Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas to all of you!

Here is our Christmas card and letter for 2011.

Dear Family and Friends,

Merry Christmas! We hope this letter finds you enjoying the season and making memories with family and friends.

For us, this has been a big year. We've made big changes. We've carried out big plans. We've taken big vacations. (In our "bunch" there are six kids ranging from 8 years to 19 years old. So, when there are 7-10 people in your group at all times, nothing is ever small.)

Around the first of November, Joey and I made a life changing decision, one that was discussed and thoroughly thought out as to what would be best for us and the many young lives involved. We decided to merge my household into his. So, the entire month of November was spent rearragnging, reorganizing, replacing, redistributing, repainting and rethinking. His house became a six bedroom home overnight. (Well, not overnight, but in a hurry.) It's nice to be settled in a place where we can all enjoy being together all of the time.

After all of the craziness in November, we are truly enjoying December. It's been fun creating new traditions: the decorating, the shopping, the wrapping and the excitement, all under one roof. Most of the time we have a full house and those are the days and nights that we enjoy most.

The Earth may have just four seasons but our seasons included: karate, basketball, baseball/softball, summer vacation, football season and deer season. And seven months out of the year we celebrate birthdays. There 's always something to look forward to and events to plan.

Between the kids' sports, various activities, (and birthdays), we still managed to find time to get away with all of the kids. We set up camp twice. On Spring Break we spent a few nights in Glen Rose with friends. Here we enjoyed Big Rock Park across the street from our campsite, a one mile trek down the river and through the mud; Dinosaur Valley State Park where we thought we lost a kid and some truck keys in the river, took a four hour hike on the trails (only getting lost and for a very long time); and lost sleep the last night thanks to an all night long fiesta going on in another tent area. Our second camping trip was at Lake Whitney with just us and the five kids. We took the boat on this tip so we enjoyed time in the water - cliff jumping, swimming and a late night fishing trip. (We did lose a couple of kids on this trip when they thought their route back to camp was shorter. No worries, they eventually showed back up.) The late night fishing trip became even later when we realized that I had left the truck keys back in the tent and we couldn't load the boat on the trailer without them. All of the kids slept on the boat (except the one that got sick) while Joey made the long hike to camp and back. (Not sure what it is about kids, keys and camping.) Nevertheless, both trips were fun and broke me in to the "great outdoors" a little more. Our big "family" summer vacation was a trip to Panama City, Florida in a rental van. The bunch went coastal. It was a great time there spent with the kids and friends - on the beach, snorkeling, riding the waves, dodging the seaweed, multiple trips to the grocery store and souvenir shops, riding the go-carts and sending the boys crabbing with the kids at night. It was definitely an exciting and memorable trip from start to finish.

And then there were several mini-getaways that Joey and I enjoyed throughout the year. We made a day trip to Galveston, enjoying dessert on the beach. (It was a work trip for him, a road trip for me.) We spent a weekend going to San Angelo to pick up a boat and spent the night near the deer lease. We took a quick trip to San Antonio for a couple of days to unwind before the new school year started - walking along the Riverwalk, remembering the Alamo, taking a haunted tour through the wax museum and stopping in Gruene to enjoy the river and shops on our way home. Our big vacation was four days in Cozumel. We enjoyed the beauty, the beach, the buffets, the market shops, and touring the island in our rental jeep; the security guards coming in during the middle of the night and the rain - not so much. Our past year and a half together has been amazing and we have found complete happiness. We made the most of our time together and our time with the kids all year long.

As life is rolling along, we have definitely learned to go with the flow, take things one day at a time and to live each day to the fullest. We know that above everything else, time spent together is time well spent. May you find time together this Christmas season and all throughout the year. Make big plans and create big dreams with those you love most.

With love from our bunch to yours,

Joey and Stephanie

Thursday, December 22, 2011

a date to remember

December 24th and 25th are typically the days celebrated with family. For all of my kids' lives -which began 14 years ago- we have celebrated traditionally. We'd open some gifts on Christmas Eve (mainly because I was as anxious to give as they were to receive) and Santa came Christmas morning and we finished opening the gifts under the tree.

This year, that tradition had to change due to circumstances. I have the kids every other year on Christmas and Christmas Eve. Last year was my year, this year is their dad's year. In many ways, I tried to share last year so they could have time with their dad. This year, I am not getting much of that same respect in return. To avoid any personal grievances, I'll just say that I feel blessed to get them for two hours on Christmas day. That's better than what it could've been and more time than I was told a couple of weeks ago.

A couple of weekends ago I struggled with all of the texts being sent back and forth, realizing that there did not seem to be any chance of having my kids at all for Christmas. It was hard and it was emotional - for me, for the kids, for my family. After finally coming to terms with it and knowing that for my kids' sake and their happiness, I had to make the best of the time given. As a mom, it's my job to make it a Merry Christmas for them no matter when it's celebrated. Joey and I made plans to celebrate with them the weekend before Christmas. I told my mom, not only to try and convince her but to also convince myself, it's just a date. And, in all actuality we can celebrate it any date that we choose. With this inevitable circumstance comes flexibility and change- both of which tend to be my weakest qualities.

