Posted in Find Your Road Home, Marriage, a worthy challenge

25 Years: Years 21-now, 13 – 18

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I can already hear some of you now. I cheated and did not really outline every year. Well, I argue that I don’t need to because quite frankly, anyone still reading this at this point has known us and probably knows about the last five years due to Facebook. 

I will apologize for skipping yesterday. That was intentional. I didn’t want to interrupt family time.

There are things about the last five years that to me, seem like life just keeps getting more difficult. But if you step back for a second, it really isn’t. Life is just cyclical. We have always had struggles along the way. I think right now we just don’t have as many positives to distract us from the negatives. But it will all balance again. 

Since our 20th anniversary, we have had a lot happen:

  • Job losses
  • Job gains
  • Added Lucy and Thomas to the family (cats)
  • Lost Morgan
  • Lost a Grandma
  • Lost an Aunt
  • Lost another friend to suicide
  • Eric graduated high school
  • Alec graduated college
  • More job losses
  • More job gains

We have survived this crazy roller coaster ride for one reason and one reason only. Love. It is only love that can make one human exhibit as much patience as I believe John and I afford each other. Love keeps us communicating, even when we don’t really like each other. Love allows us to act with grace, even when the other doesn’t deserve it. Love gives us unconditional hope that the next day will be/have what we always wanted.

Love even asks, do you need anything, when coming home from work.

Just you baby.

For the next 25 years ❤️

Happy anniversary!!

Posted in Find Your Road Home, Marriage, a worthy challenge

25 Years: Year 20, 12 – 13

As we began our 20th year of marriage, we were in a routine that was pretty blah compared to the previous years.

We worked. The kids went to school. People visited for holidays. As I mentioned, without constant soccer, we were a little lost. Plus, John was depressed.

I turned 40 that February. John had people send me books. That was awesome.

Then I took the kids to Alabama for Leslye’s 40th birthday. I hit a deer on that trip. My little Corolla is a tank.

Right about then is when my work changed. The virtual team wouldn’t be just virtual and we widdled down to just me. I would also travel more. Soon we’d have new executives. More changes.

April had John and Eric going to the races. Then all of us traveling to Missouri (minus Alec) for Karen’s birthday. May had Eric and I back in Alabama for Leslye’s wedding.

We went to Iowa that June to support family, and I took the boys to Missouri for the 4th of July. I took the younger boys to Galveston the end of July. Interspersed we had the pool and baseball games. I was determined to have more family time.

By August, I was swamped and sick. Mono. Ugh. Who gets mono at 40.

Fall brought more of the same routine. Dylan started 4th grade. Eric started high school. Alec was off living with his friends for his 2nd year of college. Life was pretty ok.

Dylan and I would FaceTime to read. John and I arranged regular date nights. Alec came home fairly regularly, to eat. We even had made NASCAR part of the routine.

It wasn’t ALL perfect. But it was balancing back out. we certainly did a lot that year.

Posted in Find Your Road Home, Marriage, a worthy challenge

25 Years: Year 19, 11 – 12

NOTE: more photos will be added later tonight after I can access Facebook.

By our anniversary in 2011, we were feeling okay again. First, we had a lot of things to worry about other than our marriage. Dylan was really struggling in school and was diagnosed with ADHD. Not a surprise, I had been worried about him for over a year. 

Freshly diagnosed and medicated, we took Dylan and Eric to Missouri. We celebrated Thanksgiving and then John and I went to Southern Illinois for his cousin’s wedding. I have always LOVED the Bellamys in Southern Illinois, even his grandma who was awful to everyone. Aunt Mary is my favorite though. Anyway, John and I participated in the song where they have couples stay out for as long as they were married. I don’t know about John, but I was pretty proud that we didn’t have to step out until they said 20 years. There were only a few couples left (the “old guard” as I like to call them). It was the first time I had that feeling of actually succeeding when it came to my goal of “not getting divorced like my parents did.” We were up there, in front of other people, after the crappy year we had just had, and we had done it. We were going to get to 20 years. 

