You May Not Remember Me…

It has been almost five years since my last blog post. To say a lot has changed would be an understatement…

When I started to blog in 2013, I was newly married with four young kids at home in a blended family. We were so incredibly happy and the kids were thriving in our new blended family. We had difficult relationships with our former spouses so I found it to be cathartic to write about my experiences. As time went by, I was inundated with stories from other divorced families who were experiencing the same difficulties we were experiencing. At the time, I wrote a lot about how the situations we were encountering would affect the children in the future. I started a book about my experiences, but I have put the book on hold so I can see how some of these situations play out prior to publishing.

Many people have wondered why I stopped writing five years ago. Up until that point, I thought I was doing pretty great with the co-parenting thing. I may not have done everything right, but I worked hard to keep the peace and to try to do whatever possible to make things easier for my kids. We were on a good custody schedule and everyone was happy. Then five years ago, when our youngest two girls were becoming teenagers, things went horribly wrong. Situations happened in our life that made me think, “Why am I writing about this stuff, when I clearly have no idea what I am doing?” I had tried everything I could think of to improve our relationships and they were only getting worse. My stepdaughter stopped speaking to us and we had no idea why. My stepson moved in with us full time for a while and then left full time. My kids were spending more time with their dad and I was struggling with the new 60/40 split when they had predominately been with me since birth. It was a very hard time in my life and so I stopped doing the one thing that used to bring me peace. I stopped writing about it.

I gave up on the thing that I believed in from the beginning. I gave up on co-parenting. I gave up on trying. I stopped talking about it to Joe. I sadly chose to not think about the kids when they were not with us. It was my coping mechanism. If I thought about it like they were just away at boarding school, then I could handle it better. I just shut down. Sure we still went to all of their games and we still had my kids a couple days a week… during those times I could feel normal, kind of. However, I wasn’t completely happy.

Over the past five years, I have spent all of my energy into growing a successful real estate career and focusing on my friendships. I stopped trying to force relationships that were obviously not working. I stopped texting. I stopped lecturing. I stopped trying. It wasn’t until we became empty nesters that things finally feel right again… Ironically, we have better relationships with all four kids than we have in years. They are free to make their own decisions and so it’s such a blessing now to have them FaceTime, call, visit, etc… We genuinely have a great time together every time they are home.

As a mother, my biggest desire for my children is for them to go out in the world and accomplish great things while learning to be independent. I want them to make their own decisions and shape their own futures. Of course I am here to talk and advise when needed, but for me the biggest success will be for them to make something of themselves and travel and try new things and meet new people. One son will be finishing his degree in accounting next year and our youngest is a freshman playing basketball in college who has already decided she wants to move to NYC when she graduates. Our oldest son is working full time and our oldest daughter is working to go back to college. I am so proud of them as they all work toward their goals. I want to watch them all soar!

My point in writing all of this is to give hope to those who may not have the best relationship with their kids after divorce. Parental alienation is real and very insidious. So if things are not great or if your kids are on the “team” of the other parent and don’t think they can love you both or if you just can’t get them to even answer the phone or see you… there is hope. There will come a day when they see the whole picture. It will take some maturity on their part, but it does happen. They will finally understand that they can love both parents and that there is no competition in that. And let me tell you that it is a beautiful day when it happens. Your relationship will become stronger than ever and you will have hope for what the future holds. Look at me… I am even writing again! Keep loving them every single day and they will come back. ❤


Be a Follower….

Dear loyal friends, family, lurkers and fans…

Three months ago I decided to close my old blog, “Life’s a Beach,” which was about my life as a single mother and transitioned to my new blog, “Life in a Blender,” which is about my life in a blended family.  I have truly enjoyed all of the support of my readers and I welcome your messages and comments.  My goal is to be an inspiration to others who may face the same issues that I have faced in the many facets of my life – divorce, single motherhood, remarriage.

WordPress shows me (as the admin for the page) how my readers are finding the blog and it appears there are those of you who actually daily go to Yahoo or Google and search for my blog by my name and/or the blog name.

