummed.

But alas, the weekend was not a total loss. In between the chaos, my quick-thinking friend quickly reserved a perfect little house within walking distance of the Siesta Key Beach and we traded in our fuzzy boots and warm coats for flip flops, sunbathing, board games, sunsets, and eating our weight in gelato every evening. Nothing was scheduled and we went wherever we wanted, whenever we wanted.

Plan B, aka the “less is more” trip, turned out to be filled with some fun memories.

Welcome to Georgia

Fast forward a few months and the same friend asked if my kids and I would like to accompany her and her children on a trip to her family’s farm home in Georgia. “Don’t you remember the last time we planned a trip?? We triggered a global pandemic!” I was honestly more than a little afraid of what signs we would get from the universe next! But…YOLO? Oh well, we started planning our next adventure and we were excited!

But first, a quick, yet always expensive trip to Target would have to take place as it became apparent that my youngest was a true Florida girl, and did not have any fitting warm-weather clothes. While I was concerned about her clothing, she was dedicated to finding the perfect pair of boots to complete the ”Georgia Girl’ experience she was seeking. Low and behold, there they were…the most perfect, softest, black, faux-furred lined boots suitable to a 9-year-olds heart! Score!

We were ready and set off with all four kids and luggage for six crammed into the back of a Pathfinder like a pack of sardines and set off for the 5 ½ hour drive. Feeling happy and giddy as we hoped to leave our worries, cares and Wi-Fi behind for the next two days, we took off for our weekend adventure of fun.

Approximately forty-five minutes into our trip, we encountered our first traffic delay and crept along the turnpike at a snail’s pace. It became abundantly clear that 9-year-olds have no concept of time. The age-old questions every time the car we slowed was, “Are we there yet?” and “How much longer?” For the next. Six. And a half. Hours. And while we contemplated leaving her on the side of the turnpike, we continued trekking up north, all the while bringing old-fashioned Florida rain with us. Thanks to my teenager keeping track, 68 hotel signs, 39 pecan billboards, 31 cotton fields, we won’t talk about how many adult superstore signs, and 19 One Direction songs later, we arrived safe and sound just as the rain let up and the sun had begun to set.

Farm Life

As we turned into the family farm, my girls and I gasped as we encountered…COWS. Lots and lots of COWS. We squealed in delight as if we hadn’t just passed hundreds of these giant mammals on the way up or in our everyday life, but here they were! On someones property! Where we were going to stay! And oh, my goodness – are those donkeys?!? And horses?! And chickens?! SQUEALLL! We were in heaven! Our friends enjoyed laughing at our exhilaration over seemingly normal, everyday farm life. We piled our belonging into the beautiful log cabin for the weekend and enjoyed a fantastic ‘welcome to the farm’ dinner waiting upon our arrival.

Life on a farm is always busy. Over the next two days, we took selfies with donkeys, fed carrots to horses, cleaned chicken eggs for breakfast, went fishing for brim using leftover pancakes, picked baskets of pecans straight off the trees, ate delicious homemade grits, learned that leftover grits make amazing next-day friend grit pancakes, steered clear of humungous rattlesnakes, played Yahtzee for hours, and fell asleep holding hands.

Meet the Parents

Friendships form when you find people who have the same values as you. I enjoy seeing the inner workings of other families and watching quietly as they interact. Laughing. Talking. Teasing. They know quality family time together is important. Family meals together are important. They are kind. They are fair. Parents work hard so their family can play harder. My friend and I are cut from the same mold in more ways than one. Meeting the parents was truly an honor and I appreciate their warm Southern hospitality. My friend and I are lucky to have great parents. And I am lucky to have a great friend.

Let it Go

“You don’t want to ruin your new boots by getting them all muddy, do you??” I pleaded with my youngest. Turns out, she did. And it was then I realized, she wanted the memories that came with these boots. She wanted to remember feeling powerful as she drove the four-wheeler, zipping around the fields, blond hair whipping in a blaze behind her for hours on end (giving me more than a little mom anxiety) while wearing her favorite boots. She would look at those boots and remember being that little blonde Georgia badass! And so I let the idea of having clean boots go. And as I cleaned off the mud off those boots when we got home, I smiled. Turns out, I loved the memory too.

Our worlds have been flipped upside down this year, some worse than others. Keep in mind there is always a Plan B. Surround yourself with good people. Lean on your family and friends. Clean the mud of your boots and keep going. Stay safe and healthy and may 2021 be a better year for you and for the world.

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!


About Life with Jess & Friends

Jessica Whitehouse, aka Jess, is a lifestyle writer and creator of Life with Jess & Friends. Her mission is to bring lighthearted humor to life situations including family, parenting, relationships, career, and all things in between. For more information and blogs, visit or send an email to

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