Calm Yo’ Nerves, Mama – Part 2

Hey ya’ll!

When I posted the first part of Calm Yo’ Nerves, Mama, I shared it on my personal page and the Blog Fan Page, and one thing became clear, most of us mama’s are now modeling some of the characteristics that our moms used while raising us, and some of those are good and not so good. I read several comments and received lots of feedback with moms that are also struggling with how they react when their children make them angry, and more than we are all willing to admit – the yelling, verbal threats, and voice tones – get to be way out of control. If you’ve ever automatically lashed out by saying the following or any variations of it, its time to get that initial anger management under control!

  • You’re gonna get your face slapped!
  • I will pound your face in!
  • Do it again and see what happens! *what you gone do? lol*
  • Don’t let me come in there and find out that you didn’t do what I told you to do!! You’re gonna be sorry!
  • Or maybe your initial response is more action oriented by snatching your kid up by their collar  or jacking them up against the wall with angry bulging eyes.

Most of the time we recognize when its gone too far, but as discussed in the previous post, we know that we must STOP and take a “Take 5” and then DETOUR our thoughts and respond to our children in a healthier way, thus exemplifying the type of anger management and communication we can be proud for them to model.

I USED TO THREATEN MY SON THAT HE WOULD GET HIS FACE SLAPPED

Another shameful transparency moment: I used to threaten my son that he would get his face slapped when he did things that made me angry. One day I heard him utter that same threat to his little brother, and boy was I embarrassed that he learned that from me! Although I have never slapped him in his face, threatening to do so was very hurtful to him, and one time I caught him crying after I had already mentally moved on from the situation and thought OMG! why is he crying?!

You sa-aaa-aiiid, you were gah-gah-gonna slap me!” he expressed through sobs.

I had to put my big girl pants on, drop to his level, and apologize. “Mommy is so sorry! I said that because I was angry, and I didn’t think about what I was saying. Mommy would never slap you in your face and I am going to do my best not to say that again. Please forgive me. Can I have a hug?” And we hugged it out and I embraced him and reassured him that my love for him was unchanging and that I made a mistake. Even recapping that moment for you all makes me teary. I never want to cause my children emotional pain! But the truth is we are human, we regurgitate some of the fear tactics our parents used on us, and ultimately we are flawed and imperfect people who will do and say things we regret. Just as God extends His grace to us, we have to show that same grace to not only our children, but ourselves when we know we have made mistakes. Instead of telling ourselves over and over again, “you friggin suck as a mom!”, actually take the steps to STOP and DETOUR, practice it until healthy responses to our children become second nature!

WHY DO WE GET SO MAD?!

Now that we’ve learned the steps to take control of how we respond to anger, lets discuss WHY we become angry in the first place! And thanks to the study I’m taking taught by Dr. Kevin Leman in the workbook titled, “Raising Rock-Solid Kids in a Pleasure-Driven World”, I can share it with you all!  So what do you think the reason is? On page 26 of the workbook, Dr. Leman says “the underlying message of highly angry people is ‘things oughta go my way!'” GASP! Now that I think about it, that is nothing but the truth! Think about when you first brought your baby home from the hospital, and you monitored everything your husband did with and for the baby and harped when he didn’t do it your way.

  • “No, you have to put a clean diaper underneath the dirty one so you can hurry and put it on”
  • “did you test the water temperature with a stainless steel thermometer before putting MY baby in the tub first?!”
  • “that bib doesn’t match”
  • “why are you taking so long to put the baby’s clothes on?”
  • “no you have to feed him this way, not like that. Give him here let me show you”
  • “omg, if I pull out one more dry wipe because you forgot to close the top of it I am going to lose it!”

Ha! Whew, thank God for big sisters that warned me NOT to do that with my husband because I had to rebuke myself quite a few times when I wanted to *ok, I ain’t fooling nobody, I did it too*! But basically, we drove ourselves crazy with irritation and anger that things weren’t being done how we wanted them to be done, and as a result we snap and try to take back control out of fear that if it wasn’t done OUR way, then it wasn’t done right.

