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

25 Years: Year 12, 04 – 05

It took us a while, but we were finally settling down and buying a home. We would’ve never been able to buy one in AZ, so this was exciting. We were going to be in our new home by Christmas.

Mom & Jim came first. They bought us some new furniture for our new house. Then Dad & LeAnn came for Christmas.

 

That spring, we just settled in. Dylan has his own space since he was in a crib. Alec and Eric shared a room.

 

Mom & Jim were back in February for Dylan’s first birthday. Leslye came for a visit. And Karen, Lynne, Pat and Ivy came for Easter. We had so much fun!

 

That April/May, we got Zorro. He was such a cute little goober, and he and Morgan were a pretty good team.

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We learned that year that Eric has some kind of plant allergy. The poor kid missed the last days of school because he looked like the elephant man.

One benefit of teaching was summers off, and now that we were closer to home, I took advantage. That summer, the boys and Zorro and I went to IL/MO. Who travels with a 15 month old and a puppy? Me. Yep, crazy.

<insert photos from summer>

While we were in IL, John went skydiving with Jake and his friend Reggie.

That fall, Alec started 6th grade. He was at my school again. Eric was in 1st. Alec started league soccer. Eric attempted football. John and I had to divide and conquer. I’m pretty sure my entire existence at that time was Dylan.

<insert photos from soccer and football>

I started trying to get more involved in school. I became a collaborative teacher. I planned the Fall Carnival. And I had my first panic attack. I had to go in an ambulance because my BP was so high. They did tests, and I was fine. But I had to learn to set limits.

By Thanksgiving, we had neighbors! In typical Bellamy fashion, we hosted Thanksgiving for the neighborhood. Moving here had been the BEST decision ever!

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

25 Years: Year 11, 03 – 04

By our 10th anniversary we had made it to Texas. John was working on the toll road everyone despised and I was teaching. We knew we could make this move work, even without a support system, because we had each other. To us, that was our only consistency. Well, that and love (mini-puke).

That Christmas we went home. First me and the kids, then John and Morgan. That was the year she chewed through her kennel and ended up on Dad & LeAnn’s roof. Silly dog!

Honestly, that Christmas was one of my favorites. The Boone side got together again, which we hadn’t done in forever. It was my first time meeting Desirae & Sebastian. The kids had the BEST time with their cousins.

<picture from Christmas coming>

Once we were home, time flew pretty quickly. Ivy was born the end of January. For my birthday, John took me to see Phantom of the Opera. It snowed (seriously, in Texas?!). And I helped administer my first TAKS test. Bleh.

<picture of Ivy coming>

Dylan was born a couple of weeks early in February instead of March.

My friend and coworker, while I was pregnant, warned me that we were screwed. I didn’t believe her. In my mind, we could each handle 2 kids. She said, “you might as well have 20 kids.” I told her she was wrong. Again, my life was providing foreshadowing that I was ignoring.

While on maternity leave, my Dad and LeAnn visited. Let me just say, they scared the crap out of me. They got in a major car wreck. I could hear the emergency sirens where I lived. Then John called and said someone was picking me and the baby up. So scary!

<picture of car coming>

Once my leave was up, my mom and Karen came to stay with Dylan. Honestly, one of THE most amazing things! That way we didn’t have to put Dylan in daycare until the fall. Plus, they were with us for Mothers Day, and Alec’s 10th birthday.

<pictures from Nana and Karen visit coming>

That summer was fun! First, I took Dylan to Arizona. I had some very important people who I needed to see graduate, and some friends wanted to meet the wee one.

Then, we went to Missouri. Grandma Lockwood was housesitting for Nana & Papa while they were in Italy, so we came to hang out. That’s when Eric called the 911 because he was in “big trouble.” Gosh that kid!

Good news! I found a teaching position closer to home, and Eric started Kindergarten.

I hit it off with my team right away. One teammate had a husband who worked for a builder. They had just put in the last houses of a neighborhood and they were discounted. So we tried, and qualified! We were finally getting our own home!

Our Home 004

Wow! Life just can’t get much better.

Note: My apologies for all of the picture placeholders. While we were digital at this point, not everyone else was. I need pictures from the photo tub but don’t want to wake John. I’ll add them once he has gone to work. 

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

25 Years: Year 10, 02-03

This is one of my favorite years. If Dylan had been a part of it, it would be my all-time favorite. But he wasn’t born yet.

By our 9th anniversary, we were making amends to each other. We made sure we had date night. I tried to not get as directly involved in my students lives. The few it was too late, they were my babysitters.