The simplest thing to do is to “follow” my blog by clicking on the “follow” box in the bottom right hand corner of this page.  The following pops up:

CaptureAll you have to do is enter your email address and click “sign me up” and you will receive an email each time I post a blog.

My blog will be sent directly to your email address!!! No more searching.  No more checking in to see if I have posted.  You will receive it with no trouble for you.  Then you can read it or delete it.  Up to you.

Trust me, I know how busy life can be.  This is just one way to save you a few minutes in your busy day.  I usually say be a leader, but in this case… be a follower.

xoxo, me

P.S.  Check me out on FB too:  Life in a Blender


Let Them Be Kids

IMG_5663Our trip to the beach last week was absolutely perfect.  We stayed in an old cottage that belongs to some dear friends of my parents.  I love everything about that place.  There is only one television, which I believe was turned on only once very briefly during the entire week.  The remainder of the week was spent rocking in the rocking chairs on the front porch or just laughing around the table together as a family.  I imagine that cottage has seen many nights of endless laughter and bottomless wine bottles.

The kids were happy and they didn’t even need all of the modern conveniences that we are all so accustomed to in our lives today… we just needed our family.  They never even asked to watch television.


We spent a LOT of time rocking on the front porch

When we first got to the cottage, I went upstairs to put our stuff in our rooms and I made a quick stop in the little upstairs bathroom.  First off, this little bathroom is UHHHH-MAZING!!!!  It has a claw-foot tub and has wood paneled walls.  There is a cute little brick doorstop that is decorated with some fancy needlework, but what really caught my eye was that the door lock did not work, so there was a small hook and eye lock.  Just like the bathroom at my grandmother’s cottage in Minnesott Beach.


Brings back a lot of good memories…

Then I went downstairs and saw the little closed in back porch with a clothesline across the room and I felt like I had been teleported back to my childhood.  All of a sudden I could visualize myself at my grandmother’s cottage.  I could even smell the smells.  And those were the smells of summer…


Back porch of Gran & Mammy’s cottage in Minnesott Beach

Waking up early in the morning the cottage always smelled of bacon.  What an amazing way to wake up in the morning to the sound of bacon frying in the frying pan in the room with you!  The cottage had two small bedrooms, but my brother and I slept on the twin beds that were in the family room which was open with the kitchen.  There was no air conditioning, so the blowing fans would increase the tasty smell of bacon as it oscillated back and forth.

Midafternoon, after spending the entire day swimming in the tide or fishing on the pier, the house would most likely smell of crab.  Mammy would usually boil a pot of crabs every day and cocktail hour would be spent on the front porch looking at the gorgeous view of the Neuse River while picking crabmeat.  Mammy knew that I loved to help but my labor was more selfish than anything else and there would not be much left in my bowl once my task was complete.


It wasn’t that color, but that’s the cottage!

I recall that it would be warm at times, but most of the time the breeze coming off the river would keep the cottage a moderate temperature.  Of course we were typically sunburned after a day on the beach, so we may have felt a chill because of that anyway.  If a storm blew in it would cool down quickly… I remember learning how to tell when a storm was coming by how far we could see down the river.

Our summers were spent with freezer pops and sand spurs and catching fish off the dock.   If the wind was blowing in the right direction then we could spend all day filling holes in the sand with jellyfish to make our own homemade “jelly.”  A day without a jellyfish sting was a lucky day in our book, but if we were stung we always knew there was someone nearby with a cigarette so we could rub tobacco on the sting.

Our feet were tough like leather from the hot pavement, our skin on our backs was peeling, and our hands had cuts from crab shells, but the memories I have of my childhood will be carried in my heart for the rest of my days.  Childhood is supposed to be just like that… carefree and fun.  When parents divorce, we feel like we have “robbed” the childhood from our kids.

I think that the theory that divorce robs a child of his/her childhood is not definitive.   I agree that it is certainly possible since some parents choose to burden their children with “adult issues.”  Divorce in and of itself does not have to rob anything from the children if the parents behave correctly.  Talking about money issues or trying to explain your divorce reasoning to a child is not appropriate.  If you focus on the children and making sure their innocence remains, then they can grow through a divorce just the same as we can.  They can even be better than before.

