Hello, Friends. Happy New Year!! How are you? I’m feeling a big dose of hope, and woke up today with a really positive outlook for the year. I love the fresh start, blank slate feel that comes with January 1st.

I thought I’d start the year with a Random Thoughts post. There has been so much on my mind over the holiday break and I’m dying to discuss everything with you. So here goes.

– We’re on our way to Palm Springs for a few days. In fact, I’m typing this from the car. I’m the only member of the family who has ever been to Palm Springs, but Ben Blair and the kids hear me talk about it often because I host a conference there. (For those of you who don’t know, I’m the head of Altitude Design Summit and our flagship event currently takes place in Palm Springs.)

So I thought it would be fun to take the whole family and stay at The Saguaro, the same place where Alt Summit takes place, so that the kids can picture the whole event, and feel a connection to it, even if they don’t attend.

The weather in Palm Springs is supposed to be amazing — low 80s. We’re planning lots of pool time (and I’m using my favorite self-tanning foam). While we’re there, we also want to visit the Joshua Tree National Park. Have you ever been?

– On our drive, we’re passing through gorgeous orange groves, and we’re listening to an audiobook, Sapiens. We’re only a few chapters in but I’m really enjoying it. It’s making me think differently about the value of myths and gossip.

– I’m still working on my 2018 goals for Design Mom. I have GRAND plans. All the planning has me super excited. But I really need your feedback before I solidify anything. So I’m working on a short survey to gather your thoughts. Watch for it later today or tomorrow. UPDATE: the survey is live. You can take it here.

– For personal resolutions, I’m focused on stepping up my fashion game (even while working at home, when it’s so tempting to keep it pajama-casual), making more consistent grooming appointments (like hair and nails), and limiting (or eliminating) sugar.

– For Christmas, Ben Blair amped up our feminist library with 3 new titles. Women & Power by Mary Beard, My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem, and Shrill by Lindy West. I read the Lindy West one last week. She’s so good. Really smart and really funny. Her essays always feel vulnerable and honest and clear-headed.

– We skyped with our oldest, Ralph, on Christmas Eve. He’s still on a mission in Colombia. He’s been living in Bucaramanga for the last few months, and was recently transferred to Bogota. We can email with him every week, but we only get to Skype him on Christmas and Mother’s Day. And oh my. The Skype calls are so good and so emotional. They’re a huge treat, but they also take a few days to recover from. It’s hard to be away from him for so long.

Happily, he’s really thriving. His Spanish sounds amazing, and he’s learning a ton about life and relationships and responsibility and adulthood. We’re looking ahead happily to the end of the summer when he’ll return home.

– One big thing on our mind for 2018 is that I think it’s time to move back to France. We’re tentatively making plans for a move this fall after Ralph returns. Though I confess, I’m not loving the tentative aspect of the plans. I want to solidify something as soon as possible so that we can work through the specific tasks, and I can measure our progress.

Instead of moving for 2 or 3 years, I’m thinking maybe we should start a pattern of having our family spend 6 months in the U.S. and 6 months in France each year, and implement that pattern for several years. Maybe make it fairly permanent.

As we look into it, there are definitely lots of questions and issues. For example, if we’re only leaving The Treehouse for 6 months, we wouldn’t be able to rent it out long-term, but we could Airbnb it. And prepping the house for Airbnb, and learning how to manage Airbnb guests, would require its own learning curve.

A 6 month split also changes our schooling options, and visas are another concern. We’re wondering about tax code changes too. When we lived in France, we received a big tax benefit for living out of the country. Does that benefit still apply?

In some ways, it would probably be easier to just sell our house and move to another country. And then move back to the U.S. again whenever we’re ready, and start again with another house. Nice clean breaks in both directions. But the 6 months here and 6 months there plan looks like it may be more sustainable overall, and a wiser thing to do financially. We’re not sure yet. We’re looking at budgets and figuring things out. I’m sure I’ll be updating more on this topic as we firm up our plans.

– The way the school calendar fell this year, with school getting out right before Christmas, and having this extra week of vacation time, has been heavenly! I’ve just soaked up the family time like a sponge. My kids don’t go back to school till next week. How about yours?

– During the holiday break, I’ve mostly been ignoring Social Media. I’ve barely touched my phone or laptop. I feel like my personal instinct is to move away from social media this year. But it’s sort of tricky for me, because professionally, social media is part of the job. Social media trends is a topic I’d like to write more about this month. I’m reading some good stuff.

– One more thing on my mind. As I’ve tackled my sugar addiction over the last month, I’ve been reading a bunch about Keto. Replacing my sugar intake with fat is definitely helping, and I’ve seen my best success with avoiding sugar or resisting sugar by embracing fat. Do any of you have Keto experience? I’d love your thoughts.

That’s it for now. Please feel free to respond to my random thoughts, or you leave your own random thoughts in the comments. I always love to hear what’s on your mind.

P.S. – More random thoughts.