That Christmas, we took the kids to Disneyland. This is THE best surprise ever. We drove to Disney. The kids were clueless. We had driven to San Diego enough, they just assumed we were doing something like that.

So we got to the hotel. John checked in and right away we got on the trolley/bus to Disney. I don’t know how they didn’t notice any Mickey heads, but they didn’t. As we came alongside Disney, Alec noticed. He turned around really quick and was like, “can we go there?” We played it off like we had to think about it for a second and then said, “yes.”

No one on the bus could believe it. If it had been today, we’d be viral, I’m sure. They were ecstatic!

We spent 3 days at Disneyland. Had a ton of fun! So many signatures and pins. It was COLD too! We had to buy coats, gloves, and hats in CA. Ha!! We were there for Eric’s birthday too. We left for home on Christmas Eve.

That Christmas, Jake hung out with us. Then Dad and LeAnn made their annual trip to gather rocks. We actually went to Tombstone and down to Tucson during that visit.

That spring, John went back to school for IT. We were even discussing becoming more involved together in the school district by John running for school board.

Alec tried basketball instead of soccer.

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I was involved in a bunch of committees. My intent was to work my way into administration with my eventual Master’s degree. I was using a trial program we were starting at the school in the fall for research. It was all coming together perfectly. I’d hopefully be able to move out of the classroom when the last of “my kids” graduated in 04.

John went home for his mom’s 60th birthday, as did the rest of his siblings. It was the first BIG birthday with all four of her kids.

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Right at the end of school, we got pregnant with Dylan. I knew the second it happened. I had a trip planned to AL to visit Leslye, and went. I still have my Sweet Home Alabama t-shirt from the airport – haha.

That summer, Jessica came to stay. She watched the boys so we could work. I was teaching summer school, attending committee meetings, and going to school at ASU.

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We kept it quiet as long as we could about being pregnant. We wanted to make sure there wouldn’t be another miscarriage. By the time Jess left, I think we were telling people.

That July we took 2 trips with Jessica. One to Mexico: Kara, Jess, me and the boys. The 2nd was to San Diego, and John went on that one with us. We went to the San Diego Zoo and Sea World and the beach. We wanted to give Jessica the whole experience.

(See why this is my favorite year!)

Right about the time Jess headed home, John started interviewing for a position in Texas. They were building a toll road and needed someone to do lab work. Quickly, John had a phone interview. Flew out for an interview. Then we drove out to scope things out. And then we moved.

If you haven’t noticed, we don’t do things slowly. We just Ready, Go! Not much aim. We knew it would be a good move. At the very least, we’d be closer to actual family. We knew I could teach anywhere.

We moved on Sept 3. Kara helped us. We brought Morgan, who initially stayed with Dana for a bit. We felt bad putting her in the apartment. We took her back before long. We just had to walk her.

We got Alec into soccer. He actually met one of his life long friends back then, and another of his future high school classmates (and teammates). Everyone did a great job making us feel included and they were always curious about the soon to come baby.

Uncle Mikey graduated from boot camp in the Air Force that year, so Dad, LeAnn, Dan, Cec and Becca came through town. Becca cried anytime Grandma left without her. The entire time she was gone. Even if Grandpa was there. While they were in town we learned we were having a boy. After that time with Becca, I was okay with that (sorry girlie, I love you bunches). We had a fun trip. We went to San Antonio and Galveston. Always an adventure.

I didn’t get a new job until mid-October. It would be hard to get hired when I needed maternity leave in April. But I was. That should’ve been a warning. Those kids were batshit crazy. I missed my CG kids. Oh well, a job is a job.

Karen and Patrick came to visit at Halloween. Ashley (Patrick’s GF) was pregnant too. She was due a month before we were. At least there would be cousins the same age. They had a nice visit with the boys. It was nice that we were closer.

By that anniversary, I was pretty pregnant. John gave me my giant CZ earrings and necklace. Life was good, and we were about to be a lopsided family of five. Our anniversary is usually over Thanksgiving, and we spent that one in Missouri with Nana and Papa.

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

25 Years: Year 9, 01-02

We left off a week before our anniversary in 2001, and John had expressed that he wanted a divorce. We didn’t do much about it at the time, except maybe let it fester. It definitely clouded our anniversary and the upcoming holidays.

We spent Christmas of 2001 in Illinois. Many of our friends were still there. We enjoyed ourselves, but I’m sure they didn’t help our relationship any.