“Most studies reveal the basis of anger is fear, fear of being threatened or fear of losing control. When our kids aren’t living up to our expectations, we fear what others might think of us, or we react to fear of being a failure as a parent.” (page 26)

In closing, we get angry and lose control due to the fear that things are happening out of our control. The opposite of fear is faith!

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love. Ephesians 3:16-17

Wouldn’t it be amazing if we all demonstrated that we were rooted and established in God’s love in every area of our lives, even in our marital and parental relationships?  Will you join me in practicing that this week? I always admire the mom who responds to her child in that high-pitched loving tone lol. The one who says “oh no honey, lets not eat dirt ok?!” all chipper like. Let’s dig a little deeper, push ourselves and practice healthy communication for our kiddos!  Comment below some of your moments that you may not be so proud of and the steps you took to do better. Let’s be on the journey to be better together! Until next time <3

Another Wild Wednesday!

As I type, its only 2pm EST and today has already been nothing short of an open palm slap to the forehead while my neck slowly twists from side to side, wondering, “how will I get through this day with all of my sanity?!”

It’s mid-winter break for my eldest son Jabin’s school district, so I try to plan ahead what activities we can do to keep them distracted and entertained. My fitness center is always on the top of the list because well….we already pay for it so why not drop these little knuckle heads off to them for 2 hours while I get in a good workout?! Right? Right!

My morning preparation to get them all out of the house entailed the following:

  • Breakfast- instant apple and cinnamon oatmeal compliments of Trader Joe’s!
  • Swatting Elijah away from my breasts. The kid is insatiable! *he’s 18 months and has not quite been broken from nursing, another open palm slap to the forehead*
  • Making Jabin get in the shower since he decided he was “too grown” to bathe with his brothers last night.
  • Being told I’m mean by Caleb (my otherwise comedic sweet middle son) because I wouldn’t allow him to shower with Jabin.
  • Swat Elijah again away from my breasts, watch him roll around on the floor in a tantrum, and then give in. *you guessed it, hand to the shaking head*
  • Get the boys dressed, convince Caleb that the gym will be fun today because they will be playing basketball! And then watch him slip his 3T basketball shorts OVER his jogging pants and be very excited about it. *my open palm slap to the head is now hurting me*
  • Wrangling 3 boys into the truck, amidst a borderline Michigan winter blizzard.
  • Walking into the gym, having my boys take off their coats, and then watching the childcare workers faces spread into smiles and then full out laughter when they see Caleb’s attire. At this point, I just laugh along with them!

My comedic Caleb, gotta love him!

 My comedic Caleb, gotta love him!

So I finally get to the fitness floor with my iPad mini in hand, anticipating the lovely distraction of Parenthood on Netflix. Imagine my irritation when the wifi wouldn’t connect! *whaaahhhh* So WHATEVER! LOL Despite the disappointment and the urge to just jump off the treadmill and go sit in the cafeteria and sip some coffee in peace, I did my 4 mile interval treadmill workout, which was life saving!  I’ve definitely learned to appreciate and desire the stress-reducing benefits of cardiovascular exercise! Afterwards, I had a steamy hot shower and tried not to envy the toned washboard bellies walking around the women’s locker room, got dressed, threw some type of curly jelly in my hair #teamnatural (which frankly I’m kinda over right now in this -20 degree weather), put on some make up because thats what helps to make me feel vibrant, and set off to pick up my boys! I thought to myself: ok this was good! I got in a good workout, showered, I feel good, and now I have renewed energy and patience to care for the boys the rest of the day! 

And then I got greeted with this.

“Hi.” Said the childcare front desk worker, as she presented me with a strained, you’re not gonna wanna hear this type of smile.

“Hi!” I happily exclaim in return. Remember I’m feeling good, and I didn’t quite catch that she may have some troubling news for me.

“Sooo, we had to write up Elijah today. He was throwing toys at the other kids and hitting them in the head. It made some of the children cry and their parents were upset. He’s even hitting his brothers too.” She quickly explained in a rush-like manner.

