Mother.

There’s a void in my life — one that has become increasingly apparent since I had my first child eleven years ago. A void that is still present, but never seems like it will ever be filled. It’s the place where my mother should be. When you become a parent yourself, you crave the bond you should have with yours, but I’m not sure I ever really had that. She had adopted me right when I turned six years of age and it has been bumpy since. I remember at such a young age, maybe about eight years old, she told me we would never have a mother daughter relationship. Those words lingered in my head till today. Words I will not ever forget. I craved her attention, her love, her compassion, that mother daughter bond I had seen with my friends and their mothers. It was something that I knew would never happen, but could not bring myself to accept.

I will be honest, it was not all bad. I always had birthday parties, provided everything I needed, food on the table, played sports, but those were all materialistic things. What I needed most, what I craved more than anything, was love. There was no emotional connection. There were no, as my daughter puts it, "tight hugs and lots of kisses". There were no "Girls days" with just my mom and I.

I could not understand what was so wrong about myself that my mother, the person whom adopted me, could not truly love me. During my childhood, I never once received an "I am proud of you". I would immediately call her with a job promotion, the start of my photography, or some great news searching for validation and approval. Waiting for the "Great Job I am proud of you". It was something I needed. Maybe it was due to not feeling that connection, that I just needed to hear her say it, but it never came. Not once. I was starving for that emotional connection and feeling that love. It begun affecting my self esteem and ultimately how I saw myself. I told myself if I was better, more behaved, happier, more obedient, that she wouldn't criticize or yell at me. That if I fix myself that, Ill finally be loved. That she would finally see me for who I am and love me for me.

Over the years, I was always on alert when in her presence- waiting for another putdown. She was always critical about my weight. Growing up she constantly told me that no guy was going to want me if I ate junk food. This caused me to have a eating disorder later in high school. When I graduated, I weighed 95 pounds and still felt like I was too fat, but that is a topic for another time.

I left home the summer of 2005 when I graduated high school. I did not tell anyone except my best friend, whom helped get me a plane ticket to a friends house in Kansas. I left a note and left with only a suitcase in hand. I knew it was a selfish decision, but I felt like I had to in order to have the life I wanted. I realized it was not a healthy situation and felt that it was toxic for me to stay there. The word toxic may sound like this horrible word, but it simply just means it was not a healthy situation.

After leaving home, I met the father of my children (my ex-husband). With having a toxic parent, you might find yourself drawn to people who have similarities to your that parent. This is because we are driven to find an ending to things that remain unresolved. Because love, warmth and nurturing are such an important part of child development, yet so elusive for the child of a toxic parent, it’s very normal for those children to be driven to find a resolution to never feeling loved, secure or good enough. I was looking to receive what I didn’t get from my mother in someone else, but drawn to people who have similarities to my mom. With similar people, the
patterns will be easier to replicate, and the hope of an ending closer to the desired one – parent love –
will be easier to fulfil. That’s the theory or so I have read. The pattern often does repeat, but because of the similarities to the parent, so does the unhappy ending, which explains why I divorced. I believe I was drawn to the wrong person because he reminded me of my mother and somewhere inside of me where I wanted things to stay hidden, is the wish that I'd get from him what I wasn't able to get from my mom. I was doing this without even knowing I was. It makes sense.

Our relationship wasn’t healthy and wasn’t adding anything positive to my life, I realize this. Worse, it was making me miserable. To me it feels as if she has done her job raising me and feels that she has the right to criticize me whenever she feels like it. I, on the other hand, am not allowed to blame her for making me feel like crap. She is not responsible for her actions or how she makes me feel. She says the ugliest things to me, but she expects me to be quiet and accept her abuse as absolute truth. When she makes a mistake, however, I am not allowed to say a damned thing about it. I am forever biting my tongue around mom and just feel like just have to sit back and take the criticizing and belittling.

depressedwomanindespair_large.jpg

Today..

I have ended all contact. It was a hard decision, but one that is much needed. I still cry and agonize over whether it was the right thing to do. In order to have made this decision, that the lifetime of messages that have left me hollow and scarred are wrong. No child should feel this way. No parent should ever make a child feel this way and be okay with it. I have realized that maybe she is broken inside, possibly to the point of never being
able to show love to the people in her life who deserve it the most. It is what brought me to the decision, in strength and with the greatest self-love and self-respect, to let go of the relationship that’s been hurting me all of the time. I know my brother probably believes I should forgive her for what she’s done because she’s our mother. However, I simply don’t believe that because someone is family, you should forgive them over and over. Family is more than blood. My mother-in- law is a great woman and I enjoy spending time with her. She’s been wonderful. I’m not gonna lie, I’m envious of the relationship that she and my husband have. She was an amazing mother for him while he was growing up. She supported him no matter what decisions he made and always offered him helpful advice. Something I wish I could have had growing up. However, that is the past and that is not something I can change. I can however make sure I do a damn good job being there, showing unconditional love and support to my children.

Breaking free of a toxic parent is hard, but hard has never meant impossible. With the deliberate
decision to move forward, I see there are endless turns my story can take. Brave, extraordinary, unexpected
turns that have already begun to lead me to a happier, fuller life. It’s what I've always deserved. I now know after all these years, that I do not need her for validation, approval, or her love. It has always been mine to own, its been within me all along. I just had to free myself to finally see this.

15401110_410354022628891_4676964258344187785_n.jpg

If you are in a similar situation, I want you to know this. Please be open to the possibilities of you. There are plenty. Know that you do not need approval from anyone, but yourself. Accept the fact that person will never change. Accept the fact that you can not change your past, but you can control your future. YOU ARE WORTHY. YOU ARE STRONG. YOU just have to believe it. It is within you. Release it.

 

Toxicity.

Relationships aren’t so easy and neither is a breakup when that relationship comes to an end. However, a break up with a toxic relationship seems impossible and the worst.

Toxic relationships are all different. Maybe your belittled and mocked. Maybe your never allowed to do anything and are bound to the other person’s side and can only go somewhere with permission. Perhaps your made fun of your weight, or calls you names. Maybe they’re a narcissist and can only love themselves while causing you pain.