That weekend, I met Andy and Shana for the first time. Andy is John’s NASCAR cousin. I only mention this because it puts a notch on the timeline for when we became stronger fans. We had been fans since 2001, but we were about to shift to something a little more. 

John’s team was getting picked up full time at Dell. That was exciting news! He was enjoying what he was doing. My job was going pretty well. We had more virtual customers than ever before, and I had some strategic accounts. 

There was of course soccer. Alec played for Stony Point his senior year, as well as the club. He also coached. By this point, he was the only one left playing. We had taken Dylan out due to his behavior issues and Eric was playing football in middle school each fall.

We stayed home for Christmas. We had left Alec at home for Thanksgiving, but there was no way we were doing that for Christmas. He was pretty busy with all his friends and activities. Somewhere in there were plays. I feel like there was one in the fall AND one in the spring. We definitely enjoyed that Christmas the best we could. 

2012 kicked off with a bang. Again, non-stop activity for Mr. Alec’s senior year. In there we celebrated birthdays. Eric turned 13 in 2011. I turned 39. Dylan turned 8. John turned 42. And Alec turned the big 18. 

Eric started rowing that spring. It was something he could do in downtown Austin and I could stay late at work and just pick him up when finished. Sometimes John brought him down, and other times he took the Metrorail down. I remember the first time he was going to take the train. He asked what to do if someone tried to sell him meth. We said to say no, and maybe move towards adults. We weren’t worried about it, and I have always been all about making sure my kids weren’t afraid to do things like I am. Would we send Dylan on the train now? Heck no. Times and circumstances change.

We learned that spring that Dylan was also dyslexic and dysgraphic. His problems just continued to snowball. 

John and Alec went to their first Texas Motor Speedway race that April. They met up with the Eskelsons. 

We were attending various banquets and ceremonies for Alec. We had family, lots of family, coming to town. I was planning a GRAND weekend for the boy. 

The week before graduation John started talking to Glenn pretty regularly, I want to say daily if not more than once a day. I know there was a lot of texting. I didn’t know most of what was going on. I try not to pry at least until it’s all finished. John was pretty upset and usually, that makes him close off. 

I sent Glenn a text that night, telling him to just come to Texas and celebrate Alec’s graduation. He was our family too and he was always welcome. That’s the gist of it. I used to have a copy of it but a few phones later it’s been lost in the shuffle. 

I was at work and John called. Glenn killed himself. He found out from Facebook. He was devastated. He hung up to call more people. He gave me numbers of people to contact to try to verify. We tried to divide and conquer. I called Michelle and left a message. I called Kara. I called Leslye. From there, that day is a blur. 

Let me just say, I thought 2010-2011 was bad, it had nothing on this. As a couple, we had only experienced one death that was this BIG, his dad’s. I remembered how that was. I expected this one to have a lot more anger associated with it. 

Did I mention this was the Monday/Tuesday before Alec’s graduation? People were coming in just 2 days. John couldn’t leave to grieve like he needed, because his responsibility was to be here. He participated as much as he could, and family seemed to be okay giving him space. 

For Alec’s graduation, I had a bunch of stuff planned. We had graduation and the party after. We had water balloon fights. The littles and I made jewelry. We went to the water park. We had Family Olympics. We celebrated our un-birthdays (since we are never together for our real birthdays). I kept everyone thoroughly entertained. We wanted to make sure that family was together (or at least I did). We hadn’t been very successful at intermingling our families over the years, and I was determined. We are a hot blended mess and I love every single one of them. (they all love each other too now)

It’s summer again. Alec is getting ready to go to the University of Texas. Eric was going to be in eighth grade when school resumes. Dylan was going to be in 3rd grade. Fortunately, he was about to have a great school year for once. 

Last minute, I decided to take the boys to Florida that July. We stayed at Beth’s. It was a wonderful time and my last adventure with all 3 boys. We had enjoyed many summer adventures throughout the years. I LOVED road tripping with them. 