I honestly had no reaction. My sweet little baby had become the childcare center toddler terror?! I was in shock.

Elijah David, a terror? Why never!
Elijah David, a terror? Why never!

 

Seeing my pupils slowly dilate, she went on to say, “It’s just a warning! But if it happens again, he will be suspended for 3 days. This here is just a report and I need you to initial so its documented that I went over everything with you.”

I don’t even know if I read the report, I just scribbled my name and stuttered out some type of reasoning as to why my little cuddly baby boy was on his way to being kicked out of the fitness center fun place for kids. And of course when I went to scoop them all up, Elijah was his nice grinning happy self, and ran over to me with his adorable bow legged self, complete with dried up snot and a little slobber hanging from his bottom lip. Despite what I’d just been told, my heart did a little leap and I lifted him in the air and brought him in close for a hug.

“Elijah! Were you not nice today?!” I say in that mommy high-toned voice reserved for kids 2 and under.

“Huh?” he says in return, still smiling and hugging me.

Next on my Motherhood things-to-do list:

TEACH ELIJAH TO NOT HIT….ASAP! 

Wish me luck! Now is probably a good time for me to open up my parenting book on getting my kids to mind before I lose mine. If you have any “no hitting” suggestions that have worked with your kids, PLEASE share them below! I know this is my 3rd kid and all, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have those moments when I just want someone else to tell me how to mother, lol.

Survival Guide of Dining Out With The Kids

Hey hey!

This is my first post of 2015, so a big loud HAPPYYYYY NEW YEARRRRR! I pray that thus far, it has been a great start and is filled with promise! For those of you who have made goals, remember to make a plan of action to accompany that goal and make it happen!  I also personally know that this new year has brought immense heart ache, tragedy, and strife to many families. And for those of you hurting, I pray that in your midnight hour of pain, that you seek the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding. In ALL your ways, even in the hard ones, acknowledge HIM, and he WILL direct your path. Hugs and kisses, and prayers of comfort and peace that surpasses all understanding! In Jesus Name, amen! Special acknowledgement to my extended Chicago framily (friends who have become family), I love you!


 

For those of you reading with children, you know how it is going out to eat at a restaurant with young ones.  As a reminder to any new readers, my boys are 6, 3.5, and 17 months. Recent photo below!

My Three Sons, enjoying french vanilla ice cream!
My Three Sons, enjoying french vanilla ice cream!

My husband decided one evening that he would like to go out to eat, and Red Lobster happens to be close to us, and to our oldest son Jabin, the mention of Red Lobster is like seeing a heavenly cloud of cheddar bay biscuits pop up over his head. So if no one else was excited, I knew our restaurant choice would elicit a snaggle-tooth grin out of him! So off we went, and to say the least, it was a very colorful dining experience as usual.

Over the years, we have learned the DO’S & DON’TS of dining out with the kids that have worked for us! So I would like to share them with you and get your feedback as well, we’re all in this together:)

DO’s & DON’Ts!