In our case, we have not robbed our kids of their childhoods.  Joe’s kids have memories of their lives with their mom and dad together just like my kids have memories we made before Joe and I got together.  We all enjoy sharing our memories and in no way do we minimize time that was spent or is spent with the other parents.  My stepchildren like telling stories about when their parents were together and rather than get quiet when they do, I engage them in conversation and smile and listen to their stories.  Those stories are what have made them who they are.  And I LOVE who they are.

More importantly now, we focus on making new memories as a new family.  We are still new to this, but we have already established new traditions that we want to continue to do each year.  We focus on our kids BEING KIDS…

When they are my age, I want them to remember how much fun it was being kids.  I want them to talk about fishing on the lake across the street or running on the greenway with Joe and me or our yearly trips to the mountains and the beach.  I want them to fondly remember going to concerts together and Durham Bulls baseball games.  I want them to think about how much fun we had at supper club cookouts and church and eating together at the table.  I know they will never forget when Joe asked me to marry him during a fun game of flashlight tag on the golf course.

If you are divorced, don’t let parental guilt creep in to make you think you are robbing childhood from your kids.  Just spend all of your energy in making sure you focus on your kids and make new memories with them.   No one ever says on their deathbed, “I sure wish I spent more time working,” but they do say, “I wish I spent more time with my kids.”

Even as a single parent, you can do plenty of things to create memories that don’t cost money.  You don’t have to go on extravagant trips to create memories.  One of my children’s favorite memories so far is when I woke them up in the middle of the night and we climbed out onto the roof with blankets and watched a meteor shower.  It didn’t cost a thing but they will remember it for the rest of their lives.


Fishing is free

And never minimize the memories they have of you with their other parent and never minimize the new memories they are creating with their other parent.  Show interest if they want to talk about fun things they do with the other parent, but do not be intrusive.   Show them you love them and are interested in everything about them and they will be able to enjoy their childhood in spite of the divorce.   They should never feel like certain topics are taboo.  They should be able to talk to you about anything without fear of your reaction.

LET THEM BE KIDS… they will have their chance to worry about adult problems when they are adults.


Silly girl

In The Big Leagues – Part II

I know, I know, I know… I said I would post part two days and days ago, but I just didn’t.  This particular topic has been a struggle for me because there are just SO MANY things that we are doing differently this time that choosing the top five things has been tough.  Very tough.

A few days ago I went to dinner with one of my best friends who just recently got engaged.  We had a beautiful backdrop at the Boylan Bridge Brewpub and we talked about some serious stuff.

Gorgeous view with a gorgeous friend...

Gorgeous view with a gorgeous friend…

She has two kids and is also marrying a (wonderful) man with two kids… and she wanted to pick my brain about how we are “making it work.”  They will also be a party of six in just a few short months.

I told her that I was actually writing a blog about five things that we are doing differently this time around and she burst into laughter and said, “Just FIVE??? I feel like we are doing EVERYTHING differently!”  And that is so true.  Often in new relationships we find ourselves wanting to do everything exactly the opposite considering we have always been told that the definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.  But sometimes not EVERYTHING needs to be different if the people involved are different.

In my blog the other day I talked about the first two things that I feel like I am doing differently this time around…   Communication & Releasing Control.   Here are the next three:

3) Having Date Night – We are working really hard to focus on nurturing our relationship.  The kids know this because we hug nonstop.  Yep, nonstop.  We even slow-danced at Highway 55 last weekend at the lake while waiting on our dinner order.  Joe’s kids were with us and they were red-faced and laughing.  As part of nurturing our relationship, we are making sure to schedule weekly date nights.  That has been an easy task this summer because we have had a lot of time without kids.  We try to do it when we have no kids, because my son in particular has stressed that he doesn’t want us doing date night when we have them.  As I have said, he is the one with the most resistance to change and he is not used to me ever getting a sitter when the kids are with me.  Even while Joe and I were dating, we would always do our date nights every other weekend when my kids were with their dad.