Alec lived at home that school year. He was attempting to do pharmacology. In hindsight, I wish he had gone to community college for the first two years. I firmly believe kids need to learn how to balance some things and going to community college often allows you to stay at home. Parents can then work with the child on budgets, limits, etc. I would have benefited. My oldest would have benefited.

By the fall of 2012, John was still at Dell. He was struggling emotionally. That’s about the most I can say. This struggle was going to continue for a while and loom over our household like a dark cloud. We’ve tried to talk about it several times and my conclusion is that I will never completely understand, and it’s okay. All I can do is love him, and make sure we communicate. If we communicate, we will be fine. 

I had to take on some more responsibility at work due to a colleague having her baby early. I enjoyed the new accounts, especially the ones that required travel for the foundation. 

Eric played football AND rowed that year. That lifting helped with rowing. There were parts he hated, but I think there were parts he liked. We just wanted him doing something. 

Alec was working, going to school, and had a girl friend. 

We were settling into a new routine. We were slightly lost. More changes were to come. Were we communicating? Not like we should. Although we really were doing the best we could at the time. 

Posted in Find Your Road Home, Marriage, a worthy challenge

25 Years: Year 18, 10 – 11

At the time, I would have called this the toughest year, or the worst year. I probably won’t put much of it into words because do we really need to dredge it ALL up? This isn’t that long ago that any of you who know us (really know us), remember what was going on. Let’s see if I can give you the gist without getting too graphic.

At the end of 2010, John was unemployed and I had lost my mind. The big factor here was money. Remember, WE SUCK WITH MONEY. This hasn’t changed over the years. It was just easier to suck with it when you have more to play with. Now we didn’t have squat to play with. We were saved by John’s 401K and the settlement for my ankle. This lack of money makes me crazy. It stresses me to the point I can’t even think clearly. It’s nuts. And unfortunately, it’s the theme from this point forward in our lives.

We stayed home for the holidays that year. We also hosted NYE. I miss our neighbors.

That spring I know I was ugly. I was walking twice a day due to the anxiety of what was going on. I was judgey. I was angry. I drank a lot. 

Work was making me do things I hadn’t done before – like travel. My confidence levels were rising. It didn’t help situations much.

There were of course the usual routines: soccer, birthdays and legos, etc. I took Alec to SXSW that year.

John actually tried to go back to the geotech job, but nothing changed and he left again. 

My mom visited that spring. John took her and the kids on a photo shoot one day.

John and I had our first part of the blow up on Alec’s birthday. We both admitted we were no longer happy. Now we had to figure out what to do about it. It was going to be a long and painful summer of truths. 

The kids and I Metz Beth and her kids at the Dallas Zoo.

That Memorial Day weekend, the boys and I went to Missouri for Mom’s 60th birthday party. Then we went to Illinois for some last minute prep for my 20th high school reunion. This was the last time I physically saw Glenn. We had lunch at Hammers. 

That summer was my reunion. I think it was fun. You be the judge. Hehe.

Throughout the summer John and I kept trying. We took dance lessons. We went to free concerts with the neighbor. We went to lunch once a week. We were intentional and we over-communicated a lot. The kids witnessed it all. Dylan won’t remember, but the other two will. I don’t know about John, but I’m so embarrassed by that still, that I don’t let myself get to that point anymore. I just don’t even go there. Gosh we were ugly.

By August, things started to turn around for John. He chose to work on some things personally. He got a job at Dell. It was temporary, but hey, that’s a start! I was getting bigger accounts at work and my confidence was growing tremendously. I was even traveling. 

Somehow we talked ourselves through the dislike. We didn’t trust each other yet. Or I should say, he didn’t trust me. I had no idea I shouldn’t trust him. Sigh. We were healing but with secrets. 

So how do two people stay together and survive all the yuck? My mom said on day one, “it’s complicated.” And she wasn’t wrong. But I still believe it’s love and communication that can get you through. 

Year 19 would be Alec’s senior year. Major life changes were on the horizon again. It would be a year of “lasts”. 

Posted in Find Your Road Home, Marriage, a worthy challenge

25 Years: Year 17, 09 – 10

Note: computer died while adding photos to post. I will finish in AM. In the meantime, enjoy the story.