My first marriage was a toxic relationship. I was made fun of and “talked down to” in front of friends. I would get questioned about my weight when I would go back for seconds. When I would say something, he claimed, “I was just joking.” It never felt like a joke.  I would constantly be playing “detective” due to the constant women he would be texting. Constantly feeling insecure seeing the women he was talking to and wondered why I wasn’t good enough. I would hide in between the clothing hanging up in my closet and just cry till I couldn’t cry anymore. I would get told I was “crazy” or “getting upset for no reason” that it was nothing.

I realized I had become addicted to my past toxic relationship. How? I knew I wanted more for myself, yet I stayed. I knew I deserved better, yet I stayed. I knew it was not good for me, yet I stayed. I tried walking away several times knowing all of this, yet I was so afraid to be on my own, that I kept going back giving him another chance to change. I was only aiding in my own pain by doing this.

How I made my decision to walk away.

1.      Deserving Better. I knew I deserved better. That this couldn’t be love that I’ve seen other people have. I knew I deserved to be truly loved. Not the kind of “love” I had, but real, genuine, reciprocated love. I battled through so many things in my life, that I felt too tired to continue to keep fighting anymore. But if I didn’t fight for myself and what I deserved, then who will? No one. I knew that healthy relationships don’t revolve around fear or intimidation, nor do they include belittling someone or breaking their spirit. I knew I had do something about it.

2.      Present. I kept living in the past. I would constantly be reliving the happiest moment. Clinging on to them, hoping that it would change to that. That he would continue to be that person in that moment. But it wouldn’t happen. I had to snap myself out of that and make myself realize that the reality is that he wont ever truly be that person.

3.      Keep a journal. I constantly wrote everything down in journals. Every confrontation, fight, tear that I cried. I wrote it all down. Even the good moments. I would reread my writings. I wasn’t happy. The bad was outweighing the good. In the moments I would second guess myself, I would read my journal and ask myself, “Is this what I am wanting to continue?”

4.      Realizing It won’t change. You will never be able to make someone change. That person has to want to change themselves. It is ultimately out of your hands. They will do what they want, when they want, and how they want. Let’s be honest, if they want to continue to watch the person they “love” cry and be in pain knowing they caused it and still do not want to change, then they do not truly love you. You have to focus on healing yourself because you are the only one that is control of your happiness.

5.  Knowing it will hurt. For so long I thought I was to walk away, but yet I kept going back. I think I was so use to the toxicity, that it became normal to me, so I began craving it without knowing it. In my mind I believed it was the love for that person that kept pulling me back in. But it is not love and I think a part of me somewhere knew this. I didn’t really walk away until I was completely ready and willing to do so. It wasn’t easy. It was one of the most difficult decisions I ever made. I felt connected to this person, but really my heart was chained to him. I felt I could not escape. I doubted everything about myself, insecurity was so high, felt weak and unworthy. I felt so small, but I hid it so well. I plastered on makeup, tried always making myself looking nice, and always posted pictures of myself. Deep down I was tearing myself apart never letting the world know the pain I was in. Lies of “how good things are” were only paired with the comfort of the “never ending cycle” of pain and chaos I called “love”. Yes, there was pain walking away, but in the end, it made me stronger, wiser, extremely happy, and I found myself.

6. Standing by my decision. I second guessed my decision so much before I just knew I had to do it. I was scared on the reaction of it all. So scared I almost decided not to do it. However, I knew I could not keep repeating all of this all over again. I knew I could not keep living this life of “love” and unhappiness. I had close friends and family that supported my decision in which helped me stay strong enough to follow through with my decision.

I wrote these poems during the most painful times throughout that relationship.. 

15337461_410353942628899_8889978455285619600_n.jpg
15420904_410353939295566_8107074760817083321_n.jpg
15390721_410353972628896_3472470597538494136_n.jpg

 

Walking away was truly the best decision I have ever made. Do I regret being in that relationship? Not at all because I have my three beautiful children from that relationship. It also turned me into the person I am today. After walking away, I realized how truly broken I had become from it. Sometimes though, you have to truly break down to finally find yourself and that is exactly what happened. I ended up building myself up, learned to be independent, and truly love myself for who I was. I found happiness within myself and knew I no longer needed someone else for my own happiness. That is the moment, when God knew I was ready for the love I deserved and he sent me, Jarad, the love of my life. God truly had a plan for me after all.

The Pinball Effect

Well its that time again for another random post from "Mr. Clean", lol This week I wanted to be a little different and write about something that I do quite a bit of..."The Pinball Effect". 

I'm a busy man and constantly on the go, while doing a million and one things. In the midst of all of this, I have a million and one things bouncing around through my brain as well...hence "The Pinball Effect", I can be thinking about one thing, then it shoots over to another thing, then on to another, and so forth. I can start my day thinking about why I need more coffee, then think about something related to my son, then I'm thinking about my amazing wife, then Im thinking about why I hate how my football time choked in their last game, then how the house needs to be cleaned, etc etc. This post will be a random recollection of a husbands every day thoughts that go through my mind at any given point of the day. Enjoy....(by the way, I'm not the ONLY one who thinks these things, so no judgement. lol)

1.) I check out my wife's butt way more than I let on. 

2.) If I could melt a block of cheese and eat it with no repercussions, I would

3.) Im still under the strong impression that my wife has never farted or pooped. This might sound weird but from the entire time I have known her, none of this has happened with me around. lol

4.) I constantly want to up my game with puns or one liners. Hey, at least I don't have lame dad jokes to dispense with...

5.) Im a firm believer that silence is intensely louder than an actual argument. 

6.) I secretly would have loved to be a wrestler or a writer for it.

7.) My weakness that makes me turn into putty is my wife's fingernails stroked across my arms or back.

8.) Extreme loud sounds or yelling makes my nerves jump through the roof.

9.) I don't feel Im that talented of an artist anymore and that my talents are best suited in the creative aspect. 