On December 19th my kids and I celebrated their Christmas with Joey, my parents, my brother and his wife at our house. We had pizza, snacks and coffee which made for a fun and spontaneous get together. Clayson, Trey and Ashlyn were more than satisfied to get these gifts that they'd been eyeing under the tree for weeks, a week early.

There's always such a joy that can be seen in the eyes of a child as they open each present. I saw that same joy on December 19th (instead of December 25th). I got to see the anxiousness and gratitude as they played with and enjoyed what they had been given. Christmas is a season. As a mom, it's very hard to stay strong when I know that this year will not be spent with my kids traditionally. But, I am thankful for December 19th and the joy it brought into our home. It was definitely a Merry Christmas.

Don't take things, traditions or people for granted. Times change. But, in the end, it's just a date- you choose when to celebrate the birth of Jesus and spend time with those you love most.

Merry Christmas to you all.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


It has been a whirlwind of a month, there is no doubt about that.

We wrapped up Clayson and Matt's 8th grade football season and hunting season began. We celebrated Thanksgiving and Clayson's 14th birthday. I sold many household extras through Facebook and garage sales and started hitting up sales to buy Christmas presents.

The ENTIRE month was spent moving out of my house and merging into his. The combining of two households required rearranging, reorganizing, replacing, redistributing, repainting and rethinking. Kayla now shares her room with Ashlyn and the formal dining/office is now a room for Clayson and Trey. It became a six bedroom house for ten people overnight ... well, not overnight, but in a hurry. We decided to use most of my furniture since it is newer, so it was out with the old-in with the new. (Thank goodness that Joey is not picky because I am happy to continue using my teal bedding and bathroom decor that I loved so much. He is amazing. He has told me from the beginning to hang what I want to hang and put things where I want to put them because he wants me to feel like it's my home, too. Yes, he is truly amazing.) We've laid wooden floors in the living room, structured a corner for the fireplace and come up with many ideas for future projects. But, we have not lost sight of what is important - our precious kids or the time we spend with each other (away from the grind). With the Christmas season upon us, we will work on projects when we can but will keep our priorities focused and enjoy the most wonderful time of the year.

Looking back I can see what wonderful memories we made this month - things that I have always dreamed of having, memories I've always dreamed of sharing (togetherness ... we do almost everything together). Grocery shopping was so much fun, ending up with 16 pie crusts led to quality time in the kitchen and good desserts to share with others. Together, Joey and I learned how to bake apple pies (he did get overly creative with these), pecan pies and chocolate pies (with the cow-lick topping). All were tasty and the chocolate pie always hit the spot - morning, noon and night.

Thanksgiving was a great day spent with family and a weekend spent with friends at the deer lease. I have definitely counted my blessings this month. I am glad that the hard part is over and now it is on to creating the life I have dreamed of living.

my love that I will be forever thankful for

Seasons change, celebrations happen, moving takes place and love grows.

memories in pictures...

Joey's doe posing as a buck

girls of the deer woods

Joey and I with my brother, Jason, and his wife, Megan

on Thanksgiving day (before the mad rush to the deer lease)

my three littlest loves but biggest blessings

This should be part of my Christmas card. Such is life, right?!

November: filled with so many things to be thankful for...

Friday, November 4, 2011


People change. Times change. Things change. Sometimes change is for the better, sometimes change is hard, sometimes change is inevitable. Sometimes change is temporary and sometimes it's permanent.

A year and a half ago, Joey changed my life. I tried to resist the change - not quite ready to put my heart on the line after certain circumstances. But his irresistable sense of humor, his amazing personality and his ability to get along so well with me and my family, well, I had a change of heart. Sometimes, change is inevitable.

It's been a great 18 months together falling in love and creating so many fun memories with just the two of us and with all of the kids. We've enjoyed vacations, weekend getaways, sporting events, hunting seasons, holidays and family get togethers. Most of our time is spent together, very little is spent apart.

For the past couple of months, my kids and I have been staying at Joey's house. When I buy groceries, that's where I unload them. When I do laundry, that's where I put the clothes up. My house became nothing more than a run in - run out location. It wasn't where we wanted to stay. After some deep discussions with each other and talking to the kids and considering this to be a permanent change, we decided that it'd be best for all of us to move into his house. My house went on the market Monday. This change is good.

I loved my (new) house but if "home is where the heart is", it was never a home. I look forward to being able to function as a family/ team and a future filled with hope. This change is what we needed. I am so thankful and blessed for all of the positive changes that will come out of this and all of the positive changes that have taken place in my life over the past year and a half.

Yes, sometimes change is for the better.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

As My World Turns

Many blog ideas have come and gone over the past month. There was going to be the blog about summer's end - how great it was - and how we shouldn't cry because it's over but smile because it happened. That could have led to the blog about going back to work and the kids back to school - Clayson in 8th grade, Trey in 6th grade, Ashlyn in 3rd grade and me starting my 11th year of 5th grade. And there's always the blogs about life in general. Those "life in general" ideas/ blogs are quickly squashed when I remind myself that this is a blog and not a soap opera script. (I save the tidbits for my facebook status updates and most of the time you get the gist through those without me having to make an outline and write paragraphs about it.)