The beginning of our 17th year was all about Dylan. He had appendicitis and needed an emergency appendectomy. My goodness! We had never done anything in an emergency, other than some stitches. I stayed in the hospital with Dylan and John hung out until visiting hours were over and then he went home. This was the day before Thanksgiving by the way. No one had come to visit that year (thank goodness). 

Dylan was released on Thanksgiving and we went to Wendi and Jesse’s for as long as Dylan could last. 

We didn’t know it yet, but this would be John’s last Christmas party with his work. We always enjoyed the parties, and the bonuses. But this year the boys were finally old enough to leave in the hotel room while we were at the party, and then the next morning we went to the Houston Zoo. (We like Zoos, can you tell?)

That Christmas we went to Illinois. We celebrated Eric’s 11th birthday there at Northgate. You know he’s had birthday celebrations two of the nostalgic Galesburg locations: Northgate and Happy Jo’s (twice). John didn’t come home with us that year. He had to work all the way up to Christmas Eve. So we skyped on Alec’s first computer. That was 2009. I also believe this was the year they received their first Xbox 360. That definitely changed things at the house.

This is the year I feel I bonded with Becca for the first time. I take full credit for her makeup obsession. 

In January, we picked out/up Stanley. Eric had rallied hard for a cat during our trip home. So we went. Stanley wasn’t a year old yet, but he was an older kitten for sure. He was also pretty sick. I adored him immediately. It took John a little longer, but he came around. 

The spring of 2010 was pretty busy. Alec had soccer, and by this point, he was playing with Crossfire. Crossfire was family to Alec and John. Eric and Dylan were both playing, and I was managing Dylan’s team. We did celebrate Dylan’s birthday, and build legos. 

In March, I went to Philadelphia for work. This time, Mom joined me. I met up with Erin for the first time since high school. And I presented at NSTA. I was also running again and was proud to run the streets of Philly.

John turned 40 at the end of March.  

In May, I had to go to Las Vegas to help with some curriculum alignment pieces. It was just a day trip and I flew home to get the younger two boys and drive to Illinois. Cecilia was graduating from X-ray Tech school, and we were going. 

At Cecilia’s party, I never even made it inside. I started on my way to the party to drop off the first load, and someone met me part way and took the items. On my way back for the rest, I slipped on the stairs at the hotel and broke my ankle. 

My Aunt Jonna found me and got Dad. He and Mike carried me to the car and Dad took me to the hospital. So much for that party. The kids had fun, and Karen ended up taking them during the extra time there.

For me, this was a turning point. What can you do with a broken ankle? 

John couldn’t come get me. First of all, Alec was in the middle of a soccer tournament. Second of all, he couldn’t get out of work. I was angry with him over this for a long time. Much longer than I should have been. My mom came to the rescue and drove me and the boys home. We flew her home.

Eric graduated from Elementary school that year (5th grade). John bought him his first pimp suit. 

The kids were home for the summer again. Things were getting complicated because Alec could go to the pool by himself but he wasn’t old enough to take them. And Alec was pretty social. I went when I could because it was a great way to exercise that ankle. At this point, my life was all about physical therapy…and World Cup soccer. Can’t forget about that! Ha!

I also changed jobs. My boss finally retired and I wasn’t ready for his position yet. Fortunately, I could transition to Professional Development and help with the new virtual team. This meant attending the summer meeting, and yippee, I was able to bring the kids for a night. John had gone home to Illinois for a reason we can’t put our finger on (other than just not getting along).

Before school started, Leslye and I took a trip to visit mom. It’s a rarity I go to visit family without the kids. I think this was my reciprocation trip for his July trip to IL.

By the time school started, I was out of the boot and walking. I was also delivering some training with the Austin school district. Customers were going to start taking more of my time.

John was still with the geotechnical company. He was getting really unhappy. He had been promoted, but there wasn’t a ton of support from home office and his staff was having their own personal issues. 

I believe we started sitting on the board for soccer this year, although I could be off by a year.