10.) I feel my wife is so damn talented with her artwork or photography. She has no idea how talented she truly is.

11.) The picture of my son that is the background on my phone, I never have the heart to update for sentimental reasons...

12.) I sometimes want to just ditch my personal cell phone and work phone for just one week and enjoy the silence. lol

13.) Im still super insecure about my hairline and age. I know Im only turning 35 next month, but I don't want to ever look like Im way older than I really am.

14.) I can go by a group of high school kids hanging out somewhere and automatically think "holy crap, I hope I was never like that".

15.) The ice maker I bought my wife for Christmas was the best gift ever. I never have to buy a bag of ice ever again. hahaha

16.) I am still a huge perfectionist and and even though I was in the Army, I still wear my heart on my sleeve. Sometimes way to much.

17.) If I never had to worry about my health or getting super fat, I would eat Del Taco for breakfast lunch and dinner.

18.) As much as people piss and moan about having to do it themselves, dressing up in a suit and tie is a really nice to do for myself.

19.) I hate it when couples say that they want to kick the other person out of the house so they can have alone time at home. I am in total agreement that there can be things you want to do with a girlfriend or with one of the guys which is separate, but I don't agree with "getting someone out of your hair".

20.) Coffee is my life-blood and if I could get an iv attached to me with it, I would be the first guinea pig to try it out. haha

 

Well, thats it for now. I might do a follow up in the next few weeks, but tell me what you think or even some of the random thoughts or things that might be funny or interesting about yourself. And also feel free to message about anything else you might want to hear about from my wife or I. Thanks again for reading and have a great day! :)

 

Why I said Yes.

We made the crazy decision to spend the rest of our lives with someone we had only known less than three months!

There is no right or wrong way to get married. But every "I do" has a unique story, some just aren't as traditional. Ours may not be considered traditional because we hadn't known one another for long before he popped the question. But this is how it went.....

We met April 2017 (you can read about it here). We both had been in previous marriages for about ten years, that did not go well for us. We were looking for something different, something that we lacked in our relationships, something neither one of us had before.

Fast forward to June 22.

It was my 30th birthday, and we only had been dating for almost 3 three months. Jarad advised me to wear something dressy for what he had planned. So I did my hair, makeup, and put on a nice black dress. He was dressed in a blue button down dress shirt, only making his eyes bluer, with a silver tie and black slacks. He cleaned up so good. He had surprised me by taking me to one of my favorite restaurants, The Melting Pot, in Oklahoma City (almost a 2 hour drive) for dinner.

(on our way to THE MELTING POT)

(on our way to THE MELTING POT)

When we arrived, hidden in a low lit corner, was a table covered in rose petals, candles, and a card from the staff wishing me a happy birthday. I was shocked. We ordered drinks and spent the next hour in great conversation, laughter, and devouring the delicious fondue. It seriously was the most romantic and amazing birthday I have ever had.

Then we headed to our favorite local coffeshop, Frank & Joe's in Wichita Falls, where we had our first date. There is where he bent down on one knee and spilled beautiful words out and asked "Will you marry me?". 

It wasn't even a question. I knew in my heart, in my mind, and every part of my body that he was the one. Of course, "YES!", was the answer! Over joyed, we shared the news hours later. Many were hesitant, asking if it was too soon. Some begging us to wait and give it time. Some completely happy for us and congratulated us.

f212be548cf24ffeb77e93ca20b495d2.jpg

I understood the concern. It hadn't been a full three months of knowing one another before we knew we wanted to get married and be together forever. But when is the right time? When you know, you just know.

This is why I said yes.

First time I truly knew he was the one, was when he was spending time with my children. My kids completely gravitated towards him. My oldest, whom isn't the touchy feely child. Sat next to Jarad on the couch during a movie, and snuggled up on his lap with Jarad's arms wrapped around him. That said wonders. My children began asking about him all the time and were looking forward to seeing him. He always showed them attention, not to impress me, but because he truly enjoyed being around them. He started bringing over puzzles and games specifically to play with them. That showed me he truly cared for my children.

073afe7195dc8cba3bdf47ff25ed7ac4.jpg

At the time of us dating, Jarad was in the Army and about to get out. We lived an hour apart from each other. He would drive to and from my place to get to work. And even when he did, I would come home from work and he would be making the kids and I dinner. The man was a hundred percent set on spending his free time with me and the kids and I was not at all going to complain! lol.

He was not my normal. I know that sounds weird, right? Everyone has a type they tend to go for. Mine was the dark hair, tattooed, tan skin, out-going personality with brown eyes. My "type" were all the center of attention guys, also known as extroverts. I actually never realized I had a particular type until I met Jarad and he started pointing it out. Jarad was different. He is my blue eyed introvert. He is more of a homebody, but he can easily blend with the extroverts as well. It's like the best of both worlds. I told myself before I met him, I couldn't continue being with the same type of men because in the long run, I was the one ending up hurt. Well, that's when God sent Jarad to me, I guess he figured it was time that I realized that. Hahaha. 

5d7c530993c92a5d5664e5532a8f38eb.jpg

He truly cares about me. I have never had anyone that was so genuinely caring and accepting. He strives to always make sure I am happy and if something is wrong, he wants to make it better. It truly does come from his heart. Many people will say they care, but his words are truly coming from his heart. I see it when I look at him. He always is so very caring.

Communication. He is so great at wanting to communicate about everything. It is refreshing. He always lets me know his feelings about me (all day everyday) which I love! He is not afraid to tell me if something is bothering him, so we can work it out. 

Even though it was less than 3 months when we got engaged, it felt like our souls had known one another for a lifetime. It was the feeling of "just knowing".

ef9e28c8569e75586372050b3a8b1646.jpg

I told him things I have never told anyone ever and he loved me for it. I could tell him anything and everything and with being a person with trust issues, this says wonders.

He is not a drinker. This has always been an issue for me in the past. I love the fact that Jarad is not a drinker, it is just not who he is. In the past year or so, I have not really been much of one either. So it's something neither one of us have to worry about. 