Some days my life does feel a little soap opera-ish. There's drama, but not too much and not with anyone you wouldn't expect it from. Most days I still feel like things are fiction and too good to be true. That makes me all the more thankful for my kids, Joey and his kids. It's a big circle of life - often referred to as the Brady Bunch. And since we have only one life to live, I am living my life exactly the way that I want to since I have been blessed with this second chance at happiness. Commercial breaks come when there is work out of town or trips to the deer lease. And I've heard it said that real love stories don't have endings so I am content with hoping that this soap opera life never ends.

Things are moving along at the perfect pace. We stay extremely busy between all of the kids, Matt and Clayson playing football and our jobs. Some months fly by and we wonder if we have even blinked.

I spend a lot of time in deep thought but I try not to let my young and restless mind get too carried away. I have to remember that each day is a gift from God, that's why it's called the present.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

hittin' the road

*better late than never, a blog that just needed to be recorded for memory purposes...

I mentioned to Joey a couple of weeks ago that I wanted to try and go on one more "get away" trip before going back to work. I didn't have any idea when or where, I just knew I wanted to get outta town. Another beach would have been perfect but I was game for anything. One day I walked out into the backyard where he was working and asked him about his Monday/Tuesday schedule for the next week. With not much going on and jobs that could wait until Wednesday, I pursued my plans. A quick trip to San Antonio. He kind of turned his lip up at the thought because he said it was kind of far but I quickly pointed out that it is no farther than the deer lease. He said I had him there. I researched, enlisted advice from Facebook friends and found an affordable place to stay on the Riverwalk. Booked the Indigo and sealed the deal.

Monday was business as usual for Joey. I ran errands, ran to my house, filled the car up and waited for him to get home. My goal was to leave between 3:00 and 5:00, we left at 5:00 on the dot. Our first stop was dinner, Whatburger. Then it was smooth sailing. One of the many things that I love about him is that there is never a moment that we aren't talking, laughing, punching each other or singing along with the radio. We played the "ABC game", which I won, and "name that tune" where he had to guess the song and the artist from songs on my iPod. It was funny. We stopped for a fountain drink and snacks about halfway there and completed our journey 5 hours later.

We made it to our hotel about 10:00. We got to our room and decided it was a good time to walk the river and go visit the Alamo. We enjoyed the walk hand in hand. We crossed a bridge, crossed some streets and made it to the Alamo and the wax museum. He wanted to go in the Haunted House and even upgraded our tickets to the "intense" tour. Oh my goodness. I loved these as a kid but not so much as a grown up. We got "scared" and then rode a Tomb Raider ride, complete waste of money. From this we walked over to the Alamo and attempted a couple of nighttime photos. It was late so we headed back to the hotel along a pretty shady route, one where a boy was selling pizza from the back of his bicycle for just $5.00.

We got up in time for breakfast at the hotel, checked out and headed away with no plans in mind. We went back to the Alamo but did not want to pay $10 for parking just to take a clear picture. So, we decided to head back and find things to do along the way. We passed the Alamodome and remembered that the Cowboys were at training camp so we went and got cash for parking only to find out that practice wasn't for three more hours. So much for that. We drove on and stopped in New Braunfels/ Gruene. I fell in love with Gruene and can't wait to go back there. We took a foot dip in the Guadalupe River, enjoyed it's coolness for a minute and then went to do a little shopping. It was fun to just look around but too hot to want to buy anything to carry around. From Gruene we went to eat at CenterPoint Station in San Marcos, one of my favorite places to eat. It's like a fried food heaven. I drove from here and took us to the much talked about Czech Bakery. I had to find out what the hype was about - we went straight from fried food heaven to sweet stuff heaven. Because I was so overwhelmed with the choices and he was too lazy to get out of the car (haha!), we ended up with a dozen cookies. They were good for the next three days.

We got home Tuesday night, which was one week from starting back to school. This trip was a great ending to the perfect summer. I am so blessed to have someone who can keep up with my randomness and my whims. I think he is who I have been waiting on all my life.

Friday, August 5, 2011

upside down & inside out

I've started this blog three times. Evidently I have a lot of ideas and can't stay on track. I should have created an outline to keep my thoughts organized. ADHD readers will have no trouble following, structured readers may be a bit bothered. Sorry about it!

It's hard to believe that we are in the final stretch of summer 2011. Time flies when you are having fun... true statement.

Now, my thoughts ...

Just 10 more days before inservice, 12 days until meet the teacher, 16 days until the first day of school. I have been working in my room and attending recent trainings in order to get back into the teacher/ work mode. I'm almost ready. It's not ever that I am not looking forward to the teaching part of it - I love that. It's just hard to give up late nights, sleeping late, swimming with friends, vacationing, fun times with the kids, afternoons at the lake and lots of time with the boy. All of these combined have made for a perfect summer.