We even have started doing “in-home date nights” while the kids are with us.  When we were at the beach for a week last month with all of the kids, we told them one night that we were having date night and they were not allowed to come upstairs until 10pm.  That gave us a couple of hours to snuggle on the couch and spend time together.  They stayed downstairs watching tv and playing Xbox.  We had a nice time and at exactly 10pm all four kids were standing at the end of the couch together (the mental picture is awesome and I wish I had it to show you) saying, “Did you have a nice date night?  Because it’s OVER now…”  And they jumped onto the large sectional sofa with us to settle in and watch tv.

They may laugh at us, but I am thankful that our children can see what a healthy relationship is supposed to look like.  Before my divorce, that was one of the hardest things for me to swallow.  I knew that our relationship was dysfunctional, but all I could think about was that my children would grow up thinking that was NORMAL… and I was NOT okay with that.  Now they see how important our relationship is to us.  They don’t see us living separate lives in the same home.  They see how much we enjoy being together.  Our relationship is the glue to our family.

Now that we have our own “studio apartment” essentially, we can have date night any night we want to turn the skeleton key in the door.  We have Joe’s sectional sofa in our bedroom now, so we have our own living area along with our bed.  We have joked that if we had an electric skillet to cook bacon and a dorm-room refrigerator then we would never have to even leave our room… hmm.

4) Keeping the Faith –  Our faith is such an important part of our relationship.   By making our individual relationships with God the priority, we are better equipped to handle the challenges and struggles that we will surely face while blending families.  Marriage is the firmest foundation there is but it is not ALL about happiness… it’s about encouraging your spouse and steering him/her in the right path to have a strong relationship with Christ.  This is especially true if you have to have day-to-day dealings with a difficult ex.  We have to continue to keep the focus on Christ-centered thinking and not allow outsiders to affect our relationship.  We encourage one another to have an other-centered attitude even when dealing with people who are completely self-centered and toxic.

This is very important to me because I have never been in a relationship where it was clear that Christ comes first.  I am so thankful to have someone like Joe, who is such a strong spiritual leader in our home.  We work hard to model our Christ-like love and commitment at home in front of our children so they see His witness through us, then they can KNOW that divorce is not even an option for us.  That gives our kids stability in an otherwise unstable time.

And even if we are not treated well by others, which is common after a divorce, we must always show a heart of compassion.  At every meal we pray for the food we will receive, we pray for family members who are sick, and we pray for the part of the family that is not with us on that day… we even make a special point if the kids are going back to the other half of their family that we pray they will have a good time and be safe while away.  We demonstrate kindness toward their other parent because we cannot show the kids Christ’s love if we cannot even show an ounce of kindness toward someone who is that important to them.

And, finally…

5) Affirming One Another – Both Joe and I have taken Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages test and not surprisingly, we are both very high on “Words of Affirmation” and “Physical Touch.”  What that means is that we both show and receive love by hugging each other and telling each other how much we mean to one another.

Joe does SO MUCH.  As I have said over and over, I am not sure how I made it through the day without him in my life.  Even as I am sitting here writing this afternoon, he is marinating salmon and doing tons of laundry.  In the past, that stuff would just not get done… or my writing would just not get done.  When there is only one of you, you just can’t do everything!  It is great to have someone say, “Why don’t you let me go get him from practice so you can help her with her homework.”  Because of this, I tell him EVERY SINGLE DAY just how thankful I am for him.  No matter how small the deed, I try to look him in the eyes and thank him for what he has done.

And he does the same thing… we work hard to say thank you to each other because we are so appreciative for WHAT WE HAVE.  We make sure that we never whine about what we DON’T have.  It’s very important for me that he feels my unconditional love for him because I know that he has never experienced that kind of love.  So I make sure that he knows that while I appreciate all that he does, I do NOT expect it.  And I am SO THANKFUL.

So those are the five things that we are doing differently this time around: Communicating, Releasing Control, Having Date Night, Keeping the Faith, and Affirming One Another.  While there are plenty of other things we are trying to do differently, those are what I consider to be my top five.  I know that as our relationship progresses out of the “honeymoon stage” (which personally, I am not sure at this point could EVER happen) that other things will arise and we will continue to have challenges regarding our ex-spouses, but the strength in our relationship due to the work we put INTO IT will make all the difference.