  • Dine with your kids at a time they would normally eat. If they are not hungry or overly hungry, get ready to be met by all kinds of side eyes and tight lips from other patrons when your kids are banging their forks and knives on the table, chanting “EAT! EAT! EAT!” *this may or may not be a true story*
  • Take toys, rattles, iPads and phones for your little ones. That, or be prepared for your husband to hand your baby a crayon to take bites out of…which may or may not elicit a blank “oh no you didn’t ” stare from you.
  • If you have a baby that still takes pacifiers or other toys that end up in the mouth, ask for a cup of hot water for a quick and easy way to sterilize for the 36 times your baby throws whatever it is on the floor. FUN!
  • Use whatever you got at that table as a distraction! Especially for a teething baby or toddler, we’ve learned that sliced cucumbers or restaurant ice chips are THE BEST! Put one on a spoon and shove that ice in that baby’s mouth as fast as you can without them choking…and its ice, if it got lodged in their throat it’ll melt. *this is an instant where I’m kidding but not kidding? #durp* But If a piece is too big, then bite it. Just do it. lol Provides atleast 20 minutes of quiet time. #winning
  • If you have children around the same age, get them the same meal or  split different meals between them. Ain’t nobody got time for “I wanted that TOOOOOO!” screeches.
  • Be prepared to take a walk with a walking toddler who may get restless. Mental preparation for impending inconvenience is half the battle!
  • Make the meal enjoyable and fun, but get out of there as fast as possible! This is not the place to let your kids scream, cry, yell, and bang their heads on the table while you sit on the phone or ignore them and talk to your spouse/date/or whoever. Don’t be that parent. Okay? K. *now I’m laughing*
  • Consider looking around the table after you all are finished and pick up some of the debris from the tornado that just touched down. Like, how do forks, knives, spoons, crayons, napkins, & french fries constantly end up under the table?! The server and busboy would appreciate it if you have an extra few minutes :)
  • Try and give that waiter who done dealt with your bad rambunctious kids for an hour their 15% or more tip!
  • Make sure you have your fill of patience and handle any melt downs or mishaps with dignity and love. Please don’t be up in there yellin at your kids like you done lost yo’ mind! *this brought out the ebonics*
  • Pay attention to your kids, because you never know when one of them may get a funny look on their face, think they have a piece of shrimp caught in their throat, and comes to you for help. They just might throw up all their dinner in your hand and on the floor by your feet, and you will have to not be concerned with the looks of disgust from the jerks at the nearby table, but pat your son’s back and make sure he is ok. This isn’t the time to smack your lips and sigh with embarrassment at the mess that was made. Instead, clean him up best you can, cover up the puke with napkins, and alert the waiter that your son just vomited on the floor. And THEN, watch the relief and sparkle of gratitude jump into your waiter’s eyes when you insist on cleaning it up, and they happily volunteer to get you a trash bag, napkins, and gloves. And then, your son that just puked may grab your phone and take a photo of you while you are scrubbing up said puke. In case you haven’t gathered, this happened to me in real life. Last week.
Me cleaning up vomit! YAY
Me cleaning up vomit! YAY photo credit: Jabin!

 

So, what do you think of this list?! What did I miss? Leave your do’s and don’ts and own funny stories of your experiences with the kiddies, can’t wait to read them and looking forward to seeing other strategies to add to my own Dining Out Survival Guide!

Why Moms Can’t Be Sick

Hey Everybody!

I hope that your Christmas was filled with lots of laughs, joy, warm memories, and appreciation for the birth of our savior, Jesus! Our Christmas season this year was UBER busy, and to top it all off, I ended up getting hit with an infection on CHRISTMAS EVE! So I suffered through it on Christmas day and finally went into the ER on Friday morning only to spend 5 hours there for a diagnosis that could have been given over the phone. BUT you know how it is, they will prick and prod and give you every test imaginable to get all them “coints!”

Thankfully, I am hardly ever sick. I have the occasional head cold once or twice a year max, but other than that, I’m on the go and I love it! So being sick this time around made me realize once again, why its so hard for moms to have sick days! First off, my big toddler kid Elijah who is 16 months is still nursing, so the initial infection was breast-feeding related. Right. Who gets a breast-feeding infection almost a year and a half in the game? *insert a long wail* To top it off, the antibiotics to treat that infection caused my tongue and inside of cheeks and roof of mouth to start welting and swelling, so finally after 2 days of that I’m like WHAT IS WRONG WITH MEEEEE?!!!!!!!! *insert another long dramatic hands on my head wail* So I pull up my computer, and after some very quick research discover that I had developed *drumroll* oral THRUSH! OMG. If you are lucky enough to not know what that is, its basically a yeast infection in your mouth, eeek! So my tongue hurts, the roof of my mouth hurts, and the sides of my jaws hurt, and with all that hurting, I am not eating because….IT HURTS! The highlight of my day yesterday was cream of chicken soup. And I relished it as though it were turkey and dressing while my goofy sister Tresbien laughed at what I was eating.