It's been an eventful summer with the kids. We've gone camping, to the beach, to the lake, to the movies and made the most of our time together. They've grown and matured over the past two months: Clayson can drive, Trey can mow and Ashlyn can straighten her own hair. We have not spent a lot of time at my house but it didn't matter where we were as long as we were together.
(side note: sometimes I feel "guilty" writing happy things about my life when my kids are gone. Of course, I miss them and would choose to have them with me all of the time but I can't. When they aren't with me they are with their dad. I can say a lot of things about him but I will always give him credit for being a wonderful dad. He gets his time with them and I get mine. When they are with him, I live the life that I have come to know. They need their dad just as much as they need me. And it's soap boxes like this that make me realize that I worry/ care too much about what others might think or how they may judge me as a mom. On with the blog...) I have had a fun-filled summer with Clayson, Trey and Ashlyn. We have also enjoyed some great times with Matt and Kayla. If there is power in numbers, when we are all together - we've got the power.

The boy:
Joey and I have enjoyed making some new memories for the second summer in a row. We've been to Mexico, Florida, San Angelo, Lake Whitney and I still hope to squeeze in one last summer retreat before time becomes limited between work and sports. We have spent all but seven days together this summer. The best thing about this is that we have so much fun together, we are completely comfortable with each other, never get tired of each other and continue to keep it real, simple and fun. It's been our relationship "motto" for the past 15 months and has worked well. I am thankful everyday for the happiness that he has brought into my life. This happiness carries over into all areas and it shows.

Done. Maybe it wasn't as bad or as random as it could've been.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

beauty and the beach

This was our second summer to enjoy three nights and four days in Mexico. Last year we went with friends and had a lot of fun in Playa Del Carmen. This year we went alone and enjoyed our vacation in Cozumel - despite the rain, lack of resort entertainment and terrible food. Thank goodness that together, we can make things fun and entertain ourselves. It's such a beautiful place and there's no place I'd rather be enjoying this hot, amazing atmosphere with than Joey. We come from an action-packed life so a slow down definitely didn't hurt us.

The first night was the only sunset that we were able to enjoy and it was still a little cloudy. I was disappointed not to get sunset pictures but we made up for it in Florida. We enjoyed our last night walking along the beach and spending time in the lounge chairs listening to the peacefulness of the ocean and talking about our past, present and future. So many things to remember, so much fun we've had and the best part of that conversation was that we have so much to look forward to and there's a lot more fun where that came from.

On Saturday afternoon, it didn't seem the rain was going away and Joey's scuba diving trip was cancelled so we rented a jeep to tour the island and headed into downtown Cozumel. It was the one thing I promised my mom we would not do, leave the resort. But, we did and we made it back alive. We had a late lunch at Senor Frogs and were graciously given (for a tip) balloon hats.

This was our resort, which was a very nice resort but very uneventful and the food was awful. You live and learn. We learned that we won't be going back here and kind of decided that we were done with Cozumel. It'll be fun to find somewhere new to go next summer.

Another rainy day, another trip downtown. My side of the jeep had leaks and a flooded floor board. Ha! I held my feet up and used a swim towel to catch the drips. There was never a dull moment in this ride. We laughed a lot. Back in the market of shops we found a few that were open on Sunday - the goal was to find shirts. At Pirana Joe's, Joey bought me a wooden ring. I was a happy girl. We ate lunch at a mexican place, where there was barely enough overhead to keep us from getting wet when the rain started pouring down. And all I could think about was how far off we parked. We got a bit of exercise in as we "trotted" back to the jeep. We left the shopping and went back to the resort with enough time to rest, get dressed up and make our dinner reservations.

I just can't say it enough how much this boy means to me. I never knew that I could be so happy, enjoy life so much and that my heart could continue to grow with love every day. We've been together for 14 months and I can honestly say that I have never been happier or more in love. We learn from our mistakes and sometimes it's not until we have what we have never had that we realize what we were missing. He's filled my life with complete joy and I am so thankful for where we are and that I have him in my life. He's good for me and he's good for my kids.

I count my blessings every single day...

sunset on the beach

There's nothing prettier than a sunset on the beach.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

PC Beach 2011

Day 1: We left Crandall at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 5th - a day sooner than planned. At the last minute I had to go and get a rental van due to issues with my SUV. This was the best thing that could've happened for four kids, two grown-ups and a 14 hour drive. There was plenty of room for the kids and space for the luggage, snacks and beach toys. We loaded up with four of the five kids (Matt rode with the other group). I started out driving and drove for six hours; trust me, there was plenty of entertainment and when Joey went to sleep, I enjoyed the think time - thankful for how far we've come and all there is to look forward to. Our plan was to drive until midnight and then we would just stop, wherever we were and stay for the night. At midnight we ended up in a remote area with no hotels in sight for over an hour. And then the Best Western and Super 8 that we did find only had two queen beds and that wasn't enough bed space for the five of us. We drove on to Mobile, Alabama where we found a Comfort Suites that had two queen beds and a sofa bed - perfect. We grabbed our carefully-planned-out overnight bag for the five of us and crawled right into bed for the chance to stretch out and sleep.