As the spring semester began, school was still talking most of my time. The TEAM program was showing success, but it took a lot of our focus and attention. I also believe this was the year I sponsored the Step team. Again, I was always wrapped up in the kids’ drama, and I would bring the kids home when I could.

To add to it, I started a Masters Degree in spring. I did not ask. I just took care of the process and started classes. It was a good decision, but at the time it was very selfish. I wasn’t exactly helping my marriage situation.

Alec was still playing soccer and John was still coaching. Both were really enjoying their efforts. The good news was that even though John and I were struggling, the boys didn’t seem to be impacted much yet. They were still happy little boys.

That May/early June we went home for graduations for Mike & Jess. (Mikey, sorry I don’t have a photo of you from that time.) Once we came home, I taught summer school for the first time.

All this time, we had never really done anything about John’s divorce request from six months prior. We fought. We fought a lot. I was pretty emotional during that time period and didn’t always handle those emotions properly. We had also become distracted by other people.

By the fourth of July, our emotions were so raw,  I reciprocated the divorce request.

Fortunately, neither of us really wanted to get divorced, and John’s company actually covered marriage counseling through their insurance, so we went. We were only slotted 5 sessions, but we went. And we did all of our homework. More importantly, we found ways to communicate that worked for US. It wasn’t easy. It took daily intentions. But we worked at it.

Just before school resumed in the fall, Mom & Jim gave us their Chevy Blazer. This was a wonderful blessing for our growing family. The boys and I went and met our niece/cousin Miracle. Then John flew in and we drove to from IL to Dallas to meet his sister Dana in person. While there, we went to Six Flags.

Once home, John and I were doing so well, working on our marriage, that we had temporary insanity and got pregnant. Within a couple of weeks though, we miscarried. I was so sad that John called the doctor to prescribe anti-depressants. I took them for a week.

So in an attempt to distract me and cheer me up, we decided to go to Las Vegas with Dana that September. John had already been with her once, and they had a great time. So he was hoping this would do the trick. It didn’t, but it was nice.

We managed to stay positive and happy in our marriage even though we had the miscarriage. By this point it was the second year for the TEAM program, and I had learned how to establish some boundaries. I had also convinced John that my Master’s degree would have tremendous value. He was doing well in his position, and was enjoying his new project at Sky Harbor Airport.

That fall, we bought first Sony digital camera. We were planning to take the boys to Disney that Christmas, and we wanted a digital camera to take tons of pictures.

Just a year ago, I would have wagered that we were going to be divorced, and here we were, a happy little family again. It’s a good thing because 2003 was going to bring MAJOR changes.

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

25 Years: Some Reminders Before We Move On

Before we go to the next year, let’s discuss some things. I want to make sure we are clear:

  1. This was all a long time ago. Obviously we’ve moved on, and the point of this series is to figure out how, even with these blemishes, we still made it.
  2. This is my blog, not John’s. I can’t tell you what he was thinking at any time. All I can tell you is what I experienced or perceived from him. Does that make sense?
  3. I am going to own a lot of this. Over the years, I’ve confided in different people and they will feel differently. That’s ok. I know I was a crazy lady, and as I look back, I find myself really shaking my head. I didn’t realize just how crazy. Hopefully, I’m learning a little something.
  4. If I leave something and/or someone out, it was probably intentional. Some details are not critical to the story. Other topics, I know better than to discuss at certain depths. Just because I’m writing about it doesn’t mean you need all the details. But it also doesn’t mean I don’t remember.

Come back tomorrow and we will move on to 2001-2002. Obviously, we get over the divorce hurdle. I think there’s lessons in the how though.

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

25 Years: Year 8, 00-01

Let me begin this entry by saying when two people are married, some years are easier than others. Sometimes spouses are oblivious to what is going on. This was one of those years. I was clueless that my actions were causing issues.

What actions? Well, I had a work friend who was a guy. I had no idea he wanted more than friendship. But John knew. I also spent WAY too much time focused on my students. I gave them rides. They babysat for us. I was doing everything short of having them move in. I was putting rifts in our marriage and had no clue.

We had just moved into a house we rented in Casa Grande. So that year we stayed in Arizona for Christmas.

That January, we got Morgan. And I had a little scare and had to wear a heart monitor. Nothing was wrong. But we had to be safe.

Mom & Jim visited in February for my birthday. As always, we did the zoo.

We became major race fans that year. Eric would actually watch racing.

Eric had his second and final surgery that year. He could’ve used one more, but they knew he’d be too restless at 3 to endure the extenders.