Amazingly that fall I won something. I never win anything! I guess the Universe felt bad about the ankle business. I won 2 VIP 3-day passes to ACL (Austin City Limits) from one of the local radio stations. The first night I took my neighbor. The next two days, John and I went. We even won hotel accommodations. It was pretty cool. Our neighbors took us to lunch that Sunday at the Four Seasons. It was a nice weekend, and I think we barely fought.

It wasn’t long after that Dad came for a visit. He was in between jobs, so he decided to come down. While he was here, John quit his job. You’ll recall, I’m already angry with him over the ankle. This was a tipping point for me because here’s a man who would give anything to have a job (getting ready to do stock at Kmart) and John just quits his. Without another job! (breathe in…1…2…3…4…5…exhale)

Remember my boss who once said she didn’t like her husband for a whole year. This was when I really started to understand what she meant. Unfortunately, I didn’t handle it well at all. I let it fester, and I’m sure I lashed out at inappropriate times. I know I wasted his entire last paycheck. God, I was a selfish brat. 

The photos below are of John playing Risk with the boys. 

I don’t know if our anniversary was right at Thanksgiving that year or not. I’m pretty sure it was. I took the kids home though and he stayed here. 

The Bellamy family was on very shaky ground. We were both angry. How would we fix it? How long would it take? How do we keep it together?

Posted in Find Your Road Home, Marriage, a worthy challenge

25 Years: Year 16, 08 – 09

Note: More photos are coming. There’s plenty for each section, I’m having technical difficulties with the external drive. So hang tight. What you see here has been pulled from Facebook.

The end of 2008 had the Bellamy’s busy. Alec was a freshman in high school and playing soccer. He was also battling some acne issues that would create more problems in 2009. Eric was in 4th grade – the year reading became important. Dylan was in his final year of Pre-K. The baby wasn’t much of a baby anymore.

Nana and Papa came for Christmas, and we all went to Sea World the day after Christmas. It was actually chilly here, but we still had a nice time with family.

That spring, Eric was in the science fair again. Everyone was playing soccer, and by this point, I was managing Dylan’s team. I took another work trip. This time to New Orleans, all by myself. I enjoyed walking Bourbon Street and going out with my hotel neighbor (we were at a science conference).

At the end of May, Dylan graduated from Pre-K. It also marked the start of the summer that Alec and Eric took care of Dylan when we weren’t on vacation.

The summer of 2009 is one of my favorites. The boys and I went to Yosemite with Kara. The only thing that would have made it better was to go with John. Our trip consisted of the boys and I driving to Arizona, and John flying out. A large group of friends from John’s class met up at Kara’s because Jake got married. Once we finished that celebration, Kara, the boys and I loaded up in Kara’s camper and started for California. It was definitely an adventure. I’d like to do it again now that the boys are older. I’d also like to take John. He’d love it there.

While we were in Yosemite having fun, John was home in the sweltering heat tiling our floor. Ask him about that sometime. Ask him if it’s finished. 

This is also the summer of the first ever Family Olympics. I love the concept of Family Olympics and I am seriously hoping that I planted the seed so that my sons will want to have family competitions for the rest of our lives. I forget how competitive I can be until I start competing. Jim, Alec, and I kicked everyone else’s butts. We’ve had Family Olympics 3 times, and I believe we are seriously overdue for another.

By the fall of 2009, my job was starting to change again. We were basically running out of product to write due to the lack of funds. We had just been purchased from Reader’s Digest. While we were working on Middle School science, we weren’t sure it would really happen. I was starting to get involved with some specific implementations due to the size and importance of associated with securing the sale. I was starting to see a different side of the company, but I was hoping to succeed my boss when he retired the following year.

We participated in our first Pancreatic Cancer walk. All of us did. The younger boys did the 1K and Alec did the 5K with me. I was pretty slow, and he was pretty patient. I volunteered at Dylan’s school, and trick-or-treating was just our thing. 