Day2 (Wednesday): After a night of rest, we had to get up and get moving on Wednesday morning. We slept through breakfast and had an hour and twenty minutes for six showers until checkout. We made it with 18 minutes to spare. After a quick stop at McDonald's, we were faced with about five hours until reaching our final destination. We made a stop at Pensacola Beach to get our toes in the sand. The plan was for no one to get wet and/or sandy but five of us (including me) broke the rule. It was too hot not to just dip a foot or two in the water. We grabbed our towels, dusted off the sand and loaded back up. (In the meantime, I realized that I left my special ring at Comfort Suites, I was so sad and calling them every 30 minutes to see if they found it, no such luck. I was heartbroken. I thought about not telling Joey but I did.) We left Pensacola and continued heading east, via the scenic route along the coast (until it got too time consuming). We finally made our way into Panama City about 3:00, perfect timing for check-in. We found our condos, found a luggage cart and headed straight up to the 7th floor to settle in and unpack before heading to the beach. The condo was perfect: 2 master bedrooms, a room with two full beds and a bathroom and then a sofa queen bed in the living room. Kayla and Ashlyn were not too happy about not having their own room but they got over it. We shared our dressers, closets (which is where they always closed the sliding doors and changed) and bathroom with them. While unpacking, I FOUND MY RING - oh happy day!!

We spent some time at the beach, left the kids with Joey and Billy while Lisa, Ashlyn and I went to the grocery store to get spaghetti, garlic bread and salad stuff for dinner. We cooked dinner, everyone ate good and Joey and Billy cleaned the kitchen. After cleaning and stuff, the girls headed to the hot tub and the boys went crabbing. It was a perfect ending to a long couple of days in the car and made the ride worthwhile.

Day 3 (Thursday): After Billy cooked us a big breakfast, we spent the rest of the morning on the beach - the boys could not get enough snorkeling. They were face down in the water all morning long. Around lunch time, we decided to go to St. Andrew's park, which was right next door, to go to a place called "Shell Island". We headed into town to eat pizza but somehow ended up in the McDonald's drive-thru AGAIN. This is when Joey and I decided to ban it for the rest of the trip. We ate in the car made it to the park but not in enough time to catch a ferry and spend time at the island, so we decided to wait until the next day. We drove through the park, stopping at one trail, which led to an alligator. I was scared to death - the alligator could have just come out of the water and had us for lunch. Joey taunted it of course, thankfully it just went under water. We left the park and went back to the condo. The kids went to the beach and the pool, I watched and worked on pictures from the balcony and Joey napped. When he got up he joined me on the balcony, enjoying the view. A little bit later he asked me if I wanted to go take sunset pictures with him. Of course! I threw on some clothes, we talked Lisa into being the photographer and into the sunset we went. It kind of made up for the ones we didn't get (due to all the rain) in Cozumel. Everyone has certain things that they hope to get to do on vacation, for me it's getting some good pictures to capture the memories. I am so thankful that he takes a genuine interest in the things that he knows makes me happy.

A bit later, Joey and Billy went to buy groceries for dinner and we ended up with frozen pizzas :)We cooked the pizzas, fed the hungry kids and then sent them back on their way for another night of crabbing. (Joey took the girls to teach them how and he quickly realized that girls are not his "cup of tea" -they ask too many questions and don't have any common sense - stepping into the light and talking nonstop. haha!)

Day4 (Friday): Happy 13th birthday to Dawson! The plan was to get up early and go to Shell Island but the rain allowed for a little more sleep and unfortunately, a lot more seaweed. We went back to the state park, bought tickets to go to the island, waited in line for the shuttle bus, the shuttle bus took us to the ferry and the ferry unloaded us on the island. It was a long walk in the sand to where Billy and Lisa had already set up camp. It was cloudy so the heat wasn't unbearable but it was still hot. I wasn't willing to get in the water - it was covered in seaweed. I put my feet in to cool off but it wasn't in good enough condition for me to swim. The boys took off in their snorkel gear because there was supposed to be a bigger variety of fish here. Most of them were ready to go when Lisa and I were, a couple hours later. Joey, Clayson and Billy stayed and we left. Back at the condo we rinsed off in the pool, warmed up pizza and ate salad. The kids were in and out - between the beach, the pool and the bed. Joey, Billy and Clayson got back a few hours later. We made plans to go ride go carts and have a crab dinner for Dawson's birthday. The kids (except Ashlyn) rode on the big, three story, wooden track. After that they got in "bubbles" and played in the water. From there, Joey and I took all of our gang, except Trey, to the souvenir store across the street while the rest rode go carts one more time. From here, we went to a place called "Billy's" for dinner. On the five minute trip here, the kids were outta control - arguing, whining, picking, etc. so Joey told them to meet them behind the van for a talk. The "bumper talk" consisted of him telling them to straighten up, how we expected them to act and this all led to assigned seats for the remainder of our trip.