Our countless amounts of things in common. Seriously.. there are like 400 things we have in common! So not kidding on this. I honestly could keep going with this list, but you would be here for a very long time reading it. lol. You get the point. He is my match. We seriously are perfect for one another in every way.

We didn't date for a year plus before he popped the question. We did not spend months after our engagement planning on the perfect lavish wedding. We did not celebrate with bachelor and bachelorette parties, because well.. we do not feel like we needed to. We did not spend a week or two in a tropical paradise for a honeymoon. Yes, our relationship may not have your typical timeline of milestones or a "traditional" way of getting married, but that is perfectly good with us. If you did, then I happy for you! Truly. However, for us, it is not about all the glitz and glam. We knew we just wanted to spend the rest of our lives together and we wanted a small intimate wedding. We did not need more than that. We knew by doing this people would be judgmental, some may even take bets on how long we would last, or think we were crazy for "moving too fast". But it wasn't about the world, it was about the two of us. 

I tell you though, we are four months into our marriage, and it truly was the best decision we ever made. We are closer than ever and love each other immeasurably. We have only grown closer together, if that was even possible. I can honestly say we have a kick ass marriage and I have a kick ass husband that I am so proud of and honored to call mine. I am so blessed to have this amazing man and step father to my children by my side every day for the rest of our lives. To many adventures and new things to knock off our bucket lists babe! I would say "YES!" a billion and one more times to you my love.

If you truly love someone, you do not always have to do what the rest of the world wants or expects you to do. Marry who your heart desires. When you know, you just know. Follow your instinct. I know I did and I could not be any happier.

xoxo-

Angel

 

 

 

 

The "C" word is not a bad word. (no not THAT word...)

Compromise, the one topic of debate that in my mind should not be a debate. I have had numerous a conversation with people about relationships and what a healthy one should be. We would all agree that "communication" is up at the top, "trust" is right up there, "respect", and then the dreaded word "compromise" rears its head. I sat there as a person went on and on about how "compromise" takes something away from a person, how you are giving up something from yourself, and that it eventually creates bitterness and anger. I sat there and cocked my head to the side like Michael Myers in Halloween.

18aaa22470d4f3864219820904589cf1--michael-myers-tattoo-horror-wallpaper.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am not the fore-most love expert and not Dr. Phil,  but I definitely did not agree with what this man was telling me. As every word dribbled out of his mouth I got more and more angry. I finally took a breath and spoke up. As calm and respectful as I could muster up to be, I expressed my disapproval of his explanation. I flat out said I disagreed and that compromise can not only be helpful but proposes a resolution that can benefit both sides. It doesn't become one person over the other, rather it becomes something that both people can benefit from. He looked back at me with that same Michael Myers look and said "You're dead wrong and stupid to think that"....If anyone knows me well enough, you know that was like pouring gasoline over an open flame. We then proceeded to go back and forth proposing our experiences and facts for what seemed to be an hour...yet it consistently felt like I was debating a parrot who can only say the same damn thing over and over again. To cut a long story short, I decided to agree to disagree, and I took myself out of the room.

Everyone has a right to their opinion and every opinion is valid, but if your opinion is thought to be the "end all be all" opinion, then something is seriously wrong in your thought process. Looking back at my past marriage, I can see where my compromise was lacking in a lot of instances and that could have honestly been due to being young and immature. Now in my current marriage, I am older, wiser, and proud to say that my wife and I have a healthy "give and take" that works amazing for us and we are never felt to be lacking with anything. As I thought about how compromise has been for us, it made me recall instances that I found to be funny or a spot on testament to what has worked. Here are just a small amount of cases where it has.

relationship-compromise-tip.jpg

Movie Night: My wife and I are huge movie buffs and enjoy pretty much everything as long as the acting isn't horrendous. The one thing that we love to do is compromise with our movie choice for the night. Sometimes I am wanting a really good scary movie, and sometimes she is wanting something thats a drama. We both told each other that we would come to a compromise that would be fair and allow for us to both get a choice as to what to watch. We did the "every other" rule. Basically the first night would be her choice, the next night would be mine, the following would be hers, and so on and so on. You don't get to dispute the movie choice, you can't get huffy that its not what you wanted to see, you watch it and enjoy spending time with the other person. The funny part about this, is that it actually has benefited us in our selections. More often than not, Angel will want to watch a scary movie, and I can't believe I'm saying this....I have watched and I am starting to enjoy the show "The Crown" and look forward to new recommendations she has in mind. I even went as far as to say that we could watch one of those sappy cheesy hallmark movies.

Man the acting was horrible...but it made it better to watch from sheer comedy....

Man the acting was horrible...but it made it better to watch from sheer comedy....

Dinner date: An important aspect to a marriage is still being able to go on a date and spend that one on one time that brings you closer. Angel and I are dedicated to allowing ourselves this, no matter how tired or stressed we can get from our crazy week. We both agreed that we would compromise and let one person chose what they wanted to eat and do and then the other would get the choice next time. To my wife's credit, she actually is very selfless, and wants to give up her choice so that we can do something I want. I then respond with something along the lines of nice try, its your turn. (probably a bit more smartassy) lol We then figure out if we want to shoot pool, catch a movie, go for a walk, grab a coffee, or even do a puzzle. In our minds we don't care what we do as long as we spend time with one another and enjoy the fun that happens from there. 

Chores and the house: This could be considered compromise but it ends up becoming more along the lines one wanting to go above and beyond so the other can have it easier. One of us gets home and thoroughly cleans the house by vacuuming, dusting, laundry, and picking up. That way when the other gets home they can just unwind and relax a little bit more. So while I might take care of all those aspects with cleaning, my wife will then make a killer meal for dinner and have a huge iced coffee for me to top it off. (coffee is my life blood btw) When dinner is done (despite her trying to fight me to do this herself) I then clean all the dishes and clean up as a way of saying thank you. 

Mister Clean gets it done, but so does Mrs. Clean!

Mister Clean gets it done, but so does Mrs. Clean!