The concert was Rob Zombie. Did I go with John? Nope, went with Ilene. My boss’s son was in the band. It was fun. We were doing a lot, but I’m not sure how much we were really doing together

The fall also meant that I was coaching Dylan’s soccer team. John was managing Alec’s team. Eric was playing too. We lived soccer folks. As you can see, the Bellamy family has fallen into a routine. Work/school then soccer then school work/responsibilities. There are good things about routine, but there are also some hazards. Those hazards will show their face in 2010, stay tuned. 

Posted in Find Your Road Home, Marriage, a worthy challenge

25 Years: Year 15, 07 – 08

Healthy relationships are not something we seem to teach kids. Schools, to me, seem to be trying through Character Education, anti-bullying campaigns, and so on. And I suppose my generation learned a little about it during health class, but otherwise, learning about healthy relationships was left to families, and often the church. I can’t speak for what John learned growing up, but I can for myself. My mom and Jim modeled how to have a loving, supportive relationship. Jim was level-headed and mom was the reactor. My dad and his different wives (sorry I’m lumping you ladies) had the same “man is level-headed and the woman is the reactor” composition.

When you struggle with anything, especially something emotional like relationships, you lean on what you have learned. My mom and Jim are what Alec would deem a little “extra” and honestly, no one can replicate that. My dad has been married 3 times. Sure, this last one has been longer than 25 years now, but still, I can remember the different girlfriends.

Yeah, I knew we were trying to find OUR way. Personally, I instinctually want to run when anything gets tough. I get too emotional and expect the man to be level-headed and clean up the mess. What John and I did though was sweep it under the rug and pretend it wasn’t happening. We just doubled-down on the kids and their stuff. 

So, at the end of 2007, life was interesting. This is the year Mom and Jim brought Grandma to Texas for Christmas! That was a nice visit and I loved showing off that I could afford a home. 

2008 was a busy year. First of all, Alec was in 8th grade. There were plays, ceremonies, graduations, and so on. He also worked as a ref for soccer. Eric was in 3rd grade and he had just received his first F on his report card. Dylan was in the 3-4-year-old class at a new school and no news was good news.

Eric was participating in the science fair, probably because he had to. 

March of 2008, John and I went to Boston for a work related trip. I was going to the NSTA convention for work, and John could take vacation. I would go to the convention for a good chunk of the day, and then we would adventure through the rest of the day/night. We really are two headstrong people though. He’s just an Aries who always has to be in charge and right, and I’m fighting years of being told what to do. It made for some fun moments. 

2008 is the year Alec and I threw a surprise party for John for his birthday. Sure, he was only 38 (not 40). But if I did it on a big year, he’d figure it out and tell me I couldn’t have the party. So, we surprised him. I really believe he was pleasantly surprised. 

That spring, Alec decided he was going to lose his mind. He did normal 8th-grade things, just pushing his boundaries and limits. But the boy actually ended up grounded on his birthday. 

When school got out, we took the kids to Sea World. By this point, Sea World had roller coasters and water parks included. We went for the day and just had a ball. 

That summer, ALL of the kids went to IL. The boys had adventures. John and I had to learn how to be with just each other. Oh, boy, did we fight. And fight. And fight some more. Then it was time to go to his 20th high school reunion. (can you feel the tension building)

Once we were home, everyone wanted to see us. They’d had our kids for a couple of months now, and they were eager to see us. But we were focusing on the reunion (not my directive). Fortunately, we ignored him some and were able to get some fabulous family photos and visit with people. But let me tell you, I know during that visit I had many ugly moments. I told you I was becoming someone I wasn’t sure I liked. 

Fall came and it was time for school to start again. Alec was starting high school. Dylan was starting pre-K. Eric was starting 4th grade. Everyone was playing soccer. Both John and I were involved with managing or coaching. Soccer was our life. By this point, we were on auto-pilot. We had a little more time before complete engine failure, but not long. 

Posted in Find Your Road Home, Marriage, a worthy challenge

25 Years: Year 14, 06 – 07

Since my last story post was a day ago, let’s recap. We’re in Texas now. John’s still working on the toll road, and I’m still teaching. When we aren’t doing one of those things, we are knee deep in the kids’ activities (aka soccer).