Alec played on his first soccer team that spring in Casa Grande.

That April, friends came to town for U2. It was a fun weekend but something happened and our two favorite couples were now feuding. This impacted many years moving forward, for all of us.

That summer, we had two family reunions. The Boone reunion, which was awesome! We learned we really were descendants of Daniel Boone. Finally!

We also had a get together of all of our people at the bowling alley. It wasn’t often all of our family members will come together, but this was a lot of fun. Even my grandma came!

One of the best things. John found Dana that year. Another sister-in-law, woohoo!

When school resumed, we were starting our TEAM program. This had me at work and/or doing work even more than before. The guy from work transferred, thank goodness.

John was coaching Alec’s soccer team.

Sept 11. There are too many words. Too many emotions. Not enough blog.

In October, we went to the Grand Canyon. My favorite picture of John and Eric is from this trip. Our camera definitely stunk. By this point, John and I were not getting along at all.

And of course, we spent a lot of time at Kara’s. All year round. She was my best friend and really acted like the kids’ aunt. By this point, she had moved, so it took time to get to her house. But we still went every weekend.

November came and a week before our anniversary, John told me he wanted a divorce. It was like I was hit by an invisible bus. You could feel it but never saw it coming.

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

25 Years: Year 7, 99-00

1999 had been a pretty successful year for the little Bellamy family in Phoenix. That November, John’s company had its holiday get together. His friend’s girlfriend worked in a high school. Within a couple of weeks, they had a science teacher opening.

Somehow I got the position. My parents came to town for Thanksgiving that year. As always, we did the zoo and they built a cardboard box car with Alec.

Eric’s birthday was in December. We had a little celebration with our friends the Briscoes, and then went home for Christmas to have the big 1st birthday party at Happy Joe’s.

The spring was busy. I was commuting an hour each day with a group of people. And I was buried in teacher planning.

As usual, Kara always helped by picking up the slack. She helped a lot with both boys.

Eric has his first surgery to begin reducing the mole on his head. That was traumatic. Poor baby.

That March, John turned 30. We threw him a big party.

We went to Missouri for Memorial Day weekend, Karen came down too. I believe this was the trip where John went back early, and I followed later with the kids. I ended up on delayed flights and actually wrote a letter to the airline.

I don’t remember much about that summer. It was the only year I didn’t do summer school, and it was our last summer in Phoenix. I suspect I spent a lot of time in the pool and at Kara’s. I believe Alec went to IL for the last time alone.

That fall, Alec started coming to school in Casa Grande. It allowed me to be nearby if needed. I didn’t carpool as much. I was Freshmen class sponsor, amongst other things. I loved working with those kids. This was my first group to work with from day 1. I devoted myself to them.

By our anniversary, we had an opportunity to rent a house in Casa Grande. We jumped at the chance. John would have to commute, but he was working nights, so it wasn’t as awful as it could be.

We just kept moving forward, and that’s all you can do. 2001 was going to prove challenging though. Stay tuned.

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

25 Years: Year 6, 98-99

As we started our 6th year together, John was working in a geotechnical lab and I was hostessing at a restaurant. More importantly, I was pregnant and due soon.

The doctor decided to induce so that he wasn’t as big as Alec had been. So the weekend of Dec 18, 1998. John was supposed to go see his sister graduate, but couldn’t because we were waiting to be called in to the hospital.

On the 20th we went in. By that night he was born. We went home the next day. But due to the giant hairy Nevis on his head, we had several different appointments to make sure it was superficial. It was, but he’d eventually have surgery.

We weren’t going to worry about it though. Nana visited first. In a few months, Grandma Karen came. We were a perfect little family of four.

Once Eric was born, I found a job as a preschool teacher. Before long, I managed to become Director. I’m not sure I was ready, but it was a fun few months, and I was able to be with both kids all day long.

Alec turned 5 that year. We celebrated at a Disney place. It was cool. He was obsessed with A Bug’s Life.

That summer we took our first journey to Sea World and San Diego. I sure do miss that short drive. We love it there.

That fall, Alec started Kindergarten. Both kids were well loved everywhere they went, and Alec had lots of friends.

By the end of the 6th year, I was interviewing for another teaching position, thanks to a friend of John’s. Life was good.

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

25 years: Year 5, 97-98

Our first year in Phoenix wasn’t necessarily easy, but I don’t really think we noticed the struggle. I later learned this was because we were borrowing money from my mother-in-law. And borrowing is not the correct word choice. We weren’t paying it back. Any way, most of the time I won’t bring the little nit-picky things like this up, but money is unfortunately one of those wretched threads in our lives. We suck at it and I like to point it out. Not because I want either John or I to feel bad, but because I would love for my children to possibly learn from my mistakes, and also so I don’t forget.