I Sure Don’t Feel Very “Lucky”

I am not an overly irrational person (most of the time), but tonight I had one of those moments.

We had the best week ever.  It was our first “family adventure” in our new normal.  All six of us spent the week together without interruption.  Every second of every day was spent together… and we all survived and we all had a BLAST!

They are my EVERYTHING...

They are my EVERYTHING…

Admittedly, I was prepared for the worst.  I just assumed since it was the first time we would all be together for that length of time that for sure someone would get on someone’s nerves, someone would offend someone else or there would just be some sort of falling out just from being together too long.  Thankfully that was not the case.

When we got home today – after spending the last six and a half days together around the clock – the girls ran up to their room and started playing UNO.  Seriously?  They still wanted to be together and playing!  My heart was so incredibly happy.

photo copy 4

I love that they are sisters… and friends….

We dropped my son off with his dad as we were driving in to town earlier today since he had basketball practice.  Then after my daughter’s basketball practice tonight, we all said our goodbyes and I took my daughter out to her dad.  As we were riding out there, we had “The Cup Song” from Pitch Perfect blasting loudly and we were both singing at the top of our lungs.

“When I’m gone… when I’m GOOOONNNNEEEE… you’re gonna miss me when I’m gone…”

I kept looking at her and smiling and my heart felt like it would burst.  I kept thinking, “I want to remember this moment for the rest of my life.”  It was a Taylor Swift “I had the best day with you today” moment (which is another song that I cannot make it through without falling to pieces).

Then the irrational thinking kicked in… I thought, “This is exactly how they show it in the movies right before something terrible happens.”  It was that moment of perfection – after a perfect week together – that made me think about loss.  It was the “City of Angels” moment right before Nicholas Cage gets killed or the “Bust a Move” moment in Blindside right before the car crash.

If you are a parent in a divorced family, then you know that these feelings can sometimes creep in.  Maybe your ex allows your kids to swim alone or maybe your ex leaves the kids with people you don’t know.  There are many scenarios that make you fear for the safety of your children.  Even if your ex is Mr./Ms. Perfect, you still are not able to be there all of the time to ensure the safety of your children.

photo copy

What if he wants to dive and it’s too shallow and I’m not there to stop him???

And that’s where I am right now… fear mode.  I’m the Mama Bear who is out of reach of my babies and if something happens, then I am not there to protect them.  I’m not there to tell my son that he can’t shoot bottle rockets out of his hand or to stop my daughter from driving the golf cart out on the street.

As I drove back from dropping my daughter off tonight I cried.  I haven’t done that after dropping them off in years.  When we were first divorced I cried a lot after dropping them off, but you get used to the transitions and you learn to cope.  Tonight, however, I cried hot tears and a whole lot of them.  And when I got home I had to withdraw to my room to write this.  I didn’t want my bonus babies to witness my heartache.

Joe’s kids go with their mom tomorrow for the week also, so we are child-less until next Saturday.  Some people think that we are “lucky” because we have this free time, but I feel anything but lucky right now.  I feel heartbroken.  I feel sad.  But I most certainly do NOT feel lucky.

We will make the best of our time.   We will try to speak to our kids daily (that’s a blog topic for another day).  We will have many date nights and we will watch what we want to watch on television and we will eat what we want to eat.  We will stay out for one more drink because we don’t have a sitter at home waiting for us.  We may even wear less clothes around the house (it’s not all negative I guess).

photo copy 2

My amazingly handsome husband – my heart & soul… we will get through this week together.

But there will be something missing and that hole in our hearts won’t be filled until we have all four babies back in our nest next weekend.  I’m already counting down the days…

photo copy 3

I love how they love each other….

Doesn’t everyone drink red wine from the bottle on the beach?