In the Fall of 2006, I had changed schools and left the classroom. If I had stayed in AZ, I would’ve been out by now, so I had to try. Interventionist was step one. My boss was the AP for Curriculum, so that meant my next step was principal certification. Did I ask anyone’s permission or even thoughts, nope? Although he supported me by taking care of the kids while I was in class, and talking through stuff with me.

Apparently, we didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas that year, although I know differently. I am just having difficulties locating pictures. Eric was turning 8. Dylan was going to turn 4 in February. And by mid-2007, Alec would be 13.

SONY DSC

The spring was all about working out, over-extending myself at work, and going to class. We did take a little adventure to Oklahoma for some camping with John, Kara, Conner, and our kids. We even got John on a boat.

As I mentioned above, Alec became a teenager that year. I was so shocked at how ignorant he treated me. Gosh he was ridiculous.

By the time school ended our lives would change. I had an opportunity to leave the classroom. I could work in online publishing, and not for a boring old textbook company, but for a thought-leader. So as soon as school was out, I started work. A couple things happened…

First, the older two went to Illinois without Dylan. That was tough for Dylan. Second, Dylan had to stay in preschool over the summer. Not so good. By the end of summer Dylan was changing schools after being kicked out of the one he was in. Like Eric before him, we never had another school issue with him.

I never realized how important summers off with my kids were until I didn’t have them. I still miss it. It’s just so carefree. Anyway, I’m digressing.

By the fall of 2007, I was completely wrapped up in a new job. It still took almost all of my time, but it paid more. There were so many moving pieces and I loved every second of it. It was all new.

What I didn’t realize was that I was becoming a person I’m not so sure I liked. John and I were fighting more. I wasn’t home as much. My attention had shifted, and I didn’t realize how much that was going to impact all of our lives. I was allowing my job to become my top priority. That’s never wise. Not for anyone.

Posted in Find Your Road Home, Marriage, a worthy challenge

25 Years in 25 Days: Three Truths So Far

Hey y’all, as we hit the halfway point in the marriage, I believe we can start to draw a few conclusions about what makes a marriage last. I’ll pinpoint what I feel are the 3 most important so far. Let’s see if y’all agree.

1. Communication is critical. Every single time John and I have had issues in our relationship, the key missing ingredient is communication. You may say, “but you argue all the time, isn’t that communicating?” Fine, let me clarify. Healthy communication is critical to a relationship.

For John and I, this became most evident in 2002-2003. When we went to counseling, one of our strategies was to journal to each other each day. Sometimes more than once. After we’d read it, we’d talk about anything that really needed worked through.

Our notebook strategy not only helped then, but we’ve used it several times since. Now though, we skip the notebook and just talk.

2. You may not always like each other, but it’s just temporary. I suspect some of you are laughing hysterically and others of you are confused. While yet the rest of you know exactly what I mean.

In 2005, my boss at the time was celebrating her 25th anniversary. As she was recounting some fond memories, she hit a year where she exclaimed, “I didn’t like him at all that entire year.” It was a sudden aha moment. By gosh, I didn’t have to pretend he hung the moon (not that I did, but I felt guilty because I didn’t). I won’t say we didn’t have issues after this, but just having her give me permission was so refreshing.

While John and I have never discussed this one with each other, I can think of moments he couldn’t have liked me. I didn’t like me. You won’t like me. Most of that is in the years still to come in our story.

3. Family is born AND chosen. Over the years we have been blessed to have so much family around. Some of the family is due to birth or marriage while other is chosen and built on shared experiences.

When we were first married, we couldn’t have done it without family. Heck, if it wasn’t for Dad, we wouldn’t have been married when we were. If it hadn’t been for Tom, we wouldn’t have had furniture. If it hadn’t been for Karen (and my younger sisters), we wouldn’t have been able to be college kids occasionally. If it hadn’t been for Mom & Jim, Alec & I wouldn’t have gone to England. If it hadn’t been for Dad & Le, we wouldn’t have had a place to live during student teaching, and we wouldn’t have had help moving across country. I didn’t appreciate them at the time, and now I’d love to be closer. But they all live in IL. I just can’t do it.