With all of these instances of how we use compromise, we are able to do so due to respect, love, and communication. Without those compromise isn't possible. Without those, compromise then becomes a "chore", a "labor", an act of doing something just to shut the other person up. THAT'S where the bitterness and resentment can sink in. Thankfully for Angel and I we have never had this become a problem and we are continuing to grow as a husband and wife. All because, in my opinion "compromise works".

(2nd post by Jarad Barlow. Guess this is becoming a new trend)

Confessions of an Adoptee. (Series 1.)

Adoption. The action or fact of adopting or being adopted.

Thousands of people adopt children and babies every day. It is an amazing thing to do, especially for people who can not have children. Adoption is helping a child that needs a good home, that may have a troubled background, or just a parent that can't take care of them for whatever reason may be. It is also giving the adopted parent a beautiful precious gift, a child. In many cases, the child that is adopted may not always be adopted as an infant. So many people are hesitant about taking in older children. While babies are sweet, cute, and innocent, an older child will most likely be a bit harder. When adopting an older child, you are welcoming a child that could have come from a tough background, which could lead to difficulty in bonding with that child and/or behavior problems. 

I had just turned six years old when I was adopted. That is just a year and half older than my daughter. So very young and I had already gone through more than a child should ever have to.

I had been tossed around in foster homes, torn away from my most of my siblings. I am the oldest of five children and at an already young age I felt like I had to be the responsible one. The state tried to find a family to adopt all of us together, but adopting a child is already a big deal. The state knew it would be impossible to find a family willing to adopt us all together, so the best option would be to split us up. I was asked at five years old by a social worker if I wanted to go live with my baby brother, whom was two years old at the time, or live with my younger sisters, ages three and four. At just five years old, I knew I had to be the one to take care of my baby brother. I could not leave him behind, my sisters had one another, he was the baby after all. How do you ask a five year old this? I couldn't imagine asking my daughter that kind of question.

So that was exactly how it ended up. I was adopted along with my brother and my sisters were adopted by someone else. However, before the adoption. the family that was taking care of me prior to adoption, was one I would never forget. Even though it was 25 years ago, those moments are forever engraved into my head that will never be able to be discarded. 

 

1907669_107222186275411_6251008113519996193_n.jpg

 

It started with my foster father. My foster mother was a nurse and worked late and worked often as nurses do. I remember my brother being asleep in his bed. My foster father asking to speak to him in the bedroom. Following him telling me to do things, that no person should ever tell a child. Forcing me to do things, no person should ever make a child do. Touching, as no adult should touch a child. This was not a one time occurrence. It happened more than it should ever have. The only reason anyone found out about it was that I just happened to tell the neighbor, who's house I use to play at. I believe she knew something was going on, but was unsure what it was. I remember she sat me on the couch, was really sweet, and asked me several questions. I remember telling her what happened, which lead to her calling the police. 

This motion led to him going to jail and my brother and I going to a new foster home, whom ended up adopting us. However, this also lead to many issues for myself throughout my life. Not only did it traumatize me to where I had to go to quite a bit of therapy for it, but it also caused me to have trust issues, especially with men. It caused me to grow up immediately. My childhood felt like it had disappeared. It caused a low self-esteem and a feeling of worthlessness. How does a child come back from something so traumatizing? It's difficult.

I am only one person that was a victim of child sexual abuse. There are thousands of cases of child sexual abuse reported and even more that go unreported. If you ever sense a child is going through something so tragic, please do not ignore it. I thank the neighbor everyday that sensed that something was wrong and was brave enough to ask me what was going on. She was brave enough to stop it by calling the police, which led to him going to jail for a long time. So please, I beg you, stand up for those children that can not defend themselves. You can truly change a child's life for the better.

Marriage - Not your fairytale "Happily Ever After".

It is funny how marriage comes across in the Hollywood spotlight. We, women, throwing ourselves into the perfect ending romance novels. Dragging our husbands to every Nicholas Sparks movie, hinting at the picture perfect relationship between the lead roles. Leaving us believing that our own personal relationships and marriage need to be what we see in the movies or read in our novels. Our daughters wanting to be princesses and marrying their prince charming. Giving our daughters this illusion that when you get married it will be this great fairytale and you will live "happily ever after". When in reality, marriage is not always a happily every after. 

I always believed I would only be married once. I always told myself I would never divorce, I would do everything to make it work. I dreamt of being that old couple that would be celebrating their "50th" wedding anniversary.  Being one of the ones that made it through everything. After all, I grew up around many couples that had been together for at least twenty years. So it was only natural that I would hope for the same in my future marriage. 

Eleven and a half years ago, I said "I do" at just barely nineteen years old.  Married two weeks after the birth of my first son to his father, I thought I knew what I was doing. I was naive. It was not the fairytale I thought it would be. I learned quickly that marriage is not all rainbows and fairytales. It is not running off into the sunset with one another and it is automatically a "happily ever after". It was not at all what I imagined growing up, but that is because no one really talks about the hard parts of marriage. Do not get me wrong, my first marriage had its good moments. I am not saying it was all bad. For so long, I tried so hard to be the perfect wife. Doing everything to please everyone, putting everyone else's needs above my own. Somewhere along the line, we lost the communication or was it ever truly there? The respect just wasn't there. The trust wasn't there. The commitment wasn't there. All the necessary items that build a long lasting marriage and relationship foundation, just were not there. I wondered countless times if it would even work, if we were just too broken to truly work. Several times we would "separate" for a few months and then come back together trying to work it out. Only to realize that nothing really changed in the first place and we'd end up on the endless cycle of separation and getting back together. A vicious cycle that would come to an end ten years later.

There is a saying, "Marriage is 50/50". Well, I have to say I disagree to that saying. Marriage is not 50/50, it is 100/100. You both have to give a hundred percent for it to work. If one person is giving their all and the other isn't, it will never work. You both have to want it and both be dedicated and committed to the marriage. In my first, it was not that way. The truth is neither one of us was truly prepared for what we had said "I do" to. 