Last week, I took my two kids on a little vacation to stay in a camper on the beach.  Joe had to work and his kids were with their mom, so my kids and I went solo.  We have always taken vacations with just the three of us – the beach, the river, Disneyworld, Washington, DC – but this was the first one since Joe and I have been married.  So this was a special little bonding experience for us…


On a bike ride with my babies.

I can’t wait until next week when we all six will hit the beach for a week as a family on our first true family adventure.  This was our “pre-vacation.”  It was like ordering the sampler appetizer platter at Applebee’s – you get just enough to taste it, but it only leaves you craving more.  And right now, I AM CRAVING MORE BEACH.

As I think about this week at the beach I have come to realize some truths that I learned on our little pre-vacation.

1) I may be spoiled, but I am capable.

When we first got to the beach, I pretty much had to single-handedly bring every ounce of everything that was in the car in on my own. I mean, EVERYTHING.  The kids were excited to be there, so they wanted to run around and check everything out.  Ok, so maybe my son had his X-box hooked up to one of the televisions before I even finished unloading the car, but he sure didn’t help with anything else.

I turned on the AC and then I turned on the water pump.  When I turned on the water, it spit at me.  Not just a little drip, but a full fledged splash in my face.  Apparently it doesn’t help to have the water pump on if the water leading to the camper is shut off.  As I was trying to figure this out, I apparently thought out loud and said, “I need Joe here. I can’t do this by myself.”

My sweet 13 year old son responded quickly… he said, “No offense mom, but you were a single mom for HOW many years? I think you can handle it.”

(insert my beaming pride here)


Shocker, this was while we were eating out one night.

I am so proud that my teenage son looks at me and sees a strong woman who is capable of taking care of her kids with no assistance.  He knows that I am with Joe because I WANT to be with Joe and not because I NEED Joe.  What a blessing that he has learned that on his own!

Too many women jump right into a new marriage after divorce because they see an “eligible” man who can take care of them.  They quickly jump into their new “family” and all the kids see is that they need a man to take care of them.  I definitely don’t want my daughter to believe that.  My children know I have dated throughout the years, but they also recognize that I didn’t get married when I probably could have.  I waited for the right man for all three of us… and thank God for him.

2)   My kids can play well together when forced.

We live in a 5,000 square foot house and my kids still somehow find a way to get on each other’s nerves, but this week I threw them into a small camper for three nights and they got along like best buddies.  HUH???  Seriously, the camper was smaller than my bedroom, but the kids had fun and laughed and played with minimal to no fighting.

ImageThey spent all of their time on the beach playing together and I think that my daughter only ran up to me crying once (this is a major accomplishment).  Of course we had not been home from vacation for more than a couple of hours when I found this printed out next to the labelmaker on the coffee table:



So I am thinking that the next time my kids start to battle it out I should just lock them in the basement together.  Maybe confinement is what they need to get along.

3)   Eating & drinking the entire time on vacation makes you reevaluate.

I have eaten well.  And a lot.  I mean, A LOT.  Not to mention the amount of beers I drank on the beach.  The thing about summertime is that the hot weather makes me feel like I need to have drinks on the beach (or while unpacking boxes in my bedroom this afternoon or while typing a blog at noon, but whatever).  Plus the kids and I love going out to eat at the beach.  We have our few favorite places that we have to go every time we are there.


One of our favorite restaurants at the beach…

A big (no pun intended) problem with being at the beach is that I tend to compare myself to others.  I am not skinny.  I think I am pretty average, but I am definitely not skinny.  So when I wear a bikini on the beach, I am very self-conscious and find myself comparing myself to others.  I will see a bigger woman and think, “I don’t look like that? DO I????” And then sit and stew about how chubby I feel for the next hour.  All the while I am taking a swig of my third beer and eating an entire jar of honey roasted peanuts and a can of Pringles.

I always leave the beach with grandiose plans of a much improved life – a life where I exercise daily and only eat healthy foods.  Of course those well made plans also include eating everything I can while there because “I might as well go out with a bang.”


Yeah, this happened at the beach. More than once…

4) God has a sense of humor…

You think that when you go on vacation you can escape reality.  I mean, no one ever goes on vacation to get in the middle of drama.  They go to ESCAPE.  That is not always how it goes down.