We sat down for dinner, ordered drinks and appetizers and then find out that they don't have crab. I am chosen to speak to the manager, which landed us free drinks and the opportunity to go somewhere else. Since it was so late, we ended up at an IHOP way across town (ten miles is a long way when you are hungry). They were frazzled when I told them that there were 13 in our group. We ended up with three tables - a girl's table, a boy's table and a grown-up's table. I had to turn teacher on them - as they were loud and proud. There were given three rules: don't talk across tables, $10 food limit, inside voices. It was calm for the most part, a stern warning here and there reminded them that they needed to straighten up. It took forever to get our food. A waitress enjoyed flirting with Dawson, which riled Lisa up. One of our waitresses was brand new - we broke her in. And, the manager was a part of our service. The night finally ended and we headed back to the condo for some rest. It was a long (but good) day.

Day 5 (Saturday): We were all moving a little slow - it had been action packed until today. We slept late, no one was in a hurry to get to the beach or in the water, we didn't really know whether we wanted to eat a big lunch or a big dinner (to make up for the crabless night last night). We decided to head into Destin and go to Fudpucker's. This was an hour ride - boys in one car, girls in the other. At Fudpucker's we got pictures with an alligator, strolled through the souvenir shop and finally got seated. This meal got expensive quick - Clayson and Matt ordered alligator tail, the girls and Trey ordered off the kid's menu, I ordered fried pickles and Joey ordered a platter. When it was all said and done, we didn't have much food left. It was a good late lunch. From the table, we went out and let the kids feed the alligators before heading back. It was hot!! The drive back was awful, we ended up on the scenic route - full of red lights, all the way back.

Three kids said their stomachs were hurting so Lisa and Billy went into town to get medicine and we rested. As soon as the sun started to set, we made them all mad and took them down to the beach for group sunset pictures. No one was in the mood, not even me. But, I wasn't willing to waste the opportunity and regret it forever. (this collage wouldn't load - grrrr) So, we suffered through 15 miuntes of pictures and came back to the room, where Billy and Lisa bought crab and fixens for dinner.

Billy agreed to cook and keep the kids while Joey, Lisa and I ran to the souvenir shop and to get some mustard. Upon finding out that the shops were open until midnight and knowing this would be a fun part of their trip, we decided to just bring the kids back to let them do their own shopping after dinner. They were happy about this.

We ate, cleaned up the stinky kitchen and then headed to some stores. They just don't get the concept that a souvenir should say Panama City - a turtle, a knife, junk were not an option. At 11:30 - an hour of "shopping", we realized how thankful we were that they closed at midnight - just 30 more minutes...

The kids went to bed, Joey and I went out on the balcony to enjoy the moonlight and the sound of the ocean. It was a peaceful ending to a somewhat crazy day.

Day 6 (Sunday): Homeward bound! I don't think there was anything that I regretted more about this trip than the ride there and the ride back. We left at 8:00 sharp, right on schedule. It was Krispy Kreme for breakfast, Arby's for lunch and McDonald's for dinner. We made it home in 14 hours and I came to the conclusion that the thirty minute trips around town were much more trecherous than the long hours in the car. The kids were SO good on the way there and on the way home - there wasn't even a need for another bumper talk ...

We had a fantastic week at the beach. I hope that this becomes a summer tradition. I love Joey, I love his kids, I love my kids and there's no better way to spend a summer vacation than with those you love most...Memories are a way of holding onto things you love and the things that you never want to lose.

We made memories to last a lifetime.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

happy summer

Memorial Day weekend comes just in time to get a nice, fresh taste of summer. Back in the day, it was the first official weekend of summer vacation. Times have changed but my love for the two month break has not.

Last year, Joey, my kids and the Posey's spent the day at Tyler State Park. That was such a great day, full of new memories. This year we had baseball games Friday night, pool parties Saturday and Sunday night and Monday, Memorial Day, was filled with random events. (The most exciting event, a trip to Walmart for pool filters and cokes. And, an elaborate dinner at Whataburger - and this doesn't mean we went through the drive-thru...we had a sit down dinner.)

The kids swam their hearts out two nights in a row. If my pool wasn't recovering from "going green", I think they would've spent even more time getting water logged.

The air was hot, the tornado watches and warnings were a few days past and the clouds were not heavy with rain. It was the perfect weather for some fun in the sun. And now, we anxiously go to school for just two more days until the events of this Memorial Day weekend become the norm for two and a half months.

Happy summer to all, and to all, a good tan.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

a MAY zing

It's that time of year where things begin to get really busy for about a month. And the crazier it gets, the closer we get to summertime.

Here is my countdown list:

9 days of school:
- field day
- awards assemblies (x3)
- a read in
- an American Idol contest
- family picnics (x2)
- meetings to sit through for students (x4)
- coordinate and conduct the 5th grade talent show

12 more baseball games
9 more sets of team pictures with possibly 4 more to schedule
2 senior photo shoots

The only two days that we have to catch our breath are Wednesdays, Sundays and the occasional rain outs. I don't mind being busy, now that I have someone I can enjoy being busy with. And, if we can't be busy together, I always have him to talk about my busy with. Together, we coordinate, help with all the kids and know that everyone will get where they need to be and it will all work out somehow.