Do I regret my first marriage? Not at all. We have three beautiful children from the decision we made, which will never be a regret of mine. After my divorce, I thought I would never marry again.  The divorce was so emotional and seriously was a life changer for myself. (Which is a whole different blog post for another day on why).

I had it in my head that I would not want to put myself through all the heartache again by marrying someone else and having it all happen again. It wasn't until I met Jarad, it all changed. Even just my perspective on a relationship completely changed. Jarad and I are big advocates for communication in our marriage. Because honestly, if you aren't communicating then what are you doing? Are we perfect at it, not at all. However, we both know how important it is to communicate to one another on how we are feeling. We completely lay it all on the table, if there is a problem, we say it. Is it always easy to do? Not at all. Sometimes we have to pry it out of one another, but at least it happens and we are better than ever afterwards. 

Trust and honesty. They go hand in and hand. If you can't trust your spouse, then what is the point of being together? If you are constantly wondering where they are or who are they talking to, is that really healthy? Is that really going to give you that "fairytale"? The other day, I received a message on Snapchat from someone I went to high school with a degrading comment due to a "selfie" I posted and a caption stating "I can't wait for date night with my husband". Needless to say, I advised the guy to not write me again and that I was happily married. I made sure to block him on all social media and advised my husband what was said. Could I have just blocked it and not said anything? I could have, but I find it highly important for my husband and I to be open and honest with one another. I put myself in his shoes, and I would want to know if someone messaged him such things. This allows us to be able to trust one another and know we can come to one another with anything and everything. 

Honesty is such an important aspect in a relationship and lays the foundation for many other important aspects, such as trust and communication. Honesty is important in plans for children, knowing one another's feelings, and things like finances. If there is a lack of honesty, do you really know that person truly? Would you want to marry someone or carry on a relationship with someone you could not trust? Honesty is like a house foundation. It can hold up great and be really sturdy, but if it starts to lack any of that foundation. You can repair it, but it will never be the same and may even need constant repairs. 

Trust. Trust can be mentally damaging if broken. Broken trust can cause you to damage yourself mentally and become unhealthy. It will cause you to always wonder if the other person is doing something they are not suppose to. Is he really out with the guys? Is she texting another guy? Is it really an extra hour at work for work? Is he really going to watch football or seeing his favorite waitress? You start playing detective and driving yourself crazy. Your mind starts spinning and it doesn't stop. It begins to cause fights and causes you to disconnect from one another, which is why trusting one another is so important. 

Appreciation and praise. Daily routine can sometimes get "too routine" and cause us not slow down and appreciate one another. Jarad does so much for our family. Since I work until four and it can take me almost forty-five mins to an hour to get home, he is the one that picks up the boys from school. He is the one helping them with homework and starting dinner, so that by the time that I get home from work and picking up Kinsley, I do not have to stress about so much. He is always putting the children and I before himself. I try to tell him and show him how appreciative I am for everything he does for us, by surprising him with breakfast in bed or making a really delicious dinner for him. Even though my little things I do for him, may not be big, I know he truly appreciates that I am showing how appreciative I am for him. So take the time and show your loved one, how much you appreciate everything they do. It does not have to be anything extravagant, it could be just simply making dinner, doing laundry so they don't have to, or showing up to their work with lunch or a coffee (hubby likes to show up with coffee as a surprise for me!)

Praise- just text one another during the day. A random quick and simple "I love you", can completely make your spouse's day.  Jarad and I are constantly texting one another throughout the day saying how much we love one another and how thankful we are for each other. Honestly, after nine months together, it never gets old. He actually called me earlier today, just to leave me a voicemail stating how much he is in love with me and appreciates that I am his wife and lots of other mushy stuff that I absolutely love. It truly brought tears to my eyes because this is the kind of love and marriage I have always dreamed of.

God. Our faith in God, truly has brought us closer together. Praying together and worshiping God together truly brings you closer together spiritually and mentally. 

At the end of the day, no marriage or relationship will be a fairytale like your novels or the Nicholas Sparks movies. However, you can come pretty darn close to your own kind of fairytale with dedication, commitment, communication, trust, honesty, appreciation, and praise. Let's face it, no marriage is perfect, but we can certainly try for our own kind of perfect "happily ever after". After all, it is working for us :)

Xoxo

-Angel

 

Saturday Night Tradition

Traditions. I believe they are important. They make for great memories and it is great family time together that is so important to have. Growing up, we had a tradition on Saturday nights we would make pizza, have popcorn, soda and watch a movie. 

Well we have started that tradition with our children now.

Sometimes life can get busy, especially with children and two full time jobs going on. It is good to just slow down and be in the moment together. Children now a days are all about their electronics with computers, phones, tvs, DS, tablets, xbox, playstations, etc, especially my children. What happened to going outside and just playing and using your imagination? I use to beg my mom to let me stay outside. Now, my children are outside for five minutes and then I hear, "It's too hot", "I'm bored", "There's nothing to do".  What is going on with this generation? Well this is gearing me to just limit electronics all together. 

So Saturday night this is our no electronics time. We put our phones, tablets, etc away (except for mine to take photos for you guys and for the memories!) and just enjoy doing things together as a family. These are the moments our children will remember when they are older and maybe even pass the tradition along to their children like I did.  If you looking to do something cheap and quality family fun time that you all will enjoy, I recommend doing this! It so super cheap. 

What you need:

Pizza: 

  • Dough - We got ours premade from Trader Joe's and it is AMAZING!
  • Marina or Alfredo Sauce (My husband can't have red sauce, so alfredo for him!)
  • Toppings: Four Cheese/Mozzarella, Sausage, Pepperoni, and any other toppings you wish to add.

Popcorn & have the kids pick out a movie! We chose "The Polar Express" with Hot Cocoa to drink!

IMG_3522.JPG

Hubby kneading the dough and getting it ready for the kiddos to decorate their personal pizzas.

IMG_3523.JPG
IMG_3525.JPG

We let the littles decorate first so we could help them and then the older boys.

IMG_3526.JPG
IMG_3527.JPG

Needless to say, this tradition is a hit.  What are some of your traditions?

