Mothers Day 2014

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!

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    I'm married to my first kiss, my first love, my 5th grade sweetheart. I resigned from a fun, sometimes glamorous career in PR where I promoted and marketed major motion pictures for a living to be a stay at home mom! Well, being a stay at home mom was not my first goal when I resigned. I just wanted to do something different, more challenging, and more fulfilling. And God answered that prayer by blessing the hands of my husband so that I can be at home full time for our family. My blog will explore "My Life With These Kids" and all the aspects of "that life" :)

    110 thoughts on “In The Beginning”

        1. Not even sure if I’m leaving comment in. Right spot but this is nice and positive and I’m sure others will be able to relate or even learn from your. stories as parents, you deserve the best friends since kindergarten and time past so fast the four years we were around eachother we were super close like family Wow now were raising children.: ) God continue to bless y’all tell everyone I said hi

      1. I think the blogging is awesome!!! You can encourage young mothers with children and how your day begins as a mother of 3 boys. Also, it is so cute the love story that you and Jermaine have. I thought Everette and ours was unique but I thing you have us beat. What a wonderful idea , because being a stay at home Mom is truly a job too. I know first hand because I did the stay at home Mom for at least 3 years.

      2. Great work Steph! I must admit that this is my first time reading a blog of any kind, but I truly enjoyed reading yours! You have a real literary talent that makes your writing appear as a painting on the wall! Keep up the good work and continue to give to others the gift that you have been given! Love you cuz, Grace and peace in the name of Jesus!

      3. Stepanie, your story was breathtakibg. Almost as though I was watching a movie. So glad God has graced you with such unconditional love from a man that loves god. You have such wondrefiul role models.. never had the opportunity to sat thank you when I was at my.lowest season if life you provided movie passes, dinner before my long separstion. Stephanie no words can express how you made me feel at that time. May God continue to bless you and your wonderful family. Stat encouraged, this wonderful story needs to be heard for someone. Peace and Love, verna

        1. Oh my goodness, thank you so much for reading and taking the time to comment! and for you to say that i showed you kindness and compassion just makes me give God the glory…we are all imperfect in need of perfect grace! hugs!

    1. Time Fly’s I met you and Red in the 6th grade funny thing is our parents grew up together!LOL Great Blog!!! International James!

    2. Stephanie-
      This is so beautiful! I enjoyed reading every line. Keep up the great work, and I look forward to reading more.

    3. I love, love this Stephanie! Im so glad through divine intervention we found ourselves on an August baby board and through the power of social media, I’ve gotten a glimpse into what an awesome, phenomenal woman you are! Love your story of meeting your perfect other half and can’t wait to read more about your life with these kids!! Xoxo

      1. Luvaaa! The feeling is so mutual, thank you so much for reading and commenting, you don’t know what that means I was so scared to start a blog! The devil is a lie lol! Muah!

    4. I love it!! Why was I “ugly crying” reading this!?! And I NEVER cry! Thanks for sharing your story. Can’t wait until the next posting!

      1. LOL awww! Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to comment with your thoughts, that makes my heart soooo happy! I went through so many edits, and your comment is so appreciated!

    5. Steph, I love reading the journey of my circle of amazing women. I love when we become transparent for others to see, what it takes. I can’t wait to see how this continues to unfold. Great first post and cheers to many more!!!

    6. Priceless story! Love the story! And yes I remember your wedding; so beautiful! I look forward to the next blog. Keep em coming Steph!

    7. First of all, your life and your love story are just so beautiful!! I’m excited to read more, you are such a talented writer.

    8. Stephanie this is real nice. You’re a good writer. I enjoyed reading about the beginning of you & Red’s story, lol, soooooo cute. I know with the start of your new blog, your handsome boys will give you many reasons to post their moments of stardom. God Bless you and your family.

    9. Awww! This blog is already the bomb and you know how to write a story that makes people feel like they were right there with you. I felt like I was in the classroom with you when Ruthie pointed you out!lol Ha! You really make Red sound like a good guy!lol Can’t wait to read more!

    10. Ummm nailed it. I never knew you and Red’s back story and I was immersed. Loved your writing style! Can’t wait for more.

    11. Awwww my bestest!!!! I love this you are a true inspiration. It’s so funny thinking back when we were kids! I always knew you and Red were meant to be. It brings me joy watching two of my childhood friends build a beautiful family.

    12. Steph, that’s such a “graceful” narrative! I’ve been referred to as “too graceful”; so I share a bit of your descriptional history of your husband, and your gifting to write. Alright now, “Saturday-Saint”! 😉

    13. Go Girl!! This story reminds me so much about me and my hubby… I can’t wait for more, your facebooks posts keep me continuously entertained and encouraged! I know this will be a good one! You are truly blessed!

    14. Stephanie,
      This is awesome! I truly enjoyed reading your first blog post & look forward to reading more. Your boys & Red are very lucky to have you! God bless!

    15. Steph,
      I truly enjoyed reading your blog!! I smiled the entire time. I call this a testimony of GODS plan coming to pass.
      May GOD bless you and your family with all your hearts desires, peace, joy, happiness, love and much success.

    16. Wow, such an inspiring story in many ways. The first describing word that came to my mind was, “Compatibilty”. God is a given for you both, but compatibility, then friendship screamed out. Thank you for sharing the story.

    17. Amazing!! So happy that you are doing this for you and so many others that will now be able to enjoy you as well. This will be a great read for your kids and grand kids, etc…in the future too! You are an amazing family with a true love story, that is rare to hear nowadays. So glad you are sharing!! Xo
      PS – maybe a reality TV show? :)

    18. Not only did I read the whole thing, I enjoyed every bit of it! You definitely nailed this and it was cool to know the beginning of Steph & Red. Proud of you and I may even read the next one. Love ya girl!

    19. Hey Lady! Congrats and good luck with the blog, but I know with God on your side, nothing can stop you.

      I’m not really a blog reader, however for the third or fourth time, I’m reading a blog that is engaging, funny, and relatable. I loved hearing how you all met, and by the end of the passage, it was as if I knew him. Not many people our age have been together that long, so it feels good to have someone I can relate to. Looking forward to the next selection.

    20. Stephanie, I love your story and your ¨Calebisms¨! Cannot wait to read more. Keep ’em coming. Use your gifts. God bless!

    21. NOW I understand the questions! Thanks for starting a blog for women in your age, a wife, a mommy, a Christian and a real woman! Let’s continue to get the word out about marriage, our successes and failures, the tears and laughter….How else will others achieve the same with grace and committed devotion? Can’t wait for more…maybe we can stop the negative part of fb and have others reading and writing: our own soap operas…lol love u both

    22. Way to go Steph-Steph!!!!Thanks for sharing this wonderful love story! You are such a talented writer and I’m glad to see how God is stirring up the gifts that’s inside of you. You have so much to offer to the world and I’m looking forward to the next read! May God continue to give you the desires of your heart! Love Ya!

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