Once we moved, we no longer had the unconditional support system. But we had friends. Friends who were ready for us the moment we arrived. Jobs, babysitting, moral support, laundry services, you name it, The Flanagan’s became our family.

More importantly though, for better or worse, John and I created our own family. It was only when we moved away from the automatic support that we were able to grow together and strengthen us.

We have had lots of family move in and out of our lives over the years, but for the last 28, John and I have been each other’s consistency.

Come back tomorrow for 2006-2007. There are some changes on the horizon.

Posted in Find Your Road Home, Marriage, a worthy challenge

25 Years: Year 13, 05 – 06

Time for the Bellamy family is just flying by! Alec is in 6th/7th grade. Eric is in 2nd/3rd grade, and Dylan is still in preschool.

When we moved to Texas, we didn’t have a support system. But in our neighborhood, we were building a family. That New Year’s Eve, we had a GREAT time in the neighborhood! Rock band, plenty of alcohol, and I’m sure there was poker.

Dylan turned 2! I turned 33 that year. Not only did I get my favorite lamp, but I went skydiving. I had finally lost enough weight. (I’ll see if I can dig up a picture.) John turned 36, Alec turned 12, and Eric was 7.

Remember that visit from Karen, Pat, Lynne, and Ivy last Easter? Well, I was off a year. It was actually this year that they came. John also got his motorcycle. When they visited, we hid the motorcycle next door.

At the beginning of May, I may a poor behavior management choice with my class, and I ended up suspended for 8 days. Talk about the worst feeling in the world. But I will say, I haven’t felt the same about teaching since then. I was placed on a reasonable action plan to attend some classroom management training, and everything was okay.

That June, my mom and I took our first adventure to NYC. This is definitely the one we paid the most for. We stayed just off Times Square. We saw the filming of Spiderman 2 (RIP Stan Lee). We went to see The Color Purple and Rain (with Rudd, Roberts, and Cooper) on Broadway. We rode the double-decker bus, and we took the ferry to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. It really was a grand time.

While I was in NYC, John took the kids to IL.

That July, I believe we hung out with the neighborhood again. At that time, we were allowed to do fireworks as long as there wasn’t a burn ban. John would know. I also believe we went to a work picnic for John at the lake. I may be off a year though. Y’all know how it is, it starts to blur, and he’s starting to get cranky about me always asking him if he remembers. (haha)

Eric took swim lessons that summer and I was interviewed for the local News station. I had 2 minutes of fame – haha. I also believe Alec was doing conditioning for soccer.

While I had been suspended, I applied for positions in other school districts that would potentially take me out of the classroom. I was disappointed by the change in career trajectory due to moving from AZ to TX. In TX, an advanced degree doesn’t really matter in a school. They’ll say it doesn’t (it’s a statistic on the yearly report card), but it doesn’t enough to pay fairly. Anyway, I’m digressing. I needed out of the classroom. Honestly, I no longer trusted my judgement.

Miraculously, I was called from a high school that needed an interventionist. I was thrilled, and probably a little under-qualified. But my heart was in the right place.

John was still working on the toll road. By this point, people were driving on portions of it, and they were beginning the next portion.

This is the year I went to ACL for the first time thanks to Lynne. I had always heard how addictive it was, and how once you went you always had to go. Boy, they weren’t wrong.

We also had the BEST family pictures taken ever. These are the ones still hanging on our wall. Maybe it’s time to update.

All of our free time was soccer. Alec was playing for Lonestar at this point? Eric was playing for Round Rock. John took Alec. I took Eric and Dylan. We couldn’t go home as often, or at least all of us couldn’t.

This is one of those years that we didn’t go home for Thanksgiving or Christmas, but we hosted the neighborhood. Everyone always loved John’s cooking. We also had a fireman and a waitress in the hood, and their hours sometimes meant their loved ones were alone. So we made sure everyone was included.