But back to my point, I have made my own list of why its so hard for me as a mom to be sick and actually peacefully recuperate:

1. Its hard for your husband to balance 3 bad boys who are all geeked up from their new Christmas toys. So you end up wilting in the bed, starving and desiring something to eat, yet cannot eat because your mouth is all jacked up. *he did bring me eggs in bed this morning though hehe*

2. The kids keep coming to YOU for stuff, when your husband was literally right next to them. I wish I could put on that gold ring from the Hobbit and be invisible for like 2 days.

3. When you are able to get out of the bed, you are smacked in the face with pulsating anxiety at the mess you see…..EVERYWHERE! I woke up today to find 3 plates of food on the table, and most of the food that was on those plates had made their way ON THE FLOOR beneath the table! Then there’s the big puddle of water or apple juice or whatever it was all mixed into the food, coupled with overturned cups, forks and spoons  strewn about the room, chairs that were all grouped together and angled in different directions…. you name it, I saw it. It looked as if I had just missed The Three Stooges having breakfast. I pointed out the mess to my husband who I saw look at it, and then eyes register as if he saw it for the very first time. Yet he walked past it at least 15 times that morning. His response, a very dry “oh I’ll get it when I get back”, which would be 2.5-3 hours later. #ICant

4. We hate asking for help. Cue the mop & broom.

5. And when we do get help, we don’t know what to do with it. Yesterday my niece asked if I needed help and came over. I really racked my brain like “what can she do?” although one QUICK glance around my house one could easily make a pretty lengthy to-do-list, but instead I asked her to keep the kids entertained and I got back in the bed lol. For some reason, I could not say “hey wash the dishes, clean the tables, run the vacuum”. What’s wrong with me?

6. You have anxiety over what your kids are being fed. One evening I saw my son getting rocked to sleep in the dark with a sucker in his mouth. I’m not gone say who was rocking him though.

7. The big humongous growing pile of laundry in the corner is seriously depressing. That and no one has clean underwear or socks in the house!

So you see?! The struggle is real! But big shout out to my husband who has been holding it down at the house… in his own way, giggles. I don’t think he’s changed this many diapers since Elijah was born! Go Red! LOL

What did I miss? What reasons do you find make it difficult for you to just stay in the bed and recuperate? In other news, I’ve lost like 5lbs on the oral thrush diet, lol. *why does that make me happy?* #durp

Your Best Mile Yet

This morning during my jog, I ran my best mile since I started back running this past summer. I ran my first mile leg in 10 minutes and 22 seconds… a far cry from the 13 minute plus mile I ran when I first began. When the voice on my Endomondo app announced my time, I did a mid-length fist pump in the air. YES! I am that much closer to my goal of running 10 minute flat miles consistently without my heart palpitating out of my chest and me sucking in air as if it would be my last breath. The 10min 22sec announcement represented more than just running a faster mile.  My endurance is strengthening! I am getting stronger! I am getting faster! And most importantly,  I DID NOT QUIT WHEN IT WAS HARD! 

You see, when I first laced up my running shoes in June 2014, I was slow, tired, out of breath, and heard a myriad of “you can quit” and “you are so tired” whispers in my head that I constantly had to battle. There were many mornings when I would have rather turned over and continued to sleep, or listen to the many excuses I had lined up for myself like “girl you were up 2 times last night with the baby, you need your rest!” or “just run later!” or “its just too cold out there today.Many of times, its our own thoughts that defeat us before we can even get started. There have been times during my runs when I knew I was tired, when I was doing all I could to even out my breathing to decrease my heart rate, and I had to combat “go ahead and quit” thoughts with self affirmations like “I am not tired”, “I have two more miles in me”, and “I will finish strong”.  Sometimes, we don’t have a pack of clappers and shoulder patters behind us when we embark on a new journey. Sometimes, we have to do it alone and be our own pom-pom squad and give ourselves our own inspiring speech to get us through that 2nd half.