03.25.2017 God Blessed Me with You.

It was the 25th of March of this year, around eleven o’clock in the evening. I was laying on the couch with nothing to do. Scrolling through my phone, when I decided to re-download the “POF” (Plenty of Fish) app on my phone. Questioning myself why I signed up for this dating website as I watched it download. It had been weeks since I had been on the website. Frustrated and disgusted by the remarks and messages I had received when I first joined, I decided to not mess with it. Everyone was too old, too young, too much of a slim ball or just not what I was looking for.

It finished. I logged in.

“Why am I even messing with this?” I thought to myself.

328 messages.

“Ugh”, I thought to myself as I skimmed through them. Quickly scrolling through, not even slowing down.

About three – fourths of the way down, I stop. He caught my eye. The only guy out of all the messages, very nicely dressed and standing in the photo very put together and might I add, very attractive?

I clicked the message. He introduced himself and gave a brief little “about me”. I reread the message three times. It was very well written. I could tell by the way he wrote, he was different. I clicked his profile and to my surprise we had many things in common. I went through the pictures on his profile and was instantly attracted to those beautiful blue eyes and priceless smile. So, I took the chance and wrote back. Then waited. Curious if this was too good to be true.

Several messages back and forth over the next day or so, we were really hitting it off. So much so that he asked if it would be easier to just call or text me. Sly right? haha. I said yes and sent him my number. Hundreds of texts and a couple of hour long calls, he asked me out. I said yes and the plan was set for Saturday, April 1st, 2017. Boy, I had no clue that day would be the day that truly changed my world.

April 1st. I got off work and quickly rushed home to change and get ready.  I was nervous. I threw on a skinny jeans, black dress top, my leather jacket, and some heels. Touched up my makeup and hair and stared out the window. He lived an hour away and I was hoping it would go well. I glanced at my phone and it was just about time and I had a feeling he wasn't one to be late. I kissed the kids bye and went over the instructions with the sitter. I walked out the door, turned to lock it, and as I turned around there he was. He was walking up smiling with peonies in hand, my favorite flowers, as it lightly rained. I stood there grinning. He was exactly the guy in the picture that caught my eye.

17759986_664820610368058_214030207964921427_n.jpg

 

We said hi and I said thank you as he handed me the flowers. I probably was so awkward with the huge smile on my face. Peonies. It was a first. I had never been given peonies ever. Brownie points for him, I thought. lol. I quickly put them inside and we proceeded to the car. The entire time walking to the car he held an umbrella to shield me from the rain and had his arm around my back. Then opened the door and closed it after I got it. (In my mind : "Man.. he is a gentleman! More Brownie points!") We made small chit chat and laughed as we arrived at the Mexican restaurant, Don Jose. He parked the car and jokingly threatened to knee cap me if I opened the door. ("but was he joking?" haha) He ran to the other side and opened my door and we walked inside. We were escorted to our seats and we looked over the menu. His eyes never left me, not even for a moment. I felt them staring at me. It wasn't in a creepy way, more of an admiring way.

That night the conversation flowed and never had an awkward moment. We laughed and swapped stories of ourselves. It was perfect, but it did not end there. Neither one of us were ready for it to be over just yet. So we headed to a local coffee shop, that now has become a place that means so much to us. Coffee and a small table in the corner were all we needed. It was the first moment we truly held hands. Across the table, sparkle in each other's eyes, great conversation as I reached across the table and we sat there holding hands, our eyes never parting. We finished our coffee and stepped outside. The rain had stopped so we decided to walk a bit, but really we both just wanted the night to keep going. We walked around for a good hour around the parking lot and stopped in front of the movie theatre. Where he leaned against the railing, telling me stories about his Opa and in that moment we both felt it. He leaned in and kissed me. Our first kiss and it was perfect. We both knew in that moment that this was truly something good. 

24059659_305192946551350_7735872667981851521_o.jpg

(Pic above: the exact spot and location of our first date at Frank & Joe's Coffee House in Wichita Falls. We replicated it for our engagement portraits.)

It was getting late and he brought me home. 

That night. I was so unbelievably giddy and just butterflies in my stomach. I had never been so happy. It truly was such a wonderful first date. I had so many thoughts and kept replaying the night in my head, that I decided to write. (Read the writings below)

By Monday, April 3rd, we became official.

So, anyone who is doubting online dating websites.. well, we are living proof it does work. It definitely worked for us. We both before hand at been previously married ten years to our ex's and then divorced. Both left wondering if we would ever meet someone good. Someone not only good for ourselves but our children. Sometimes, you just have to put things in God's hands and trust in him. 

I kept trying to find someone so desperately because I was so hurt from my past relationship, that I wasn't patient. What God was really needing me to do what was wait, focus on myself and my children, and trust he would put a great man in my life. At the moment, that I stopped trying to look for someone and did just that. Well, that was the time God blessed me with Jarad, which blossomed into a beautiful love story. Do not give up on love. Just trust God will bring you the right person.

17634456_664821070368012_1956781367554415740_n.jpg
17757277_664821273701325_1715149477432636875_n.jpg

Hope you enjoyed "How we first met" Have a great day!

XOXO

 

Co-parenting

Co-parenting.

Why does that sound so dreadful?

I have heard so many stories have parent's having trouble co-parenting. What is co-parenting? It's coming together as divorced or separated and working together to be the best parents you can be for the child(ren) you have together. However, it is not easy to do, especially after a divorce. Sometimes emotions are crazy and may be all over the place. Especially when its still fresh from a divorce, which can make co-parenting stressful and extremely difficult. It is still possible to have a successful co-parenting relationship, even if the divorce was a nightmare. I know.. you are thinking, "Yeah right. Only in the movies". Seriously. IT IS POSSIBLE! It will not be easy though. It would require serious work and respect for the other parent for it to work. You also have to set aside your ego and those crazy emotions and put the child(ren) first before anything to get the best results.

Personally, my CP (co-parent) and I are still trying to find our footing. It's a process. I believe as long as we both try to communicate well with one another, have respect for each other, and always put our children first. Then there is no reason why we couldn't have a great co-parenting relationship. After all, it is what is best for our children.