Kids, it is important to have support no matter what, but it is also important to learn to handle your own struggle. It’s easier at 20 than it is at 40.

So in 1997 we were a happy little family. We were no longer in the roach motel apartment. I was actually teaching! And it was Kindergarten. And Alec was just down the hall because it was a charter school. We had Kara and John & Sarah for support if we needed help with Alec.

Here’s where we get a little fuzzy. We know we went home that year, and believe it was probably Thanksgiving. Back then, we could afford to fly. That Christmas, everyone came to see us. And I mean everyone. (if I don’t have a picture of you here, I’m sorry, my picture organization skills stink) We were now the vacation destination – especially in the winter. Who wouldn’t want to leave yucky Illinois winter weather for sunny Arizona? And back then it was temperate in the winter in AZ.

After Christmas came and went, we were back at school. I was a first year teacher, and I absolutely LOVED those kids. Creating centers for them to have differentiated learning was critical to my existence. The more I worked with these kids and the older Alec was getting, I found my biological clock ticking. I honestly never thought I would have more than one, but I found myself wanting another kid.

Right around John’s birthday that year, we got pregnant with Eric. We did not handle announcing him well at all. I believe we sent an e-card. Kids, here’s today’s lesson. Don’t send an e-card to tell your parents you are having a baby.

That May, John left Subway and went to work with his first geotechnical company. Woohoo! We were moving on up in the world. Best part, separating business and friendship. Working for your best friend’s family was stressful.

That summer, I did temp work again, just to make ends meet since we were going to have a second kid. The teaching job only paid $18K/year and it was only during those 9 months. Alec went to Illinois for most of the summer, going from family to family in Illinois and Missouri.

Pregnancy was not my friend this time around. I was uncomfortable from the beginning. I was also a witch. I actually don’t know how John didn’t leave during this pregnancy. I was a hot mess before people even started using that terminology.

When school resumed, I moved up with my kids to first grade. We changed locations, as the charter school was starting to really struggle financially. Alec moved with me, but he had a tough time there. By the end of September we were leaving the school. This was the ONLY time in my life I left a job without having a job in its place.

Remember how I mentioned this pregnancy made me crazy, well…once I left the charter school, I ended up working as a hostess at a restaurant right by the Subway. It was owned by one of the former owners of the restaurant John worked at back in college. See, I can’t be idle. I go crazy if I’m not contributing to the family bottom line. Even if it really isn’t helping, like this probably wasn’t. I’m sure we were still borrowing money from Karen. I know we had borrowed money from my parents for my student loans. Again, can you say “hot mess.”

Fortunately, there was some stability right around the corner. Eric about to join us. 1999 was going to be a better year, or at least one could hope, right?

Note: this is the last year with so few pictures. It was kind of disappointing. I suspect our parents have some.

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

25 years: Year 4, 96-97

As we celebrated our anniversary in 1996, it was almost graduation time. Our plan was to move to AZ right after Christmas. We packed up the Uhaul and Dad & Le, and off we went.

I was so excited! We were leaving that crappy town behind. We were leaving the meddlers behind. We were off to be a family and embark on an adventure.

Right away, John started working at Subway for the Flanagan’s. I found a temp job. Initially, I worked days and John worked nights. Our friend Kara would come during the overlap to watch Alec. It didn’t take long and she was Aunt Kara.

Both John and I took turns going out with Kara. And that spring I took my first girls trip to Rocky Point.

That first apartment was questionable. It was cheap. We got a cat, who helped with pest control. And we stayed there until the Flanagan’s opened a new Subway. We jumped on the opportunity to move closer to that one, and I found a job at a preschool. That meant Alec had to finally go to daycare.

That first preschool was a godsend. We made some friends and had fun that summer. Then, that fall, I secured my first teaching job. Kindergarten.

We bought a second car. Our lemon. We were totally ripped off. The seller even changed his phone number. But that yellow CRX ended up being one of the best cars we ever had.

It was a pretty great first year in Arizona. We had a support system. We had real jobs. We had a nice apartment. We had two cars. We took Alec swimming almost daily. What more could two kids ask for?

Maybe another rugrat?

Note: not a lot of pictures during this year. We were pretty busy and pictures were still cameras and film developing. Most pictures were of Alec so that the grandparents could still see what he looked like.