It just so happens that my step-kids and their mom were also at the beach last week.  I assumed with them staying in a condo 12 miles down the beach, we would probably not have any run-ins.  I was mistaken… doubly mistaken.

The first night out we went to one of our favorite restaurants forgetting they were closed on Mondays.  Since they were closed, we went to our other favorite.  My son had been texting with his step-brother, so we knew they were there.  I told him to make sure they knew that we were going too so there would be no surprises.

It all went very well and we were excited to get to hug my step-kids and speak to their family, but then we slipped off alone and put some space between us so everyone could enjoy their own dinner.  I felt very good about it because it showed that we can co-exist and be around each other without incident and that evidently makes the kids very happy.  The kids are very vocal about their desire for us all to be on friendly terms, so it makes me so happy when we can show them that we are capable of it.

Ironically enough, as if God wasn’t having enough fun already, my ex-boyfriend that I dated off and on for about two years right before I started dating Joe also walked into the same restaurant.  Of course my kids ran to him to hug him and speak.  I waved from the table and thought, “Where is my ex-husband and his wife?  This whole comedy is not complete yet.”

So we may go on vacation to escape reality, but sometimes life just follows us.  All you can do is laugh at God’s sense of humor.

5) Nobody judges anybody at the beach.

I ate two Oreo Klondike bars in one night while watching Dodgeball.  Yep and no one said a word.

We spread Nutella on just about everything we had in the camper.  Because, seriously, Nutella tastes good on ANYTHING.  I think we pretty much finished the entire container that I bought for the trip.  That healthy fruit salad I made to bring on the trip??? Yeah, it tastes heavenly with Nutella.  But, again, NO ONE JUDGED US.

People walk around on the beach in bathing suits that they should NOT be wearing… but hey, at least they have the confidence to do it and at least they are walking, right??  We show solidarity in understanding that they too were probably eating Nutella with marshmallow creme with a beer at 11pm the night before.  We give each other a knowing smile as they walk past.

And finally, no one judges anyone for drinking on the beach.  And that is FACT.  All you have to do is walk down near the fishing pier and see all of the college kids and marines stumbling around and you know that I am speaking the truth.  Or, you can look around you and see that even the older folks are having drinks on the beach.  I spotted this old lady next to me one day:


Cheers to you, old red wine drinking on the beach lady…

Yes, that is a small bottle of red wine.  And she is drinking it straight from the bottle.  I think the best part is the way she is sitting there holding it.  Again, I didn’t judge.  I opened my Summer Shandy and imagined giving her a “cheers.”

Overall our vacation was a tremendous success, but I am excited for our real vacation to start on Friday.  It’s going to be a LONG week.  Joe and I are child-less all week and are looking forward to going to see Dave Chappelle (tickets that his amazing wife bought him for Father’s Day), but other than that we will be working our way to the weekend.

I’m a little scared though because the house we are staying in is bigger than the camper on our “pre-vacation,” so I’m not sure if my kids will be able to get along.  Maybe I can force them to sleep in a closet in the garage while we are there.

I’m kidding… kind of.

Breakdown in Aisle 10

Major milestone in the DeLoach home – we have officially been married over a week and we have made it with relatively few tears from anyone.  While that may (and, well, will most likely) change today when I limit snack intake after school (look for that blog coming soon!), we are grasping this victory.  Our focus with all four kids is simple:


Our first official (as a married family) family meeting is going to be this weekend.   The kids know the routine although the boys resist it like the plague.  We sit down and we essentially “air our grievances.”  If there is anything that is not going right or that someone thinks needs to be done differently, then the family meeting is the time to discuss it.  It’s important to both of us that there be no fear in expressing your thoughts.  We don’t want the kids to keep quiet about something because they fear our reaction.

The girls approach this airing of grievances a little differently than the boys… “Uh, I really don’t like it when you sing in the car. I’m not saying you sing bad, I just like to hear the real song.”  Not really what our goal is in having a family meeting, but it makes us proud that the girls can discuss things in a non-threatening way.

