Food blogger turned author and TV personality Ree Drummond has long shared a range of stories, from cooking to everyday life with her family on an Oklahoma farm, and her new book shares details of her "bonus kid."
In a blog post to give her followers an early glimpse of her upcoming book, "Frontier Follies," Drummond wrote about a family member she had previously yet to discuss -- her foster son Jamar.
"After a year-and-a-half of living in our house, he is an inextricable part of our wacky family, and it’s become increasingly strange for me not to talk about him," Drummond wrote about Jamar in her introduction.
Drummond said that the reason she had yet to write or speak publicly about Jamar until now has been twofold.
"For one thing, the state agency that handles fostering has strict rules against posting about foster children on social media, which I get. But mostly, and this is slightly related, I feel protective of Jamar and have always wanted his story to be his own and not fodder for my social media," she wrote. "Also, I’ve never wanted to subject Jamar to more attention than he wanted or needed before he had a chance to settle in and get his bearings in our home. We needed to let things breathe!"
Drummond explained that "the state agency restrictions no longer apply" since Jamar is 18 now, adding, "He told me he’s tired of feeling like we’re trying to hide him from the world. He’s ready to sing, to dance, to make his debut! Jazz hands, Jamar!"
"Fostering a kid was never something Ladd and I pursued or felt called to do, but Jamar’s circumstances presented themselves to us in a way we couldn’t ignore," Drummond wrote. "So, long story short, all six foot five inches of him showed up at our house one afternoon, bag in hand, ready to move in."
Her husband first met Jamar through their sons Todd and Bryce's high school football team, and came up with the idea to have him come live with their family.
From fresh-baked cookies and a rodeo on Jamar's first night, to riding ATVs around their property, Drummond said Jamar got a "crash course" in their family's regular recreational activities.
Unfortunately, Jamar had never driven before and when he made too sharp a turn, the ATV tipped over and he injured his foot, which required a skin graft and a tendon-repair surgery, Drummond said.
"For a kid with aspirations to a football career, it was a dicey, scary time. I tried to help him see that his accident could have been much, much worse -- but this was little comfort to him, considering football was the future he saw for himself, and for the time being that appeared to be in question," the Pioneer Woman said.
During his six weeks of bed rest to heal up, Drummond said, "I overcompensated by serving him 'generous' (oversize) portions of home-cooked food -- morning, noon, and night."
"This unfortunate nurturing side of me combined with his robust athlete’s appetite to help him quickly pack on thirty pounds (update: which he has since lost!) ... and let’s just say I have officially learned my lesson about portion control for a bedridden patient," she said. "Sorry, Jamar -- my heart was in the right place!"
Despite the setback from his football activities, the mom of four and Food Network host said "his injury quickly knocked down those walls and gave us all a reason to come together." From changing his dressings to taking him to doctors appointments, the family all chipped in and to help without hesitation.
Drummond went on to detail the highs and lows of having multiple teenage boys in the house with sweaty gym bags and weird food cravings.
She said one "unexpected development" was that for the first time, someone else in the family enjoyed her specialty grocery items such as stevia sweetened root beer.
"He loves my weird, off-the-beaten-path supermarket items, and I have found myself having to lay down some serious boundaries for the long-term health of our relationship," Drummond wrote, explaining that they live over an hour from the nearest store that carries them.
"If I finally decide to go for it and find the last stevia root beer is gone when I open the fridge, I just might burst into tears and have a meltdown -- surely he didn’t want to have to witness that," she said. "So we have an understanding: He should feel free to help himself to all the stevia root beer he wants -- except for the last one."
"I could go on and on about Jamar, my bonus son. He’s larger than life, has a hilarious laugh, and is extremely smart -- both book and street," Drummond continued. "He’s a great kid who’s overcome some difficulties in his life, not to mention a tough accident -- Through a ton of determination, Jamar has excelled in football, and he’s already received a couple of college offers, with more sure to come in! I’m proud of the kid, and I can’t wait to see where life takes him."
"I’ll be in the stands cheering him on," she wrote.