Clayson is growing up so fast. I can't believe he is finishing his 7th grade year. He has recently started complaining about his (previously injured) arm but the doctor says that it is just strained tendons and nothing to do with the surgery. That is good news. I have a feeling that he may be trying to lift too much weight in the weight room.

Trey has survived being in my class for almost a semester. I'm sure it's tough on a kid whose mom is there to tell him to tie his shoes and clean his ice cream moustache off his face every day.

Ashlyn is getting so sassy! I'm not sure what happened to my sweet little girl who now bosses her brothers around, answers for me and has to be in the middle of every conversation with her two cents. Her attitude may have changed and she might be getting big teeth but she still loves her momma :)

Joey and I are still doing great. I never knew such a perfect relationship could exist. We have not had one fight or disagreement. I've learned, (the hard way), that it's so much easier to just go with the flow. We live day to day, knowing that things are good between us with no worries. That's something worth smiling about - every single day.

The month has been aMAYzing and as it draws to a close, the ending brings sunny, hot, new beginnings. Bring on summer '11. We are ready.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

moving out and moving on

On April 17th, 2010, I was having a get-rid-of-it sale. The house had sold and I was trying to get rid of stuff that I wasn't interested in packing. It was a crazy sale, I started late on Friday night and just kept it out and going all day Saturday. Joey and I had been randomly texting for a few weeks - almost daily, and we talked on the phone quite a bit. (I slowly overcame the avoidance mentioned in previous posts.) I got a text from him this Saturday afternoon that asked how the sale was going and if I still had anything left. He said that he was headed to Wal-Mart and that he and Kayla were thinking about stopping by. I gave him my address. I wasn't too sure about this, but deep down I knew it would be nice to see him. In the meantime, another couple had stopped by so they were there when he got there. I was talking to Dawana about stuff going on, had mentioned Joey and told her that I wasn't sure about all this. For once, I knew that I needed to guard my heart. With the finality of the divorce and another relationship gone wrong (very, very wrong), I was hesitant to think about any possibilities. Joey was fun to text and easy to talk to but I had issues that needed to be dealt with, a heart that needed mending and I needed time to just find myself. I felt like I had lost all of my identity over the past 13 years and I needed to regroup. A little later, he and Kayla showed up. We all talked - outside on the front porch. It had started to sprinkle. The others left so it was just us and the kids. Mykids were in and out, of course acting shy. We talked awhile and as he was leaving, he asked if I wanted to go get drinks or something out of Crandall. I told him that I was just too tired but maybe some other time. He left and I went inside. We ended up texting the rest of the night until I finally fell asleep ... with him on my mind. Little did I know that from then on, I would continue to fall asleep with him on my mind ... every single night.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

surrounded by bluebonnets

A couple of afternoons in the bluebonnets, a few smiles and a lot of God's grace all in one place.

Monday, April 11, 2011


It's all about the baseball right now. In April, we just "get our feet wet" with a bunch of games, but in May it's all baseball - all month - four to five days a week. We'll be cheering for four different teams - the Yankees, the Reds, the Predators and the Lady Pirates. Thank goodness for grandparents to help out when games overlap because it gets kind of crazy some nights.

Here are some pictures from opening weekend. I had the perfect blog all written out, ready to type and post but yeah, it's lost in the sauce somewhere. I'll save it for later on in the season.




Take us out to the ball games...

Thursday, March 31, 2011

that chance worth takin'

On March 31st, 2010 I decided to send Joey a text about pictures. I thought that this may be an easy way to open the lines of communication. I wasn't sure if he was a texter so I was testing the water. He texted back and then asked if he could call me later. What? Talk? On the phone? I was more of the texting type; hardly ever wanted to talk on the phone. The thought of this kind of made me nervous. Nervous enough that I waited five hours to respond. I told him to call me anytime. He called. I didn't answer. I called him back. We talked about pictures, baseball and stuff. He was very easy to talk to. He talked me into letting Clayson and Trey play in a baseball tournament that I thought we were going to be too busy for. We talked about when and where to take Justin's senior pictures. We talked about life and how bad it sucked. (excuse my language) I have to say that I hung up with a smile. A smile that had been "missing in action" most days, most nights. The texts, the phone calls (that I avoided at times) continued until the middle of April when things started to pick up. At this time last year we were both very vulnerable, emotional, unhappy, living lives that were mentally draining, looking for happiness and in a state of uncertainty. I had people in my life that constantly brought me down so it was nice to have someone come along who could pick me up. We formed a friendship of faith and hope. Months later, the greatest of these became love.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

history in the making

It's here, the one year mark of an incredible journey. So many firsts, so many memories - all preserved in my heart and in a journal. And now, I can share with you on my blog (that also uploads to my Facebook) so that the memories are also forever written in cyberspace. One year ago today, I was at Clayson's baseball game in Terrell. I saw Joey standing next to the bleachers. (Granted, I have known him since I had his son in 5th grade and Clayson and Matt have played ball together for about 7 years.) I slid down to the end of my row so that I could talk to him about pictures. I had received a message that they were interested in me taking his son's senior pictures. I asked him if these would be family pictures or just senior. He came and sat with me in the stands, showed me his empty wedding ring finger and said that there wouldn't be any family pictures; just Justin, his girlfriend and their baby. We talked a minute about our current situations, about places to take the pictures and that was that.