Joe and I also strive for complete and honest open communication.  Last night at the grocery store we had a disagreement over the cost of waffles… I protested that the waffles were regular price UNLESS you bought the whole Meal Saver Deal and Joe said that they were 2 for $4.00 despite the deal.  Right there in the frozen food section we almost got in our first fight – over Eggo’s waffles.  He told me I was wrong……………………


Ok, if you know me AT ALL, you know that it does not go over well when you tell me I am wrong.  Many of you have at one time (or 20) in your life seen me immediately glaze over and then completely shut down…. well, that’s pretty much what went down in aisle 10 at the Harris Teeter last night.  I walked around the rest of the grocery trip in a zombie-like haze.

As we were driving home (after a couple of unsuccessful attempts to kiss me), Joe said, “You said you wanted me to always tell you what I thought.  You said you never wanted me to go along with something just to keep the peace.  So I didn’t.”

Wow… my own words back to haunt me.  We have always talked about things that did not work in our first marriages that we never want to do again… and one of those things is the fear of expressing an opinion because your throat might get ripped out.  Once that realization hit me, I was instantly overwhelmed with love for him.  I most certainly do NOT want him to go along just to keep the peace.  That is not US at ALL.  Our relationship has a firm foundation in honesty, no matter how brutal.  Our children have even seen that honesty in action and hopefully are learning from it every day.  No fear in our home.  Only love and forgiveness and understanding.

So our plan is to keep that same honest communication that we find so important in our relationship as a priority with our kids.  The excuse that they are afraid to disappoint us is just not an acceptable reason to lie.  Lying for any reason will not be accepted (even though one of our friends informed us that all teenagers are LIARS… and there is nothing we can do about it except expect lies when they open their mouths).  Honesty first.  It saves a lot of anxiety and disappointment in the future.

And the next time Joe is honest with me when I don’t want him to be – about a new hair cut or a new outfit – then I will have to remember that honest communication is what has gotten us through the first eight days and it is what will get us through the next 40+ years.

Structure Brings Peace

While everyone else in the family is adjusting well with the new changes since our wedding last weekend, my nerves are not…

My good friends know that I have always had anxiety issues.  I tend to worry about things that do not need to be worried about and my thoughts get consumed with things I need to forget.  I have worked hard over the years to calm my anxious heart.

My happy place bring peace to my heart.

My happy place brings peace to my heart.

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Though an army besiege me, my heart shall not fear; though war break out against me, even then, I will still be confident. (Psalm 27: 1, 3)

My anxiety does not spring from doubt, but it comes from change… If you have anxiety you know that your life works much better when you have a routine.  I am calmed and find peace through predictability.  My calendar is color coded and detailed.  Joe knows that when we are going somewhere I have to know exactly what time we are leaving the house.  I will be ready at that exact moment.  Some would find all of the planning and organizing to be maddening, but for a person who has anxiety…


There is no doubt that this change in my life is GOOD CHANGE… but Joe coughed two nights ago after I had fallen asleep and I leapt out of the bed like I was going to shield my flock from who knows what.  After sleeping the last nine years with one ear always listening for the killers trying to get in I just can’t change overnight!  I have been the protector of my children (although we know who the real protector is), so it is hard to give over the reigns to Joe to be the protector.  Thankfully I have faith in the man he is and I know that he will take over that position with great pride.

Most importantly, the thing that brings me the greatest peace is God… I have spent a lot of time in prayer over the last week.  Praying that He will keep His hand on us throughout this process… praying that He will keep happiness in the hearts of the children… praying that He will be ever-present in our marriage.  And I have had to pray at night for him to slow my mind so that I can fall asleep… Joe held me last night as we prayed together and I fell asleep within seconds.  There are no coincidences.

The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them. (Psalm 145: 18-19)

With each passing day I am feeling stronger and more at ease – accepting our new normal step by step.  Maybe next week when Joe walks up behind me in the kitchen while I am making my coffee I won’t jump out of my skin when I turn around and he is there…

Until that day I will remember:

Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

I find peace in our unconditional love.

I find peace in our unconditional love.