Jessica Simpson, Family Collage

E! Illustration

There have been a lot of reminders lately about Jessica Simpson's former life. Last Friday marked the 20th anniversary of boy band 98 Degrees' debut album, a day that, two decades ago, set off the series of events that would eventually create one of pop culture's most-watched (and most-critiqued) couples. At the time of their initial romance, Simpson and 98 Degrees frontman Nick Lachey were two of the biggest names in the teen music genre and their coupling seemed almost destined to be. Five years later they were married and shortly after that their now-infamous reality show, Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica, debuted to a rapt audience. 

And despite the fact that the series has been off the air for over 12 years, the world at large still has a healthy appetite for salacious gossip surrounding the foregone husband and wife; we probably don't need to remind you of last month's viral story that involved one of the show's producers dishing several dirty secrets. It's like all of a sudden society collectively remembered that the former singer wasn't always the booming businesswoman and dedicated matriarch we know today.

This version of Jessica Simpson that has been rehashed as of late, the doe-eyed young star who didn't know her poultry from her seafood and who put her personal life on display for all to see, seems almost unrecognizable.

In the days since she lived her life on the most public platform of all, Simpson has lived through so many different stages. After Newlyweds went off the air and her marriage to Lachey crumbled along with it, she went through a series of relationships that were arguably just as public and famous as her very first. There were the John Mayeryears in 2006 and 2007, of which it is truly impossible to focus on anything else but the crooner's later references to "sexual napalm." A tell-all interview in Playboy seemed to be the nail on the coffin for any possible hope of Simpson dating fellow musicians. 

Then there were the Tony Romoyears, which were given just as public a spotlight due to his high-caliber football career. She was constantly photographed on the sidelines of Dallas Cowboys games and described Romo as "the love of her life" on a cover of People magazine, the same publication that would later break the news that the footballer broke up with her on the night before her 29th birthday. 

But then she found Eric Johnson and everything slipped into place. He was different than her former flames in many ways: He was her exact same age. He grew up with a normal live on the East Coast, attending Yale before embarking on a short and under-the-radar career with the NFL. And, perhaps most importantly, he wasn't famous when they met. The couple celebrated their third wedding anniversary in early July (and have been together for seven), so clearly the change worked. 

And to say that Simpson's professional life blossomed during that period would be a gross understatement: rather, it exploded. Making the decision to turn away from music and movies and dive headfirst into fashion and business was one worth its weight in gold—one billion dollar's worth, to be exact. Her company, which began as a shoe line and now includes handbags, sunglasses, accessories, jewelry and fragrance, has marked her as a commerce queen. She's set for life, financially speaking, and it's made room for her to delve headfirst into building her family. 

And these days it's family life that seems to be the most important. For all the glitz and the glamour that comes with being uber-famous and running a billion-dollar company, Simpson keeps things relatively low-key. There are no reality show cameras this time around—only her iPhone (to snap all those adorable Instagrams, obviously). Jessica and Eric live out of the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles, preferring to spend time out in the The Valley. On a typical weekend they can be found hitting up the local farmer's market with other "regular" families. And yes, her kids even play with non-famous children. 

Her true inner circle is a small one, consisting of her sister, Ashlee Simpson, and lifelong best friend CaCee Cobb. The girls have been together since well before any of them were famous and the group has now expanded to include their collective husbands. The three couples recently celebrated Jessica's birthday at L.A. hotspot Catch, marking a special night out for all of them. The occasion marked a summer spent attending friend-and-family weddings and hosting birthday parties for nieces and nephews—the only difference from "regular" families being that these get-togethers include bold names like Tracee Ellis Ross (who is, of course, Ashlee's sister-in-law). 

All of this can be attributed to the fact that Simpson is simply settling down and is now used to a life not spent on the concert stage or constantly splashed across magazine covers, but there is also one more reason: The newfound good health of her father, Joe. The patriarch of the Simpson family was diagnosed with a grave form of cancer last fall, sending the rest of its members into a very understandable shock. The eldest Simpson recently completed his radiation treatment and is cancer-free, a cause for celebration and a reason to keep the constant get-togethers going.  

So what's next for the star? More world domination, surely, but the rest remains to be seen. We do know for sure that expanding her family isn't on her list: In response to a rash of recent pregnancy rumors, the star has spoken out about her plan to keep her family exactly as is. Because you what they say: Quit while you're ahead. 

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