So I ask you today. What goals do you have that you have talked yourself out of? What dreams do you have that have been running around on your wheel of excuses like that hamster displayed in the pet store? Trust me, I have been the queen of excuses time and time again. I have wasted years of singing the “I have a dream” song to myself and then turning around and reaping the guilt that stems from the realization that yet another year has passed and I hadn’t done one thing to see those dreams manifest. Another New Year’s resolution proclaimed with no real plans to sustain it. Another season of me looking in the mirror and not liking the weight I was at. This time, when I put on my shoes, I didn’t want it to be another lackadaisical attempt. I wanted to be consistent, I wanted to be progressive, and I wanted to run my best mile every single day.

If you need help like I did combatting your own self, I encourage you to turn to our “lamp”, the Word of God. It always begins with discipline! This scripture especially hit home for me. Discipline does not feel good in the moment. Training is not always easy. But it is worth it.

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. 

Hebrews 12:11 (NIV)

As I sit here and reflect, I am overcome by emotion because I can face myself. I can look myself in the eye when I see my reflection and tell my own self, “you did it girl! I am proud of you.” This time, I did not give up. This time, I did not quit. This time, I completed the training process of being disciplined enough to hit the pavement and put one foot in front of the other and push those negative thoughts aside.  Now, I lay out my running gear before I even go to bed. Now, my alarm is set to ring before the kids wake up for the day. Now, I look at my calendar and map out what days I will run and what days I will hit the gym. So I encourage you to ask yourself, what is your pavement? What’s the thing waiting for you to hit with everything you’ve got? We can have all the faith in the world, but faith without works is dead (James 2:26).

This journey has taught me that when we make goals, we must have two things in order:

1) A Plan.

““Write down the vision and make it plain on tablets so that whoever reads it may run with it.” (Habakkuk 2:2)

2) Clear Steps of Preparation to Execute the Plan.

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” (Provers 16:3)

So I say to whomever may be reading this. You can do it! But it won’t be accomplished until YOU believe you can do it. Commit to making that plan TODAY! Your best mile is waiting for you :)

 

 

In The Beginning

Before there was My Life With These Kids, there was just us… Red & Steph, Steph & Red, our little version of Love & Basketball, except football is more appropriate.

Red, the little boy from Mrs. Timney’s 5th grade class, quietly reserved, popular without trying, naturally athletic, and graceful. Strange to describe an 11 year old boy as graceful, but he just was. He was polite, never used bad language like the rest of the little bad boys, he displayed manners, he never acted out in class for the sake of a laugh or a “class clown” title. He just was.  Quiet, attentive, observant, cool with confidence, and charmingAnd the boy they called Red, whom his mom named Jermaine (yes, after Jermaine Jackson – blank stare), had a crush on me! I never would have known had it not been for his mom visiting our classroom one spring afternoon in 1992. The sun was glaring through the classroom windows, and us students were jittery with the excitement that warm weather and spring and almost summer time brings! His mother chatted with Mrs. Timney, and then her eyes scanned the room as she asked, “which one of you is Stephanie?”

Let me describe Ruthie for you. My now mother in law. She is LOUD. LOL super nice, vibrant, and LOUD. To say she has a big personality is an understatement. Her personality is huge. So picture a shy 5th grade little girl, getting singled out by the loud vibrant mother of the cute, big brown-eyed, coolly confident boy in class who has never even talked to you. I was kinda scared! But I slowly raised my hand, and watched her eyes land on me. She gave me a big smile and proclaimed, “oh! That’s who my son likes. Cute little girl!” I’m sure Red would have liked to melt in the wooden floor at that very moment, but he remained silent, and the only indication that he was embarrassed was seen through him biting his lower lip.

And that’s how Red & Steph, the story of “us”, began! We took 5th grade graduation photos together, he chased me around on the playground during recess, we went to Washington Jr High School together, and it was in the 6th grade that my father first learned of some boy named Red. He knew because I shared a room with my older sister, Tres, and we had the privilege of having our own phone line way back in 1992! Now that was high class! But anyways, our family was eating dinner, and for some reason, my little irritating brother, Solomon, heard our room phone ring, answered it, and came bouncing down the stairs with excitement yelling “oooohhhh daddddyyy! Its a boy on the phone for Stephhhhhhh!!!”