For a split second, I might have thought about "us" but knew that it was way too risky because things were just starting to fall apart for him. Little did I know that sometimes things fall apart so that better things can fall into place.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

down by the bay

sort of.

Joey had 9 jobs to do in Houston on Tuesday, four Blockbusters and five Denny's. I was just along for the ride. We left out about 9:00 a.m. We made it to the first job just in time for lunch, having a sit down meal in the McDonald's, where kids must have been on spring break :-). After that we went to two more jobs and realized that we were close enough to Galveston that we needed to cruise on out to the beach for some dessert and to enjoy the view. We made the thirty minute drive, went up and down Seawall Blvd. and ended up at Chili's. But, we didn't have dessert, we enjoyed appetizers instead. Joey also had to pick up some fresh shrimp while we were on the bay. Thank goodness it was in an ice chest in the back of the truck and I didn't have to smell it all the way home. (I knew that I would regret not taking pictures of us while we were there. Oh well, these will have to do.)

We left Galveston and headed back to Houston to finish up the remaining six jobs. We bypassed miles of traffic by staying on the service road and probably saved an hour of time.

Around 11:00, all jobs were complete and we were hungry and so very tired, going on 13 hours on the road. Joey was slowly fading so we stopped at IHOP to pep him back up. I was starting to get tired, too. But, I don't like to sleep when other people are driving - it's a control issue, I'm sure. I drove from Conroe to Hunstville and it was all I could do to stay awake. We stopped at a rest stop at 1:45 and both of us slept until 3:45. Forcing our eyes to stay open, we traveled the long stretch of road back home, pulling in at 6:30. 21 hours later.

Spending all this time together, in close quarters and not once did we argue. We get along so well, have so much fun, laugh all of the time and enjoy every second that we are together. I've waited a long time for a relationship like this and I know how blessed I am to have what we have.

Sometimes it's okay to mix business with pleasure.

over the river & through the woods

Joey and I had talked about taking the kids somewhere for spring break for a couple of months but just couldn't come up with any plans until all of the kid scheduling was finalized. So, at the last minute, (the day before), we made tent site reservations at an RV park in Glen Rose. We enjoyed my birthday weekend there and knew that the kids would definitely enjoy the area.

It was my kids first camping trip and I hadn't been in 14 years (I had to take camping to get the two P.E. credits that I needed to graduate from college.) I am just not an "outdoorsy/roughin' it" kind of girl, or at least I didn't think I was. Spending weekends at the deer lease was a good start to making me come around and try new things. I enjoyed those weekends and I truly enjoyed this weekend. And, I have to say, I look forward to more camping trips - next time we hope to go beach camping. I think yes.

We loaded the truck up Sanford and Son style on Friday night and headed out around 8:00. (Please note that Joey wanted to leave around 6 ... Joey time is always the hour plus two.) We made it to Glen Rose just before 10:00, backed the truck in, unloaded, set up tents and about 11:00 we were airing up air mattresses. As if the kids running around playing wasn't enough to make the neighbors angry, this process brought them and their dog out of the tent. They sat around in their chairs, giving up on sleep at this point. Everything was finally calm and we were settled into our tents by midnight. It was a sleepless night - my feet felt like they were buried in an ice chest, had to pee all night until we finally got up around 3:45 and went. It was then that Joey turned on the heater and we fell fast asleep until the birds started singing at 6:45 on Saturday morning. I guess camping is not the kind of vacation that you go on in order to get some rest.

Here we are on Saturday morning: cooking breakfast and the kids playing.

We spent the first half of the day at Big Rocks park where we journeyed a mile down the river - through slime, rocks and grossness. I made it safely there and back with my camera and my phone. Lisa, not so much. She slipped and her and her iPhone4 went into the river. (It started working again the next day, thankfully.) The kids played in the water, tried to catch fish, explored and had such a good time.

Saturday afternoon we made sandwiches for lunch and headed to Dinosaur Valley State Park to spend the rest of the day. The girls took off one way and the boys another. We eventually got everyone together and decided to take a hike up the "mountain". The injury report for this would include: Ashlyn - stickers in the foot (twice), scraped up knee; Trey - stickers in both feet; Kayla - a huge blister and a cut on the bottom of her foot. The hike was slow going at times, until we finally convinced all of the kids to stay on the main trail. It was quite a journey but had some great scenery along the way.
Here is Trey chasing the deer ... because Billy said he could.
We left the state park and went to eat BBQ for dinner - ten very tired and hungry campers.
We got to camp to find a huge fiesta going on and on and on until 3:45 a.m.

(our friends - The Posey's: Billy, Lisa and Dawson)
Sunday morning we let the kids go back to Big Rocks Park, loaded up and headed back to Crandall for showers and a good night's sleep.