My goal through all of this, is that even though my ex and I are no longer together and we both have moved on, we can still be great parents together. Hopefully, down the line when we really get the co-parenting thing down, we will be able to do some events together and actually enjoy it. lol. It is a goal.

I would like for my children to be able to look back on their childhood and remember all the good times. Ultimately parents want the best for their children. Happiness, good health, good education, be respectful, and be successful in life. Their children and they shouldn’t have to worry about the adult stuff. Keep them as innocent as long as possible. 

Divorce or a breakup does not make family stop, choice to abandon it does. Birthdays and holidays should not be a tug-of-war. Children just want to be with their family and be happy. After all, you are bound for life to this family, so why not still be like a family? It is ultimately your choice to choose to be happy. It is your choice to make it easier on your children instead of harder and stressful. Show love instead of hate. Set the example.

If you are struggling with co- parenting, here are my personal tips that hopefully will help. 

1. Let go of whatever emotions you have between you and your co-parent. It’s no longer about you or your relationship, it is strictly about the child(ren). So set aside your ego.

2. Keep the communication open. Trust me, this is a key factor. 

3. Respect. You had a child together. You once had that respect. This is the father/mother of your child(ren), so treat them with respect. Another key factor! 

4. Do not keep your child(ren) from the other parent because YOU are mad at them. It is hard to set aside those feelings, but again it is about the children. It is healthy for them to have both of their parents apart of their lives (unless they are dangerous of course). 

5.  Do not alienate the kids from the people they love just because of a divorce or a breakup happened.

 

Well, that is all. Just wanted to let you know my personal thoughts on it. Have more tips and advice? Comment below! I am always open to more advice and what works for you! 

Happy Friday! Have a great weekend! 

xoxo- 

Angel

Weekend coming to an end

 

The light hit my face and my eyes opened. It's Sunday morning. I glance over and my husband is peacefully sleeping. I stared at him for a moment, feeling completely blessed for the man God sent to me. I slip on my leopard slippers and head to check on the kids. Their early risers, so I was already prepared for them to be awake. There I find all three of them, curled up on the couch, wrapped up in blankets watching cartoons on Netflix. 

I start the Keurig and  get the coffee brewing, as I gather a few things from the fridge to get breakfast going. Normally, my husband is the one to do breakfast on the weekends. It sort of just kind of happened that way. lol. However, it's been awhile since I have made him breakfast. So I figured bringing him breakfast in bed would be a nice treat. 

Started up the stove and started chopping. Bacon cooked and diced. Green onions chopped. Eggs whisked and fluffed. Turkey diced and ready to go. I begin the omelets and the aroma of coffee and breakfast fills the air.

image3.jpeg

 

We ended up not getting up and going to church today due to us all needing an extra morning to just sleep in.  So after breakfast, I grabbed my bible and opened it up to Psalms 27, which I have come to really love. I tend to have anxiety about things and reading this chapter in Psalms truly helps reduce my anxiety. In a short summary it talks about not having a reason to fear. To not worry or fear because God will take care of you. You  have to have confidence in him and put it all in his hands. To continue to praise him and he will continue to strengthen and guide you in life.

image2.jpeg
image1.jpeg

 

Before recently, I have never truly put my anxieties and fears into God's hands. I always considered myself a child of God, but never truly  dedicated and really heard his words or really felt his presence until recently. I truly believe that God knows I am truly ready to be truly dedicated to him and his truth. I feel it.

If you haven't, take a look at Psalms 27 and see what you may interpret from it.

 

saturday relaxation..

The sun appears through the blinds. Eyes still closed, my body snuggled and buried under the down comforter of our bed. The sound of children's laughter and the smell of delicious pancakes are in the air. I awake to a gentle kiss on my cheek and the sweet smell of coffee my husband sits on the nightstand. Yes, these are the moments i love to savor. 

Saturdays are our days we spend together. Normally relaxing or spending it at the park or some fun activity together with the kids. Today, we decided to adventure out to the local library. It had been awhile since any of us set foot in a library. To be honest, I missed it. There is something about a library that is so comforting to me. The quietness. The aisles of great books with pages begging to be read. 

image1-1.jpeg
image1-2.jpeg

Everything in this generation is all online. Not many people even go to libraries anymore if they aren't in school. Today, just made me realize that we need to go more often.  Plus, there is just something so comforting about holding an actual book and turning the crisp pages. Don't even get me started on the smell of books! I just love it. You can't get that on your kindle! lol

image2-1.jpeg

I did not get to look into too many books for myself. Are there any favorites that you would recommend? If so, please comment and I will add it to my "must read" list!

Overall, I would say it was a great trip to the library. The kids did not want to leave, so I think that just means we will have to do this more often!

 

The Start of Something Good.

Hi! My name is Angel Barlow.

Welcome to our family nest where you can read all about our perspective on daily life, cooking, food, our passions, marriage, kids, faith, projects and things we love!

I am a mom to three and a stepmom to a very sweet boy. I am a wife to an amazing man.

My husband and I are both exceptionally artistic. For myself, my creative artistic abilities range from design, drawing, painting, photography, and writing. While my husband excels in drawing astonishing murals and entertaining comic strips. Together we always are encouraging one another to continue to pursue our passions and express ourselves always.

We are HUGE coffee lovers- even that might be an understatement. Seriously.. we both drink coffee all day long. We can live on coffee, right? haha. I mean even our engagement photos were at the coffee shop where we had our first date!! (swoon.. i just love that coffee shop!)

AngelJarad-3.JPG
(Photo credit: www.maiigophotography.com )

Best of all we are both complete nerds and goofballs. As a family, we love having movie nights and game board nights, in which we get very competitive (and I mean VERY competitive)! Most of all, we just love spending quality time together. 

I hope you all continue to follow our story and see where life takes us. I will continue to do posts, as writing is such a great outlet for myself. Be sure to keep up to date. This is our wonderful journey.

 

xoxo.