My dad and I simultaneously jumped from the table, my dad racing up the stairs toward our bedroom, with me close behind, already dreading the impending doom I was facing.  He reached the phone, and spoke with disdainful authority “who is this! how did you get my daughter’s  phone number! She does not receive boy phone calls, do not call back!” Me, heart pounding and ready to choke the living daylights out of Solomon who I named “Man” as a 17 month old toddler because I couldn’t pronounce his name. And Man in return looking back at me and giggling his little annoying little brother laugh.

But, that was the beginning. We snuck and talked on the phone over the course of 4 years until my dad realized he could not not let me talk to Red on the phone. There were times I wrote Red letters, three to be exact, and broke up with him because he was still too shy to talk to me, but then we always found our way back “going together” somehow. We had our first, disgusting kiss right by my locker in the 6th grade (btw, reflecting on my 11 year old self kissing is really making me shake my head). In my head it was supposed to be a scene from The Young & The Restless (a soap opera I was forbidden to watch…but no one was home after school to stop me lol), but instead, after it was over I raced outside and spit in the grass, scraping my tongue with my finger nails, hoping to erase what had just happened. But….that was just the beginning. We’ve had plenty of practice over the years, hehe.

Red & Steph at 8th grade prom, in my Gantos dress.
Red & Steph at 8th grade prom, in my Gantos dress.

Today, I am sitting here thinking about our beginning, and I have flashes of memories in my mind that include the many football games and glorious days as Red as the most highly recruited HS football player in the midwest, him attending the prestigious all-boys catholic school while I’m at one of the city’s 2 high schools (Go Chiefs!), sharing our first “I love you” during our senior year, going to college together at the University of Michigan (he could have went anywhere…but HE followed ME to Michigan … what a stalker :0 ), the days we hung out on campus with his fellow football buddies, us taking catechism together at the church I grew up in (Straight Gate in the house!), him taking me back to Webster Elementary where we began and asking for my hand in marriage. I said “yes” on Saturday, August 9th, 2006, and we said “I Do” on Saturday, June 16th, 2007.  Our first dance was to “I Gotta Be” by Jagged Edge, and we’ve been doing our best to be that and more ever since.

After we said "I Do!"
After we said “I Do!”

Jermaine Maurice Gonzales, better known as Red, has been my everything. He is my first and only love, the one I can share my insecurities and fears with, the one that has taught me to give compassionately, the one who outside of my family, has given me unconditional love. He is hardworking, and so charming that once one is in his presence and engaged with him, they leave feeling like they just found their new BFF.  He loves the Lord, and you will hear him banging out to Christian rappers like Lecrae, Da Truth, and Bizzle on any given day. The one that picked up where my parents left off and enjoyed making me happy and giving me some of my heart’s desires. Three of those heart’s desires are little versions of him. Jabin Jermaine, Caleb Jermaine, and Elijah David Jermaine Gonzales. Our sons.  All two years apart.

And that’s how I am blessed to be before you today, and share with you the heart bursting love, joy, ups and downs, victories and frustrations, spiritual journey, of My Life With These Kids. I am so excited that this will be a place for me to share, encourage, uplift, and inspire like so many of you have done for me. Sure I will share the funny stories, the Caleb-isms (my Facebook family knows about these), but I will also delve a little deeper into topics and issues that God has laid on my heart regarding raising a Christian family, having all boys, finances, maintaining a prosperous marriage, health & wellness, and so much more.

Me with my first born, Jabin!
Me with my first born, Jabin!
Me with my 2nd born-Caleb!
Me with my 2nd born-Caleb!
Me with my 3rd son, Elijah aka Eli!
Me with my 3rd son, Elijah aka Eli!

I have to admit, I was so fearful to start a blog, because there are so many genius blogs out there, blogs that have made me ugly cry, gut laugh, and hold my head higher with inspiration. But there is always room for one more. Because I know that my desire and gift to write will make room for me (Proverbs 18:16). Until next time! Muah!